The Purposes of the Lord’s Supper

The first paragraph of chapter twenty-nine in the Westminster Confession of Faith sets forth the institution of Lord’s Supper and the uses and ends for which it is designed:

Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in his church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.

In this episode, we discuss the five purposes of the Lord’s Supper detailed in the confession:

  1. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper as a commemorative ordinance for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death.
  2. The Lord’s Supper is a confirmatory sign (cf. Rom. 4:11) for the purpose of sealing all the benefits procured by Christ’s death unto true believers.
  3. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper for the spiritual nourishment and growth of believers in him.
  4. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper for believers for their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him.
  5. Finally, Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper to be a bond and pledge of believers’ communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.

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Vos Group #46 — Summary of Revelation in the Period of Moses

We continue our #VosGroup series in pages 175–182 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider ancestor worship and animism before moving to a summary of Part I of the entire book and specifically, revelation during the period of Moses.

The movement from the Abrahamic to the Mosaic is a movement from lesser to greater directness of access to God. This “greater access” appears especially when we consider what Vos called the “typical proportions” that Moses acquires in an “unusual degree” of Moses. And Exodus 32–34 is key in this regard. Not only does Moses offer himself vicariously to make atonement for sin (Ex. 32:30–33), illustrating the Melchizedekian priesthood of Christ, but he gains access to God in an unprecedented way.

God promises Moses “the divine presence and rest” in the land (33:12–14). God speaks to Moses “face-to-face (33:11)” in the tent of meeting and shows Moses his “glory” as he hides him in the cleft of the rock and declares his name (33:14–20). What Abraham saw in the form of a smoking firepot and a blazing torch, Moses sees in fellowship on a mountain—a mountain that looks back to the mountain of Eden and upward and forward to Mount Zion.

The essence of the covenant bond—the secret of God’s friendship—is with Moses in a unique way, as a sort of first-fruits in the Old Covenant. Moses sees God, knows God, fellowships with God. In fact, Exodus 34:27ff. Moses is on the mountain with God for 40 days and nights without food or water and his transformed in his countenance. He does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

A second major theme that Vos develops is that the tabernacle is a concentrated theocracy. That is to say, the tabernacle dwelling of God is the end to which the entire Exodus aspires–the reality to which it is directed. Finally, all of this conspires to help us recognize that the sacrificial system is a means to a higher end of fellowship with God.

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The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine

We speak with Dr. Stephen G. Myers about Ebenezer Erskine and the important events of Presbyterian history with which he was involved.Dr. Myers is Professor of Historical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In his book, Scottish Federalism and Covenantalism in Transition: The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine, he touches upon many significant issues, including the Marrow Controversy, the relationship of law and grace, covenant theology, and church-state relations. In learning about this era of Presbyterian history, we come to understand how Erskine also serves to refine modern understandings of still controversial theological issues.

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Pastoral Care During the Reformation

William VanDoodewaard speaks to us about Martin Bucer, John Knox, and the development of pastoral care during the Reformation. Dr. VanDoodewaard is professor of church history at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author of 1 & 2 Peter: Feed My Sheep (Welwyn Commentary Series), The Quest for the Historical Adam, and The Marrow Controversy and Seceder Tradition.

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Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present

Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey speak about Reformation worship. Their new book Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present, is an irenic plea for the Church (and especially her ministers) to engage again in the two-millennia-old question: “How then shall we worship?” Along with chapters on the Scriptural and historical basis for Reformed worship, Gibson and Earngey include twenty-six Reformation era liturgies modernized and newly translated. Dr. Gibson is Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Westminster Theological Seminary. Mr. Earngey is a doctoral candidate in historical theology at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford.

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The Nature of Apostasy in Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6 has been a challenging passage to interpret for ages. What does it mean to fall away? What is the specific nature of the apostasy? Do majority interpretations do justice to all the features of the text? In this episode, we present a redemptive-historical interpretation of the text, identifying the apostasy as a desire for New Covenant members to revert to the Old Covenant. In effect, such apostates desire to move from the mediation of Christ back to the mediation of Moses and its attendant forms of worship.

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. 1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. 9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, (Hebrews 5:11–6:11, ESV)

Links

  • Camden Bucey sermon on Hebrews 6:4–8
  • Martin Emmrich, “Hebrews 6: 4–6-again! (A pneumatological inquiry).” Westminster Theological Journal 65, no. 1 (2003): 83–95.

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Lamentations, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah

Camden Bucey and Jim Cassidy discuss Lamentations, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. The overwhelming message of these books is “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,” as Thomas O. Chisholm wrote in the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” He based his beloved hymn upon Lamentations 3:22–23: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah are rich with God’s truth about our sin and need of redemption as well as his love for us in the savior Jesus Christ. Together, these prophets express the pain and suffering of God’s people as they live in a fallen world. The people suffer at the hands of their enemies, which have been sent by the Lord himself. But they are not without hope, because God uses this form of fatherly discipline to sanctify and restore them.

Camden recently wrote a 12-week study on the books for Crossway’s Knowing the Bible series. For a week beginning April 27, 2018, Westminster Books will be running a sale on books in the series. Visit wtsbooks.com/knowingthebible this week for approximately 20% savings on single volumes and 40% on 5-packs.

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The Spirituality of the Church in the Ecclesiology of Charles Hodge

Alan Strange speaks about the doctrine of the spirituality of the church in the ecclesiology of Charles Hodge and how it was formed in the years leading up to and during the American Civil War. Dr. Strange’s dissertation on the topic has been published in P&R Publishing’s Reformed Academic Dissertations series as The Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church in the Ecclesiology of Charles Hodge. Dr. Strange previously addressed the topic in episode 443 of Christ the Center, but in this episode, we focus more on the Presbyterian General Assemblies and how they wrestled with the theological and political issues surrounding the war.

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