Blessed Are the Peacemakers

I’ve recommended Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Martyn Lloyd-Jones here, here, and here. As I read through again I’m reminded of the wonderful edifying benefits of Lloyd-Jones’ work. If you have not read this commentary, once again, I highly recommend. Below are some highlights from the chapter Blessed Are the Peacemakers. The entire chapter is a gentle reproof that peace and contentment are not found in self. Peace and contentment are not found in surrounding ourselves with others who only serve to affirm our feelings. Our hearts are deceitful and as a result our feelings can be irrelevant to truth (Jeremiah 17:9). Peace and contentment can’t be manufactured or created by the world and/or it’s foolish philosophies (Romans 3:16-18, Colossians 2:8) . Peace and contentment are gifts (John 14:27). Gifts, like faith and repentance (Ephesians 2:8, Acts 11:18), that are only given by God Himself. As we are conformed into the image of Christ and our minds are renewed (Romans 12:2) we are led to deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24). As we continue to pray for Him to graciously create in us a new heart (Psalm 51:10), providentially increase our faith (Romans 12:3), and mercifully allow us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), our desires will begin to harmonize with His. Our desires will not be occupied with self but rather we’ll be satisfied in loving God (1 John 4:19) and serving others (1 Peter 4:10).

The peacemaker is one who is not always looking at everything in terms of the effect it has upon himself. Now is not that the whole trouble with us by nature? We look at everything as it effects us. “What is the reaction upon me? What is this going to mean to me?” And the moment we think like that there is of necessity war, because everybody else is doing the same thing (pg. 105).

We must say about the peacemaker is that he has an entirely new view of himself, a new view which really amounts to this. He has seen himself and has come to see that in a sense this miserable, wretched self is not worth bothering about at all. It is so wretched; it has no rights or privileges; it does not deserve anything. If you have seen yourself as poor in spirit, if you have mourned because of the blackness of your heart, if you have truly seen yourself and have hungered and thirsted after righteousness, you will not stand any longer on your rights and privileges, you will not be asking, “What about me in this?” You will have forgotten this self (pg. 105).

The peacemaker has only one concern, and it is the glory of God amongst men. That was the Lord Jesus Christ’s only concern. His one interest in life was not Himself (pg. 106).

I often remind my family during devotions that the Word became flesh, allowed Himself to be judged by a people who had no right, in order to redeem a people He didn’t even need to create. This is a love that has no interest in self. And it’s in this finished work where true peace and contentment are to be found.

 

 

BAPTISM RESOURCES

“So long as it remains true that Paul represents the Church of the Living God to be one, founded on one covenant (which the law could not set aside) from Abraham to to-day, so long it remains true that the promise is to us and our children and that the members of the visible Church consist of believers and their children — all of whom have a right to all the ordinances of the visible Church, each in its appointed season. The argument in a nutshell is simply this: God established His Church in the days of Abraham and put children into it. They must remain there until He puts them out. He has nowhere put them out. They are still then members of His Church and as such entitled to its ordinances. Among these ordinances is baptism, which standing in similar place in the New Dispensation to circumcision in the Old, is like it to be given to children.” BB Warfield

After spending many hours over the years reading, studying, and praying on the subject of baptism, I finally made the decision to pull my family from our Baptist church and join the OPC. I could no longer withhold the waters from our children. From the very beginning children of believers have been members of God’s visible church and at no point has He revoked their membership. Instead, He reaffirms. Continuation is evident throughout the New Testament and disregarding (or explaining away) the obvious was no longer an option.

While I believe Covenant Household Baptism (paedobaptist, oikobaptist) to be the correct biblical understanding of the sacrament, below is a list of 3 resources (defending both sides) that I found extremely helpful while studying the subject.

Credo-baptist Position

Baptism of Disciples Alone, Fred Malone

Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, Thomas R. Schreiner, Shawn Wright

The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith

Paedo-baptist Position

The Church of Christ, James Bannerman

William: The Baptist, James M Chaney

Westminster Confession of Faith

The Church has always included infants among its members, the proof, after what has already been said, need not demand a lengthened illustration. If the Church of God, made up of His professing people, be one and the same society at all times, and under all its different dispensations, then the proof that infants were members of it at one period must be a proof that they are competent to be members of it at any subsequent period; unless, indeed, some express and positive enactment can be produced, altering the charter of the society, and excluding, as incompetent to be admitted by the new and altered terms of the deed, those formerly comprehended within it. If no such proof of alteration in the charter or constitution of the society can be produced,—if the society itself remains the same in character and terms of admission as before,—then the proof that infants were once its members may suffice for proof that they are still competent to be so. James Bannerman

ORDINARY

Publisher’s Description

Radical. Crazy. Transformative and restless. Every word we read these days seems to suggest there s a next-best-thing, if only we would change our comfortable, compromising lives. In fact, the greatest fear most Christians have is boredom the sense that they are missing out on the radical life Jesus promised. One thing is certain. No one wants to be ordinary.

