Monday, April 18, 2011

Banner Ministers' Conference 2011 Episode II

Faith, hope and love

One of the founders of the Banner of Truth Trust, Iain Murray ably stood in for Ted Donnelly, with two messages on John 17 and a biographical address, of which more in a later post.

Iain Murray on John 17:1

John 17 is different from other prayers of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, which are fragmentary. Here we have full disclosure. Jesus intended that his people might hear what he prayed to the Father. Through his teaching and prayer, he wanted to give his people peace (John 16:33) and joy (John 17:13). Jesus prayed as though already within the veil, having finished the work the Father gave him to do, John 17:3, 11, 12.

1. In this prayer we have prophecy fulfilled

Under the Old Testament, access to God was granted via the high priest's ministry on the Day of Atonement, Exodus 28. The coming of a greater high priest was prophesied, Isaiah  53:12, Psalm 110:4, Zechariah 6:12.

Now the hour of fulfilment has come. The veil of the temple was torn, Matthew 27:51. We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Hebrews 4:14-16.

2. How this prayer brings before us our Lords continuing ministry

Jesus' work on earth is complete. Hebrews 7:27, 9:28. But his work is still ongoing. He is not less active now that he has returned to the Father. In John 17 we see him giving eternal life to his people, sanctifying them, giving them unity, sending them on mission, and bestowing his glory upon them. He continues to intercede for his people, Romans 8:33-34, Hebrews 7:25, 1 John 2:2. Too little thought is given to ongoing work of Christ.

3. The petition itself

Jesus asks the Father, "Glorify thy Son", John 17:1. He is praying for the restoration of his glory which was obscured by the incarnation. This entails the glorification of Christ's humanity. In answer to his prayer, Christ is now in glory in our nature on our behalf. John Owen gives helpful attention to the exalted glory of Christ in Volume 1 of his Works.

4. The reason for the petition

Jesus was exalted in order to give eternal life to his people, John 17:2, John 6:40. The Father's glory is bound up with our salvation, John 17:10. See also Isaiah 53:10 & 55;4.

5. Observations

1) Believers are the glory of Christ 

The glory of Christ is seen in the in grace and holiness of his subjects. (John Owen).

2) The glorification of man is a serious offence in the sight of God

1 Corinthians 3:5-6. The glorification of man is a cause of the decay and ruin of churches. Are we sometimes guilty of the idolatrous veneration of men? Consider the number of endorsements and commendations carried by recent evangelical books. Are we putting too much emphasis on theology decrees? Have funeral eulogies become too extravagant, detracting from the glory of God? Let us not glory in men.

3) The truth concerning Christ's present work is the answer to our unbelief

Jesus reigns. He is the risen Lord. In Revelation 1 we see him clothed in high priestly garments. He is active among the candlesticks. Once John Murray rebuked the Banner conference for drawing up plans to do this and that as if the work of the kingdom depended upon man. He urged the gathering to  focus afresh on the on present activity of Christ.

When John Knox lay dying, he asked for John 17 to be read to him. The chapter shows that in Christ we have an anchor in troubled times. The church can recover her strength if we will only look to Christ.

Iain Murray on John 17:25-26

This was the closing sermon of the conference, but I include some notes in this report.

John 17 represents the conclusion of Christ's ministry to his disciples. He was virtually silent thereafter. Jesus was certain that his righteous Father would answer his prayer. We see the contrast between Christ and world, John 17:25. Reference is made to the prophetic office of Christ, John 17:6-8, 13-14. His prophetic office continues, Psalm 22:22.

1. The teaching work of Christ

Our Lord's teaching is always effective and successful John 17:6. He opens our hearts to the truth, revealing God's name to his people,  John 1:18, 1 John 1:1-2, John 8:58, 2 Corinthians 4:6. Jesus continues to teach his people, calling them by name, John 10:3, Acts 9:4. Christ is the prophet of church. He uses messengers, to speak to his people by the power of the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 2:17, 4:20-21. Christ preaches through the ministry of his servants.

2. The special purpose of his teaching ministry

This is revealed in John 17:26. Love is the purpose of Jesus' intercession. Love for God and love in the church for one another. Love is supreme, 1 Corinthians 13:13. The Father's love for his Son will be in is and the Son will be in us.

It is through the indwelling and teaching of Christ that love dwells in and expands the believer, John 10:17. The Father's love for us is in Christ, Romans 8:39, 1 John 4:16, Ephesians 3:14-21.

3. The relevance of Christ's teaching for ministers

1) Christ should be the sum of our preaching

Our main problem is the gap between the truth we believe and our lives. The church needs pastors after God's own heart who will teach his people knowledge, Jeremiah 3:15.

