The four categories of gifted men include the foundational fits of apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20), evangelists, and pastor-teachers. The Greek syntax suggests (but doesn’t demand) that “shepherds [pastors] and teachers” indicates one category of gifted man: the pastor-and-teacher.
And what is he said to be? “The Minister”? Hardly. In fact, Paul expressly says that the purpose of the office is to equip the saints for the work of service — of ministry (diakonia)!
So the pastor is not the vicarious representative of the congregation, doing the work of ministry in their stead. He does not serve God, as they gaze on idly, perhaps holding up score-numbers, like judges at the Olympics. No, the pastor equips the saints, and they minister, they serve. The saints are the ministers.
The doctrine of total depravity (or total inability) says that all men, as a consequence of the Fall, are born morally corrupt, enslaved to sin, at enmity with God, and unable to please Him or even of themselves to turn to Christ for salvation. (Thus the necessity of a gracious, unconditional election.) Here is a sweeping survey of the biblical support for the doctrine.
HT: Irish Calvinist
When You Pray: Making the Lord’s Prayer Your Own
by Philip Graham Ryken.
P&R Publishing, 206 pages.
Prayer is one of the most basic elements of the Christian life, and one of the most neglected. One of the difficulties we face is that we do not feel as though we know how to pray.
The Lord himself, however taught us just how to pray. In Matthew 6 and in Luke 11, Jesus taught his apostles (and us) a model for prayer that is remarkable for its combination of both simplicity and depth.
Phil Ryken, senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, walks through each part of the Lord’s Prayer in great detail.
He begins by examining the first part of the Matthew passage, before the Lord’s Prayer even begins, to show us how not to pray like hypocrites. Observes Ryken,
The problem with these hypocrites was not what they did, but why they did it… Are you a hypocrite? One way to tell is to compare the amount of time you spend in private prayer to the amount of time you spend in public prayer.
He then illustrates Christ’s next example of bad prayer in a chapter wonderfully titled “How to Pray Like an Orphan.” Ryken’s premise is that pagans, both ancient and modern, pray like orphans – not knowing the love of the Father, or the confidence that He will hear them or provide for them.
Knowing God as Father has two tremendous implications for the life of prayer. First, it means that you can keep it simple; second, it means that God will give you what you need almost before you ask… In the whole history of the world, God has never once been surprised during a prayer meeting.
After this introduction, Ryken spends the bulk of the book walking through each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, meditating on the full meaning and implications of each one. It is easy to see that he has spent much time not only praying the Lord’s Prayer, but also praying about the Lord’s Prayer.
This is not an instruction manual for prayer. Instead, it is a reflection on the wonderful glorious prayer that Christ himself has given us. The purpose of the book is not primarily to teach us how to pray like the Lord did, but to use His prayer more effectively. Read this book, and you will never pray the Lord’s Prayer casually again.
“That henceforth we should not serve sin.” – Romans 6:6
Christian, what hast thou to do with sin? Hath it not cost thee enough already? Burnt child, wilt thou play with the fire? What! when thou hast already been between the jaws of the lion, wilt thou step a second time into his den? Hast thou not had enough of the old serpent? Did he not poison all thy veins once, and wilt thou play upon the hole of the asp, and put thy hand upon the cockatrice’s den a second time? Oh, be not so mad! so foolish! Did sin ever yield thee real pleasure? Didst thou find solid satisfaction in it? If so, go back to thine old drudgery, and wear the chain again, if it delight thee. But inasmuch as sin did never give thee what it promised to bestow, but deluded thee with lies, be not a second time snared by the old fowler- be free, and let the remembrance of thy ancient bondage forbid thee to enter the net again! It is contrary to the designs of eternal love, which all have an eye to thy purity and holiness; therefore run not counter to the purposes of thy Lord. Another thought should restrain thee from sin. Christians can never sin cheaply; they pay a heavy price for iniquity. Transgression destroys peace of mind, obscures fellowship with Jesus, hinders prayer, brings darkness over the soul; therefore be not the serf and bondman of sin. There is yet a higher argument: each time you “serve sin” you have “Crucified the Lord afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Can you bear that thought? Oh! if you have fallen into any special sin during this day, it may be my Master has sent this admonition this evening, to bring you back before you have backslidden very far. Turn thee to Jesus anew; he has not forgotten his love to thee; his grace is still the same. With weeping and repentance, come thou to his footstool, and thou shalt be once more received into his heart; thou shalt be set upon a rock again, and thy goings shall be established.
- Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, May 30 Evening
Courtesy of Mark Dever:
How many times did Paul write to Timothy to ask how many people were coming to the church at Ephesus? Let me see (counts on his fingers)… none.
HT: Michael McKinley
How can we come to a better understanding of God’s kingdom? One of the best ways is by learning how to pray, “Your kingdom come.” These three simple words from the Lord’s Prayer explain the plan, the purpose, and the progress of God’s kingdom.
This petition first helps us understand God’s plan for ushering in his kingdom. The very fact that we are to pray for the kingdom proves that it is not the kind of thing we establish through our own efforts. It is something we must ask God to do because only he can do it.
God’s plan was to establish his kingdom through his Son. Jesus Christ lived the perfect life we ought to have lived. He died the painful death we deserved to die. And when he had fully paid for all our sins, God raised him from the dead and exalted him to his kingly throne. Now that Christ is King, God does not tell us to go out and establish his kingdom, he invites us to enter it. This is why God’s kingdom comes through the announcement that Christ, who was crucified, is now King. The kingdom comes mainly through proclamation.
Philip Graham Ryken, When You Pray: Making the Lord’s Prayer Your Own