Nicholas T. Batzig

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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The Priesthood of the Father, Giving Up the Son

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Thursday, December 22, 2022
The Son is the priest who offers Himself without spot to God, and the Father is the priest in giving His eternally beloved Son as a sacrifice for the sin of His people. Jesus has been “given for us” by the Father (Isaiah 9:6) so that we might be reconciled to God.

In his outstanding book Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement, Donald Macleod gives an intriguing insight about the priestly role God the Father played in giving His Son up as an atoning sacrifice. He writes,
“[Luke 22:19 and Romans 8:32] point to a priesthood of God the Father, ‘giving’ or ‘giving up’ His only Son. . .What can we say as to the precise nature of the Father’s action at Calvary? The New Testament answer is breathtaking. He acted in the role of priest. Just as Jesus ‘gave’ His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45) so God the Father ‘gave’ His one and only Son; just as Christ ‘delivered up’ Himself as a fragrant offering (Eph. 5:2) so God the Father ‘delivered up’ His own Son (Rom. 8:32).”1
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The Shadowy Nature of the Theocracy

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
Those who have been swept up with various forms of theonomy (or Christian Nationalism) should reflect deeply on the redemptive-historical role of the Old Covenant civil law as well as on how the Apostles spiritually applied it to the New Covenant church. 

With a burgeoning interest in the idea of Christian Nationalism, the Christian Church in America has seen a renewed interest in modified versions of theonomy. Theonomy was a politico-theological movement that arose out of Reformed theological circles in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The central figures in this movement were R.J. Rushdooney, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, Ken Gentry, and Gary DeMar. The various forms of theonomy have commonly been denominated by both adherents and critics, “dominion theology,” “Christian reconstructionism,” or “general equity theonomy.” While differences certainly exist in the specific way in which the theonomists packaged their proposals, there is a common commitment to emphasize that God desires the implimentation of the Old Covenant civil laws into the governments of the world in the New Covenant.
Legion are the problems with the theonomic proposals–not least of which is the fact that the Apostles never taught the fledgling New Covenant churches to labor for the implementation of the Old Covenant civil law into the government. Theonomy is utterly dependent upon the embrace of a postmillennialism that inevitably demands the implementation of a Christian theistic ethic into the fabric of every society. This makes nearly every form of theonomy a present non-reality that is dependent on a misconstrued eschatological hope. However, there are two other overarching hermeneutical reasons why theonomy is built on a defunct understanding of the role of the civil law in redemptive history.
In his chapter, “The Mosaic Theocracy,” in Eschatology of the Old Testament, Geerhardus Vos explained the unique place of the theocracy in redemptive history. He wrote,
“The eschatological idea influencing the constitution of the theocracy becomes dependent on the interaction of the type and the antitype. The future state imposes its own stamp on the theocracy, an actual institution of Israel. The theocratic structure projects its own character into the picture of the future. Heaven reflected itself on Israel and Israel became part of the future. . .There is somewhat of the shadowy, inadequate character of the prefiguration that passes over into the description of what the eschatological will be like when it comes. The antitype impresses its stamp upon the theocratic structure and imparts to it somewhat of its transcendent, absolute character. The theocracy has something ideal or unattainable about it. Its plan, as conceived by the law, hovers over the actual life of Israel. The theocracy in the idea transcends its embodiment in experience.”1
Vos proceeded to explain that this “unattainable” ideal of the eternal rule of God stamped on Old Covenant Israel served its purpose until the coming of Christ, who, in turn, spiritualized or eternalized everything about the theocracy. He explained,
“Israel fell short of the ideal at all points. This theocratic organization of Israel had something ideal about it from the beginning. It could not be attained. It hovered over the life of the people. . .The great principles and realities of theocratic life were embodied in external form. This was the only way to clothe the essence of the theocracy in a way that the Israelites could grasp. In order to keep the future eschatological picture in touch with Israel’s religion these forms had to be maintained. The prophets had to give the essence in particular forms. Eschatological revelation is presented in the language of the Mosaic institutions.
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An All American Burgher?