2) Our lord's ministry was not isolated from prayer

If our Saviour needed to bath his ministry in prayer, how much more do we. Prayer is more important than preaching, Acts 6:4.  

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With Olyottesque simplicity and directness, Lewis Allen gave two challenging and encouraging messages on the church's love and longing.

Lewis Allen on First Priorities: The Church's Love (Eph 6:23-24)

What does it mean to love Christ? Ephesians 6:24.

In his commentary on this verse, Charles Hodge made four points:

1. Adoring admiration of his person

'O come, let us adore him. Christ the Lord!' He is the Son of Man, the Mediator, our high priest, the bread of life, the good spepherd, our King, the Lamb of God, the life, the light and the Mighty God.

There is nothing disappointing in him. Christ is adorable.

Reflect also on the work of Christ, especially his cross. His mercies swim to us - John Flavel.

2. Desire his presence

Ephesians 3:14-21. Are we in danger of exalting the propositional at the expense of the experiential?

Desiring his presence involves:

1) Desirous of his truth John 16:13.

2) Enjoying his peace John 14:27.

3) Experiencing his joy John 15.11, 16:22

Knowing Christ's presence will make us kind men who are available to our people.

3. Zeal for his glory

Romans 12:11. God is zealous Isiah 59:17. As was Jesus, John 2:17 A minister without zeal is no minister. Bill Maclaren's rugby commentaries were the product of his hard work and enthusiasm for the game. If we are not excited about the truth, then no one else will be.

Let our preaching be fresh and vivid, with a varied use of English so that is is not predictable and tiresome. Zeal for his glory demands this.

4. Devotion to his service

Ministry is costly. A barren ministry is often due to a lack of devotion to Christ and his people.

Love for Christ is what matters.

Lewis Allen on First Priorities: The Church's Longing (Rev 22:20-21)

We have certainty in changing world. Christ is coming. This should be our controlling reality. If it is not we are out of touch with reality.

Too few sermons are preached on Christ's return. But this should be our greatest longing.

1. The Lord's promise

There are around 300 references to Christ's return in the New Testament. The the last promise of the Bible concerns his coming. This makes sense of all the others, bringing them to completion. Here the suffering church finds hope. Jesus is still reigning. His promises cannot be broken.

The promise is:

1) Personal. I am coming.

2) Visible. Every eye will see him.

3) Triumphant. Jesus will be seen as Lord of all.

4) Transforming. His coming will be the climax of history, involving judgement and restoration.

5) Cannot be predicted. He is coming soon, meaning suddenly, like a thief in the night.

The second coming is the most important truth of all. The incarnation of Christ makes little sense without his return. Christ's redeeming work will be completed when he comes - the redemption of the body at the resurrection. There will be  no day of judgement without Jesus' return. Salvation will be consummated when he comes.

Churches and communities need to hear of Christ's return. Without it there is only rampant aimlessness and unbelief. The parousia gives focus and hope to ministry. Our task is to prepare sinners for judgement.

2. The church's longing

Christianity is personal. Jesus is coming for us. Creation will be restored, Revelation 22:1-5. We will see his face and reign with him. But the focus should not be on what this means for us, but on Christ. his glory.

Live on the promises.

God's terrifying judgement is at hand. Be earnest and prayerful for the lost. We will rejoice in the holy judgement of God.

The Rolling Stones' I just want to see his face, covered by Christian band, The Blind Boys of Alabama gives expression to the church's longing,

Then you don't want to walk and talk about Jesus,
You just want to see His face.
You don't want to walk and talk about Jesus,
You just want to see His face. 

3. The church's commitment to living by the grace of Jesus

Revelation 22:21. We need grace to live in the light of return.

The Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Day 19.

Question 51. What profit is this glory of Christ, our head, unto us?
Answer: First, that by his Holy Spirit he pours out heavenly graces upon us his members; and then that by his power he defends and preserves us against all enemies.

Question 52. What comfort is it to thee that "Christ shall come again to judge the quick and the dead"?
Answer: That in all my sorrows and persecutions, with uplifted head I look for the very same person, who before offered himself for my sake, to the tribunal of God, and has removed all curse from me, to come as judge from heaven: who shall cast all his and my enemies into everlasting condemnation,  but shall translate me with all his chosen ones to himself, into heavenly joys and glory.

We are saved in hope, Romans 8:24. Are you a moaner or groaner? Romans 8:26. In this broken world we groan, but we have the  hope of salvation.

By grace we shall see Christ and be made like him.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

2 comments:

Jonathan Hunt said...

I can't believe you managed to make this many notes using a mobile phone. It is impressive!

That and providing scripture references. I am awed!

Exiled Preacher said...

A mobile phone with a QWERTY keyboard.