More than Conquerors

 

Quotes:

Robert Haldane: “The sufferings of believers above enumerated, which, as the Apostle had just shown, verify the truth of the ancient predictions of the word of God, shall not separate them from the love of Christ, but, on the contrary, are to them the sources of the greatest benefits. Through them they are more than conquerors. This is a strong expression, but in its fullest import it is strictly true. The Christian not only overcomes in the worst of his trials, but more than overcomes his adversaries and all those things which seem to be against him. It is possible to overcome, and yet obtain no advantage from the contest, nay, to find the victory a loss. But the Christian not only vanquishes, he is also a gainer by the assault of his enemy. It is better for him than if he had not been called to suffer. He is a gainer and a conqueror, both in the immediate fruits of his sufferings, as God overrules them for his good, bringing him forth from the furnace as gold refined, and also in their final issue; for ‘our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ The term conquerors reminds us that the life of a believer is a warfare, in which he is called to combat, both within and without. We may remark, too, the difference between the judgment of God, and the judgment of men, respecting the victory of believers. In the world, persecutors and oppressors are judged as the conquerors; but here, those are pronounced to be such, who are oppressed and persecuted. They are the servants of Him whom the world put to death, but who said to His disciples, ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world'” (Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, p. 422).

Rev. Cornelius Hanko on Romans 8:37: “Paul assures us that we are more than conquerors! Conquerors! We stand in the battlefield of this world with the fiercest, cruellest enemy that anyone can imagine. He is not interested in our life, our possessions, our home, our natural comfort. He wants our soul! It is not ‘we shall be conquerors,’ although that is true enough. We’ll raise the victor’s song at last, even as the apostle Paul who could say, ‘I have fought the good fight; I have kept the faith … forthwith the crown.’ But this is stronger than that. We are even now conquerors, while the enemy rages and fumes around about us. There is still more. We are more than conquerors. A soldier may leave the field of battle after having driven the enemy to rout. Happily he goes home the victor, and yet he often does that with mixed feelings. He may have been severely wounded, so that he carries the battle scars the rest of his life. The losses to one’s own victorious army may be so great that another victory like that would mean disaster. In wars that are fought among men, there never is a real victor who can boast only of victory. There are sorrows, griefs, losses, destructions that are never again completely overcome. Yet that is not the way in the Christian’s battle of faith. The damages, the losses, the scars of battle are always with the enemy. The damages, the losses, the scars that we suffer are turned to our profit. The enemy can only be instrumental to bless us, to prepare us for heaven, and finally, at death, to give us complete victory with Christ in glory. A glorious reality: ‘We are more than conquerors!'”

Morning Service  Sunday August 18th 2019- 11:00 AM – Rev. Martyn McGeown

SERMON: More Than Conquerors  

Scripture Reading: Psalm 44:1-26
Text: Romans 8:37

Consecration of Levites (18)

“Replacement Theology?”-NO! “Inclusive Catholic Theology”.

Sung Psalm 135:14-21

Reading Isaiah 66:15-24

In this prophecy the wicked idolatrous Israelites indulge in abominable worship and lifestyle and will be cast off (vv17,18a), whereas God calls (gathers-Isaiah 43:5)) his elect from all (Gentile) nations(v18b). The Scriptures in both Old Testament and New Testament fulfilment are replete with this message. Isaiah 65:1, Romans 10:19-21, Deut.32:43, Luke 4, Matthew 21:43, Acts 13:46-48, Romans 11.

Stats

Why does God leave his chosen people (physical Israel) to gather in a universal (catholic) church from the Gentile nations?

  1. He is God of creation and made all peoples.
  2. Christ must have his inheritance and marry his bride of all nations.
  3. He hardens the angry reprobate Jews.
  4. He provokes Jews to jealousy and always saves a remnant.
  5. He keeps his promise to Abraham.

Christ and his ambassadors are a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6). God monergistically (all alone) gathers his elect irresistibly. Salvation in these verses is a “seeing of God’s glory” and since the glory of God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 40:5, John 1:14) it is revelation of him and as we look to him we are changed into his image (II Cor.3:18).

Consecration of Levites (17)

Consecration of the Levites

Sung Psalm 135:14-21 (note Levi)

Read Numbers 8:5-22

The consecration of these warrior-priests included:

  • Cleansing
  1. Cleansing-sprinkling of water (? From laver or acc.to Lev.14)
  2. Shaving most of body of hair.
  3. Washing of clothes
  • Sacrifices-two bullocks (sin and burnt offerings), and meal offering
  • No special clothes
  • Laying on of hands (of representatives of all the congregation whom they represented).
  • Wave offering (of all of them)

Comparing their consecration to that of the priests, with the priests there were more sacrifices, special clothes etc and with that of the congregation there was a different sprinkling and the book of the covenant was involved. Theologians speak of a graded holiness with High Priest top (multi-coloured vestments), then priests (white linen garments), then Levites (own clothes) then people, then outsiders. This also is reflected in the graded access they had to holy places and things.

But every New Testament believer whether Jew or Gentile is a priest AND a Levite-set apart, belonging to God and called to serve in his church (Mal. 3:3, Isaiah 66:21).

 

 

Chance? Luck? Providence!

 

Ecclesiastes 9:11 states, “but time and chance happeneth to them all; to the swift and strong, the wise, understanding, and skillful; or to the swift and slow, to the strong and weak, to the wise and unwise; everything befalls them (and us-JK) just as it is ordered by divine Providence; for there is a certain “time” fixed by the Lord for every event; and whatever seems casual and contingent to man, and which he is ready to call “chance,” is nothing but “decree” with God, firm and unalterable.” John Gill

 

Acts 12

Herod’s persecution, Peter’s deliverance and Herod’s death.

We believe the persecution mentioned in the first verse occurred about the same time as the famine that Agabus prophesied namely around 43AD.
Herod was a title given to the kings not a name and the Herod here is Herod Agrippa (see charts) who also executed John the Baptist.