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
The commitment of believers to see the propagation of the gospel spread to every corner of the earth is far more important than the quest for some particular manifestation of the implementation of biblical law into the government. The two may not necessarily be considered mutually exclusive; however, the former commitment must always have precedent over the latter.

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in “the Marrow Controversy”–an 18th Century theological debate that occurred in the church of Scotland over the nature of grace and the free offer of the Gospel. The controversy itself was fueled by a 17th Century work that bore the title, “The Marrow of Modern Divinity.” Those who consider the fight against both antinomianism and legalism to be foremost among matters in the Christian life consider this renewed interest in the Marrow Controversy to be a welcomed development.
A number of years ago, Sinclair Ferguson released The Whole Christ, a work that categorically breaks down the essence of the Marrow Controversy. Ferguson’s three lectures on the Marrow Controversy were the catalyst for generating a renewed interest in this subject. Phil Ryken, wrote a doctoral dissertation on the preaching of Thomas Boston–one of the renown Marrow Men, as well as the introduction to a reprint of The Marrow of Modern Divinity with Boston’s Notes. Ferguson, Ryken, Ligon Duncan, Joel Beeke, Tim Keller and William VanDoodewaard are among those who have written or spoken on the significance of the Marrow in our day.  While the nuances of the Marrow Controversy are essential for believers to come to grasp, the men involved came to be involved in yet another controversy in Scotland during the 18th Century–namely, the Burgher/Anti-Burgher schism.
Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine–from whom, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church ARP, arose and, after whom, Erskine College and Seminary were named–were among the foremost of the Marrow Men. The Erskine brothers led the way in the 1730’s in seceding from the church of Scotland on account of their concern over doctrinal laxity in the church. After seeking to form their own Presbytery, the “Seceders”–as they came to be known–formed their own denomination, the United Secession Church. Sadly, more divisions were to follow. In 1747, the Secession Church divided into two groups, the Burghers and the Anti-Burghers over “the Burgher Oath.” The church required ministers to state whether or not they believe that the civil authorities (i.e., the Burgesses) were bound to profess “the true religion” (i.e., Protestantism) in order to hold office. The clause in the Burghers (or Burgess) Oath that caused so much consternation for the Anti-Burghers was as follows:
“Here I protest before God and your Lordships, that I profess and allow with all of my heart the true religion presently professed within this realm and authorized by the laws thereof; I shall abide thereat, and defend the same, to my life’s end; renouncing the Roman Catholic religion, called Papacy.”
The Erskine’s were among those who supported the Burgher oath; however, Ralph Erskine’s son, John, was among the Anti-Burgher faction–those who believed that it violated an individual’s conscience and the right of the state not to be put under compulsion by the church. In what is one of the saddest events among family relations in modern church history, John Erskine stood before his Presbytery and read the pronouncement of excommunication against his father-in-law for accepting the Burgess Oath. When Ralph lay on his deathbed, he called for his son to be reconciled to him. John refused to come and see him. This is the extent to which political differences can divide those who believe the same gospel and the same tenets of the Reformed faith.
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The Grace of Remembering

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Tuesday, October 25, 2022
We need to remind ourselves of those precious truths of the gospel—namely, that through our union with Christ in His death and resurrection, the power of sin has been broken, the guilt of our sin has been forgiven and dealt with, and the assurance of God’s presence secured to us.

Today marks 21 years since the Lord brought me to saving faith and repentance. I always find it to be a good practice to meditate on the way in which the Lord draw me out of a pit of sin and misery and to Himself in Christ. Remembering what we once were when we were dead in sins and what God did to mercifully draw us to Himself through the saving work of Christ is vital if we are to make advancement in our spiritual growth in grace. The Christian life is often fueled most of all not by learning new things (although there are always more important truths for us to learn in God’s word) but by remembering those truths that God has already revealed to us.
There are at least three clear places in Scripture that encourage us to remember the truth of the gospel in order to make progress in growth in Christ-likeness. The first passage is Romans 6. There, the Apostle Paul explained that if we are united to Jesus we have died with Him, been buried with Him, and risen with Him. In light of this truth–and the accompanying truths about our having died to the power of sin since He died to it’s power–Paul charges believers with the following words: “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:11). Paul was charging believers to preach a specific aspect of the Gospel–what theologians call definitive sanctification–to ourselves. This charge comes on the heal of the question, “Shall we continue in sin that grace might abound?” Through our union with Christ crucified and risen, we have a powerful tool to encourage holiness in the lives of believers. If we are struggling with a particular sin or on the brink of giving into some sin, Paul charges us to preach to ourselves that aspect of the gospel in which there has been a definitive breach with sin’s power.
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The Bewitching Influence of Secularism

