Nicholas T. Batzig

Dealing with Discouragements in Ministry

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Monday, April 15, 2024
The ultimate encouragement to help ministers press through the discouragements they experience when they face trials and challenges is that we were created, redeemed and called into ministry in order to bring glory to Christ. The cry of the ministers heart must ever be, “He must increase, I must decrease.” The ministries to which we have been called by God are not for our own glory. So often the discouragements that ministers feel are on account of a wrong view of ministry.

It is the common lot of those God has called into gospel ministry to become discouraged on account of the challenges and trials that come from serving as a pastor. I can almost always sense when a brother is weighed down by the pressures, demands, and discouragements that come with serving as a pastor of a congregation, because I have known them throughout my own pastoral service. The apostle Paul intimated the challenges that pastors face in the church when he added to the external opposition he experienced from the unbelieving world the care that he had for the church. He wrote, “apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). So what are ministers to do when they feel overwhelmed by the discouragements of ministry? Here are a seven important biblical truths to keep in mind: 

Remember your need to be sanctified. Just as marriage helps us recognize our need for sanctification in areas that we might not otherwise have seen, so too does pastoral ministry. When the hardships and trials come, we must remember that we need to be sanctified in areas of our lives that we might not have otherwise seen were the trials and challenges not there. For instance, pastors might not realize sinful anger that remains in their hearts until some injustice takes place in the church and that anger begins to well up within. Pastors may not recognize their need to listen better or communicate better until some issue arises that helps them see their own sinful deficiencies. God may have placed this trial or challenge in your ministry to sanctify you as a pastor.
Remember your need to grow in wisdom. Just as we need sanctification, pastors need wisdom. A faithful pastor will want to grow as a wise shepherd of the flock. Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom above everything else because he wanted to pastor God’s people with great skill (1 Kings 3:6-9). I have, many times, sought out older and wiser men for counsel as I face trials and challenges in ministry; and, I hope that, to some degree, I am growing in wisdom as I press through one challenge and head into another. The experience gleaned from both successes and failures often brings with it a greater measure of wisdom. We learn this from the book of Ecclesiastes. There were things that Solomon learned from the experiences of life. Often the trials and challenges of ministry serve as the vehicle by which God grows ministers in wisdom.
Remember your insufficiency for ministry. The Apostle Paul repeatedly told the members of the church in Corinth that ministers are insufficient, in and of themselves, for ministry (2 Cor. 2:16; 3:5: 12:9). This was necessary because there were certain “super apostles” who cast aspersions on the Apostle Paul were boasting as if they were sufficient. When trials and challenges come, ministers feel their own insufficiency. In the midst of challenges with congregants, ministers remember that they cannot change the hearts of the people to whom God has sent them to shepherd. In many cases, the only course of action in a particular trial is go to the throne of grace and plead with the Lord to bring whatever we are facing to a felicitous end.

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Singing the Song of Humility

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Monday, January 1, 2024
One of the foremost themes of the Magnificat is that of humility. Since God was humbling Himself to knit together for Himself a human nature in the womb of the virgin Mary, it is fitting that Mary, from the outset of this Christian Psalm, would touch upon the theme of humility. The reason why Mary sang a song of humility is because she was focusing on what God was doing to provide the Savior she needed. Mary had been waiting on God to fulfill the promises that He had made throughout the Old Testament era. Mary doesn’t speak of herself or her privileges because Mary was focused on her need for redemption.