Herods

He was the son of Herod the Great who killed the babes of Bethlehem and he reigned over most of Israel (Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Perea). He was an Edomite.
He sought to please the Jews (especially Jewish leaders) and this was why he persecuted the apostles and the church and killed James (Boanerges and son of Zebedee).
He imprisoned Peter with a view to executing him and Passover was when Jerusalem was filled with zealous Jews from all over Israel and beyond. Perhaps he thought to stamp out the church.
We presume the church prayed for Peter’s release, witness in prison and likely his impending martyrdom. Surely Peter’s release was answered prayer!
We believe Peter was at peace enabled by grace to trust his Saviour (Psalm 4:8, 119:165 etc).
The angel who delivered Peter was a messenger of the Lord Jesus Christ (v11).
Sequence of events: light in prison, angel smites Peter, angel instructs Peter, Peter’s chains fell off, angel further instructs Peter, Peter follows angel out of prison, gate opens, they walk through the streets, angel leaves.
Peter thought it was a vision but after the angel left he realised what he was experiencing was real.
The Jews expected Peter to be killed. He went to Mary’s house (mother of John Mark and Barnabas’s sister) to see the other apostles and all the disciples to tell them the news and encourage them. The interaction between Rhoda and Peter was funny. Peter commanded that his news be told to James (the Lord’s half brother), and then he went presumably to another believer’s house.


The soldiers were terrified because they knew the penalty for allowing prisoners to escape was death and this is what happened because Herod was a cruel man.
Herod left Jerusalem for Caesarea possibly to escape awkward questions from Jewish leaders and went there because of displeasure with the inhabitants of the region. The local populace got his secretary on their side desiring peace. Herod subsequently gave a speech on a planned day arrayed in royal apparel no doubt speaking of his greatness and reign over the people desiring to impress and subdue them. Their reacion was either foolish flattery or outright deception (sent by God-II Thess.2:11) as they attributed divinity to him.


God struck him down immediatley (cf Ananias and Sapphira) because he proudly and wrongfully accepted glory that belongs only to God (Isaiah 42:8). Compare also Nebuchadnezzar reduced to madness (I Peter 5:5). The immediate judgment empasized prompt punishment by God which in other cases is postponed (Rev. 6:10). It was the angel of the Lord who smote Herod (cf Egypt, Assyrian 185,000 etc). He died of an overwhelming worm infestation, most likely over a few days and appropriately because pride consumed him first.
The church work of preaching and teaching prospered and it grew.
Barnabas and Saul returned to their home church in Antioch (chapter 13) after passing on their benevolence in Jerusalem.
John Mark was related to Barnabas, propably a nephew and son of Mary (Col.4:10).

Next study (DV) August 31st 8pm

New Testament Priests (16)

New Testament Priesthood

Sung Psalm 141|:1-5 (note refs to incense)

Reading I Peter 2:1-10 (note esp.vv5,9)

We have incontrovertible Scriptural evidence that all believers in the New Testament age are priests.

What was the work of Old Testament priests? What is the New Testament equivalent?

  1. Offered sacrifices……we offer ourselves, praise, thank, do good works, share (Heb.13:15).
  2. Offered incense……we pray for ourselves and others.
  3. Light the lamp………walk in the Spirit.
  4. Prepare the showbread and eat it……we partake of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.
  5. Teach………we teach one another.
  6. Pronounce clean/unclean……we discern between good and evil.
  7. Judge……we judge all things.

Hebrews 10:19-25 is the most extended teaching on our New Testament priesthood, full of typology now realised in us.

The major prophets clearly allude to the end of ceremonial law and the New Testament age, see Isaiah 61:6 where true believers who are in Christ (vv1-3) are made priests and this includes Gentiles (Is.66:21).

Malachi 3:3 speaks of Christ purifying a priesthood which must be his church and I John 2:2 and 20 show that our anointing as priests is lifelong.

The permanent offices in the New Testament church all include elements of priesthood-pastors teach (office of prophet), elders rule (office of king) and deacons (office of priest who mercifully dispense aid), (Heb. 2:17, Acts 6)

HOPE

HOPE OUR ANCHOR

A short but fairly comprehensive word study:

  • The godless majority of people in this world are without hope (Eph.2:12, I Thess.4:13) and even believers for a time may feel hopeless (Job 7:6, 19:10) but Job saw in the illustration of a tree cut down, that for him “hope springs eternal!” (Job 14:7). He saw that God purposely destroys the false hopes of the godless (Job 14:19, 27:8, 31:24-28). Job also knew about the three great spiritual graces, faith, hope and love (I Cor.13:13) and that hope ceases to exist after death (Job 17:15). Why? Because hope means the certain expectation of future good at the hands of God and it only pertains to this life. Its source is God himself (Rom.15:13, II Thess.2:16) and it is ours as we believe his word (Psalm 119:81, 114, 130:5). Specifically hope concerns our resurrection from the dead and our glorification in the new heavens and earth (Psalm 16:9, Prov.14:32, Acts 24:15, I Cor.15:19, Col.1:5,27, Titus 1:2) it, like faith, believes in something unseen (Rom.8:24,25). This hope come to fruition at the return of Christ (Titus 2:13). The basis for this hope is our regeneration or the dwelling of Christ in us and us in him (I Tim.1:1, I Peter 1:3). Since he has gone before us, we are bound to follow (Heb. 6:18-20).
  • Abraham, the archetypical Old Testament saint and father of us all, exhibited hope in God’s covenant promise (Rom.4:18).
  • King David speaks much of his hope and often prophetically speaks for Christ his Lord (Psalm 16:9, Acts 2:26, Psalms 39:7, 22:9, 71:5, 119:116, 146:5), his was  a hope he even had as an infant showing how even the very young can be regenerate. He exhorts us and Israel to have hope (Psalms 42:5,11, 43:5, 130:7. 131:3).
  • Jeremiah also confessed his hope (Jer.17:7,17) and that of the people of Israel (Jer.14:8, 17:13) as did Joel (Joel 3:16) and even Paul (Acts 28:20).
  • Paul probably writes more about it than anyone and he rejoiced in it (Rom.5:2, 8:24, 12:12, 15:4, Eph.1:18, 4:4) and also spoke of his hope in fellow believers (II Cor.1:7, I Thess.2:19).
  • Our hope is a witness (I Peter 3:15) and a great motivation to lead a holy life (I John 3:3), it is something we must, and will, by God’s grace, maintain to the end of our lives (I Peter 1:13). Hope is a vital helmet of defence against Satan’s temptations to fear and have  foreboding about our future (I Thess.5:8). As with all of our salvation, our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Vital importance of play