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
If we decide to send our children to secular institutions, we had better do so with our eyes wide open to the worldview their minds will be filled with on a daily basis. If we send our children to public schools, we must be aware that the bewitching influence of secularism runs swift and strong. Maximally, this is a call for Christians to seriously consider the need for Christian schooling.

Secularism is a religion. Make no mistake about it. Though many seek to advance it as a neutralizing alternative to a religiously structured society, it is, in its own right, a religion. A secular worldview is not content until it has permeated every fabric of society–civics, ethics, media, and education. Just as the Christian worldview is meant to permeate all human activity, so secularism seeks to stand in the gap and block a truly consistent application of Christianity to every aspect of life. There is a bewitching element of secularism to which many–even many Christians–are blind.
Prior to considering one important measure to counter the permeating influence of secularism, a brief history of secularism as an ideological movement is in order. In the chapter, “Atheism and Secularism,” in the Ligonier Field Guide on False Teaching, we read,
“The Enlightenment in France particularly fueled atheism and secularism in the Western world. Baron Paul-Henri Thiry d’Holbach—an atheist intellectual—taught a form of mechanistic metaphysics that served as a catalyst for the modern atheism movement. D’Holbach devoted two works to the defense and propagation of atheism: Système de la Nature and Le Bon Sens. His contemporary Denis Diderot is believed to have assisted him in the production of the strongly atheistic and materialistic book Système de la Nature. Diderot was the first to give a modern definition of atheism, including it in his Encyclopédie.
With the rise of the scientific revolution, materialistic understandings of the origins of the universe became more widely accepted in the West. Accordingly, the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species in 1859 was seized upon by atheists as providing a scientific justification for their view. Darwin’s work fostered secularist agendas in Western countries, primarily through Karl Marx’s application of Darwin’s principles to his economic and political theories. In Das Kapital, Marx appealed to Darwin’s contributions. Although Darwin was not supportive of Marx’s use of his philosophy for the propagation of political and economic socialism, the rise of secularsm can be directly tied to the influence of Darwin on Marx.
After Marx, the nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche further advanced anti-theistic philosophy throughout the Western world. On numerous occasions, Nietzsche used the phrase ‘God is dead’ to explain the effects of the Enlightenment in producing an increasing disbelief in God and subsequent secularization in Western society.
In 1927, the British philosopher Bertrand Russell gave a talk at the National Secular Society in London that was later published in 1969 under the title Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. This book had a significant effect on readers in Britain and America, further popularizing atheism and secularism. Russell helped pave the way for the “new atheist” movement—a contemporary form of atheist apologetics popularized by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. Dawkins’ The God Delusion, released in 2006, was a New York Times best seller and the second-best-selling book on Amazon that year. New atheism distinguishes itself from older forms of atheism in that it does not simply reject belief in God but also is hostile to those who hold religious views.
The term “secularism” was first coined by George Holyoake in the mid-nineteenth century in his work Principles of Secularism. Holyoake defined secularism in this way:
‘Secularism is a series of principles intended for the guidance of those who find theology indefinite, or inadequate, or deem it unreliable. It replaces theology, which mainly regards life as a sinful necessity, as a scene of tribulation through which we pass to a better world.’
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Law and Gospel in Redemptive History and Christian Experience

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Friday, September 16, 2022
When we begin to understand the important relationship between the law of God and the gospel, we will guard against allowing any perversions of it in our presentation of the biblical teaching about justification and sanctification. We will carefully note the contexts in which these two means of revelation are contrasted in Scripture; and, we will recognize that while the law does not, in anyway whatsoever, play in to our justification before God (except insomuch as Christ kept it for us), we will seek to promote the important place that law plays in the Christian life. Believers, at one and the same time, recognize that they are neither justified nor condemned by the moral law of God and they are zealous to run the course of God’s commandments by faith working through love. 