Hadel’s Messiah is one of the greatest musical compositions ever written. A three part redemptive history development of Isaiah’s prophecy. From the coming Redeemer to the reign of Christ, Handel captured the magnificence of what we celebrate during advent. It should come as no surprise to us these are some of the most beautiful and majestic songs ever composed, since the narratives surrounding the birth of the Savior are themselves full of profound redemptive-historical reflections. One such song is that which Mary sings when she is visits her cousin Elizabeth. The result of this trip was an unparalleled redemptive-historical composition that has been commonly denominated, the Magnificat.
What would compel a young, pregnant teenage girl to make an arduous journey in order to stay with her older cousin? Perhaps it was the shame that her parents felt having her in the town in which they lived. After all, their neighbors would most certainly conclude that she had fallen into immorality. Or, maybe she just wanted to talk to someone she knew about what it would be like to mysteriously have a child. Her cousin wasn’t supposed to be able to conceive at her old age; but, the Lord had done the impossible for both Elizabeth and Mary. Whatever the case, the mother of the Savior went to Elizabeth. 
Mary, unlike Zacharias (Luke 1:20), believed the word of the Lord that came to her through the angel Gabriel. She took God at His word when he told her that she, though a virgin, would conceive and bear a son. Elizabeth, together with Mary, believed and gave God great glory for this indescribable gift. Elizabeth praised Mary for the faith that she had in God’s promise. She exclaimed, “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45). It is the grace of believing God’s word that we are to most admire in other believers and for which we ought to be praising God.
When Mary entered the home of Elizabeth with a greeting about the conception of Christ, the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth and her unborn son (the forerunner of the Messiah). The babe lept in the womb when he heard the greeting of the virgin. The news about the Redeemer is the cause of the greatest rejoicing in the souls of believers. Mary also broke out into song—praising God for the salvation that He was bringing to her (Luke 1:46) and to all people (Luke 1:50; 55-56).
Like Handel’s Messiah, there is a three-part division to the Magnificat. She gives us an anatomy of God—that which God considers with His eyes (Luke 1:48), what He does with His arm (Luke 1:51) and what he declares with His mouth (Luke 1:55). She acknowledged what the birth of the Savior meant for her as a sinner (Luke 1:46-50), what it meant for men of low and high degree (Luke 1:51-53) and what it meant for the rest of the covenant people of God (Luke 1:54-55).
Mary’s Magnificat is an example of what it looks like for someone to be saturated in God’s word. She was hoping in the fulfillment of God’s promises made to Abraham. This song is full of references to Old Testament passages and redemptive historical epochs. Mary is a covenant theologian.
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The Spirit of Christmas

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Sunday, December 31, 2023

As we celebrate the incarnation anew, fixing our minds on the wonders of the mystery of Christ, let’s remember the presence and activity of the Spirit in the events surrounding the nativity. The Spirit who was forming a human nature for the Son in the womb of the virgin Mary and bringing the Son back from the dead in the darkness of the tomb is the same Spirit who indwells believers and conforms us to the image of the Son. That’s the Spirit of Christmas we most desperately need. 

One of the most neglected parts of the incarnation accounts in the gospel records is that which touches on the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of Christ. We rightly wonder at the coming of the eternal Son of God into the world in true human form while wrongly neglecting to wonder at the accompanying role of the Spirit of God in the ministry of the Redeemer. Some of that is understandable. What greater mystery can there be than the mystery of Christ? He is the eternal mystery of God (1 Tim. 3:16). All God’s revelation points to Him, and everything necessary for salvation flows from Him (Col. 1:15-22; Heb. 1:1-3). Yet, throughout the gospels the Spirit is revealed as the accompanying agent of redemption. He was active, from start to finish, in the life and ministry of Christ. This opens the important question, “Why was it necessary for the Spirit to be at work in the life and ministry of Christ from the virgin conception to his resurrection from the dead?”
1. The Spirit came to indwell Jesus to sustain him as the Last Adam. The Spirit was the agent of the virgin conception, the anointing of Christ for ministry as Prophet, Priest and King at His baptism, and the leading of Christ into the wilderness to be tempted by the evil one. The Spirit is also the one by whom Christ cast out demons and overcame the kingdom of darkness. He was indwelling Christ as the Last Adam in order to enable Him to present Himself without blemish to God on the cross. The Spirit is also said to be the agent by whom Jesus was raised from the dead (Rom. 1:4; 8:11).
To be the head of the new redeemed humanity, Jesus had to do all that he did in humble reliance upon the Holy Spirit. This began even before His birth. When Mary asked the Angel Gabriel how she would carry the Redeemer in her womb, since she was a virgin, Gabriel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Just as the Spirit hovered over the waters of creation, so He hovered over the virgin Mary at the great work of bringing about the new creation through the incarnation of the Son of God.
Christ was dependent upon the Spirit for His miraculous works. If Jesus had simply performed miracles by his divine nature, then the divine nature of the eternal Son would have imparted to the human nature something (e.g. omnipotence) that is not proper to human nature and so destroy the human nature. Jesus acted as fully God and fully man in one person in all that He did. However, as the Last Adam, he had to rely on the Spirit to impart to him the grace He needed to do such things as perform miracles of healing.
Jesus also needed the Holy Spirit for His own consecration and to sustain Him in sinlessness. Fallen humanity doesn’t not need a superhuman holiness; what we need is a human holiness.
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Involving Ourselves in Every Controversy?

