If God have made it the business of some to be teachers, it will follow, that he hath made it the business of others to be learners; for teachers and learners are correlates, one of which was never intended to be without the other. God hath never made it the duty of some to take pains to teach those who are not obliged to take pains to learn. He hath not commanded ministers to spend themselves in order to impart knowledge to those who are not obliged to apply themselves to recieve it.
The name by which Christians are commonly called int the New Testament is disciples, the signification of which word is scholars and learners. All Christians are put into the school of Christ, where their business is to learn, or recieve knowledge from Christ, their common master and teacher, and from those inferior teachers appointed by him to instruct in his name.Jonathon Edwards on Knowing Christ, pg 23
Confessional orthodoxy coupled with a view of a heavenly Father whose love is conditioned on his Son’s suffering, and further conditioned by our repentance, leads inevitably to a restriction in the preaching of the gospel. Why? Because it leads to a restriction in the preacher that matches the restriction he sees in the heart of God! Such a heart may have undergone the process that Alexander Whyte described as “sanctification by vinegar.” If so, it tends to be unyielding and sharp edged. A ministry rooted in conditional grace has that effect; it produces orthodoxy without love for sinners and a conditional and conditioned love for the righteous.
In the nature of the case there is a kind of psychological tendency for Christians to associate the character of God with the character of the preaching they hear-not only the substance and content of it but the spirit and atmosphere it conveys. After all, preaching is the way in which they publicly and frequently “hear the Word of God.” But what if there is a distortion in the understanding and heart of the preacher that subtly distorts his exposition of God’s character? What if his narrow heart pollutes the atmosphere in which he explains the heart of the Father. When people are broken by sin, full of shame, feeling weak, conscious of failure, ashamed of themselves, and in need of counsel, they do not want to listen to preaching that expounds the truth of the discrete doctrines of their church’s confession of faith but fails to connect them with the marrow of gospel grace and the Father of infinite love for sinners. It is a gracious and loving Father they need to know.Sinclair Ferguson, “The Whole Christ” pg 72
As a definition, this take on what it means to be a “progressive” takes the wind out of the sails of social liberals, challenging their claim that, in tattooing “progressivism” across their chests, they own the moral/metaphysical high ground of today and tomorrow.
Beneath the paralysis that keeps many in our culture from giving over their identity to Jesus Christ lies the question about the culture: who owns the future? We live in a context where many people and ideas claim to be “progressive.” Think about it for a moment: the essential point of claiming to be progressive is that one owns the future, that the future is progressing toward the position I hold. So, for example, Barack Obama claims to be progressive, bringing in the way of the future; but likewise, the conservative Tea Party movement could call itself progressive, claiming that the way of the future is not big government programs. Musicians, actors, and others in popular culture claim to be progressive, bringing in the new to outdo the old. In politics and popular, various positions claim to be progressive, which is another way of saying, “I own the future on this issue.”
Yet in view of changing cultures and times, one could begin to have serious doubts about whether we have any sense at all of what it means to be progressive. My generation, Generation X, was told that the future belongs to us. Younger generations are told the same thing. But of course, that’s not really true since every generation has a generation following it. Things that seemed progressive to my generation are likely to seem retrograde the next. At various points in recent history, practices like eugenics and racial segregation were championed as progressive. The fact that they no longer seem progressive to us just shows how much the future is out of our grasp.
J. Todd Billings, “Union with Christ” pg 31-32
Therefore, God his creator having pity on him, has loved the world, that he has given his only son Jesus Christ, for mediator, patron, advocate, and intercessor between him and man, to reconcile them to him, even when they were his enemies. Wherefore it follows, that he has done this, not having regard to any deserving of man, who neither had nor could deserve but only eternal death, but has only regarded his own goodness and mercy. Wherefore as there is but one only God, creator, governor & conserver of all things, nor any other saviour than he, nor in whom man may trust, nor worship, nor invocate: no more is there likewise but one only mediator Jesus Christ, by whom man may have access to God, and find favour in his sight and recover that which through his own fault has lost.Pierre Viret
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.Thomas Cranmer, Preface of Trinity Sunday
The emblems of this mystery are the bread and wine through which theLord holds out to us the true communication of his body and blood. We are talking of spiritual communion, which is effected by the bond of the Holy Spirit alone, and which in no way requires a presence enclosed in Christ’s flesh through the bread or his blood through the wine. For although Christ, exalted in heaven, has left behind this earthly abode in which we are still pilgrims, yet no distance can dissolve his power by which he feeds his people with himself. Although they are very far from him, by this power he grants them to enjoy a communion with himself which is nonetheless very close.
So it is that in the Supper the Lord gives us teaching which is so certain and unmistakable that we must be assured without doubt that Christ, with all his riches, is there presented to us, no less than if he were placed before our eyes and touched by our hands.
The power and efficacy of Christ are such that, in the Supper, he not only brings to our spirits an assured confidence in eternal life, but he also makes us certain of the immortality of our flesh. For our flesh is already given life by his immortal flesh and, in some way, share his immortality.John Calvin, “Truth For All Time”
Tacitus, in describing the Romans…and it feels all too familiar.
They have plundered the world, stripping naked the land in their hunger, they loot even the ocean: they are driven by greed, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor; neither the wealth of the east nor the west can satisfy them: they are the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal passion to dominate. They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace.Cornelius Tacitus, De Vita Gnæi Julii Agricolæ cap. xxx (98 CE) in the Loeb Library ed., vol. 35, p. 80 (S.H. transl.)
Do not be ashamed to enter again into the Church. Be ashamed when you sin. Do not be ashamed when you repent. Pay attention to what the devil did to you. These are two things: sin and repentance. Sin is a wound; repentance is a medicine. Just as there are for the body wounds and medicines, so for the soul are sins and repentance. However, sin has the shame and repentance possesses the courage.+ St. John Chrystotom, Homily 8, On Repentance and Almsgiving (Fathers of the Church Patristic Series)