Yet pastor and author Michael Horton believes that our attempts to measure our spiritual growth by our experiences, constantly seeking after the next big breakthrough, have left many Christians disillusioned and disappointed. There s nothing wrong with an energetic faith; the danger is that we can burn ourselves out on restless anxieties and unrealistic expectations. What s needed is not another program or a fresh approach to spiritual growth; it s a renewed appreciation for the commonplace.

Far from a call to low expectations and passivity, Horton invites readers to recover their sense of joy in the ordinary. He provides a guide to a sustainable discipleship that happens over the long haul not a quick fix that leaves readers empty with unfulfilled promises. Convicting and ultimately empowering, Ordinary is not a call to do less; it s an invitation to experience the elusive joy of the ordinary Christian life.”

The Ordinary Christian Life by Michael Horton

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST

Endorsements

‘I am thrilled to see this classic work on Presbyterian polity being reissued. And if you think “thrilled” and “Presbyterian polity” don’t belong in the same sentence, that’s just one more reason we need Bannerman’s book. In a day where the doctrine of the church is often thought obscure, irrelevant, and even divisive, Bannerman reminds us just how much our forefathers thought about this topic and just how much the Bible has to say on these issues. This big book on the nature and order of the church is more helpful, more contemporary, and more important than you might think.’– KEVIN DEYOUNG

‘The great thing about Bannerman’s The Church of Christ is that it will stimulate the reader to reflect on the nature of the church in a profoundly biblical and historically sensitive way. At a point in history when the church in the West is finding herself for the first time in 1,500 years to be marginal and often unwelcome, clear thinking on the nature and purpose of the church is vital. I do not think there is a better way to sharpen one’s thinking on these matters than thoughtful and deep refection upon this work of James Bannerman.’– CARL R. TRUEMAN

Book Description

The New Testament places the church at the centre of its practical vision of the Christian life and at the heart of the Great Commission. A church-less Christianity is no real Christianity at all.

As we head into a world very similar to Paul’s own context, in which pluralism dominates and Christianity is regarded with intellectual and moral suspicion, it is vital that Christians have a clear understanding of what the church actually is.

James Bannerman’s The Church of Christ is one of the key historic texts of the doctrine of the church. Few will agree with everything the author has to say, but as Carl Trueman states in his foreword, ‘the great thing about the book is that it will stimulate the reader to reflect on the nature of the church in a profoundly biblical and historically sensitive way’.

After dealing with basic principles and distinctions, such as the contrast between the visible and invisible church, and between the local and universal church, Bannerman takes up the important and far-reaching question of the relation between church and state. But the body of the work is really a treatise on church power—the nature, limits and exercise of Christ’s power in the church in its connexional and local aspects. In what does the ordained ministry consist? Should the church micro-manage the lives of her members? To what extent should the church campaign for wider political or social causes? Is the church to be an agent for the transformation of society as a whole? What tools does the church have for making disciples and, if necessary, disciplining them? Answers to these questions can only come from a correct understanding of the nature of the church’s power.

Although Presbyterian in conviction, the author has undertaken a ‘comparative’ study of the various classic positions on each issue under consideration as these are expressed in the confessional symbols and standard authors. It is this method which makes the book so useful for all serious-minded readers. The appendix also contains valuable bibliographical material.

This is classic Scottish theology at its best, and those who take the time to digest it will be richly rewarded.

 

REMEMBERING THE REFORMATION

In the Bible they found also the mighty doctrine of the sovereignty of God, which taught them not to approach their problems in a subjective manner as you and I are prone to do. Their concern was not, how can I get a bit of help, how can I get some physical healing, how can I get guidance, how can I get happiness and peace, how can I get a friend who will help me in my loneliness? No, they saw themselves before this almighty, sovereign God and the one question was, How can a man be just with God? They bowed before him! They were godly men; they were God-fearing men. God was at the center of their thoughts, the controller of their activities and their lives. The sovereignty of God! They did not talk much about free will, as I read them, but they knew that God was over all, and he was to be worshipped and to be feared.

John Knox and the Reformation by Martyn Lloyd-Jones & Iain Murray (p. 21, Remembering the Reformation, Martyn Lloyd-Jones)