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
We can easily become outraged over the sins of others–as David did when Nathan the prophet told him the story of the poor man’s stolen ewe lamb–while harboring sin that is every bit as egregious as that which we denounce. This is the very reason why our Lord used the figure of the speck and the log (Matt. 7:3-5). It’s quite difficult to want to involve ourselves in every controversy or to seek to correct every error when we remember the indwelling sin with which we are personally engaged in warfare every single day or our lives until Christ comes again. 

Part of the pernicious underbelly of the internet is that many allow themselves to be drawn into controversies about which they have no need to involve themselves. For many years, I too wanted juicy details about whatever controversy was swirling around in evangelical and Reformed circles. To my shame, I have either initiated or been on the receiving end of innumerable conversations that began with the statement, “Did you hear what just happened to so and so. . .?” So much of this belong to the realm of gossip rather than to the sphere of sanctified concern or justified probing. As Jerry Bridges has rightly noted, “Behind all of our gossip, slander, critical speech, insults, and sarcasm is our sinful heart. The tongue is only the instrument that reveals what’s in our hearts.” So what are we to do if we are to live informed lives without allowing ourselves to be drawn into foolish controversies in which we have no responsibility from God to involve ourselves? Here are a few helps: 
1. Remember the Sphere of Your Calling from God
When the Lord drew me to himself in saving grace, He implanted in me a burning desire to preach the gospel. I believe that my conversion and my call to ministry occurred simultaneously. That being said, I was not called to pastor the universe. I was called by God to pastor specific local churches as specific times in my ministry. This means that my priority must be for the care of the needs of the people whom God has entrusted to me in the local church I serve. Just as Augustine referred to spheres of moral proximity, when answering the questions about caring for the welfare of those in need, so there is a moral proximity for pastors and people to care first and foremost for the spiritual needs of the people in the same body. 
Of course, this does not mean that the sphere of responsibility stops at the local church. I happen to be a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. This means that it is my responsibility to concern myself with the spiritual condition of the churches in our denomination. However, within the PCA, we have regional Presbyteries that take precedent to the national court. If I neglect my responsibility to serve on committees and to care to the best of my ability for the spiritual health and wellbeing of the churches and ministers in our Presbytery because I want to give the better part of my time and energy to denominational controversies, then I am failing to fulfill the role to which God has called me. After giving ourselves to the care of the local church, we are to give ourselves first and foremost to the wider regional expression of our denominational affiliations. 
This is not to say that ministers are not called to care for the wider church. It is right and good for ministers in the PCA to serve on denominational committees and agencies. It is important for pastors to labor for the peace and purity of the denomination at large. However, even within this sphere, great caution is needed. Many thrive on controversy.
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The Christological Sign of the Sabbath

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Monday, November 13, 2023
The Sabbath day reminds image bearers of their obligation to worship and serve the Lord, and to trust God for the redemption that He freely provides in Christ alone. Where Adam failed in the covenant of works, Christ succeeded. As the last Adam (Rom. 5:12–21), Jesus came to secure the eschatological Sabbath rest for His people. Jesus performed numerous healing miracles on the old covenant Sabbath day, revealing Himself to be the One who alone can provide rest for the souls of His people. The restorative Sabbath-day healings foreshadowed the ultimate healing that Christ secured for believers in the resurrection on the last day. 