I have always loved sport. Running, jumping, throwing, tennis, badminton, indoor rowing, sailing, fishing etc. Many species play especially when young and for good reason-to hone their skills for hunting, fighting, mating and survival. It always encourages my participation when I see dolphins surfing, gibbons brachiating (swinging by their arms) and otters juggling stones. Play is addictive because endorphins and dopamine chemicals are realeased which are “feel-good” factors. Play is characterised by:

  • Voluntary
  • Reward in the activity itself
  • Starts early in life
  • Repeated
  • Species must be healthy, safe and relaxed

God invented play!

There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

New Testament believers are consecrated priests (15)

New Testament believers are priests

Our consecration as (prophets), priests (and kings) is more like Christ’s consecration than the O.T. priesthood. There is no hereditary transmission and no public ceremony (it is an invisible consecration).

The Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 12  Q32 http://www.prca.org/about/official-standards/creeds/three-forms-of-unity/heidelberg-catechism/the-second-part/of-god-the-son/lord-s-day-12

We are consecrated in Christ. No ecclesiastical hierarchy or sacerdotalism as with the Roman Catholic false priesthood. Luther was clear, “Every Christian is a priest.” There will also be no future literal Jewish millennial priesthood as this is not only a misinterpretation of scripture but  would be an absolutely  retrograde step (Heb.6:12-19).

Proof of the universal and catholic priesthood of believers:

  • I Peter 2:9-we are a royal priesthood
  • Revelation 1:6- we are made priests by Christ, by his redemption and are such here and now on earth.
  • Revelation 5:10- we will be a catholic priesthood (meaning universal-from every tribe and nation), in the new heaven and earth (future eternal state).

Revelation 20:6-again these are priests here and now in the NT age but in their spirit in the  intermediate state (after their first resurrection at death) in heaven.

So as prophets, priests and kings (the latter two offices always being linked in the N.T.) we function to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, use our lips to  praise and thank God and offer our prayers as intercessors for others.

Covenant Consecration of Israel (14)-their priests.

Consecration of Israel’s priests.

Sung Psalm 132:7-14

Reading Exodus 29:1-37 (carried out in Leviticus 8)

 

Remember the stages in the consecration of the priests:

  1. washing
  2. dressing
  3. anointing
  4. sacrificing
  5. smearing (of blood)
  6. sprinkling
  7. abiding

The Aaronic priesthood was: *hereditary, with public ordination (Lev.8:3) and ceremonial (ceremonial liquids, objects e.g. altar and garments .

Consecration of Christ

We looked at Hebrews and the contrast of Christ’s consecration and calling (Heb.5:5, Acts 13:33, Psalm 2:7). It had none of the above* characteristics. He was called severally-in eternity, at his birth, baptism, resurrection/ascension. He has an eternal priesthood given him under an oath from God the Father which is none other than a divine “fiat” or decree-“Thou art a priest for ever…” What a wonderful High Priest we have and what priviledges and responsibilities have church office bearers and members who are also called into office as priests.

 

Acts 11:1-30

Acts 11:1-30

Peter reports to the church in Jerusalem because certain Jewish leaders were critical of his association with Gentiles in Caesarea. Some of them accused him of associating and eating with Gentiles which was a traditional addition to God’s law. These men were called the “circumcision”. Their accusation was correct but unjustified. This tells us that many in the New Testament church were zealous converted Jews who kept the law but were ignorant of the fact that ceremonies were passing and the church was becoming catholic or universal (see also Acts 15:24 where the same thing is repeated and 21:21-25 where Paul makes a small concession to them).

Peter logically recounted in detail the events in Joppa and Caesarea to show God’s providential hand in them. He gives three arguments that Gentiles are to be included in the church:

  • The Holy Spirit was poured out on them
  • Christ said his disciples would be baptized with the Spirit
  • The gift of tongues was seen as proof

The church at Jerusalem had nothing to say because Peter proved that the events were orchestrated by God and should be cause for gladness not criticism and that Gentiles as well as Jews were granted repentance and eternal life.

Luke recalls that after Stephen died great persecution broke out and many disciples scattered over the Roman Empire going as far as Crete, Cyprus, Libya and Antioch. These believers, some of whom were preachers, preached to Jews only because of their similar background and language (carrying on the ministry of Christ and the apostles to the lost sheep of the house of Israel). Grecians were Jews who spoke Greek, who likely came from outside Israel. When the church in Jerusalem heard about conversions outside, they sent Barnabas to assess, as far as Antioch where most were converted. The grace of God (v23) is his power to save (Titus 2:11). Barnabas is described as a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith. He went to get Saul from Tarsus because Saul was very knowledgeable in the Scriptures, an apostle and a teacher, who alongside him, taught and established and built up the church making them disciples.

Apparently, the minister of the church in Antioch and possibly outsiders there, nicknamed the disciples “Christians” or Christ-ones. We do not know if this name was an insult or compliment.

There still were extraordinary prophets in the New Testament church because the canon of Scripture was not finally fixed. These men got direct divine revelation and were able to say, “Thus saith the Lord.” Agabus prophesied a famine in Israel which happened sometime between 43 and 46AD. The disciples in Antioch decided to send money to the Jerusalem church because of their unity and care and we need to respond in the same way today.

