Christmas Sermon on Luke 2:1-14 – Martin Luther

luther-preaching-in-wittenbergThis sermon was preached the afternoon of Christmas Day 1530 by Martin Luther. His text was the familiar (for us) Luke 2:1-14, and the focus in this particular sermon was vss.10,11.

Here are some excerpts from that gospel message that will instruct and inspire our faith anew (I have slightly edited these quotations for ease of reading – not the words, just the formatting):

This is our theology, which we preach in order that we may understand what the angel wants. Mary bore the child, took it to her breast and nursed it, and the Father in heaven has his Son, lying in the manger and the mother’s lap. Why did God do all this? Why does Mary guard the child as a mother should? And reason answers: in order that we may make an idol of her, that honor may be paid to the mother. Mary becomes all this without her knowledge and consent, and all the songs and glory and honor are addressed to the mother.

And yet the text does not sound forth the honor of the mother, for the angel says, ‘I bring to you good news of great joy; for to you is born this day the Savior’ [Luke 2:10-11]. I am to accept the child and his birth and forget the mother, as far as this is possible, although her part cannot be forgotten, for where there is a birth there must also be a mother. Nevertheless, we dare not put our faith in the mother but only in the fact that the child was born. And the angel desired that we should see nothing but the child which is born, just as the angels themselves, as though they were blind, saw nothing but the child born of the virgin, and desired that all created things should be as nothing compared with this child, that we should see nothing, be it harps, gold, goods, honor, power, and the like which we would prefer before their message. For if I received even the costliest and the best in the world, it still does not have the name of Savior. And if the Turk [Muslim] were ten times stronger than he is, he could not for one moment save me from my infirmity, to say nothing of the peril of death, and even less from the smallest sin or from death itself. In my sin, my death, I must take leave of all created things. No, sun, moon, stars, all creatures, physicians, emperors, kings, wise men and potentates cannot help me. When I die I shall see nothing but black darkness, and yet that light, ‘To you is born this day the Savior’ [Luke 2:11], remains in my eyes and fills all heaven and earth.

The Savior will help me when all have forsaken me. And when the heavens and the stars and all creatures stare at me with horrible mien, I see nothing in heaven and earth but this child. So great should that light which declares that he is my Savior become in my eyes that I can say: Mary, you did not bear this child for yourself alone. The child is not yours; you did not bring him forth for yourself, but for me, even though you are his mother, even though you held him in your arms and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and picked him up and laid him down. But I have a greater honor than your honor as his mother. For your honor pertains to your motherhood of the body of the child, but my honor is this, that you have my treasure, so that I know none, neither men nor angels, who can help me except this child whom you, O Mary, hold in your arms.

If a man could put out of his mind all that he is and has except this child, and if for him everything – money, goods, power, or honor – fades into darkness and he despises everything on earth compared with this child, so that heaven with its stars and earth with all its power and all its treasures becomes nothing to him, that man would have the true gain and fruit of this message of the angel. And for us the time must come when suddenly all will be darkness and we shall know nothing but this message of the angel: ‘I bring to you good news of great joy; for to you is born this day the Savior’ [Luke 2:10-11]

And another section contains these words:

Take yourself in hand, examine yourself and see whether you are a Christian! If you can sing: The Son, who is proclaimed to be a Lord and Savior, is my Savior; and if you can confirm the message of the angel and say yes to it and believe it in your heart, then your heart will be filled with such assurance and joy and confidence, and you will not worry much about even the costliest and best that this world has to offer. For when I can speak to the virgin from the bottom of my heart and say: O Mary, noble, tender virgin, you have borne a child; this I want more than robes and guldens, yea, more than my body and life; then you are closer to the treasure than everything else in heaven and earth, as Ps. 73 [:25] says, ‘There is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee.’

You see how a person rejoices when he receives a robe or ten guldens. But how many are there who shout and jump for joy when they hear the message of the angel: ‘To you is born this day the Savior?’ Indeed, the majority look upon it as a sermon that must be preached, and when they have heard it, consider it a trifling thing, and go away just as they were before. This shows that we have neither the first nor the second faith. We do not believe that the virgin mother bore a son and that he is the Lord and Savior unless, added to this, I believe the second thing, namely, that he is my Savior and Lord.