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Joe Thorn, on the Doctrine and Devotion podcast, about the biblical relationship between law and gospel. This subejct is arguably the most significant for us to settle in our thinking, on account of the fact that the entirety of our salvation hangs on the right understanding of the relationship between these two aspects of the divine revelation about the will of God. Many errors have sprung up throughout church history by means of confusion about the relationship between law and gospel. Even Reformed theologians have struggled to come to a place of absolute uniformity in their understanding of the relationship between law and gospel. As Jonathan Edwards once rightly noted, “There is perhaps no part of divinity attended with so much intricacy, and wherein orthodox divines do so much differ, as stating the precise agreement and difference between the two dispensations of Moses and Christ.” To come to a settled understanding of the relationship between law and gospel, we have to first grasp the various theological categories by which the Reformed have sought to settle this questions.
The Scriptures can be divided into two, basic architectonic categories–the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. In the Covenant of Works, Adam stood as the federal head of humanity. What he did in relation to the covenant stipulations, he did as the representative of all who would descend from him by ordinary generation. In the command not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam had a summarization of the moral law of God. Though God did not tell Adam not to kill Eve, Adam would have known in his conscience (the moral law of God being written on it at creation) that it was evil to murder a fellow image bearer. If Adam had cut down the Tree, made a bat, and killed Eve with it, he would have violated the sixth commandment. For these reasons, we can say that the Covenant of Works was a legal covenant, and that the command not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was Law.
By way of contrast, the gospel came to Adam and Eve in the Garden in the form of a Covenant of Grace immediately after their fall. God graciously gave the promise that He would send a Redeemer (i.e., the Seed of the woman) to crush the head of the serpent. God promised to send One who would be a new representative of His people and who would come to conquer the one who conquered man (Genesis 3:15). This promise was the first preaching of the gospel. It was built entirely on the free grace of God and was dependent exclusively on the gracious work of God. In contrast to the law, the gospel promised life and righteousness freely by grace. Christ is the mediator of the Covenant of Grace and came to freely provide in the gospel what God required in the law. In this sense, the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace represent the Law and the Gospel. Every man is either in Adam (as his or her federal head) or in Christ (as the representative of the new humanity).
In the course of redemptive history, another relationship between law and gospel appeared in the giving of the law at Sinai. When God entered into covenant with Israel in the old covenant, He did so by means of the covenant ratification at Sinai. Moses, as the old covenant typical redeemer, received the 613 commands from God on the mountain. In the giving of the law at Sinai there was a three-fold distinction. The 613 commandments can be categorized according to the tripartite division of moral, ceremonial, and civil law. The moral law is the essence of the morality God requires of His image bearers. It is summarized in the Ten Commandments. The ceremonial laws are those laws in the Mosaic Covenant that speak distinctly to the cultic practices of Israel. They include laws about sacrifice, priesthood, Tabernacle, and purity. The civil laws were those laws dealing with crime and punishment in the old covenant theocracy. In the New Testament, the word law (nomos) is used sometimes of the entire Mosaic economy, sometimes of the totality of the Mosaic law given at Sinai, sometimes of the ceremonial laws, sometimes of the civil law, and sometimes of the moral law. The context of each passage in which the word occurs will necessitate the way in which we are to understand its usage.
It is not uncommon to read in the Pauline epistles the contrast between the law and the gospel. In nearly every case, the contrast is set in the context of soteriological questions. A right understanding of the situations in which law and gospel are bring used is vital to a right understanding of the relationship between the two. Herman Bavinck has helpfully digested a number of places in the New Testament in which either law or gospel are used. He wrote,
“The law is the will of God (Rom. 2:18, 20); holy, wise, good, and spiritual (7:12, 14; 12:10); giving life to those who maintain it (2:13; 3:2); but because of sin it has been made powerless, it fails to justify, it only stimulates covetousness, increases sin, arouses wrath, kills, curses, and condemns (Rom. 3:20; 4:15; 5:20; 7:5, 8–9, 13; 2 Cor. 3:6ff.; Gal. 3:10, 13, 19).
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Doctrine, Denominations, and Division

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Divisions, while undesirable, are, nevertheless, not necessarily schismatic in and of themselves. In fact, such divisions may actually serve to help foster unity by allowing various people in the one body of Christ to affiliate with those of similar theological and sociological persuasion without sharing the same ecclesiastical government.