Next study (DV) August 11th at 8pm Acts 12:1-25

Pursuit of Glory (9)

We want life-a life of glory, happiness, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, peace and holiness. God, in Christ is the life (John 1:4). To know him is to have eternal life (John 17:3, 1 John 5:11-12). It is abundant life (John 10:10). An unbroken covenantal relationship with God is life. The life of Christ within (Gal.2:20) is “like an everlasting river that quenches all our thirsts.” It’s the life Adam and Eve had pre-fall. Death came as separation from God leading to misery, meaninlessness, bondage, guilt, unrighteousness and shame. Spiritual death (separation from God), physical death and eternal death are all aspects of this death.

Christ rejoiced throughout his life except for the hours of separation fromhis father. He was full of joy because he found pleasure in obeying God and he delighted in him at all times (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 45:7, Heb.1:9, he obeyed Phil.4:4). All that we seek (the headings of this book’s chapters) is found in Christ-we are complete in him (Col.2:10). The lost, born deceived, think that by feeding their bodily appetites, they will fulfill the deep longings of their hearts but these are insatiable till rest is found in Christ.

Excellent little book in it’s analysis of human need, human motives and human satisfaction!

Pursuit of Glory (7)

Peace

“All humanity is at war with God since the first act of treason.” Humans hate and fight each other, wars, genocide, killing the unborn and terrorism. God and Satan are at war, and since Satan cannot affect God he wars against God’s church.  Man has no peace internally (Isaiah 48:22) because of guilt. Perfect peace comes only with perfect love, the love in the trinity. Religion and good works cannot expunge guilt, neither the numbing effect of drugs or alcohol or the distraction of entertainment and pleasure.  Christ alone earned peace and righteousness for us. Reconciliation comes by faith  in his finished work and the acknowledgement we are vile depraved sinners who must repent.

The Pursuit of Glory (6)

Truth

We are made to be lifelong students. Sadly the true knowledge of God, which constitutes one of the aspects of the image of God in man, was lost when our parents believed Satan’s lie. This is spiritual darkness, hiding to avoid the truth about our sins and what God says about them (Psalm 82:5). Our inablilty to understand truth is moral. “If anyone will do his will he shall know…” (John 7:17, I Cor.2:14).

 “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21).

The most pervasive and powerful lie infecting humanity is EVOLUTION…              “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:” (2 Peter 3:5)-JK

“Of  all the knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important” (Jonathan Edwards). We are full of self-deceit, and love to make gods in our own image. If we only perceive God’s justice and wrath, we will forever hide from him and suppress the truth, but knowing his mercy and grace in Christ leads us to repentance. The truth (Christ) frees us, sanctifies us and brings forgiveness as we confess our sins (John 8:32, 17:17). “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life….”

Pursuit of Glory (5)

Companionship

This chapter is about companionship and marriage.  The author describes a trip to Europe where he saw spectacular scenery in Switzerland but had no-one to share it with. “God did not design us to experience life alone” (Gen.2:18).

We crave companionship but we were created originally for fellowship with God, the fellowship that is enjoyed in the Trinity, and the fall destroyed that and our relationships with each other. Selfishness creates conflict in marriage. He quotes the example of a mega-rich businessman whose job priority was at the expense of family. “It is family and friends that make this life so special. We must invest our time in the things that matter most–God, family, and friends.”

God’s law commands us to love him and our neighbour. Counterfeit love is lust. “Love seeks the betterment of others while lust is for the satisfaction of self.” “Lust has more in common with hate than love, it uses people for personal pleasure then throws them in the wastebasket after their resources are used up”–witness Amnon and Tamar (II Samuel 13). Real love is from God and is supernatural (I Cor.13)-love will sacrifice without seeking to receive. “A loving mother understands it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Love delights in bringing joy and blessings to others. To love someone and to be loved by someone is the most treasured of all blessings.”

But even the best earthly relationship falls short. We need the love of God because his love is perfect, unconditional and unchangeing. Out of sheer love Christ gave everything for his people (Rom.5:5,8, 2:4, 8:31-39). We were saved to enter covenant love with God and his people–the fellowship of the saints. Heaven needs no marriage because the earthly type is swallowed up in the reality it typified, namely the marriage of Christ and his church.

Further reading: Keeping God’s covenant (Engelsma/Hanko), Communion with God (John Owen), Handle with Care (Dr Julian Kennedy), Walking in the Way of Love (Nathan Langerak)

The Pursuit of Glory (4)

 

Freedom to do what we want to do when we want to, is a glory we all desire but because of our first parents we are born enslaved to sin (John 8:34, Rom.7:18). Satisfying all our appetites (indulging the flesh) is not freedom. We need restrictions, self-control  and God’s law, otherwise we are enslaved to sin. Fleshly appetites are like a fire, never satisfied. “If our selfish nature is god we will get frustrated, angry, sad and depressed or jealous with circumstances and people who oppose us.” Sin enslaves the soul.

We must gain control of our emotions (feelings) which ought not to rule us but rather be  ruled by the truth. We must do what is right and obey God regardless of how we feel. Thus obedience brings freedom from sin’s slavery. Obedience out of thankfulness is the product of love and desire for, enjoyment of and delight in God. (John 8:36, I John 5:3). This massive change of heart only comes though being born again by the power and Spirit of God (John 3:3).  Only Christ by his cross crucifies our old sinful nature and frees us from sinful self (Romans 6:7). The truth of Romans 8:1-9 becomes ours though we will only be completely free from sin when we leave this sinful world.

In the meantime, dear believer, dying to the sinful self is the only way to live for the glory of God (Matthew 10:39). We must turn over our “rights” to find freedom (Rom.6:22).

 

The Pursuit of Glory (3)

PURPOSE

Without purpose life is meaningless. We all want our lives to count. We were made to work (Gen.2:15). Work responsibilities give us purpose. We work for the glory of God (Col.3:23). Purpose in the approval of others?  Purpose in getting a following on social media? Purpose in possessing a lot? (Luke 12:15).These perish. Self glory is no glory. Glory is not in self-worth.

Doing whatever you do to the glory of God is what counts. God’s  approval is what counts! To know God is something to glory in (Jer,9:23,24). Every good work (done for God’s glory, in faith and obedience to his word) will be rewarded. (Rev.14:13). What we leave in this life will be given back in the next (Matthew 19:29, Mal.3:16, Matthew 26:7,13). Everything has eternal value when it is carried out for the glory of God, we lay up treasure in heaven. This brings purpose. Purpose comes from living for God and eternity.