When I can say: This I accept as my own, because the angel meant it for me, then, if I believe it in my heart, I shall not fail to love the mother Mary, and even more then child, and especially the Father. For, if it is true that the child was born of the virgin and is mine, then I have no angry God and I must know the feel that there is nothing but laughter and joy in the heart of the Father and no sadness in my heart. For, if what the angel says is true, that he is our Lord and Savior, what can sin do against us? ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’ [Rom. 8:31]. Greater words than these I cannot speak, nor all the angels and even the Holy Spirit, as is sufficiently testified by the beautiful and devout songs that have been made about it.

The Coming of Shiloh, Jesus, the Prince of Peace – Rev. D. Lee

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The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”  Genesis 49:10

This is the prophecy in view, and is altogether astounding….

First, this is astounding when you consider the family to whom this prophecy is given, the prophecy of the king with his scepter! This prophecy was not given to a family with royal blood, not even to a family which was rich or noble and had some decent place or ranking in society. But it was given to the family of a poor shepherd, struggling to obtain food, using whatever they had for travel, and leaving the land of Canaan to come into Egypt for that food. This lowly shepherd’s family was more like helpless beggars. But it is to them that God gives this prophecy of a scepter-wielding king – sovereign and powerful, and with righteous authority!

Second, it is astounding also when you consider to which son of Jacob it is given to. It was not given to the oldest son, Reuben. Neither was it given to the next two sons in line, Simeon and Levi – these received curses instead! Nor was it given to the wisest and godliest son Joseph. But it was given to Judah! Judah, who was not even a son of favored wife Rebekah, but of Leah. Judah, who, though he turned his brothers from their purpose to kill Joseph, nonetheless persuaded them to sell him as a slave to the Midianites at Dothan. Judah, who was a fornicator with daughter-in-law Tamar. Judah was a wretched and guilty sinner! He had no right to obtain a blessing. But he did. For this promise of a mighty, righteous scepter-wielding King comes to him!

Is it not also the same with you, and with me, dear reader? We do not deserve any of God’s covenant promises of salvation. God graciously gives them to us because, like Judah we do not deserve them, The only explanation for this is God’s sovereign good pleasure. He does so in His wondrous, sovereign particular, love and mercy!

…Shiloh came! The Prince of Peace, heavenly Counselor and King of God, Jesus the Christ came! That earthly scepter left for dead through the centuries, Christ picked up and transformed to His heavenly scepter! But He would be crowned and ascend to His heavenly throne only in the way of humiliation: His lowly birth, His life-long sufferings, and above all His crucifixion and death on the cross! In that way, He would be raised and lifted up! From the dead to glorious, heavenly life! And then, lifted up and ascended into heaven at God’s right hand! And He who is now exalted in heaven above will come again — Shiloh will come again! And then, His crown and scepter, His kingship and kingdom, will be perfectly realized!

Marvel at this wonderful realization! In the way of all that history, when all seemed lost.time and time again: in the slavery of God’s people, in the failure of the earthly kings from the line of Judah, in the inter-testamentary period of 400 years. But also beyond all comprehension and expectation, in the way of God becoming man, one of His lowly creatures – this astounding prophecy made unto Judah would be realized!

Found in the meditation on this passage in the December 15, 2017 issue of the Standard Bearer, written by Rev. Dennis Lee, pastor of Bethel PRC in Roselle, IL.

God’s Temple – Immanuel, Maranatha

TT-Dec-2017We are overdue for introducing the December 2017 issue of Tabletalk, which this month focuses on God’s grand work involving “The Temple.”

When we hear that word, we probably think immediately of the Old Testament temple of Solomon, or perhaps of the rebuilt temple built during Herod’s reign at the end of the OT. But as this issue of “TT” shows, God’s work of making His temple is all-embracing, covering the original creation, the tent made during the time of Moses (tabernacle), that more permanent OT house of Solomon, but more importantly, Christ (Immanuel!), the church chosen as living stones in the Stone (a living temple!), and then at last the new creation, which will be God’s perfect abode with His people. As you can see, “the temple” is a rich biblical concept and reality.

