Gethsemane’s King

Have you ever noticed how truly regal Jesus appears at the hour of His arrest? Consider the account from John, an eyewitness —

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” — John 18 esv

At the recent Banner of Truth Conference, Dr Joel Beeke, a long-time pastor, and President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Michigan (and a friend of mine), spoke from John 18 of our Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. We’re told that Jesus knew what would happen to Him (18:4), yet still entered the familiar place of prayer so that these events might unfold according to Scripture (18:9). It ought to amaze us to see here our 33 year old Savior directly in harm’s way yet acting with royal bearing, controlling the very circumstance of that night. Let me share Dr Beeke’s main points from first part of his address last Tuesday night….

THE KING’S THREEFOLD SOVEREIGNTY

(1) A Question asked with Authority. Jesus boldly takes the lead with the approaching mob: “Whom do you seek?” Faced with many men, with weapons, Jesus did not shrink back, but stepped forward. He is already in charge.

(2) Sovereign Self-Identification. Hearing their derisive reply (“Jesus of Nazareth“), He is not put off. “I am,” Jesus firmly answered — “ego emi” in Greek, the root meaning of the name LORD. At this, the formidable mob falls back, to the ground! Do you see this? If this Judas-led mob thought they were simply grabbing a troublesome young rabbi hiding in an olive grove at night, they were now sorely mistaken! His voice, that profession, His presence was awesome, if not fearful. They shrink back and cower. What would He say next?

(3) His Sovereign Self-substitution. After confirming His identity a second time, Jesus directs them in their task: “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” For many months Jesus had set His face towards Jerusalem. He was heading into His cross. The Gospel of Mark provides Jesus’ explanation: “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (10:45). He offers Himself, and directs that His disciples be free to go. This was our Savior’s intention and work from the beginning: “Me for them.”

Amazing. Hail Jesus, the King of Gethsemane!

The second half of this conference message goes on to speak of the Lamb of Gethsemane. [more soon, DV].
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The story behind my favorite books

7048lMy favorite books (in large measure) are those published by The Banner of Truth Trust. Few publishers are as biblically faithful and reliable as this one. [Aside: I recently mentioned to someone that IVP publishes both good and bad, even heretical authors — such as Greg Boyd, purveyor of “openness of God” theology. You simply can no longer trust an IVP book to be orthodox.]

Here is an article on the history of The Banner of Truth Trust (“trust” being a British term for charity or non-profit organization) by by dear friend, and BTT founder, Iain H Murray. It begins with this paragraph…

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The Banner of Truth Trust originated in 1957 in London. The founders believed that much of the best literature of historic Christianity had been allowed to fall into oblivion and that its recovery under God could well lead not only to a strengthening of the Church today but to true revival. The origins of the work were closely connected with the prayer that God would be pleased to visit the land again in true awakening. (read the rest)

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Abandon low & carnal aims!

I constantly mark and underline in my books. Perhaps one of the most precious quotations I have found over the years is this, from Thornwell. (I found it many years ago in Iain Murray’s THE PURITAN HOPE, a real gem of a book).

J. H. Thornwell quote…

“If the Church could be aroused to a deeper sense of the glory that awaits her, she would enter with a warmer spirit into the struggles that are before her. Hope would inspire ardour. She would even now arise from the dust, and like the eagle, plume her pinions for loftier flights than she has yet taken. What she wants, and what every individual Christian wants, is faith — faith in her sublime vocation, in her Divine resources, in the presence and efficacy of the Spirit that dwells in her — faith in the truth, faith in Jesus, and faith in God. With such a faith there would be no need to speculate about the future. That would speedily reveal itself. it is our unfaithfulness, our negligence and unbelief, our low and carnal aims, that retard the chariot of the Redeemer. the Bridegroom cannot come until the Bride has made herself ready. Let the Church be in earnest after greater holiness in her own members, and in faith and love undertake the conquest of the world, and she will soon settle the question whether her resources are competent to change the face of the earth.”

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—from Collected Writings, 1871, volume 2, page 48; 
quoted by Iain H. Murray in The Puritan Hope, (Banner of Truth, 1971, page xxii).

Earnestly seeking things above,
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Day Three (Thurs. PM) at the Banner

Again this year, there was another large conference on campus at the same time, creating a real log jam at the cafeteria at meal times. I am certain, though, it is ultimately for our sanctification (however much the OTHER group needs some sanctifying too!).

After lunch on this final day Continue reading

Day Three (Thurs. AM) at the Banner

There were four sessions on this final day of the conference. First was the second address by Rick Philips, this time Continue reading

Day Two (Wed. PM) at The Banner Conference

A ‘MINI–SESSION’

After some time for fellowship (and helping a brother try to repair a laptop), the Wednesday afternoon sessions began … with something rather different. At 3:15 PM Pastor Mark Johnston (a Trustee of the Banner of Truth, a pastor from the UK) spoke for 15 minutes on Continue reading

Banner of Truth Ministers Conference 2008

This Tuesday I travel to the campus of Messiah College, near Harrisburg, PA, for the annual BANNER OF TRUTH MINISTERS’ CONFERENCE. I have been attending every year since 1992, so this will be my 17th year gathering with these men. No other event has such a significant impact on my spiritual life and my ministry as this conference.

This year’s speakers include: Iain H. Murray, Richard D. Phillips, A.Craig Troxell, Ian Hamilton and David Campbell.

The theme is “The Preacher’s Task.” The schedule is attached here: BT Conf Schedule

Although this conference is only for pastors/elders and seminarians, I have received special permission to bring my oldest son, Andrew. I hope this will be a sweet time of father/son fellowship as well as a serious time of spiritual reflection and preparation for his departure for college (Syracuse University) in August. Please pray with us to these ends.

I do hope to post updates here during the weekend, and certainly at weeks’ end.
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