Ecclesia Reformata

ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei ("the church reformed, always being reformed according to the Word of God"); the Word of God alone brings life.

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Location: Georgia, United States

Monday, March 02, 2009

So Long for Now

If you have wondered in past months as to when there would be a new post at Ecclesia Reformata, it should be obvious after nearly a year that posting has ceased. As a missionary of Biblical Ministries Worldwide (, I have been commissioned to plant a church, and begin a Bible institute to help prepare men for church planting and to provide seminary instruction in coastal Georgia, in addition to a full schedule of editing, writing, and speaking, so it is just not possible to continue regular posts (actually time was always an issue even in posting the few from March 2006 to May 2008). Thank you for your interest in this blog and I appreciate the good contacts I was able to make through it. If interested, you may always peruse Eternal Ministries ( and Coastal Bible Chapel ( As for Ecclesia Reformata, so long for now.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Christ and Culture

"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence
over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all,
does not cry: 'Mine!'"

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Does Scripture Influence Society?

Obedience to the Lord’s teachings and commandments has personal and social implications. True regeneration is a cultural event. Scripture presents two means of influencing society with God’s Word, each of which is necessary: holy lives and verbal proclamation. As God’s Word influences society, there should be a marked difference in society as a whole, and it should be a difference that even the unbeliever will notice, for light will not go unnoticed by darkness (cf. Matt 5:13-16). Social benefits are often the result of holy lives and verbal proclamation of God’s Word, but societal improvement is not the gospel the church is charged to proclaim. Social action apart from the biblical Gospel often prioritizes the conversion of social structures, as opposed to personal salvation in Christ alone, which supposedly reaches its climax in the complete inauguration of the kingdom of God. God does have a purpose for all creation, but it awaits the redemption of the body for the saints according to the will of God (Rom 8:18-23; Phil 3:20-21). Before the foundation of the world, God chose those “to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth . . . to share in the glory of [the] Lord Jesus Christ.” Therefore, the church is to “stand firm and hold to the teachings” of the Gospel and to do so “in every good deed and word” (2 Thess 2:13-17). When the church stands firm, God will be glorified and society will be better for it!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Denial of Christ Jesus as the Only Begotten

The New Testament refers to Jesus as the Son of God in numerous references. It is true that the redeemed are also sons of God, and angels are also referred to as sons of God. However, Jesus is the Son of God in a unique way. He is the “only Begotten” Son (John 3:16). The Greek word translated “only Begotten” [Gk. monogenes] indicates Jesus’ uniqueness (i.e. He is the Son of God in a way no one else is). The angels are the sons of God by creation. Human beings are the sons of God by the new birth. Jesus is the Son of God because He had no human father (Luke 1:35).

There exist various forms of gennao (“begat”) in the Old Testament both in a literal sense (Deut 23:8) and metaphorical (Job 38:28). In Psalm 2:7, gennao is used to reference God’s relation to HaMaschioch; it refers there to an individual relationship (Acts 13:33; Heb 1:5). Christ’s Sonship is clearly connected to His Davidic kingship. It is plausible that in the application to the Messianic King the intention would be of “divine ‘adoption’ to sonship” (cf. Gal 4:5). If begat were understood to speak of Christ prophetically then the word would extend beyond the meaning of adoption.

In the New Testament, the word is used rather literally (Matt 1:1-16). However, the metaphorical usage is still extended greatly For example, in 1 Corinthians 4:15 the word is used in the sense of converts begotten to eternal life. Of equal similarity to monogenes is the word describing believers in their relationship to God (John 1:13; 1 Pet 1:3). In other words, Christians are tekna (“children”) of God (John 1:12).

In contrast to believers as tekna of God, Jesus Christ is the unique huios (“son”) of God. As the “Son of God” (huios theou), Jesus alone is in a unique relationship with God the Father, whereas those who enter a relationship of sonship by believing in the huios theou are but tekna theou. Christ’s relation is not by an act of generation, rather it is the continual enjoyment of a unique relationship to the Father (John 1:18).