And as such, God’s temple is a fitting truth to ponder in this Christmas season. Editor Burk Parsons demonstrates that in his introduction to the issue, titled “Immanuel.” In it, he writes in part:

We were made to be with God. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. He led His people Israel through the wilderness and dwelt among them wherever they sojourned, and He dwelt with His people in the tabernacle and temple. The earthly tabernacle and temple of Israel and all of their furnishings served Israel by manifesting God’s presence through symbols, types, and shadows. They pointed to the day when God—who is a spirit, sovereign, triune, transcendent, infinite, eternal, immutable, self-existent, self-sufficient, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and full of mercy, love, and truth—would condescend to us to dwell with us, among us, and in us. This truth is encapsulated in the name Immanuel, one of the most beautiful and comforting names that God reveals to us about Himself. Isaiah prophesied to Israel that “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). The eternal Word, the Son of God, became flesh and dwelt among us. God is with us, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Before this issue gives us separate articles on the various details of God’s OT temple (the altar of burnt offering, the curtain, the lampstand, etc.), Dr. Michael Morales presents a marvelous survey of the biblical teaching on the temple in his article “The House of God.” Here is a portion of his article, which also ties in nicely with the season:

The transition from creation to new creation and from temple as house to temple as household centers upon the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the prologue of John’s gospel, we read that the Son became flesh and “tabernacled” among us, manifesting His glory (1:14, author’s translation). Through the incarnation, the eternal Son becomes a temple, His humanity the dwelling place of God. As a temple, Jesus is also the way to God. His self-sacrifice on the cross of agony atoned for our sins, fulfilling the sacrificial system of ancient Israel. Quite fittingly, Christ’s crucifixion resulted in God’s rending the temple veil (Mark 15:38)—through the veil of Jesus’ flesh, the “new and living way” to God has been opened (Heb. 10:19–22).

So, as we celebrate Christmas this year, let’s consider God’s magnificent temple – the true Temple of Christ and His church, destined for life with God in His everlasting house in the new world – certain to be revealed when Jesus comes again. “Come, Lord Jesus.”

The Biblical Idea of “Cover” – Rev. W. Langerak, Nov.15, 2017 “Standard Bearer”

After two special Reformation issues, the Nov.15, 2017 issue of the Standard Bearer returns to its regular rubrics and content.

SB-cover-Nov15-2017

One of the regular features is the condensed articles on biblical subjects that fall under the column “A Word Fitly Spoken.” In this issue, Rev. Bill Langerak treats for the first time the word “cover.” And, as you may guess, this simple word is also rich in meaning as it is found in God’s Word.

Here’s a taste of it:

With regard to us, the Lord covers us even in our mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13). He covers us in the shadow of His hand and says, “Thou art my people” (Isa. 51:16). He covers us with robes of righteousness as a bridegroom adorns himself with ornaments and a bride with her jewels (Isa. 61:10). He covers our head in the day of battle (Ps. 140:7). He covers us with His feathers so that under His wings we trust (Ps. 91:4).

Most blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven; whose sins the Lord covers (Rom. 4:7). He that covers his own sins shall not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy (Prov. 28:13). Mercy through Christ our Mediator. With His innocence and perfect holiness, He covers in the sight of God our sins wherein we are conceived and brought forth, and covers all our remaining infirmities as well (Heid. Cat., Q&A 36 and 81). Faith relies and rests upon the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours when we believe in Him, and which is sufficient to cover all our iniquities and gives us confidence in approaching to God without fear, terror, and dread, and without following the example of our first father, Adam, who trembling, attempted to cover himself with fig leaves (Belg. Conf., Art. 23). And in the day of His coming, Christ will destroy the covering cast over all peoples and nations for He will swallow up death in victory (Isa. 25:8).

Long ago, the Lord promised that although darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people, “He shall arise upon thee and His glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isa. 60:2). We, upon whom this light of God’s love has now shined, cannot and may not cover it up with a bushel (Luke 8:16). So when shamed (insulted), the wise man will cover it while the fool is quickly angry (Prov. 12:16). When told the transgression of others, the man who loves God’s church will cover it, while the schismatic repeats it (Prov. 17:9). And although we must be sober and watchful in prayer for the end of all things is at hand, we are told that above all things, we must have fervent love among ourselves, for love covers the multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8-9).

If you would like to explore other such biblical word studies, you may find past ones on this page on the PRC website.

10 Things You Should Know about Martin Luther | Crossway with H. Selderhuis

On this Reformation Day 2017 – the 500th anniversary of the great reforming movement planned, prepared, and produced by our sovereign Lord (albeit through His reforming agents, the magisterial Reformers) – we consider this fine summary post of Crossway publishers, written by Herman Selderhuis, and based on his new book Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography.

Selderhuis gives us ten things to remember about this German monk, things that we probably know, but which are well stated and good to recall today.