The Pursuit of Glory (2)

Happiness

The world is depressed. The author really ought to use the Biblical word joy because that is what he means– enduring joy, not just passing pleasure (I Peter 1:8). It is a satisfaction and contentment deep in the soul. Either immediate or future happiness is behind all we do. We must seek it in enjoying and glorifying God. Happiness in self-love? No, because we are never self-sufficient and not designed to be selfishly independent, only God is completely and eternally happy.

Materialism is empty. God’s providential gifts are designed to draw our affections to him. All of creation is designed to tell of the glory of God, not feed the lusts of our flesh. Of course we have needs but all the seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling  are things to enjoy and be thankful for as his gifts. Being ungrateful, and coveting what we don’t have, is idolatry (witness Adam and Eve).  The vast majority of sin and crime is caused by this. (James 4:1,2 and subsequently breaking all of the second table of God’s law, the ten commandments).

   Christ, the fount of living water is substituted  by broken cisterns. Being deprived of spiritual joy necessarily makes people get addicted to physical pleasures (Eccles. 1:8, Proverbs 27:20). Perverse appetites are insatiable. “We must pursue God with all our heart, mind and strength.”  We go after fool’s gold…

when Christ must be our supreme treasure. We must deny ourselves and whatever is hindering us to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). ” Those who find pleasure in God will find pleasure in every situation”-Henry Scougal. This was how Paul and Silas could rejoice in prison. The loss of all we have ought not to diminish our joy. We must relinquish all to follow him….and this is practiclally outworked by believers seeking to belong to a true church where Christ is present-JK. Blessed is the nation (or man) whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12).

The Pursuit of Glory (1)

 

Glory

This excellent little paperback by Jeff Johnson published by Reformed Heritage Books 2018 costing less than £6 on line, is excellent because it examines our motives-why we do what we do. In other words it helps answer David’s prayer in Psalm 139-“SEARCH ME AND KNOW MY THOUGHTS AND LEAD ME IN THE WAY EVERLASTING”. It is a modern day equivalent of the book of Ecclesiastes setting forth what all human hearts long for, and proving that not in anything created but in the Creator is glory and fulfillment to be found. Its subtitle is “Finding satisfaction in Christ alone.”  I purpose to summarize each chapter in a series of blogs.  He sees our longings being for glory, happiness, peace, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, holiness and life eternal. The glory we seek is infinite and eternal and is found only in God (II Cor.4:17). Only he is of infinite value, his glory is the sum of all he is. This glory completely and forever satisfies the three persons of the trinity (John 17:5). We are miserable because we aspire after glory in the wrong things. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.(Proverbs 16:25). “The biblical contrast to glory is vanity…the praise of people and the glory of this world are passing away.” (I John 2:17, Eccl.1:2). What is your glory?Or to put it another way, what do you worship? Augustine said, ” Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless, until they find rest in thee.” In actual fact what we as believers long for, is the restoration of the image of God in us accompanied by seeing and living with God-this desire will be ultimately fulfilled. (I John 3:2). Because Christ is the image of God all our goals are found in him. The sinful world foolishly follows Satan in the perverse notion that following his suggestions and following our lusts will fulfil us-it is a lie! ( I John 2:15-17, John 8:44).

Christian Institute

“ Our Living Christianity DVD series covers the key Biblical principles of being made in the image of God, common grace, being a Christian citizen etc”, So says 2019 Annual Report of the Christian Institute under Director Colin Hart. The Christian Institute does much good in defending Christians who become victims to state sponsored political correctness etc like the Ashers but brother Colin, and Christian Institute, neither the image of God in fallen man nor God’s so-called “common grace” are Biblical doctrines.
The Reformation stood, among other things, for salvation by grace alone and the fact that fallen man is NO MORE in the image of God, in which he was created initially, because by the fall he has become totally depraved (Genesis 6:4), so that men by nature hate God and each other, do not seek him and are only RENEWED in that image which consists knowledge of God, righteousness and true holiness when they are born again (Ephesians 4:24). Christ who is par excellence in the image of God proves of what the image consists. It is not rational thought, or a mind and will, or even an eternal existence that constitute the image of God or even a remnant of it, because Satan and the fallen demons have all three of these!
The grace that bringeth salvation has appeared (Titus 2:11). “Amazing grace” we sing, that saved a wretch like me…how can grace be common? Grace saves men who are its recipients-always. We know what ignorant brethren mean when they mention “common grace”, they mean the common gifts of sun, rain, crops, jobs etc that men receive from God but grace is NOT the correct word to use concerning these things it is PROVIDENCE because the same gifts that we as believers graciously receive from God in his providence, also condemn the unbeliever and will be used as judgment against him in his unrepentant un-thankfulness (Psalm 73:3,17,18, 69:22,23, Romans 1:21). Particular grace is for God’s elect period which I proved to myself by doing a word study on “grace” in the New Testament-in EVERY case it is in relation to God’s elect either before or after conversion. These doctrines are not just marginal issues because denominations who hold them have all inevitably become apostate e.g. CRC in the USA.
For further study and proof see the many materials on these subjects at this website: https://cprc.co.uk/

DILIGENCE

DILIGENCE

Diligence occurs 10 times in Scripture and diligent 51 times. Here are some key instances:

Keep your heart (the centre of your desires and motives) with all diligence (Prov.4:23). Be diligent and try to avoid going to court (Luke 12:48). Rule (as an elder) with diligence (Rom.12:8). Be diligent to get assurance (Heb.6:11). Be diligent to add to your faith virtue (II Peter 1:5). Give diligence to make your calling and election sure (II Peter 10).

Diligence means careful and persistent work or effort.

It comes from the Latin “ to delight in” and of course you will take care to do well in what you delight in.

