Quotes from “The Ascension of Christ” by Patrick Schreiner

Patrick Schreiner is a New Testament professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also written The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross and Matthew, Disciple and Scribe.

This book may be only 127 pages, but it packs a punch!

Purchase a copy here.

  1. The arc of the moral universe is long, but the Messiah’s ascension determines its finale. (pg. xv)
  2. If the resurrection fully confirms Jesus’ lordship, then the ascension becomes an anticlimax. We can have the tendency to cut off what is implicit in the apostles’ presentation and only speak of the resurrection. (pg. 6)
  3. The ascension culminated Christ’s earthly work and marks a shift and climax in the Messiah’s three key roles. It not only confirms Christ’s work but continues Christ’s work. He once labored on the earth; now he labors in heaven. (pg. 17)
  4. While we tend to relegate the climax of Christ’s prophetic work to his days on the earth, the biblical authors look at Christ’s work as a whole. They intentionally expand Christ’s prophetic work to both his earthly life and his continuing life in heaven. (pg. 25)
  5. Christ arrived as the prophet who delivered God’s word, performed signs and wonders, and possessed the Spirit on the earth. He fulfilled the old covenant by being the anointed Prophet. However, he also promised a time when he would leave and this prophetic task would continue and also be transferred to his people. It is not that he would not be involved; he would simply be involved in a different way after his ascent into heaven. (pg. 30)
  6. Because Christ currently presents his blood in the heavenly temple, we are able to also ascend the mountain of the Lord and enter into the throne room of God. (pg. 46)
  7. Jesus did not adorn himself with humanity to simply discard it. He adorned himself with humanity so that he might perfect humanity as our true priest. (pg. 60)
  8. Jesus is not embarrassed by his people. He proudly represents his people as the God-Man before the Father. Like the priests of old, he wears you as jewels on his breastplate. (pg. 66)
  9. Jesus did not simply come to the earth to conquer. He ascended to the right hand of the Father to receive his rightful rule. In doing this, his work as king culminates and continues. Kings sit down and are installed in order to rule. (pg.75)
  10. The resurrection vindicated Christ, but his ascent confirmed that vindication. (pg. 110)

On Family Worship by John Newton

A letter from John Newton on Family Worship. Banner of Truth, The Works of John Newton, Volume 1, pgs. 100-104.

Works of John Newton are available at Banner of Truth

 

On Family Worship

Sir,

A neglect of family prayer is, I am afraid, too common amongst professors in this day. I am glad that you consider it both as a duty and a privilege, and are by grace determined, that, when you shall commence master of a family, you will worship God with all your house. It was Abraham’s commendation, that he not only served the Lord himself, but was solicitous that his children and household might serve him likewise. I trust that he who inclines your heart to walk in the footsteps of faithful Abraham, will bless you in the attempt, and give you peace in your dwelling; a mercy which is seldom enjoyed, which indeed can hardly be expected, by those families which call not upon the Lord.

Though I readily comply with your request, and would be glad if I can offer anything that may assist or animate you in your good purpose, I am afraid I shall not answer your expectations with regard to the particulars of your inquiry, concerning the most proper method of conducting family worship. The circumstances of families are so various, that no determinate rules can be laid down: nor has the word of God prescribed any; because, being of universal obligation, it is wisely and graciously accommodated to suit the different situations of his people. You must, therefore, as to circumstantials, judge for yourself. You will do well to pursue such a method as you shall find most convenient to yourself and family, without scrupulously binding yourself, when the Scripture has left you free.

We have no positive precept enjoining us any set time for prayer, nor even how often we should pray, either in public or private; though the expressions of “continuing instant in prayer,” “praying without ceasing,” and the like, plainly intimate that prayer should be frequent. Daniel prayed three times a day; which the Psalmist speaks of as his practice likewise; and in one place declares his purpose of praising God seven times a day. This last expression is perhaps indefinite, not precisely seven times—but very often. Indeed, a person who lives in the exercise of faith and love, and who finds by experience that it is good for him to draw nigh to God, will not want to be told how often he must pray, any more than how often he must converse with an earthly friend. Those whom we love, we love to be much with. Love is the best casuist, and either resolves or prevents a thousand scruples and questions, which may perplex those who only serve God from principles of constraint and fear. A believer will account those his happiest days, when he has most leisure and most liberty of spirit for the exercise of prayer.