Jesus is one with God as His only-begotten Son. This is the proclamation formulated by the Nicene Council in the following way: “ . . . and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages: Light of Light. True God of True God. Begotten not made. Of one essence with the Father. Through whom all things were made. . . . ” These lines speak about the Son of God, also called the Word or Logos of God, before His incarnation. There is but one eternal Son of God. There never was a time when there was no Son of God. This is specifically what the heretic Arius taught. It is the doctrine formally condemned by the first ecumenical council. The only begotten Son always existed, or rather more accurately always “exists” as uncreated, eternal, and divine.

Friday, February 29, 2008

A Powerful Exhortation from the Pen of Wycliffe

"The true Christian was intended by Christ to prove all things by the Word of God, all churches, all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all doctrines, all sermons, all writings, all opinions, all practices. These are His marching orders. Prove all by the Word of God; measure all by the measure of the Bible; compare all with the standard of the Bible; weigh all in the balances of the Bible; examine all by the light of the Bible; test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible, receive hold, believe, and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate, and cast away. This is the flag which He nailed to the mast. May it never be lowered! . . .

A church, which does not honor the Bible, is as useless as a body without life, or a steam engine without fire. A minister who does not honor the Bible is as useless as a soldier without arms, a builder without tools, a pilot without compass, or a messenger without tidings. Stand fast on old principles. Do not forsake the old paths. Let nothing tempt you to believe that multiplication of forms and ceremonies, constant reading of liturgical services, or frequent communions, will ever do so much good to souls as the powerful, fiery, fervent preaching of God's Word. If men want to do good to the multitude, if they want to reach their hearts and consciences, they must attack them through their ears; they must blow the trumpet of the everlasting Gospel loud and long; they must preach the Word."

Would that more churches be convicted of the doctrines of grace, which communicate that God creates and sustains His church by Scripture alone!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Alcohol and the Church

Our county will soon vote regarding an alcohol beverage-related referendum. Although the primary motivation for the referendum has been stated regarding tax dollars, it appears some would regard the issue religiously (in terms of whether the Bible prohibits or demands abstaining from any alcohol consumption; and therefore, should be opposed on that basis). There are indeed significant ramifications of the counsel and witness of the church both corporately and individually regarding this matter.

Prior to the 1800s, there was nearly universal agreement by every denomination of orthodox Christianity regarding the moderate consumption of alcohol for health and pleasure. Condemnation of the moderationist position is maintained through the capricious rejection of centuries of church history—and most importantly, the assertions of the Bible—by granting priority instead for an ascetic fundamentalism that is deemed a greater standard of holiness and prudence than the Bible.
The plain teaching of the Bible concerning the moderate consumption of alcohol should promote church integrity and unity rather than spirited disagreement that is often manifested in contention and strife among the body of Christ. The church’s unity in belief and practice must be based upon the Bible solely. To demand abstinence and prohibit moderate alcohol consumption as a matter of faithfulness to God not only conflicts with the biblical and historical record, but also would be indictments upon Old Testament saints, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and unanimity of eighteen hundred years of church history. The prohibitionist position that all alcoholic beverages are inherently evil, and that any use is therefore sinful, pronounces a curse upon God’s blessing, and regards God’s blessing in this matter to be a curse. The abstentionist position often neglects Bible teaching of maturity and personal responsibility in regards to matters of church liberty. The Bible consistently condemns drunkenness (alcohol abuse) as sin, but never condemns use of alcohol (medicinally or moderately) as evil. Scripture declares that wine specifically is a good gift from God. The Bible and the entire Christian tradition have sternly condemned the sin of drunkenness (as should the church not only in our county, but also anywhere in the world). As a component of God’s creation, alcoholic beverages are something that may be enjoyed to the glory of God in moderation for both health and pleasure and with a thankful heart.

Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon, and stars have been worshiped. Shall we then pluck them out of the sky? Such haste and violence betray a lack of confidence in God. See how much he has been able to accomplish through me, though I did no more than pray and preach. The Word did it all. Had I wished I might have a started a conflagration at Worms. But while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow. – Dr. Martin Luther

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christ and Melchizedek

According to Hebrews 6:20, Christ “has entered [heaven] as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Previously the writer of Hebrews declared, “He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (5:10). The mention of Jesus as “high priest” in 6:20 follows the initial declaration that the believer has eternal preservation because of Messiah’s eternal priesthood; the mention in 5:10 was briefly interrupted by the warning of apostasy. In 6:20, the writer now begins his theme that Messiah’s high priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood.

Since his mention in Scripture is brief, Melchizedek is often considered an enigmatic figure. The only Old Testament accounts of Melchizedek are recorded in Genesis 14:17-20 and he is mentioned again in Psalm 110:4. He is not mentioned again until the Book of Hebrews. Nevertheless, God predestined the events of his life so he would be a type of the Messiah (cf. 7:3). According to Hebrews 7:1, Melchizedek was “king of Salem” (early name of Jerusalem), and “priest of the Most High God.” Abraham met him when returning from a military victory and “apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils” (7:2). Hebrews 7:7 records the significance of this tithe: “But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.” The tithe of Abraham to Melchizedek is expanded in Hebrews 7:4, 6, 8-10.

Levitical priests “have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people” (7:5). The Jewish people and priests trace their heritage to Abraham. When Melchizedek, “the one whose genealogy is not traced from them,” received the tithe from Abraham, the former had no genealogical relation to the chosen people. However, Abraham recognized a non-Jewish priest as his superior. In the Aaroninc priesthood, “mortal men receive tithes” (7:8) to continue the succession of the priests. Since there is no mention of Melchizedek’s death, his priesthood must be perpetual. Melchizedek received the Levitical tithes, which means the Aaronic priesthood paid tithes to him (7:9). The argument of Hebrews 7:11-20 is that a change in the priesthood has occurred. “Another priest . . . according to the order of Melchizedek” (7:11) is the Messiah; Messiah’s “indestructible life” (7:16) qualifies Him to be a Priest like Melchizedek. Psalm 110:4 confirmed the perpetual priesthood of Messiah.

The first coming of Messiah to Earth was to be obedient unto death. Since He was obedient and faithful unto death, Jesus became the sinner’s substitute under the wrath of God, but He is sinless, and therefore, rose from the grave and ascended to the Father, returning to the glory which He had with the Father before the world was created. Following His ascension, the Messiah entered the heavenly throne room and was declared the Son of Man (i.e., the Son relating to mankind who was a partaker of humanity; Heb 2:14). The Son of Man approached the Ancient of Days to be exalted and glorified (John 13:31-32; cf. Phil 2:8-11; Heb 12:2). Presently, the Son of Man is seated at His Father’s right hand (Psa 110:1) which occurred after He was presented as the Son of Man to His Father (Dan 7:13-14). Following the Son of Man’s presentation to the Ancient of Days (7:13-14), Christ entered the Holy of Holies through (by means of) His own blood, and is now seated at His Father’s right hand. All worldwide authority is given to Jesus, the Son of Man. The Father has divinely directed for the Son of Man to co-reign with Him over all creation (Psa 110:1; Dan 7:13-14; Eph 1:20-22). At the end of the age, the Son of Man will depart from the heavenly throne room of the Ancient of Days and will return to Earth in power and glory to reign historically and visibly as Messiah upon the throne of David.

The priesthood of Messiah assures the fulfillment “of a better covenant” (7:22) which means the realization of the Abrahamic, Land, Davidic, and New Covenants. Although “the former priests...existed in greater numbers,” the Messiah “holds his priesthood permanently” (7:23-24). God’s “oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever” (7:28). The oath of God was referenced in 7:21 which quoted from Psalm 110:4. Human priesthood has been replaced by a divine, perpetual priesthood of Messiah.