Here are some hints on being diligent:

  • Remove distractions e.g. a phone
  • Be organized-have a “to do” list.
  • Prioritize

 

The Christian is called to be diligent in everything he sets his hand to (Col.3:23). Diligence in listening to and obeying God’s voice is always rewarded (Deut. 6:17, 28:1-3, Prov.13:4, Heb.11:6) This entails regular prayerful intake of the word:

 

Essence of God’s Covenant

This feature article was written by Rev. Gise VanBaren in the March 1, 1984 issue of the Standard Bearer.

_____________

The truth concerning man’s relation with God is one which deserves our attention and our understanding. Nothing can be more important than one’s standing before God. It is very literally a mat­ter of life and death.

There is a relationship of fellowship between God and his people. That relationship has been called a “covenant relationship.” This concept is fundamental unto a proper understanding of our duties and responsibilities before God and with men. Within the church it becomes very plain that some sort of beautiful relationship exists between God and this people of his church. It is also to be clearly understood that this relationship exists only because of and through the cross of Jesus Christ.

“Covenant” involves a coming together, a dwelling under one roof. The term emphasizes that God and his people have a basis for unity. This, we believe, is the purpose of God’s revelation outside of himself—that a people might eternally dwell with him in Christ.

This covenant with God must not be misunder­stood. Many use the term “covenant” rather freely—while defining it in an unscriptural way. Some have regarded the covenant of God with men as a form of alliance. As two nations might sign an agree­ment for cooperation with mutual stipulations, so the covenant of God with man is presented. God will perform his part of the agreement provided that man carries out his part.

Connected with that, the covenant is presented as a way to an end. It is become the way to attain glory. It is, so it is said, God’s arrangement whereby he, with man’s assistance, will get some into heaven. With man’s obedience and cooperation, God will be able to save him and exalt him to the glory of heaven.

Rather, it is the teaching of scripture that God’s covenant with man is itself the purpose and end of God’s grand design of creating all things and redeeming his people in Jesus Christ. God’s covenant with man is not an after-thought. It is his eternal plan to reveal outside of himself the bless­edness of the relationship which exists within him­self.

The full, glorious realization of this covenant re­lationship will be seen in heaven. There, the purpose of God will be fulfilled when his people can perfectly and forever have communion and fellowship with God. This is the goal which God has in mind. His purpose is not simply to bring a people to a wonderful place—but he will bring them into wonderful fellowship with himself. The purpose is not simply to enjoy the good things of a perfect world—but to enjoy speaking with God which is life itself. All of creation and all of the body of Christ will be united in beautiful harmony to the praise of the name of our God.

This covenant fellowship is already enjoyed by the child of God in this earth. He has the opportu­nity to speak with God through prayer. He has the desire and opportunity to read his word. He knows that God speaks to him through his word and by his Spirit. There is the foretaste of eternal fellowship already now. This is the essence of eternal life, as Jesus taught, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

The reason that God determines that this shall be the essence of the glory of heaven is that it is his pleasure to reveal outside of himself to his people that glorious relationship which exists within the Triune God eternally. God, after all, plans all things in order to show within his creation the beautiful fellowship which exists in the Trinity between Father, Son, and Spirit.

Though it is difficult for mere creature to com­prehend, we confess that there is in God eternal communion of the three persons in one being. That is life—the life of God. Without that interaction, there could be no living God. Were he not three persons in eternal fellowship, there would have been no creation and no salvation.

Jesus spake of this eternal fellowship in John 5:19, 20: “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, they ye may marvel.” Of the Son, too, scripture declares (Heb. 1:3), “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, and when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high.” And Father and Son fellowship in the Spirit. The Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son as Jesus points out in John 15:26: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”

This covenant life of fellowship which eternally exists within God, is the basis for the manifestation of covenant life between God and his people in Christ. God would show, in the highest way possi­ble, the wonder and glory of that fellowship.

One recognizes through all of scripture how wonderfully God shows this covenant when he created all things and now redeems his creation and people through Christ. The truth concerning the establishment of this covenant between God and his people, a truth often ignored, is that God himself establishes it. It is not a cooperative effort, not an agreement between God and man. Rather, God himself establishes his covenant. He showed this great truth to Abraham in Genesis 15:9-18 in response to the question of Abraham, “Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit the land of Canaan?” God commanded him to take three animals and a dove and young pigeon. The animals were to be divided in half. Normally, when a cove­nant or agreement was made, the participating parties would together pass between the divided animals. In this case there was an obvious differ­ence. When it was dark, Abraham saw a smoking furnace and burning lamp pass between the pieces—signifying the presence of God passing between. But Abraham, with whom the covenant was estab­lished, did not pass between the parts. What did that mean? It pointed to the wonderful fact that the establishment of God’s covenant with Abraham and all his spiritual seed was through the power and act of God—and not with the help of men. The covenant is established by God himself.

God further pointed out in scripture that, after the fall, the covenant is possible only through the blood of the Lamb. In Genesis 17:10, God spake to Abraham, “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.” This circumcision, the shedding of blood, pointed to the truth that the covenant can be established only in the way of shed blood—ultimately of Christ himself on the cross. For God will establish a relationship with his people only in the way of having their sins covered—thus satisfying the just demands of the righteous God. Other scripture confirms this same wonderful truth.

Another important truth which God had revealed concerning this covenant is that it would continue in the line of generations. The covenant was not made with single individuals haphazardly gathered from the peoples of the earth. Rather, God would fellowship with his people and their spiritual seed. Already to Abraham God had said, “And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generation for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7). The same truth was repeated in the New Testament when Peter declared in Acts 2:39 at Pentecost, “For the promise is unto you and to your children….” This fact explains the church’s emphasis not only on the covenant, but also upon covenantal instruction of the youth and their baptism in infancy.

This covenant which God himself establishes through Christ, is the basis for hope and comfort for the child of God. Surely, first, there is no fear or terror of that One with whom we can now have fellowship and communion. God is God. He is just and righteous in all of his ways. He will not allow sin to go unpunished. But he has also provided the way of redemption—the cross. Now in communion with God, we can enjoy guidance and encourage­ment in our earthly journey to glory.