However, I think family prayer cannot be said to be stated, unless it be performed at least daily, and, when unavoidable hindrances do not prevent, twice a day. Though all times and seasons are alike to the Lord, and his ear is always open whenever we have a heart to call upon him; yet to us there is a peculiar suitableness in beginning and closing the day with prayer: in the morning, to acknowledge his goodness in our preservation through the night, and entreat his presence and blessing on our persons and callings in the course of the day; and at night, to praise him for the mercies of the day past, to humble ourselves before him for what has been amiss, to wait on him for a renewed manifestation of his pardoning love, and to commit ourselves and our concerns to his care and protection while we sleep.

You will, of course, choose those hours when you are least liable to be incommoded by the calls of business, and when the family can assemble with the most convenience: only I would observe, that it greatly preserves regularity and good order in a house, to keep constantly to the same hours when it is practicable; and likewise, that it is best not to defer evening prayer until late, if it can be well avoided; lest some who join in the exercise, and perhaps the person himself who leads in it, should be too weary or sleepy to give a due attention. On this account, I should advise to have family prayer before supper, where people have the choice and disposal of their own hours.

I think, with you, that it is very expedient and proper that reading a portion of the word of God should be ordinarily a part of our family worship; so likewise to sing a hymn or psalm, or part of one, at discretion; provided there are some persons in the family who have enough of a musical ear and voice to conduct the singing in a tolerable manner: otherwise, perhaps, it may be better omitted. If you read and sing, as well as pray, care should be taken that the combined services do not run into an inconvenient length.

The chief thing to be attended to is, that it may be a spiritual service; and the great evil to be dreaded and guarded against in the exercise of every duty that returns frequently upon us, is formality. If a stated course of family prayer is kept up as constantly in its season as the striking of the clock, in time it may come to be almost as mechanically performed, unless we are continually looking to the Lord to keep our hearts alive.

It most frequently happens, that one or more members of a family are unconverted persons. When there are such present, a great regard should be had to them, and everything conducted with a view to their edification, that they may not be disgusted or wearied, or tempted to think that it is little more than the fashion or custom of the house; which will probably be the case, unless the master of the family is lively and earnest in performance of the duty, and likewise circumspect and consistent in every part of his behavior at other times. By leading in the worship of God before children, servants, or strangers, a man gives bond (as it were) for his behavior, and adds strength to every other motive which should engage him to abstain from all appearance of evil. It should be a constant check upon our language and tempers in the presence of our families, to consider that we began the day, and propose to end it, with them in prayer. The Apostle Peter uses this argument to influence the conduct of husbands and wives towards each other; and it is equally applicable to all the members of a family; “That your prayers be not hindered,” that is, either prevented and put off, or despoiled of all life and efficacy, by the ferment of sinful passions.

On the other hand, the proper exercise of family prayer, when recommended by a suitable deportment, is a happy means of instructing children and servants in the great truths of religion, of softening their prejudices, and inspiring them with a temper of respect and affection, which will dispose them to cheerful obedience, and make them unwilling to grieve or offend.

In this instance, as in every other, we may observe, that the Lord’s commands to his people are not arbitrary appointments; but that, so far as they are conscientiously complied with, they have an evident tendency and suitableness to promote our own advantage. He requires us to acknowledge him in our families, for our own sakes; not because he has need of our poor services, but because we have need of his blessing, and without the influence of his grace (which is promised to all who seek it) are sure to be unhappy in ourselves and in all our connections.