It has become increasingly common for business professionals, life coaches, and pastors to talk about embracing sabbath or taking a sabbatical. The idea is that people need prolonged seasons of rest and refreshment. The focus on taking a sabbath is, of course, that people would become more productive in their employments while also caring for their spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being.
While sabbaticals may address a common, therapeutic need for rest, God has given us the Sabbath day to serve as a sign of the greater spiritual need we have for the rest that He provides in Christ alone. From the beginning of time, the Sabbath day was set as one of God’s creation ordinances (Gen. 2:2–3). In redemptive history, it was the fourth of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:8–11; Deut. 5:12–15). Both at creation and in the fourth commandment, the Sabbath served as a covenantal sign holding out the promise of a greater Sabbath rest.
After creating a world in which His image bearers could dwell, the Lord set apart the seventh day as the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day served numerous purposes at creation. It was to be a day of worship and rest. It was also a reminder that mankind is finite and dependent. Since we are dependent creatures, God saw fit to give Adam this creation ordinance to remind him of his need for rest from his physical labor. Adam was to set apart the Sabbath day to worship the God who “gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25).
However, it was not simply a day in which man was to cease from his labors and embrace physical and spiritual rest; it was a sign pointing to something higher—the hope of entering eternal rest. The eschatological-sign nature of the Sabbath day was tied to God’s covenantal dealing with man in the garden. In Eden, God condescended to initiate a covenantal relationship with Adam. Had Adam obeyed the command related to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, it’s likely he would have secured an eternal dwelling place for righteous image bearers to reflect the holy character of God. Had he obeyed, he would have gained a right to eat from the Tree of Life. The two trees in the garden served as signs and seals of the covenant of works, together with the Sabbath day. That is, the Sabbath ordinance was one of the signs and seals of this covenant in Eden. The Sabbath was a sign insomuch as it pointed to the promise of the eternal rest that man would have entered had Adam obeyed the demands of the covenant of works.
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None But Zion’s Children Know

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Wednesday, November 8, 2023
It would do us good to be settled in our minds about the fact that all who are united to Jesus by faith have been made children of Abraham and heirs of God (Galatians 3:29). Believers are the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem (Philippians 3:20). This is the only Jerusalem that ultimately matters. As John Newton put it, “Solid joys and lasting treasures, none but Zion’s children know.”

On October 27, 1994, President Bill Clinton, while addressing the Knesset (i.e. the legislative assembly in Israel) cited one of his former pastors when he said, “If you abandon Israel, God will never forgive you…it is God’s will that Israel, the biblical home of the people of Israel, continue forever and ever.” This widely held sentiment has had a substantial impact on American politics and foreign policy over the past 70 years. six years ago, President Trump made the controversial decision to declare Jerusalem to be the capitol of the state of Israel. Last month, war has erupted between Israel and Hamas, over the barbaric attacks of this Palestinian terror organization. These events have reopened numerous questions about the place of the state of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem, in the consummate purposes and plan of God.
When Jesus began his Messianic ministry, he did so by calling 12 Apostles. The calling of the Twelve mirrored the formation of the 12 Tribes of Israel. In short, Jesus came to reconstitute Israel in Himself. He is the true son of Abraham in whom all the promises of God are “yes” and “Amen” (2 Cor. 1.20). In The Israel of God, O. Palmer Robertson emphasized the significance of the choosing and ministry of the 12 apostles when he wrote:
“The beginning of Jesus’ ministry indicates the ongoing role of Israel in the kingdom of the Messiah. The designation of exactly twelve disciples shows that Jesus intends to reconstitute the Israel of God through his ministry. He is not, as some suppose, replacing Israel with the church. He is reconstituting Israel in a way that makes it suitable for the ministry of the New Covenant.
From this point on, it is not that the church takes the place of Israel, but that a new Israel of God is being formed by the shaping of the church. This kingdom will reach beyond the limits of the Israel of the old covenant. Although Jesus begins with the Israel of old, he will not allow his kingdom to be limited by its borders” (The Israel of God, p.118).
Phil Ryken also explains that Jesus chose the twelve Apostles to be the foundation of New Israel:
“By ordaining these twelve men, God was establishing a new Israel. Just as the twelve sons of Jacob founded the Old Testament people of God, so also the apostles established the foundation for God’s new people in Christ. To this day, the church rests upon their ministry. We are ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ (Eph. 2:20). And since a building can have only one foundation, their ministry is non-repeatable” (Luke, vol. 1, p. 256).
This is no small observation. When Jesus told the members of Old Covenant Israel that “the kingdom will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruit of it” (Matt. 21:43), we are meant to ask the question, “To what nation did God give His kingdom to in the New Covenant?” The only answer that can be supplied is that He has established His kingdom (i.e. His redemptive reign and rule) in the lives of His people–the true Israel who He has raised up in Christ.
We are still left with the question as to whether there is any divinely-intended role for the land of Israel in general and for the city of Jerusalem in specific. In his book, Understanding the Land in the Bible, Robertson distills the meaning of the land down to its essential redemptive-historical significance when he writes, “This land was made for Jesus Christ. All its diversity was designed to serve him. Its character as a land bridge  for three continents was crafted at Creation for his strategic role in the history of humanity.” The land of Israel was strategically located between three continents. It served, therefore, as the perfect land bridge for the evangelistic mission of God to the nations. The land served its purpose when the Redeemer came to Israel to accomplish all that was typified and foreshadowed in the Old Testament.
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The Measure of the Giving of God