The 20th Century will be likely be remembered as the Century of ecclesiastical ecumenism. The 21st Century is shaping up to follow suit–not simply because of a widespread desire for co-belligerency, but on account of a doctrinal reductionism that seeks to dilute Christianity down to the most basic creedal statements of the early church. One of the driving forces behind the push for ecclesiastical ecumenically is the quest for societal community–as evidenced by the rise of Marxist and Communist ideology in Western society. Ironically, many of those seeking radical community also (perhaps unwittingly) embrace elements of the radical individualism of post-modernity. Champions of our current ecumenism view previous communal labors for doctrinal continuity as being either archaic or overly restrictive. While doctrinal statements such as the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechism, were once considered ecumenical–among various ecclesiastical bodies in the Reformed and Protestant world–they are now frowned upon (sadly even by many ministers who vow to uphold their teachings in a number of Presbyterian denominations). All of this leads us to reopen the question as to whether or not denominations and doctrinal divisions are antithetical to the unity of the church throughout the world.
In 1985, J.I. Packer delivered a lecture at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia titled, “Divisions in the Church,” in order to tackle the important issue of doctrinal and denominational unity and diversity. In this particular lecture (and in the subsequent related essay in The Collected Shorter Writings of J.I. Packer, vol. 2), Packer dealt with the following three categories: shameful divisions, inescapable divisions and dealing with divisions. Starting with the biblical call to unity among the one community of believers throughout the world, Packer noted, “Neither you nor I are the only pebble on God’s beach.” He then went on to affirm the unity that all believers have, regardless of the denomination in which they have bound themselves:
“The church may be pictured like the wheel of a bicycle. Christ is the hub. You and I are spokes. Because we are linked with Christ we belong to the church and have something to give by way of stability and usefulness to the rim of the wheel, that is, the church’s outward witness, worship and life. United to the one Saviour we are united to each other in the one universal church. This church is the family of God. It is also the body of Christ. The New Testament speaks of ‘members,’ not of the church, but of Christ; ‘membership’ is part of the notion of the church as Christ’s body. ‘Members’ means ‘limbs,’ not people who sit in pews and pay their dues but people vitally united to Christ–limbs, organs and units in his body. which is the visible church worldwide. The church is also the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Believers share in the life of the Spirit, giving and taking in the fellowship which the Spirit sustains. ‘Give and take’ is the constant formula of Christian fellowship.”
 Shameful Divisions
The Bible’s emphasis on the unity of all true believers–by virtue of their union with Christ and of the subsequent indwelling of the Spirit within each believer–is always at risk of being lost. In the New Testament, we find the Apostles laboring tirelessly to preserve the unity of the members of the body of Christ. Packer explained:
“Paul was distressed to discover that at Corinth…there were people separating into parties according to which was the favorite preacher for each group: ‘I belong to Paul,’ ‘I belong to Apollos,’ ‘I belong to Cephas.’ And evidently there were a few people who, in the face of this, tried to keep their end up as simple Christians saying, ‘I belong to Christ; I don’t know about you, but Christ is the one to whom I give loyalty.’ It distressed Paul that there should be divisions in that congregation.
If we are going to study divisions in the church, we had better recognize that we are studying something pathological. We are studying a form of spiritual ill-health in Christ’s body. Our study is compared to a doctor studying blindness in the eye or paralysis in the limbs. Division in the church means that ‘something is wrong.’ The body is out of sorts.”
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A Nanny Church?

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
When believers allow ministers to bind their consciences with unbiblical rules and regulations, they have allowed themselves to be subject to the misplaced concept of the nanny church. When certain segments of Christians criticize visible churches–rather than individual Christians–broadly for not caring about certain social issues, they have embraced the idea of a nanny church.

