John_Gibson_PatonAn excerpt from the classic missionary autobiography, John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebridies.

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In the year 1857 came the call for which he had so long been waiting. In December, the “licence” to preach was conferred upon him, and early in the following spring, home and friends, and the scene of his late beloved labours, were left behind. For what? Hard, thankless toil amongst a horde of savage barbarians on an island in the South Pacific. Of course, the undertaking had first to encounter the most strenuous opposition from devoted friends, who saw every reason why any effort to reduce cannibals to a state of civilization should be powerless :—

‘ Why forsake the work in which ‘God is so richly blessing you here?’ say some. ‘ Why not attend to the heathen perishing at your very door? ’ say others; to whom the retort might very reasonably be made, ‘ That may well be left for you to do.’ Amongst many who sought to deter me was one dear old Christian gentlemen, whose crowning argument always was, ‘The cannibals! you will be eaten by cannibals!’ At last I replied, ‘Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now; and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honouring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms ; and in the great day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.’

“The virulence of sin only fully works [itself out] when it comes into contact with the law. Then does the law wring out all manner of desire and release its full fury against the power which seeks to curb it. What is said in 1 Corinthians 15:56 also applies here: ‘The power of sin is the law.’ Without the law sin would not have been able to incite man to such resistance and revolt. Hence it may be said that sin deceives man. By presenting the law as the terminating point of all freedom, of life itself, sin brings man under its bewitching power. It promises him the very things of which the law seems to deprive him and thus leads him to death.”

-Herman Ridderbos (1909-2007)

“Y acontecio en los días que gobernaban los jueces, que hubo hambre en la tierra. Y un varón de Beth-lehem de Judá, fué á peregrinar en los campos de Moab, él y su mujer, y dos hijos suyos” (Rut 1:1).

Se pregunto una vez, “Acaso puede salir cosa buena de Nazaret?” Asi de la misma manera, se puede preguntar, acaso puede salir bien de dias tan obscuros y malos los dias “cuando reinaban los jueces?” Despues de todo, aunque la edad de los Jueces fue marcada por victorias heroicas de la parte debil y actos de fuerza sobrehumana, aun eran espiritual y moralmente retrazados. Los dias de los jueces eran dias en que “no habia rey en Israel,” y cuando “cada hombre hizo lo correcto en sus ojos.” Eran dias de idolatria grosera, de guerra civil entre tribus, dias de invacion y ocupacion extranjera, y de abominaciones morales escandalosas. Pero en esos dias, hubo un gran cuento, el relato de Rut. Despues de el Libro de los Jueces sigue esta pequna, preciosa perla, el Libro de Rut. Como un diamante brillando entre lo aspero.

Realmente, es la respuesta al libro de Jueces! “Donde abundo el pecado, abundo mucho mas la gracia.” Aunque Israel habia descendido tan bajo, Dios intervino. Por medio de Rut la Moabita, conversa inesperada al Dios de Abraham, Dios restauro vida. El revivio una familia a la orilla de la extinccion. Y establecio la casa de la cual vino David—y el cimiente de David, el Senor Jesucristo!

Acaso puede salir bien de tiempos tan malos? “Ven y mira.”

Here is a short clip from our recent morning sermon, “The Announcement of the Lamb,” an exposition of John 1:29. For the complete sermon, click here

Sacrificial_Lamb_of_God_006The lamb is a symbol of everything tender, innocent, and wholly dependent. As an urbanite from boyhood, I have only seen lambs occasionally. My last lamb sighting was on a trip in England. While running through the beautiful countryside, some of these absolutely adorable little creatures arrested me on the roadside. The aww-factor was off the charts!

John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, when seeing him among the crowds cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Now, the above symbolism rang true for Jesus. He was the epitome of harmless good. He was the man of peace, through and through. But there was much more to the lamb-symbolism for Jesus.  The image God gave in the lamb-symbolism was also one blood and gore, because the Old Testament lamb was raised to be a victim. A sacrificial victim.

Why? Is this just a crude hold-over from primitive, superstitious peoples? Are we moderns right to say we have moved on from these gruesome ideas? Really, is the meaning of the cross still meaningful?

Join us as we consider these issues in our Sunday morning service on May 6. 

 

untitled“Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons” (Ruth 1:1).

It was once asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” So in the same way, one might ask, can anything good come out of such dark, evil days, the days “when the judges ruled?” After all, though the era of the Judges was marked by heroic underdog-victories and feats of superhuman strength, yet they were spiritually and morally backwards. The days of the judges were days in which “there was no king in Israel,” and when “everyone did what was right in His own eyes.”  Those were days of gross idolatry, of tribal civil war, days of foreign invasion and occupation, and of shocking moral abominations. But in these days, there was a great story, the story of Ruth.  Following the Book of Judges is this small, precious pearl, the Book of Ruth. Like a diamond shining in the rough.

Really, it is the answer to the book of Judges! “Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.” Though Israel had sunk so low, yet God stepped in.  Through Ruth the Moabitess, the unlikely convert to the God of Abraham, God restored life. He revived a family on the brink of extinction. And he established the house from which David came – and David’s seed, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Can anything good come out of such evil times?  “Come and see.”

“He manifests his comparative glory; “Thou art more excellent than hills of prey: fairer than the sons of men;” the bride, the believer sees him as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, every way incomparable. Whatever he be compared to he excels it; if he be a lily, he is the lily of the valley; if he be a rose, he is the rose of Sharon; if he be a plant, he is the plant of renown; if he be a physician, he is the physician of value; if an advocate, he is an advocate with the Father; he is represented without any parallel.”

-Ralph Erskine (1685-1752)

Close-up_of_Sirius“What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.”

-John Chrysostom (c. 349-407)

pulpit-1In our worship, God’s Word is primary. We commit ourselves to reading God’s Word, proclaiming God’s Word, singing God’s Word, and sacramentally observing God’s Word.

We generally devote time to the public reading of holy Scripture, one chapter from the Old Testament and one from the New. This is a tragically neglected element of worship in modern Christianity and one that ought to be central in public worship (Neh. 8, 1 Tim. 4:13).

Our sermons are generally expository, sequentially studying a book of the Bible, verse by verse. This has often been called the practice of lectio continua in the history of the Church. It binds the preacher to study each verse in context, to find the grammatical and historical meaning. It keeps him from the danger of reading into the text what he wants and requires him to speak the whole counsel of God to the people of God. We cannot cheapen God’s Word by ‘cherry picking’ what we like and leaving the rest.

Yet, our afternoon messages are sometimes topical, on practical subjects. Even then, it is our concern to anchor the lesson in the Word of God, that our minds may be shaped by the mind of the Spirit speaking in Scripture.

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