God Spoke, Therefore
God has spoken, in the Scripture of the Old and New Testament. The Bible alone is the living and true Word and nothing else. God speaks to you through it by His Holy Spirit. Listen to Him, look to Him, and live by Him.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets…
God has spoken to us, what must we do?
Listen to Him
Here is the call to action of this book of Hebrews. Listen to God! What will He say? He will reveal the glorious, powerful, living, enduring truths of Himself. But we must listen! Oh that my people had listened unto me, cried the Psalmist, then would God have subdued their enemies (Psalm 87:13). If we do not listen or if we stop listening we will perish.
See then that we do not refuse Him who speaks – For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from Heaven. (Hebrews 12:25-29).
Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. The God of all glory is speaking in His Word. He is above all, before all, over all, for He alone is God and there is no other! He is the self-existent God. This is the first proposition of the Christian faith and the second is related, that this great God revealed Himself in creation in this greatest and glorious manner, by speaking to us.
Will you not listen to Him? Listen to God who speaks to you for He brings a message of life and the power of life to those that will repent and believe. He brings a message of death and the power of death to those who are soon perishing.
Look to Him
There is a great heresy taking place in quiet around the evangelical world. It is the heresy of unbelief manifested again in this way – through the denial of the power of God. It appears in many ways and in many fashions but it ultimately has at its core a denial that Word of God is sufficient to change lives or to meet the needs of men and women boys and girls in all areas of faith and practice.
It manifests itself in evangelism – “God doesn’t want you to deny your inclinations and feelings, just don’t act physically upon them.” “God will keep you struggling with the same sins all your life, don’t expect deliverance but be joyful anyway.” “You are not really that bad, you are just the victim of ideologies and external factors of which you have no control.”
You Might also like
The Oft-Unopened Gift of ShameBy Derrick Brite — 8 months ago
A repentant sinner’s face cannot help but turn red, for “if Christ’s blood were not at the sinner’s heart, there would not so much blood come in the face.” Godly shame recognizes the great punishment that Christ endured as they mocked him, spat upon him, tore his clothes, bloodied him, and put him to wrongful death. No true Christian could look upon the blood-stained, crucified Savior and not feel great shame at their continual sins.
In his classic work, The Doctrine of Repentance, the great Puritan Thomas Watson lists six ingredients necessary for true repentance:
Sight of sin
Sorrow for sin
Confession of sin.
Shame for sin.
Hatred for sin.
Turning from sin.
According to Watson, “if any one is left out it [i.e. repentance] loses its virtue.” If this is true, it’s a good idea to think more deeply about #4. Indeed, it seems many today have failed to rightly understand the vital role that a godly shame for sin plays in true biblical repentance.
What is Godly Shame?
Shame is not the most pleasant of topics to discuss. Most often when discussing shame, we immediately seek to remind ourselves and others that on the cross, Christ took our shame, and we need carry it no longer. Just as God graciously covered the naked Adam and Eve in the garden, He has clothed our nakedness and covered our shame. Just as the second stanza of the beautiful hymn, “Man of Sorrows,” What a Name says:
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,In my place condemned He stood;Sealed my pardon with His blood;Hallelujah! what a Savior!
However, for the Christian, this is not the only category we have for shame. Godly shame is a kind of “holy bashfulness.” A repentant sinner’s face cannot help but turn red, for “if Christ’s blood were not at the sinner’s heart, there would not so much blood come in the face.” Godly shame recognizes the great punishment that Christ endured as they mocked him, spat upon him, tore his clothes, bloodied him, and put him to wrongful death. No true Christian could look upon the blood-stained, crucified Savior and not feel great shame at their continual sins.
Reminding ourselves of this fact not only points us to truth of the Gospel, but also promotes holiness so that we may live a life that is pleasing to God (2 Cor. 5:9). Therefore, godly shame is a gift of grace from God, given in order that we would live out our new lives in Christ as new creatures (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:17).
 Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, repr. 2002), 18.
 Ibid., 39.
Authentic Christian FellowshipBy David S. Huffman — 5 months ago
Written by David S. Huffman |
Saturday, October 29, 2022
Authentic Christian fellowship is not about friendly chats over coffee and donuts, but about our shared relationship and communion with God. This should then lead us to a much deeper way of relating to one another. Here I would simply draw attention to our conversations with one another. They should have a more spiritual quality about them. Indeed, this is the very thrust of what we read about the believers in Jerusalem following Pentecost. Those who had received the word through Peter’s preaching of the gospel and were baptized “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers”(Acts 2:41, 42). Jerry Bridges helpfully explains that the fellowship spoken of here was “sharing with one another what God was teaching through the Scriptures.” It was “an important part of true [Christian] community.” It is what distinguished or set apart believers from all other types of associations.
Fellowship. It is a word that is common among Christians. Of course, it isn’t a word that is exclusive among believers. The English word itself, according to the Oxford Languages online dictionary, conveys a “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests.” Generally, such a friendly association among those who share a common interest entails some type of social activity. It might be meeting up at sporting event to watch their team play or attending a concert of their favorite musical artist. People gather with one another at bars, restaurants, and homes for meals. A service project motivated out of a common concern may also bring people together as well. Whatever has bonded them together, such gatherings may rightly be regarded as a type of fellowship.