With the overturning of Row v. Wade, I have noticed numerous professing Christians posting things like, “Now the church needs to start caring for all of life for those who get pregnant,” or “The church needs to do more than simply denounce the practice of abortion.” I would contend that this, albeit it a well-meaning statement, misses the mark of the God-ordained ministry of the visible church. It is to view the church as a nanny church. It is not the role of the church to adopt. It is the role of individual Christians to adopt. It is not the role of the church to start Christian pregnancy centers. It is the role of individual believers to do so. It is not the role of the church to provide for every woman who conceives out of wedlock. It is the role of parents and the father of the child to provide. This is not to say that the church doesn’t have to collectively come alongside a woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock. However, pastors and congregants alike may denounce the wicked and hellish practice of slaughtering the unborn without having their consciences being unnecessarily bound to adopt or support the unwed in society. There will most certainly be cases in which a young woman does not have the support of parents or the father of her child. However, the ordinary moral responsibility falls on those God-ordained relational structures, rather than on the visible church as the visible church. God places that responsibility on those within the sphere of moral proximity.
The late Dr. R.C. Sproul once recounted a time when he shared a taxi with the great Christian apologist, Francis Schaeffer. At one point, Sproul asked Schaeffer, “’Dr. Schaeffer, what is your biggest concern for the future of the church in America?’ ‘Without hesitation,’ R.C. said, ‘Dr. Schaeffer turned to me and spoke one word: ‘Statism.’ Dr. Sproul concluded,
“Schaeffer’s biggest concern at that point in his life was that the citizens of the United States were beginning to invest their country with supreme authority, such that the free nation of America would become one that would be dominated by a philosophy of the supremacy of the state.”
As much as statism should concern us, there is an equally destructive danger for believers, namely, churchism. By churchism, I do not mean that one can value Jesus’ church too highly. In fact, most professing believers value both the visible church and invisible church far too little. What I mean by “churchism” is the propensity for many to put an unjust burden on the leadership of a particular visible (i.e., local) church to live the Christian life for those within the church. Just as we ought to reject a nanny state, so we ought to reject a nanny church.
Before addressing the peculiar ways in which many today project unjust expectations on the visible church, we should consider the biblical and historical-theological teaching the nurturing aspect of the church in the lives of believers. The Westminster Confession of Faith sums up the role of the visible church for the spiritual lives of believers, when it states,
“Unto this catholic (i.e., universal) and visible church, Christ has given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world; and does by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them effectual thereunto.”
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Worthy of Worship

Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
We worship the one person of the Son of God, who is both God and man. We now worship the Man, Christ Jesus, who is seated on the throne of God, the only Mediator between God and man–even as we will for all of eternity.

A number of years ago, Anna and I were at a concert to see one of our favorite singer-songwriters perform. During the break in between songs, someone in the crowd shouted, “You’re my hero. I worship you, man!” The performer stopped the show and said, “Don’t say that. You don’t know anything about me.” He then proceeded to tell the story about how he once tried to take his own life based on a struggle he has had with deep depression. When he was finished he said, “That’s why I said, don’t say that stuff.” It was a surreal moment. But, it was also quite a telling moment.
Men and women are ready to worship created beings while refusing to worship the living and true God. All of this is in step with what the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:25, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” This should cause us to ask a question about the apropriate object of our worship. To whom do we owe all of our admiration, affection, and allegiance? Who is worthy of our worship? The answer is straightforward. God, and God alone, is worthy of our worship. But, what about God incarnate, Jesus Christ? Can we worship the Man, Christ Jesus?
The Holy Spirit gives us ample amounts of proofs of the deity of Christ in Scripture. The fact that Jesus received worship from men and women–during his earthly ministry–has to be among the most marvelous proof of His divine nature. Four times in Matthew’s Gospel we read, “they…worshiped him” (Matt. 2:11; 14:33; 28:9; and 28:17). There numerous examples of men and women worshiping Jesus throughout the gospel records that help us understand that it is not only acceptable to worship the Man, Christ Jesus–it is right that He receives that worship.
First, when the magi presented their gifts to the child, Jesus, Matthew writes, “going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (Matt. 2:11). These Gentile astologers bowed down and worshiped a child. This would be idolatry if He were not “God over all blessed forever” (Rom. 9:5).
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