When husband and wife are happily partakers of the same faith, it seems expedient, and for their mutual good, that, besides their private devotions, and joining in family prayer, they should pray together. They have many wants, mercies, and concerns, in common with each other, and distinct from the rest of the family. The manner in which they should improve a little time in this joint exercise cannot well be prescribed by a third person: yet I will venture to suggest one thing; and the rather, as I do not remember to have met with it in print. I conceive that it may prove much to their comfort to pray alternately, not only the husband with and for the wife, but the wife with and for the husband. The Spirit of God, by the Apostle, has expressly restrained women from the exercise of spiritual gifts in public; but I apprehend the practice I am speaking of can no way interfere with that restriction. I suppose them in private together, and then I judge it to be equally right and proper for either of them to pray with the other. Nor do I meet anything in Paul’s writings to prevent my thinking, that if he had been a married man, he would, though an Apostle, have been glad for the prayers of his wife. If you ask, how often they should pray together? I think the oftener the better, provided it does not break in upon their duties; once a day at least; and if there is a choice of hours, it might be as well at some distance from their other seasons of worship. But I would observe, as before, that in matters not expressly commanded, prudence and experience must direct.

I have written upon a supposition that you use extempore prayer; but as there are many heads of families who fear the Lord, and have not yet attained liberty to pray extempore before others, I would add, that their inability in this respect, whether real, or whether only proceeding from fear, and an undue regard to self, will not justify them in the omission of family prayer. Helps may be procured. Mr. Jenks’s Devotions are in many hands; and I doubt not but there are other excellent books of the same kind, with which I am not acquainted. If they begin with a form, not with a design to confine themselves always to one, but make it a part of their secret pleading at the Throne of Grace, that they may be favored with the gift and spirit of prayer; and accustom themselves, while they use a form, to intersperse some petitions of their own; there is little doubt but they will in time find a growth in liberty and ability, and at length lay their book entirely aside. For it being every believer’s duty to worship God in his family, his promise may be depended upon, to give them a sufficiency in all things, for those services which he requires of them.

Happy is that family where the worship of God is constantly and conscientiously maintained. Such houses are temples in which the Lord dwells, and castles garrisoned by a Divine power. I do not say, that, by honoring God in your house, you will wholly escape a share in the trials incident to the present uncertain state of things. A measure of such trials will be necessary for the exercise and manifestation of your graces; to give you a more convincing proof of the truth and sweetness of the promises made to a time of affliction; to mortify the body of sin; and to wean you more effectually from the world. But this I will confidently say, that the Lord will both honor and comfort those who thus honor him. Seasons will occur in which you shall know, and probably your neighbors shall be constrained to take notice, that He has not bid you seek him in vain. If you meet with troubles, they shall be accompanied by supports, and followed by deliverance; and you shall upon many occasions experience, that He is your protector, preserving you and yours from the evils by which you will see others suffering around you.

I have rather exceeded the limits I proposed; and therefore shall only add a request, that in your addresses at the Throne of Grace you will remember, &c (Newton’s Signature).

JC Ryle on the Souls of Men

We live in an age of progress, – an age of steam-engines and machinery, of locomotion and invention. We live in an age when the multitude are increasingly absorbed in earthly things, — in railways, and docks, and mines, and commerce, and trade, and banks, and shops, and cotton, and corn, and iron, and gold. We live in an age when there is a false glare on the things of time, and a great mist over the things of eternity. In an age like this it is the bounden duty of the ministers of Christ to fall back upon first principles. Necessity is laid upon us. Woe is unto us, if we do not press home on men our Lord’s question about the soul! Woe is unto us, if we do not cry aloud, ‘The world is not all. The life that we now live in the flesh is not the only life. There is a life to come. We have souls.’ 

– J.C. Ryle, Old Paths, pg. 40

Published by Banner of Truth 

 

Book Briefs: On Education

oneducation

On Education – Lexham Press

Abraham Kuyper was a leading Dutch figure in education, politics, and theology. He was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church, was appointed to Parliament, and served as prime minister. Kuyper also founded the Free University in Amsterdam. 

Lexham Press has published some of Kuyper’s works in a new series of Collected Works of Theology. Most recently, Lexham has published Kuyper’s volume On Education. If you are able to purchase these volumes from Lexham, you will not regret it! 