There is also assurance of God’s blessings daily. Those who enjoy a covenant relationship with God, can do so because he bestows all spiritual blessings upon his people. They receive the gifts of love, mercy, wisdom, knowledge. They have what they need to live a covenantal life in this world.

All of this has to do with our relationships with each other—and especially of our relationships within the home. How does our relationship with God reveal itself in our relationships with one another? He who loves God will love his brother also.

Then the covenant child of God will not be guided or set his standards by that which the world has to offer. By way of advertising as well as through its corrupt dramatizations, the world clearly sets forth what its standards and goals are. The heart of man is set upon material things. He finds his pleasure in earthly, worldly amusements. He considers this life as the end of all things.

For the Christian, it is not so. He has the word of God to serve as his guide. That word directs in a godly walk and holy life. It is the standard of measurement for the Christian life. He who begins to understand what is involved in the covenant of God with man, will spend much time with the word of God. Though so many scoff at the very idea, there is really no other answer for proper holy living than that found in scripture. The family which prays together (and studies scripture together) stays together. Where scripture and prayer are ignored in the home, there usually one finds troubles and disruptions.

Of what I have to say, this is the sum: apply the truths of the covenant to our family living—and the blessings of God will rest on such a household.

Baal worship

Baal worship

He was worshiped as a fertility god who provided children. Baal worship was rooted in sensuality and involved ritualistic prostitution in the temples. As for why the worship of Baal (male) and Asherah (female) specifically was such a problem for Israel, there are several reasons: first, the worship of Baal and Asherah held the allure of illicit sex, since the religion involved ritual prostitution. This is exactly what we see in the incident of Baal of Peor, as “the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods” (Numbers 25:1-14). It was during this episode that an Israelite named Zimri brazenly brought a Midianite woman into the camp and went straight to his tent where Phinehas killed them both in their fornication.

Another reason that the worship of Baal and Asherah was a perennial problem for Israel is due to what we could call national peer pressure. Israel wanted to be like the other nations (see 1 Samuel 8:5, 20). The other nations worshiped Baal and Asherah, and so many Israelites felt a pull to do the same. Of course, we cannot overlook the fact of Satan’s temptations and mankind’s basic sinfulness. The enemy of our souls tempted Israel to worship idols; the sacrifices made to Baal and Asherah were really sacrifices to demons (1 Corinthians 10:20). The stubborn willfulness of humanity works in tandem with Satan’s seductions and causes us to jump at any chance to rebel against God. Thus Israel repeatedly forsook God’s commands, despite losing God’s blessings, and chased after the Baals and Asherahs to their own destruction.

The book of Hosea aptly uses adultery as a metaphor in describing Israel’s problem with idol worship. The Israelites were trapped in a vicious cycle of idol worship, punishment, restoration, then forgiveness, after which they went back to their idols once more. God’s patience with Israel is unfathomable by human standards;

The problem of Baal and Asherah worship was finally solved after God removed Israel from the Promised Land. Due to the Israelites’ idolatry and disregard of the Law, God brought the nations of Assyria and Babylon against them in an act of judgment. They never indulged in the same idolatry after that.
Flee fornication is the New Testament command.

While Christians today may be quick to judge the Israelites for their idolatry, we must remember that idols take many forms. Idolatrous sins still lure and tempt the modern-day believer, we today sometimes substitute self-glory/success, possessions, physical pleasure, intellectual or sporting prowess, or self-righteous false religion to the dishonouring of God. Just as God disciplined the Israelites for their idolatry and forgave them when they repented, He will graciously discipline us and forgive us in Christ. Our prayer ought to be, ” Search me O God and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23,24).

Acts 10 (continued)

Acts 10:1-48 (cont)

In the Old Testament clean animals (Lev. 11) could be eaten and used for sacrifices but unclean ones could not. But note that Noah after the flood was not constrained by these ceremonial laws which only were binding from the time of Moses to Christ.

Peter was commanded to kill and eat but he refused believing as he still did, that the law had to be kept. The Lord then in the vision said that he should not call these animals common or unclean and reinforced the message by making it happen thrice which may well have reminded Peter of his denial three times and Christ’s question, “Do you love me.” It is worth remembering that these food laws had stood for 1400 years.

The messengers from Cornelius arrived straight after this which was very providential. We cannot tell how the Spirit spoke to him but we can distinguish between the uncreated inaudible voice that created the worlds by Christ the Word of God and the created voice heard for example at Christ’s baptism and many times in the New Testament e.g. Acts 13:2. Peter needed reassurance he should go and we also need to remember that the Jews had added unbiblical rabbinic tradition to their law even forbidding social association with Gentiles.

By illumination and deduction Peter realised that he ought not to call any man unclean. The messengers came because of Cornelius’ request as he awaited instructions from God’s messenger. When Peter arrived there was a house full of Cornelius’ family, friends, servants and perhaps soldiers showing how influential he was. Note that the message was to show them how they could be saved subjectively by conversion (c.f. Acts 16:31) because we believe both he and the jailor in Philippi were born again prior to their conversion experience.

Cornelius overdid his welcome of Peter and was rebuked because only God must be worshipped (c.f. Rev.19:10). Peter reminded Cornelius that Gentiles were still considered unclean and not God’s people (c.f. Eph. 2:12 and I Peter 2). He surmised that the unclean animals represented people and asked again why he had been sent for, to which Cornelius replied about his vision and his expectation of a message from God.

God does not respect persons, meaning he does not treat any differently because of race, station or anything else (c.f. James 2:1 and I Tim.2:4) men of all kinds are part of the church and this Peter now knew because he speaks of “all nations”. By the way Peter really ought to have known this by the great commission in Mathew 28:18-20 and Christ’s saying in Matthew 21:43 but he did not understand. Peter emphasises his being a witness to underline his apostolic authority and truthfulness.

He states that God’s word sent was the gospel of justification by faith in Christ (Romans 5:1) through which forgiveness comes and this is attested to in the prophets e.g. Isaiah 53.