To be sure, there is common ground here when we begin to think of Christian fellowship. There is no question that believers share common interests and goals. Yet too often Christians can associate fellowship as primarily limited to gatherings with one another for meals or other social activities. Yet, the biblical idea of fellowship penetrates much deeper. As believers, we share a common identity and a common life in Jesus Christ. Authentic Christian fellowship yields a deeper connectedness to other believers than mere common interests and goals (though it includes these things). It entails a vital union with Christ and communion with God. Out of these two foundational principles flow the kind of character that should typify believer’s relationships with one another.
I should state here that my thoughts on this matter have been greatly influenced by two people, the 15th century Puritan John Owen (1616-1683) and the late Jerry Bridges (1929-2016) who served as a longtime staff member of The Navigators. I commend their works to you, particularly Owen’s Communion with God and Bridges’ True Community. In view of the limited space for this article, I want to draw attention to what genuine Christian fellowship ought to look like in practice as the fruits of our common bond in Christ.
First, genuine Christian fellowship begins with union with Christ. In 1 John 1:3, the apostle wrote, “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” The word for fellowship here is the Greek word koinonia, which can also be translated as partnership, participation, sharing, and contribution. The key point of this text, for our purposes, is that the foundation for fellowship with the apostolic witnesses and, thus, with God the Father and God the Son is believing apostolic witness. And this witness or testimony (cf. 1 John 1:2) concerns the “word of life,” that is the gospel, the good news revealed in the person and work of the Son, Jesus Christ. There is a content of knowledge that must be affirmed as true and embraced by faith if there is to be any true fellowship. In 1 John 4:1-6 we see that denying that Jesus has come in the flesh is a characteristic of everything that is antichrist. It is a tacit denial of the testimony of the apostolic witnesses who heard with their ears, saw with their eyes, and touched with their hands the “word of life” (1 John 1:1). If we would enter into this fellowship, then we begin by believing the word of life as he is proclaimed through his chosen witnesses. Fellowship with God begins, in the apostle Paul‘s words, when we are ”baptized into Christ Jesus.” That is, when we believe the gospel. We are united with him, by faith, in his death and in a resurrection like his (Romans 6:2-5).
A Response to David Coffin Concerning Overtures 23 and 37—Part TwoBy Tom Hervey — 1 year ago
Time will fail us to fully consider other elements of the OMSJC, such as its requirement in 2.10, partly quoted by Coffin himself, that every SJC member is to “perform the duties of his office with impartiality and shall be diligent to maintain the impartiality of the Commission” and that each member “must be objective and open-minded with respect to all issues and parties.” It is a little hard – lo, impossible – to be impartial, open-minded, and objective when you have publicly come down on one side of an issue.
In the previous article we looked at David Coffin’s arguments against Overtures 23 and 37 to the Presbyterian Church in America’s Book of Church Order (BCO), and now we will consider what is entailed in him, a member of the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission (SJC), publishing an article against said overtures. Coffin includes a disclaimer in which he asserts that the SJC’s Manual (OMSJC) permits him to publish this sort of article of opinion, and in so doing he interprets OMSJC 2.6 as sufficiently tempering the other provisions of the manual to allow him to do so. Here is the full text of that section:
So long as he complies with Section 2.5 above, a member may make public or private statements in the course of his duties as a presbyter or Session member with respect to biblical teaching, confessional interpretation, the principles of the form of government and discipline, the requirements of the BCO, the Rules of Assembly Operation, Robert’s Rules, and may explain Commission procedures.
Note that it is section 2.5 that modifies 2.6, not the reverse. That is significant because Coffin first quotes 2.5 in his disclaimer and then says, “that notwithstanding, I am permitted to,” and quotes the bulk of 2.6. Consider that Coffin’s article is not an example of doing the bulk of things which he is allowed to do by 2.6. It is not explaining “the Rules of Assembly Operation,” “Robert’s Rules,” or “Commission procedures.” It is not a bit of exposition of “biblical teaching” or “confessional interpretation,” as he only alludes to the Westminster Standards once to say they don’t include the term identity, and as he only alludes to two passages of scripture (1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9) as a parenthetical remark noting they are the scriptural basis for BCO 21-4’s requirements. He somewhat explains current requirements of the BCO, but only as part of a larger endeavor to argue against proposed amendments to the same BCO. It seems doubtful that the “explaining the requirements of the BCO” that the OMSJC allows is intended to allow that explanation in the course of a polemic article, an objection we might also bring to his explanation of “the principles of the form of government and discipline.”