I’ve selected a few of the ones that stood out in my mind tonight. You may find all ten at the link below. I am determined to read Selderhuis’ book this year too, though I must admit, I may be over-booked.

What are YOU reading for Reformation 500?

5. Luther published prolifically.

Luther wrote a lot more than ninety-five theses and a few sermons. The official edition of his works—the so-called Weimarer Ausgabe—consists of more than one-hundred and twenty thick volumes.

Central to this impressive set is his work on the explanation and the translation of the Bible. Luther was appointed as professor of biblical exegesis and that remained his profession all of his life. This resulted in many rich commentaries.

Although he was not the official pastor of Wittenberg, we also have a great number of his sermons in which the fruits of his exegesis can be enjoyed. And then there are polemical and theological works, tabletalks, letters, and so much more.

7. Luther was a family man.

Luther was a little late when it came to starting a family. He was forty-one when he got married and forty-two when he became a father for the first time.

He wrote letters to his children during the many times he was away from home; sometimes he even took them with him on his journeys. At home, he would play and make music with them. He was also a father with worries and sadness. For example, he was besought with grief over the death of one of his daughters and was concerned when a son struggled at school.

Foundational to the Luthers’ home life was his wife, Katharina von Bora. She not only took care of the children but also told their father straight if his talk was too full of animosity of if he wasn’t taking good care of himself.

10. Luther remained a monk all of his life.

When Luther entered the monastery, he said he was searching for God—and, in a way, he kept searching for God the rest of his life.

Having found God as the gracious God, he kept searching for him, knowing that he needed him every day and also aware that sometimes God hides himself.

In becoming a monk, Luther promised God eternal obedience, poverty, and chastity—the three famous vows every monk had to make. Luther remained faithful to these vows all of his life. He remained obedient to God all of his life and even tried to obey the Roman Catholic Church as long as possible. Although the printers of his books became wealthy, Luther remained poor as he didn’t care much for money. Finally, while he did break his vow of celibacy by getting married, he embodied chastity as a husband.

Even on his deathbed, Luther’s last written words hinted at the fact that he thought of himself as a monk all of his life: “We are beggars. This is the truth. Amen.”

 

Source: 10 Things You Should Know about Martin Luther | Crossway Articles

There are a host of good Reformation Day sales going on (many beyond today). I encourage you to check out these links:

 

Another Look at the Special Reformation Issue of the “Standard Bearer” – October 15, 2017

The October 15, 2017 issue of the Standard Bearer is now in print and has been mailed out, and it is the first installment of our annual special Reformation issue, marking the 500th anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation (1517-2017).

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The articles in this special Reformation issue reflect “the heritage of the Reformation,” that is, the special truths of the gospel that were restored to the church of Jesus Christ through the various brave and bold Reformers God raised up in the sixteenth century.

Last week we looked at one of the articles; today let’s do that with another today. Part of the wonderful heritage of the Reformation is the body of confessions, creeds, and catechisms that were composed during this period of church history. In his article “In Praise of a Well-Built Confessional House,” Rev. Brian Huizinga treats the beauty and benefits of this confessional heritage.

Here are a few paragraphs from his contribution:

A Well-Built House

The Reformation gave us an incredibly well-built house. The Reformation did not merely give us an attractive front façade (justification by faith alone or creation), a load-bearing interior wall (original sin or the necessity of divine satisfaction), roof trusses and a roof over us (Scripture or double predestination), a cozy fire place (providence or prayer), a spacious utilitarian kitchen (the means of grace or good works), or a private bedroom (assurance of our election or hope for the second coming). The Reformation era gave us a complete house of all the essential doctrines of Scripture.

Evidence of the indispensable work of the Spirit of truth is the fact that our house sits perfectly on the basement foundation that had been laid a millennium prior. The house of the Three Forms of Unity not only sits squarely on the foundation of the Ecumenical creeds, but, to employ another figure, it is the massive oak arising out of the acorn “Jesus Christ is Lord” and the little sapling of the Ecumenical creeds. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God. Therefore, if we take the confession “Jesus Christ is Lord” and open up each one of those words and the whole statement in the light of Scripture, we not only arrive at the narrower theology of the Ecumenical creeds, but the broader and more comprehensive theology of our Reformed creeds.

