Making Use of Christ: Introduction (1 of 4)

The following series was a paper submitted for the course ST 711 at Reformed Baptist Seminary. It has been adapted into blog posts.

Introduction: The Cure for Deadness in Religion

In 1761, the minutes of the Philadelphia Association contained a pastoral letter, as it did every year, written to its member churches. In this brief note of encouragement, Benjamin Miller warns of “the common complaint of leanness, coldness, deadness in religion” among the churches. “The cure,” says Benjamin Miller, is for church members to “make use of Christ in all his offices, titles, and relations, in whom are reposited all needful supplies.”[1] Two considerations make this statement fascinating. First, Miller does not elaborate on Christ’s offices, titles and relations, nor does he outline for his readers how to make use of these attributes of Christ. Secondly, Miller was likely writing to farmers, fathers, mothers, laypeople, as well as ministers, in the mid 18th Century. Miller seems to assume that the average reader would know immediately how to apply this statement. Would today’s average Christian be able to understand and apply this statement? How would a modern American Christian react if, after complaining about feeling deadness in religion, was counseled to “make use of Christ in all his offices, titles, and relations”? How can Christians today, biblically and practically, make use of Christ’s offices, titles, and relations?

This exhortation in 254-year-old church minutes highlights an issue just as urgent today: We must recapture afresh a love for and an awe of Christ, in his person and his work, and fervently make use of Christ in all his offices, titles, and relations in daily Christian life. It is high time to step more fully into the description of believers that Peter characterizes as “whom, not having seen him, you love him” (1 Pet 1:8). As Chester and Timmis counsel us, “Meditate on Jesus until he captures your heart afresh” (93). If we love Jesus, we will meditate on him and make use of him in daily life. First, we will survey the scriptural/theological witness of Jesus’ offices and titles. Next, we will briefly take up the topic of Christ’s relations with his people, that is, the union he shares with those who belong to him. Finally, we will put forth some practical ways to make use of Christ’s offices, titles, and relations in daily life.

[1] Benjamin Miller, “1761,” Minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, 1707 to 1807, Being the First One Hundred Years of its Existence, ed. A. D. Gillette (American Baptist Publication Society, PA: 1851), 84.