The question then is this: is publishing an article of intradenominational political opinion a part of one’s “duties as a presbyter or Session member”? It seems doubtful, at best. It would be one thing for him to circulate this article among his session, congregation, or presbytery, but to publish it generally is to put it in a different category. The duties of a presbyter, as explained in BCO 8.1-3, for example, do not include telling the whole denomination how it should vote outside of a stated meeting of a church court, and BCO 11-4 seems to limit the sphere of elder operation to session and presbytery, and even then, only to the matters that are properly in their jurisdiction. Trying to persuade people in other presbyteries how to vote when their presbyteries vote on this question is not exactly respecting the division of jurisdictions or doing what presbyters are formally intended to do. In other words, Coffin’s article seems to be, not an example of official discharge of presbyterial duty, but rather a piece of personal opinion, the giving of which is by no means limited to presbyters. Now look at the introductory text of OMSJC 2.5:
A member of the Commission shall not make any public or private statement that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome of a pending matter or impending matter in any court of the church (BCO 11-4; 39-3).
This section goes on to give the definitions of pending and impending, saying in 2.5b that:
An impending matter is a matter that is reasonably expected to (a) become a case of process or (b) otherwise be brought before an appropriate court for consideration. “Reasonably” refers to the judgment of one in possession of all the relevant facts, which facts are subject to a fair-minded assessment.
And now consider what Coffin says in the fourth paragraph of his second section: “I do not doubt that this question [of Overture 23’s sentence structure and terminology] will give rise to controversy and litigation in this matter.” Or again, consider the statement of his disclaimer that “nothing I have said in this essay is intended to intimate, hint, or suggest which party should prevail in any case that might come before me under our current BCO, or under these proposed amendments, should they be adopted.” Coffin himself seems to think that litigation related to the overtures is likely. Indeed, why would he include a disclaimer at all unless he believed it’s very probable they will pass and come before the SJC of which he is a member?
Now if Coffin himself seems to think that Overture 23 and 37 related litigation is quite probably impending, why then is he writing such an article at all, seeing as OMSJC 2.5, as he admits, prohibits giving such public statements on impending cases? If this seems to be stretching impending a little much as regards potential future litigation viz. the overtures, note, again, that 2.5 prohibits any statement that will affect the adoption of any matter now pending or impending before any church court. Presbyteries are church courts (BCO 10-2), and the question of adopting Overtures 23 and 37 is now pending with dozens of them (and by extension, the sessions of their constituent churches, which are also courts, BCO 10-2). Coffin is at odds, then, with the requirements of OMSJC 2.5. Also consider the full text of OMSJC 2.8:
Notwithstanding Section 2.5 above, a member of the Commission may fully participate in a judicial matter before the Presbytery or Session of which he is a member and advise his Presbytery or Session in judicial matters.
Mark that carefully. He may participate in something like debating the overtures before his own session and presbytery only. He may not participate in debating them beyond the bounds of those courts, a thing which he does when he publishes an article arguing against them in an online magazine.
Time will fail us to fully consider other elements of the OMSJC, such as its requirement in 2.10, partly quoted by Coffin himself, that every SJC member is to “perform the duties of his office with impartiality and shall be diligent to maintain the impartiality of the Commission” and that each member “must be objective and open-minded with respect to all issues and parties.” It is a little hard – lo, impossible – to be impartial, open-minded, and objective when you have publicly come down on one side of an issue. Cue 2.10d:
A member shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which the member’s impartiality might reasonably (see Section 2.5.b) be questioned, including but not limited to the following circumstances:2) The member . . . has made a public statement, other than in a court proceeding, judicial decision, or opinion, that commits or appears to commit the member to reach a particular result or rule in a particular way in the proceeding or controversy.
By publishing his article Coffin has ensured that he will have to recuse himself if, as he suggests is rather probable, cases come before the SJC regarding these overtures.
Now one may object and say that I have not properly interpreted and applied some of the elements of the BCO and OMSJC to which I have appealed here or even that I am not competent or qualified to undertake such arguments. Perhaps there are established precedents that have caused us to determine the interpretation of some of these individual clauses I have quoted and to give them a different meaning than I have given them here.
Lay that aside and lay aside also my belief that I have faithfully interpreted all of this in accord with the plain meanings of the words. Look not at the minutiae of legal clauses and interpretations, whether mine or others, and look rather at the large picture. Can it seriously be maintained that it is an ethically proper thing for a member of the SJC to argue against these measures? Maybe our constitution does not fully mandate a separation of powers in which SJC members are required to only judge cases that come before them and are strictly required to keep silent about legislative questions related to the adoption of this or that measure or BCO amendment. Maybe it is lawful for David Coffin to publish an article such as this by the current standards of the BCO and OMSJC (though I think I have dispelled that suggestion). But is it right? Is it an example of upholding the spirit of orderly church government, or of keeping aloof not only from wrongdoing but also from any hint or appearance of the same? Is it not rather likely to strike many of our members and ministers, and probably more than a few outside observers as well, as a rather odd way of doing things that reeks of conflicts of interest and imprudence? And is it not the sort of thing that causes our members, when made aware of it, to have less confidence in the impartiality and integrity of our courts, and of our form of government generally?
Tom Hervey is a member of Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Simpsonville, SC. The opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent those of the leadership or members of Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church.