For example, “Jesus” means “Jehovah salvation” or “He shall save His people from their sins,” (Matt. 1:21). To understand that one word “Jesus” we must ask the Bible: What is sin? What is the origin of sin? Who is a sinner? What is salvation? Who is Jesus? How does Jesus save? Whom does Jesus save? Why does Jesus save? Unto what does Jesus save? Work it all out according to Scripture and you end up with something like the Canons of Dordt with its five heads of doctrine. The same can be said of “Christ,” that is, “God’s anointed Prophet, Priest and King” and “Lord.” Some professing Christians denounce creeds in opposition to the confession “Jesus Christ is Lord,” but creeds only take that simple confession and reveal the comprehensive theology contained in it. What a massive, structurally sound, tidy, spacious, comfortable and even luxurious house is our confessional house, covering all the doctrines from theology to eschatology

The November 1, 2017 issue will be “The Heritage of the Reformation” part 2. That too will have a variety of articles on the important truths and practices restored to the church according to the Word of God. Look for that issue in a few weeks!

First 2017 “Standard Bearer” Special Reformation Issue

The October 15, 2017 issue of the Standard Bearer is now in print and being mailed, and it is our annual special Reformation issue, marking the 500th anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation (1517-2017).

SB-Oct-Ref1-2017

The articles in this special Reformation issue reflect “the heritage of the Reformation,” that is, the special truths of the gospel that were restored to the church of Jesus Christ through the various brave and bold Reformers God raised up in the sixteenth century.

From the front cover of the issue you can see some of the topics treated. And from the table of contents posted below, you can see the rest of the important subjects covered in this issue.

You may have noted that I wrote “first” special issue in my heading. That is because we have also planned and will publish a second special issue on the Reformation this year. The November 1, 2017 issue will be “The Heritage of the Reformation” part 2. That too will have a variety of articles on the important truths and practices restored to the church according to the Word of God. Look for that issue in a few weeks!

SB-Ref1-2017-contents

For today, we take a quotation from Prof. D. Engelsma’s article on the controversy over the bondage of the will, a subject of vital concern to the Reformers. Lord willing, we hope to feature another article from this issue as well.

The truth of the bondage of the will, including its being fundamental to the gospel of grace, has its urgent application to churches and professing Christians in AD 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation of 1517. The doctrine is not a petrified mummy safely sealed up in an ancient ecclesiastical museum. It is not a truth to which hypocritical ministers and church members can pay lip service when this is convenient for them (as in the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, although even then the bondage is usually not one of the topics of their celebrations), while effectively denying it in their synodical decisions, in their preaching, in their writings, by their church membership, and by their ostracism and slander of churches and theologians whose only offence is an uncompromising confession of the bondage of the will.

First, applied to the heart of the elect believer, this truth assures him of his salvation in that his willing of God and the good by a true faith carries with itself the assurance that he is saved. His will is free, and it is free because it has been freed by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Therefore, he will glorify God on account of his salvation.

Second, confession of the bondage of the will is a fundamental mark of a true church. Confession of the bondage of the will is an essential element of the proclamation of the gospel of grace, and the true church proclaims, confesses, and defends the gospel of grace—the gospel of salvation by grace alone, without the will and works of the saved sinner.

Third, confession and defense of the alleged free will of the natural, unsaved, man, which purportedly cooperates with grace and upon which grace depends, are the mark of an apostate, false church. In our ecumenical age, God’s people need to know this, and to act accordingly.

How to Contemplate Christ’s Holy Sufferings – M. Luther

Luther&LearningFor this second Sunday in October – Reformation 500 month – we post one of Martin Luther’s most popular sermons, a Good Friday sermon titled “How to Contemplate Christ’s Holy Sufferings.” It was preached in the early years of the Reformation and first published in 1519, undergoing several editions.

We post a few paragraphs from the third point of the sermon (yes, Luther also had three points to his sermon!), which is called “The Comfort of Christ’s Sufferings.”

…When man perceives his sins in this light and is completely terror-stricken in his conscience, he must be on his guard that his sins do not thus remain in his conscience, and nothing but pure doubt certainly come out of it; but just as the sins flowed out of Christ and we became conscious of them, so should we pour them again upon him and set our conscience free. Therefore see well to it that you act not like perverted people, who bite and devour themselves with their sins in their heart, and run here and there with their good works or their own satisfaction, or even work themselves out of this condition by means of indulgences and become rid of their sins; which is impossible, and, alas, such a false refuge of satisfaction and pilgrimages has spread far and wide.