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Friday, September 8, 2023
God has already given up the greatest gift He could possibly give when He offered up His infinitely valuable Son to the cursed death of the cross for sinners like us. If He gives the greatest, we can be sure that He will not withhold the lesser. Christ is the measure of the greatness of the giving of God and becomes the standard by which believers are assured of the guarantee of God giving us every lesser blessing. 

The goodness of God ought to be among our foremost, continual meditations. The Scriptures teach us to meditate on His goodness in the spheres of both creation and redemption. The Lord is constantly giving. He gives to all mankind, “life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25). We freely receive from His hand daily bread in abundance, homes in which to live, transportation, clothing, medical care, and every conceivable comfort under heaven. As Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). While God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17), there is yet a greater manifestation of His goodnes–namely, the giving of His Son. God the Father gave up His infinitely beloved Son to redeem sinners. God has also promised to give believers every other good thing for which they hope for all eternity. Scripture encourages believers to measure the goodness of God in the giving up of His Son in order to assure them of the certainty of every lesser gift He has promised them.
In Romans 8:32, the apostle drew a comparison between God’s greater and lesser gifts. Paul’s focus on the greatness of God’s giving of His Son forms the basis for the further assurance of the inclusion of the lesser gifts–the enjoyment of all things in the age to come. In this verse, Paul brings what is arguably the greater chapter in the greatest book in the Bible to a crescendo. He writes, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Rom. 8:32)? There are two glorious truths upon which to meditate in these words. The first is that the Son is the greatest of the gifts of the Father. He is the Father’s infinitely beloved Son. There is nothing in all of creation that compares in any sense whatsoever to the infinite value of the Son. The second is that God assures believers that because He has not withheld the greatest gift of His Son we can rest content that He will not refuse to give us any lesser gifts that are good for us. By these two truths, our hearts and minds are lifted up with gratitude to God for the greatness of His giving.
The greatness of God’s giving of His Son is understood in a variety of ways. First, we see it in the circumstances surrounding Christ’s birth. Jesus was born at a time of great worldwide Roman taxation (Luke 2:1–7). Sinclair Ferguson has helpfully noted, “Jesus’ birth occurred during a census and taxation in Israel. Men continually take, but God graciously gives.” The “giving” of God is seen by way of contrast to the taking of men.
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The Forgotten Side of Sanctification

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Monday, June 26, 2023
The doctrine of positional sanctification teaches that we are already perfect in the perfectly holy One. While our progressive sanctification is very imperfect in this life, we are assured that God will bring to completion what He began in us because the Son of God became the perfectly sanctified One for us. In Hebrews 7:28 we are told that the Son was “made perfect forever;” then in Heb. 10:14 we learn that “by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” 

