“It’s ultimately no surprise that great teachers produce other great teachers. That seems to be the way God has designed us. In Scripture, we are called again and again to be disciples, or more precisely, learners. We need teachers if we are to learn, and great teachers raise up great learners who can then go on to produce other great learners. Christ is our preeminent example of this. Because He was a great teacher, He knew what to do in order to take a ragtag bunch of fishermen, Zealots, and tax collectors, and make them into the most influential bunch of learners the world has ever known. From their ranks we have been blessed with great teachers—Matthew, John, Peter, and others whose work continues to impact the world to this day. Of course, these men were inspired by the Holy Spirit in a manner that other teachers aren’t. However, Christ’s use of them to make disciples of all nations remains a model of how great teachers produce other great teachers.
No matter how great our earthly teachers may be, they will err. We will have to weigh their words against the Spirit-inspired teachings of the Apostles and prophets. But we dare not think we can ever reach a point where we cannot benefit from the teaching of others. Great teachers who are faithful to God’s Word are a blessing to God’s church. He will use them to build us up so that we can build up other.”
R.C. Sproul, The Blessing of Great Teachers from Lignier.org
On Friday, much of the culture will be focused on candy and things that go bump in the night. Protestants, however, have something far more significant to celebrate on October 31. Friday is Reformation day, which commemorates what was perhaps the greatest move of God’s Spirit since the days of the Apostles. But what is the significance of Reformation Day, and how should we consider the events it commemorates?
At the time, few would have suspected that the sound of a hammer striking the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, would soon be heard around the world and lead ultimately to the greatest transformation of Western society since the apostles first preached the Gospel throughout the Roman empire. Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to the church door on October 31, 1517, provoked a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.
An heir of Bishop Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther is one of the most significant figures God has raised up since that time. This law student turned Augustinian monk became the center of a great controversy after his theses were copied and distributed throughout Europe. Initially protesting the pope’s attempt to sell salvation, Luther’s study of Scripture soon led him to oppose the church of Rome on issues including the primacy of the Bible over church tradition and the means by which we are found righteous in the sight of God. [Read more…]
from the Ligonier blog, 19 December 2010
Nehemiah served in a pagan government as a believer in God. He was humble and respectful to the king, but proper fear of his king did not stop him from acting to save his people. He prayed to God and made a request of the king, asking for permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild it. He also asked for letters that he might present to various governors for safe conduct, and even a grant for building materials.
Not all the pagan governors were sanguine toward Nehemiah and his plans. Indeed, some were fiercely resistant to them. When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite heard of his efforts, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.
When Nehemiah set about the task of rebuilding, his enemies laughed at him and despised him. Nehemiah, though, did not let his critics determine his agenda. Nehemiah’s temptation would have been to allow the pagans to alter the plans and engage in a joint venture of compromise in the mission. That would have eased the burden on his own people and won him the applause both of the Jews and the pagans. But Nehemiah cared nothing for the applause of men and was totally unwilling to compromise the mission he had undertaken for God.
Instead of worrying about accommodating the pagans, Nehemiah focused on the reforms needed among his own people. The paganism Nehemiah feared was not the paganism of the pagans; it was the paganism of his own people. It was not paganism outside the camp that threatened Israel so much as the paganism within the camp.
Coram Deo: Are you seeking the applause of men rather than the approval of God?
Nehemiah 2:18: “And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ Then they set their hands to do this good work.”
Nehemiah 2:10: “When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.”
Nehemiah 4:9: “Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.”
from the Ligonier Daily Devotional
The modern distinction between the “carnal Christian” and the “Spirit-filled Christian” is a dangerous one. If a carnal Christian is described as one whose fallen nature has not yet been changed by grace, it is a contradiction in terms. If a person is carnal in the sense that the Holy Spirit resides in him without affecting his constituent nature in any way, then he is simply not a Christian. To view regeneration as not effecting any real change in the person is a serious distortion of regeneration. Here the Holy Spirit indwells but does nothing to effect change in the person.
If a Spirit-filled Christian is defined as one in whom the flesh is absent entirely, then the only Spirit-filled Christians are those now in heaven. Every Christian is to some degree carnal in this world, insofar as the remnants of the flesh are still there provoking warfare. In this sense, the Apostle Paul, after his conversion, was a carnal Christian. Every Christian is also spiritual in that the Holy Spirit indwells him and works in him, through him, and on him.
The biblical view involves the indwelling of a divine person within a human person who has been truly regenerated by the power of the divine person. The human person has changed. His old nature is dying, and by cooperation with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the new man is growing into conformity to Christ.
Thank God for the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in, through, and on you.
Passages for Further Study
by C. Fitzsimmons Allison
Corruption and Reform in the Christian Church could be a title of a work on church history. There has been no age that has not seen this phenomenon occur and reoccur.
One of the best examples of reform is that which occurred at Cluny in the tenth century in southern France following the darkest times of the Western church after the fall of Rome (see Nick Needham’s article above for more on the Cluniac revival). It brought a visible seriousness of spiritual discipline that lasted for more than two centuries. The acknowledged founder, Berno of Baume (d. 927), was followed by long-serving, effective leaders. The order reached its height under Hugh (d. 1109) with well over one thousand houses affiliated with the mother monastery of Cluny.
As Cluny gained power, influence, and wealth, this reform itself needed reform. It too became corrupt, but fortunately it was replaced by the Cistercian reform movement led by the incomparable Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153).
It is undeniable that the monastic institution and religious orders were instruments in the reform of church corruption over many centuries and that papal authority protected them from lay intrusions. Yet by the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the monasteries and papacy were both in dire need of reform.
Scott Reiber, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian in Vicksburg, MS (my home church) and I are taping a series of Mike Corley Programs on the topic of What is the Gospel? You can listen to the first installment HERE.
How wonderful it was to learn of this great offer available through Ligonier Ministries:
Free Messages Explaining What the Gospel Is and What It Is Not
from Karisa Schlehr
What would happen if every time we spoke of the gospel we got it wrong? It is imperative that we know, believe, and proclaim no other Gospel than the one delivered by Jesus Himself. May these free streaming messages and resources help you as you study the biblical Gospel of salvation.
What Is the Gospel? by R.C. Sproul
Understanding the Gospel by R.C. Sproul
Meaning of the Gospel by R.C. Sproul
Evangelism According to Jesus: 2008 National Conference
The Doctrine of Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul Resource Collection
Also….the June issue of Tabletalk Magazine is tremendous and features articles on “The New Calvinism“, including great articles by Buck Parsons, Iain Campbell, Ken Jones and of course Dr. Sproul. If you are not a subscriber to Tabletalk, I highly suggest you sign up today at http://www.ligonier.org/tabletalk/