…Then cast your sins from yourself upon Christ, believe with a festive spirit that your sins are his wounds and sufferings, that he carries them and makes satisfaction for them, as Is 53,6 says: “Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all;” and St. Peter in his first Epistle 2, 24: “Who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree” of the cross; and St. Paul in 2 Cor 5,21: “Him who knew no sin was made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” Upon these and like passages you must rely with all your weight, and so much the more the harder your conscience martyrs you. For if you do not take this course, but miss the opportunity of stilling your heart, then you will never secure peace, and must yet finally despair in doubt. For if we deal with our sins in our conscience and let them continue within us and be cherished in our hearts, they become much too strong for us to manage and they will live forever. But when we see that they are laid on Christ and he has triumphed over them by his resurrection and we fearlessly believe it, then they are dead and have become as nothing. For upon Christ they cannot rest, there they are swallowed up by his resurrection, and you see now no wound, no pain, in him, that is, no sign of sin. Thus St. Paul speaks in Rom 4, 25, that he was delivered up for our trespasses and was raised for our justification; that is, in his sufferings he made known our sins and also crucified them; but by his resurrection he makes us righteous and free from all sin, even if we believe the same differently.

For the full sermon and many others, visit this site.

 

How Do We See and Savor the Glory of the Lord in the NT? By Reading (the Word)!

Reading-Bible-Supernaturally-Piper-2017So Paul has shifted our focus from the old covenant to the new – from the law of Moses to the gospel of Christ. From the veiled, temporary glory, to the unveiled, permanent glory. And his central point is that when the veil is lifted  – when the hardening and blindness are removed – we see the glory of the Lord. ‘We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed’ (2 Cor.3:18). …Seeing the glory of God was, and is, preeminent.

Recall [from the author’s previous points] that the point of contact with the glory of God was, at one time, supposed to be the reading of Moses (2 Cor.3:14-15). Reading! This was supposed to be the way the glory of God was seen. Has that changed? No. there has been no criticism or abandonment of this window we call ‘reading.’ So we may assume that the value of this window remains.

The difference is that once there was reading with a veil. Now there is reading with no veil. Once there was a window with a curtain, and now that curtain has been pulled aside. But the window of reading remains, as we saw in Ephesians 3:4. It remains God’s plan for the revelation of his glory. …’Beholding the glory of the Lord with unveiled face’ (2 Cor.3:18) happens through reading. This is true both for the Spirit-illumined reading of the old covenant as well as a reading (or hearing) of the gospel of Christ.

Quotation from Chapter 4, “Reading to See Supreme Worth and Beauty, Part 2” of John Piper’s new book Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture (Crossway, 2017). In this chapter he is emphasizing and explaining this part of his “proposal,” ‘that we should always read his word in order to see this supreme worth and beauty.”

Winning the Souls of Unbelievers – J. Payne

As we pointed out earlier this month (see my Sept.10 post) the September 2017 issue of Tabletalk has as its theme “Soul Winning,” with the featured articles covering the various aspects of the Christian calling and methods of this task (based Prov.11:30).

I have once again profited from these articles, including that by Jon D. Payne, “Winning the Souls of Unbelievers.” In the first main section of this article, headed by the words “Wonderfully Ordinary,” Payne gives the “regular” believer great encouragement in the calling to evangelize.

I post these paragraphs tonight, so that you too may be assured that God has you right where you ought to be to be a means to win souls.

Rather than heap guilt on regular Christians for not soul winning on street corners or in market squares (which few believers are called or gifted to do), wouldn’t it be far better to foster a view of evangelism that naturally flows from the ordinary rhythms of daily life and weekly schedules? Shouldn’t we view gospel witness primarily as the overflow of a sincere walk with God in the particular sphere in which God has placed us?

God is sovereign, and in His sovereignty He has placed each one of us right where He wants us (Ps. 115:3; Acts 17:26–27). You may wish to be somewhere else, but right now you are exactly where God wants you to be. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9; see Rom. 8:28). Therefore, God calls us to reach the lost right where we are. He has sovereignly placed us in a distinct sphere of influence, in part, to reach out to nonbelievers with the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dear believer, God by His sovereign hand has put you in a specific community and planted you in a particular neighborhood or apartment building. He has also given you a distinct vocation. Why? In part, so that you would shine the light of the gospel to those around you in the ordinary course of your life.

Source: Winning the Souls of Unbelievers