The late Professor John Murray taught the significance of understanding the doctrine of definitive sanctification. As he studied the exegetical statements of the New Testament that spoke of believers having been sanctified through the death of Christ (e.g. 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:11; Heb. 10:10, etc.), Murray suggested that “it is a fact too frequently overlooked that in the New Testament the most characteristic terms used with reference to sanctification are used not of a process but of a once-for-all definitive act,” and that  “it would be, therefore, a deflection from biblical patterns of language and conception to think of sanctification exclusively in terms of a progressive work.” Still many tend to think of sanctification as something entirely progressive, and, therefore, miss out on understanding one of the richest and most spiritually impacting gospel truths. In order for us to understand why both definitive and positional sanctification are two aspects of the doctrine of sanctification most frequently overlooked, it will help us to consider what they are, why they have frequently been overlooked, and how it ought to impact our Christian lives.  
What is Definitive Sanctification?
As he unfolded the meaning of definitive sanctification, Murray explained that certain portions of Scriptures, such as Romans 6:1-23, teach that “there is a once-for-all definitive and irreversible breach with the realm in which sin reigns in and unto death,” and “that our death to sin and newness of life are effected in our identification with Christ in his death and resurrection.” In further explaining how union with Christ makes definitive sanctification a reality, Murray wrote:
“It is by virtue of our having died with Christ and our being raised with Him in His resurrection from the dead that the decisive breach with sin in its power, control, and defilement had been wrought…Christ in his death and resurrection broke the power of sin, triumphed over the god of this world, the prince of darkness, executed judgment upon the world and its ruler, and by that victory delivered all those who were united to him from the power of darkness and translated them into his own kingdom. So intimate is the union between Christ and his people that they were partakers with him in all these triumphal achievements and therefore died to sin, rose with Christ in the power of his resurrection…”
When the Apostle Paul said of Christ that “the death that He died, He died to sin once for all” (Rom. 6:10) he was referring to something that happened to Jesus in His death, and which subsequently has had an impact on us by virtue of our faith-union with Him. While Jesus knew no personal sin, as our representative He subjected Himself to the guilt and power of sin. When He died, He died to the power of sin’s dominion. This is how we are set free from the power of sin’s dominion in our lives when we are united to Him by faith. Distinct from the blessing of justification–which deals with the guilt of sin–definitive sanctification deals with the power of sin.
Why Has Definitive Sanctification Been Overlooked?
One of the most basic reasons why definitive sanctification isn’t more widely taught and delighted in is that it was formulated and popularized by a professor at a highly academic Reformed seminary (one of the finest in all of church history) in the 20th Century. Additionally, you won’t find this doctrine explicitly taught in our historic creeds or our beloved Reformed confessions. That being so, Professor Murray was not contradicting the Reformed Confessions with his formulation; he was, in a very real sense, building upon what our Reformed forefathers had already said about sanctification–by means of exegetically driven doctrinal refinement. The Reformed church has commonly tended to shy away from doctrinal pioneering (except in the realm of eschatology), for the obvious reason that such pioneering has usually ended in a jeopardizing of the biblical doctrines that we have come to so love and embrace. But this is not the case with definitive sanctification. You will sometimes find hints of the truth of this particular doctrine in the writings of the Puritans and other Reformed theologians of bygone ages–generally placed within the realm of regeneration or progressive sanctification. It may rightly be said to stand at the head of progressive sanctification, as it has a logical priority to our being made more and more into the image of Christ; but, it must be distinguished from progressive sanctification because–like the doctrine of justification–it is a once-for-all decisive act of God.
How Should the Doctrine of Definitive Sanctification Affect Our Lives?
In Romans 6, the Apostle Paul makes two astonishing statements. The first came in the form of a question: “How can we who have died to sin live any longer in it?” The apostle’s rhetorical question could be reworded to give it its proper sense: “How are we who have died to sin able to live any longer in it?” We should understand that it is an impossibility that those who have died with Christ, by virtue of their union with Him, should continue living on in sin. The reality of truth of this doctrine for the Christian is that he or she is no longer a slave of sin. In union with Christ, we too have died, been buried and have risen with Him (Colossians 2:20-3:4). When He died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried. When He rose, we rose with Him. We have died to the dominion of sin, because He died to sin’s dominion. This is something different than that which we get in justification. In justification, we get the guilt of our sin removed, our sins forgiven and Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. In definitive sanctification we undergo a radical breach with sin’s dominion and power. This means that we should not and do not have to go on sinning.
The second astonishing statement is found in verse 11. When we are tempted to sin, we must say to ourselves, “I have died with my Savior and have been raised with Him. I am no longer a slave to sin.
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5 Practical Points for Preachers

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
There is an ever present need to take heed to ourselves. Our lips are always a few steps ahead of our feet. There, we must be resolute in guarding against the multitude of temptations that Satan will seek to use against us.