The layout of this volume is helpful for the reader. When I have read some older works by theologians, the layout of various volumes can make it harder to read. But this cannot be said about this volume. The print, chapter divisions, and introductions have helped make this a great resource for pastors, teachers, and churches. 

In the introduction of On Education, Kuyper is quoted from one of his speeches at Parliament. He said, “Education is a distinct public interest. Education touches on one of the most complicated and intricate questions, one that involves every issue, including the deepest issues that invite humanity’s search for knowledge – issues of anthropology and psychology, religion and sociology, pedagogy and morality, in short, issues that encroach upon every branch of social life. Now it seems to me that such an element of cultural life has the right in every respect to an absolutely independent organization; always in the sense that education should function in the spirit of what the British call a body corporate” (pg. xxii). 

The editor uses a quote of Kuyper’s from Parlementaire Redevoeringen, “Unity of the nation is not brought into danger by having children attend different kinds of schools but by wounding the right and limiting the freedom so that our citizens are offended not in their material interests but in their deepest life convictions, which is all-determinative fro the best of them. That sows bitterness in the hearts and divides a nation. Instead of asking what the state school will receive and what the free school will receive, as sons of the same fatherland we should commit to raising the development of our entire nation. Then the feeling of unity will grow stronger and more inspired” (pg. xxxviii). 

Education will always be a very important topic for discussion in our communities and churches. This volume will help pastors now and help pastors 100 years from now. Use this resource, think about the importance of education, and invest in your communities for God’s glory and our good. You only get one life and it will soon pass. Only what is done for Christ will last!


Evan Knies is from West Monroe, LA. He is married to Lauren and father to Maesyn. He is a graduate of Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies

Book Briefs: Facing Snarls and Scowls

facingsnarlsBrian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, and Founder of Practical Shepherding.

James Carroll is the Senior Pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Bardstown, KY.

Facing Snarls and Scowls is an encouraging work that does not dim down the weight of preaching in revitalization. It shows that revitalization is hard work, but by God’s grace, one may be able to see the sinking ship turn in the right direction. The authors remind readers of endurance in Christ and that we are to be good stewards of what we have been given. They provide winsome words throughout this book to encourage pastors to do so.

Readers will be reminded that the trials of this life are here to stay and there will always be threats to the gospel among us. But our hope by God’s power is that faithful preaching will produce a harvest. Preaching and struggles go hand in hand, and preaching may not always have positive results. But Brian and James do a fantastic job of walking through passages that show trials will come with those who strive to be faithful. We should glean from examples who have come before us.

Brian and James argue, “Since preaching is a vital instrument for God’s work in individuals and His church, the last thing needed in the church, and particularly in revitalization settings, is the unhealthy concoction of bad preaching and snarling congregants” (pg. 61). They show that pastors should steward their pulpits well and preach well! The proclamation of the gospel is vital and preachers should strive to be better in the pulpit. After these warnings, Brian and James give huge practical advice so that our preaching points to Jesus, not just principles.

Brian and James recognize that there has been a revival of preaching today. They define it as, “The task in Expository Preaching is to allow the theme, thrust, and structure of the text to provide the theme, thrust, and structure of the sermon” (pg. 83). Christians are people who are bound to the Word of God. Preachers are called to handle the Text well!

The authors throughout this work exhort readers to be patient in church revitalizations. They call readers to press on! One of the benefits of this book is that I personally know James Carroll. He practices what he preaches. Towards the end of the book, there is a quote on pg. 152, “One of the most significant blind-spots for pastors, and especially young pastors, is a lack of self-awareness”. James has repeatedly told me this and it has been a point of some of our fruitful discussions.

This is a work that pours out practical wisdom that is rooted in Biblical Truth. Chruch Revitalizations, Church Planters, Pastors, and Christians as a whole will benefit from this work.

Purchase here.


Evan Knies is from West Monroe, LA. He is married to Lauren and father to Maesyn. He serves as Minister of Students at Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, KY. He also serves as the Executive Assistant of the Nelson Baptist Association. He is a graduate of Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies