Sunday Worship Service 5 pm

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jesus’s Closest Companion

By David Mathis

The Holy Spirit. There is “something wonderfully mysterious” about him, says pastor and theologian Sinclair Ferguson.

He is the third person of the Trinity, the “self-effacing” member. He works ever in tandem with God’s word — incarnate, spoken, and written. He is one of the Christian’s greatest sources of comfort. And too often he is one of the church’s greatest sources of controversy.

No Other Friend Like This

But before getting bogged down in dispute related to his miraculous gifts and mysterious works in the church today, take a step back and see who he is, and who he has been, beyond the firestorms about prophecy, tongues, and healing.

“The best way to think about the Holy Spirit,” says Ferguson, “is to think of him as the closest companion of the Lord Jesus.”

Not only has he been the Son’s eternal partner in the uncreated fellowship of the Trinity, but the Spirit was there with the Father and Son at creation (Genesis 1:2). He was there overshadowing Jesus’s conception (Luke 1:35), and there at his baptism (Luke 3:22) and temptation (Luke 4:1–2). Jesus performed his miracles through the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14–19).

When Jesus’s closest earthly companions betrayed him, denied him, and scattered, the Spirit walked with him all the way into the jaws of death, empowering him to offer himself freely (Hebrews 9:14). And the Spirit was there on Easter Sunday to raise him in power (Romans 1:4). Indeed, what a companion he is.

Should We Give Attention to the Spirit?

When asked about the Holy Spirit, Ferguson says his mind first goes to Jesus’s “Farewell Discourse” in the Gospel of John, chapters 14–17. As Calvin says, if the other Gospels show us Jesus’s body, it is John’s Gospel that shows us his soul.

Here we learn about the Spirit’s “self-effacing” nature, as Jesus says the Spirit “will bear witness about me” (John 15:26) and “will glorify me” (John 16:14). But there is more to say that just this. 

Even as riddled as we are about so many questions concerning the Spirit, God has not left us without significant revelation about his person and work.

Says Ferguson, we should give attention, and glory, to the Spirit. “Just because he draws attention to Jesus, doesn’t mean we should ignore him.”

He Adds the Finishing Touches

Some have summarized the partnership of the Trinitarian persons as the Father plans, the Son accomplishes, and the Spirit applies. The persons of the Godhead are indivisible in their working, but there is a sense in which one person leaves fingerprints on particular actions. Ferguson’s summary of the Spirit’s part is this: “He’s the one who puts the finishing touches to things.”

When the seeming crazies come out of the woodwork, fascinated with all things bizarre in the name of the Holy Spirit, Ferguson counsels that we take them to Jesus’s own words about the Spirit. “The Lord’s sheep hear the Lord’s voice,” he reminds us. 

Look at Jesus’s words together. Most Christians have the least hang-ups about Jesus. Let him speak to us about his closest companion.

The Spirit and the Word

And one important item to draw attention to is that the Spirit’s work accompanies the Word incarnate and the work spoken.

We should not think about the work of the word without the work of the Spirit, and vice versa. “The Spirit will use the word, and the word will be used by the Spirit.”

In this new episode of Theology Refresh, Sinclair Ferguson — author of a significant book-length-treatment of the Holy Spirit — draws our attention to this person about whom there surely is “something wonderfully mysterious.”

To access this 12-minute episode, click below.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sinner, Come Home

Sinner, Come HomeMy heart was already full as John Piper began his message that would close the recent Together for the Gospel conference. 

I prayed that God would use his message to implant a passion within our hearts that would shape our lives and ministries for the length of our days.

I was very moved by John’s faithful, careful, and precise exposition of Romans 9. 
He pointed us to the infinite grace of God and to the assurance of his sovereignty and then pointed us to Paul’s agony over the lostness of his own people, his “kinsmen according to the flesh.” 
Are we driven by the same agony when we see the lost around us?

I was honestly unprepared for where John would take us at the conclusion of his message. 
He took us into a crowded tent where he, as a young boy, saw his own father, an evangelist, plead with sinners to come to Jesus — “Won’t you come? . . . Won’t you come?”

Time and space seemed to collapse for me as I remembered being in the same kind of meeting, hearing the same gospel pleading, many, many times as a boy. 
I remember one time in particular, when as a nine-year-old boy I heard a part-time preacher who was a full-time phosphate miner preach the gospel and then plead with us to come to Christ. And I did.

I know there was more to my salvation than was evident in that moment. 
I know that my salvation is secured in the eternal plan of a sovereign God. 
I know that I was effectually called by the Holy Spirit. 
I had the blessing of Christian parents and constant Christian witness. 
But I also know that the Holy Spirit used a simple preacher who was willing to plead with sinners, and thus I came to Christ.

When John began to sing, “Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling,” and to sweetly call a generation of young Reformed Christians to sing it with fervor and broken-hearted pleading, my heart broke. 
I tasted again the sweetness of my own conversion, and I felt more at home than words can describe.

But I was also broken-hearted with a sense of loss that so many of the 8,000 young people in that great room had never seen an evangelist plead, a godly father present the gospel, a sinner called by the Holy Spirit flee to refuge in Christ.

Imagine what it was like to hear 8,000 voices, mostly young and mostly male, singing — some surely for the first time — “Come home, come home, you who are weary, come home; Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling. Calling, O sinner, come home!”

I was overcome with joy and profound thankfulness for what happened in that room that Thursday afternoon. 
We all got to see an evangelist pleading with sinners, pointing to Christ, unashamed to plead with emotion and passion and agonized urgency. 
I heard the conviction in the voices of a rising generation as we sang that hymn, and my spirit rose within me. 
I was thrilled to lose my composure for the sake of a moment of such joy.

“Softly and tenderly” still rings in my ears, and John Piper’s anointed exposition still rings in my heart. 

I am thankful beyond words to know that others will hear this message. Don’t dare miss it.

Here is the moving seven-minute excerpt about his father’s evangelistic invitations of John Piper’s message at Together for the Gospel:

by Albert Mohler

Albert Mohler serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.