This past Tuesday, I had the privilege of giving a pastoral charge to two men coming to be licensed to preach within the bounds of our Presbytery. The charge to those being licensed or ordained is a solemn event, happening only once in a man’s life and ministry. The charge was built largely on the ministry of the Apostle Paul and some of his charges to Timothy and Titus in the pastoral epistles. Though one can only say so much in a three to four minute charge, I carved out five practical points for these men as they enter in on a preaching ministry. Here is the essence of that charge:
1. Prioritize first preaching to yourself whatever you plan on preaching to others.
John Owen once famously declared, “Truly no man preaches that sermon well to others that doth not first preach it to his own heart”…Unless “he finds the power of it in his own heart, he cannot have any ground of confidence that it will have power in the hearts of others.” We never want to step into the pulpit without having seriously and soberingly preached first to ourselves whatever passage we are preaching to the congregation. When a man does not preach the Scriptures to himself, first and foremost, he will deliver hyper-intellectual, experientially theoretical, or dry and lifeless sermons to the people of God.
In Lectures to My Students, Charles Spurgeon explained the dire need a minister of the word must have to be so affected by God’s word that he has a burning fire for the proclamation of it within. This will only come as we preach God’s word consistently to our own hearts, the Holy Spirit fanning the flame of love for the triune God and the ministry of His word. Spurgeon wrote,
“I have such a profound respect for this ‘fire in the bones,’ that if I did not feel it myself, I must leave the ministry at once. If you do not feel the consecrated glow, I beseech you return to your homes and serve God in your proper spheres; but if assuredly the coals of juniper blaze within, do not stifle them, unless, indeed, other considerations of great moment should prove to you that the desire is not a fire of heavenly origin.”
2. Keep Christ and Him crucified and risen central in all your preaching.
The Apostle Paul said, “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Nearly every man I have known began his ministry of preaching starts it off his ministry with this commitment. However, as the years roll on, so many deviate from this and allow themselves to be sidetracked by subjects and emphases that–while they may have roots in the teaching of Scripture–supplant the central focus of Scripture on Christ and the salvation that is in Him alone. As Geerhardus Vos explained,
“It is possible, Sabbath after Sabbath and year after year, to preach things of which none can say that they are untrue and none can deny that in their proper place and time they may be important, and yet to forego telling people plainly and to forego giving them the distinct impression that they need forgiveness and salvation from sin through the cross of Christ…there ought not to be in your whole repertoire a single sermon in which from beginning to end you do not convey to your hearers the impression that what you want to impart to them, you do not think it possible to impart to them in any other way than as a correlate and consequence of the eternal salvation of their souls through the blood of Christ.”
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The Counterintuitive Christ

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
If Jesus came after the expectations and desires of sinful men and women, He would have come in a display of pomp and power that leant itself to human wisdom and pride. Instead, He came in weakness, poverty, obscurity, and ignominy. When, by faith, we receive Him as the eternal Son of God, though veiled in the weakness of flesh and set in the context of these counterintuitive circumstances, we have our eyes opened to see the wisdom of God at work. 

Everything about the circumstances of the coming of Christ into the world was counterintuitive. We tend to pride ourselves on the fact that we know this. However, the more we bring the pieces together into focus, the more astonishing it all becomes. Consider the following counterintuitive details surrounding the birth of Jesus:
The One who dwelt in inexpressible light with His Father and the Spirit, from all eternity, left that eternal glory to become man in the womb of a young, poor Jewish virgin (Luke 1:34). The One who rules and reigns as the King of Kings was not born in Rome, Greece, or Jerusalem (i.e., centers of power, status, and influence) but in the small and insignificant town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). He who sits enthroned in the heavens, was laid in an animal feeding trough (Luke 2:7, 12, 16). He who brought the stars into existence, calling each one by name, went nameless during the first week of His incarnate life (Luke 2:21). The One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, was born to a mother who was so poor that she didn’t have enough to offer the proper sacrifice for His consecration (Leviticus 5:7; Luke 2:24). On the eighth day, the infinitely holy One received a covenant sign that indicated His need for a blood judgment to cleanse sinful corruption and impurity–as the substitutionary sin-bearer, though He Himself was without sin (Luke 2:21). He who was the long awaited King of Israel was welcomed only by a handful of despised shepherds and traveling Gentiles at His birth (Matt. 2:2; Luke 2:15).
Of course, the counterintuitive circumstances of the coming of Christ into the world also serve to highlight the glory of His divine being. The eighteenth century Scottish theologian, John Maclaurin, captured the juxtaposition of the base humiliation and exalted glory of Christ throughout His life in his sermon, “Glorying in the Cross of Christ.” He wrote,
His birth was mean on earth below, but it was celebrated with hallelujahs by the heavenly host in the air above; he had a poor lodging, but a star lighted visitants to it from distant countries. Never prince had such visitants so conducted.
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