The Spirit was poured out on these Gentiles just as at Pentecost in a public and obvious way as they spoke in tongues and openly praised God. The Spirit used the word as his power and it is always the case that word and Spirit must work together to accomplish God’s purposes. The Jews looking on were astonished as they still felt they as a nation had a monopoly on God’s kingdom and salvation. Water baptism is the outward sign of inward Spirit baptism. Peter stayed to instruct them because he was commanded to make disciples not just converts!

It is worthwhile reading into Acts 15 to see Peter’s account to the Jerusalem synod of these events.

Confidence

Confidence

We are often told about sportspeople or teams or managers that they are confident of winning. Where is their confidence? Usually it is in themselves and their own ability!
Confidence means to have faith in and rely on yourself or someone else with the assured certainty of your own ability or their help. The middle three letters of the word point to faith (fidei) and because for the Christian our Lord maintains this bond of faith with us, we actively respond trusting him to lead us into victory over the world, flesh and devil. We should be confident people!  We boast in the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23,24). Our faith overcomes the world! Let us always be confident in him-he is our omnipotent, loving Father and we are united to his omnipotent, loving Son. We are united to both and indwelt by his loving omnipotent Spirit. We must never underestimate the power at work in us!
In II Kings 18:19 the blaspheming Rabshekeh of the King of Assyria poured scorn on King Hezekiah for having confidence in his God. But his confidence in God was not misplaced as his angel smote 180,000 of the enemy in one night!
The writer of proverbs encourages his son with these words, “ For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” Proverbs 3:26
“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” Isaiah 30:15.

Our confidence must be in God alone, not ultimately anything we have or own, or any other people.

A Reformed view of Health (4)

A Reformed view of Health

Part 4: Stress, psychosomatic disorders, mental illness, spiritual wholeness and conclusion

 

 

“A mind upset makes a body sick. With every passing year, researchers find more and more ways that the mind (psyche) produces sickness in the body (soma)-hence the term psychosomatic illness. These ailments are not just “in the mind”*. Stress leaves our bodies more susceptible to viruses like the common cold.  Blood flow, secretions, stomach acid and muscle tension are all directly affected by emotions and psychological stress. The list of ailments directly affected by our minds is immense and can involve every system in the body e.g. stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, menstrual disorders, headaches, diabetes, asthma, muscle and joint disorders, viral infections, anorexia and obesity, and even cancers.

Covering the Christian or Reformed view of mental illness is beyond my remit in these short articles but suffices to say that God may inflict mental illness (think of Nebuchadnezzar) and much human angst including phobias can be addressed by psychologists and good Christian counselling, nevertheless serious mental disorders like depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders need proper assessment by a consultant psychiatrist and may be helped by medication–they are not within the remit of a pastor.

Stress raises cholesterol, insulin and blood sugar. In many aspects of life we decide how much stress we’ll live with; we choose our job, how much time to spend with children and others, what we do weekends etc. Yet some stress is inevitable and also needed (Romans 5:3-5) and coping with it develops our character. Anger caused by stress and bearing grudges is not healthy. We read in Colossians 3:8, ” But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”  Sinful anger and harbouring resentment and grudges is unhealthy, hatred makes you its slave. Remember hatred is the same as murder. When sinned against by a fellow believer apply Matthew 18:15-17 and “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Colossians 2:12,13).We should cope with stress without anxiety seeking God’s peace (Phil.4:6,7). Stress is caused by perceived loss of control. Faith and casting our cares upon God helps us cope better because we trust our Lord who is in control. Knowledge of God and Scripture ought to help us with:

Direction-God’s goals and prioritiesforour life.

Balance-of activities (work, rest, play).

Rest-Sabbath days, sleep, relaxation. A rest that refreshes must calm the spirit and feed the soul (public worship/Bible study/quiet communion with God).

Hope-positivity, confidence in God.

“Life is a guided tour with a great destination.”**

Re-ead Psalm 23!

McMillen and Stern point out that the lives of most of the rich and famous are two dimensional, all work and play and no worship! Faith in the triune God is strong medicine. In fact Christ used the same word for healing as for salvation (Greek SOZO). Your faith has healed (SOZO) you, he said to Bartimaeus (Mark 10:52) and your faith has saved (SOZO) you to the woman taken in adultery (Luke 7:50). Spiritual healing is what Peter had in mind when he penned these words, “ Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24).

“Dr Benjamin Rush, the father of American psychiatry, stated that faith is as essential to the mind as air is to respiration.” Health requires good nutrition, exercise and de-stressing but to counteract discouragement, doubt, despair and spiritual death the only antidote is faith in Jesus Christ.

Excessive grief is also dangerous and may trigger physical symptoms and disease. God may use the community of faith to ease our loss. We do not sorrow as those who have no hope. Many a deathbed of the wicked is characterised by harrowing, fearful  hopelessness to which our two doctors testify whereas God’s people falling alseep in Jesus die peacefully.

Another thought process that may drive us and harm us is ambition and the desire for personal glory, prestige or power (see Matthew 23:5-12, Phil.2:2-3, Romans 12;3,16). The disciples were like this until rebuked and corrected by their Lord. The inordinate desire to possess, be rich or get to the top precludes love for God (Matthew 6:24), consumes an individual, and will lead them to hell.

Having gone through a catalogue of physical diseases that are avoidable or preventable and touched on the psychological cause of many ailments we return to man’s basic problem which underlies all disease whether of mind or body or spirit and that is sin. Our evil natures are our basic problem and no amout of medication or counselling can correct this. Lurking within us and often surfacing in actions are immorality, shameful passions, greed, gossip, lying, the breaking of God’s law that Paul, speaking as a Christian believer, mentions in Romans 7 and which can only be addressed by the indwelling Christ of the born-again man or woman. If you are not a believer, God’s command to you is repent and believe the gospel. A physician who was anxious about his soul asked a believing patient of his, how he should find peace. His patient replied, “Doctor, I have felt that I could do nothing (regarding my disease), and I have put my case in your hand: I am trusting in you. This is exactly what every poor sinner must do in the Lord Jesus. He saw the simplicity of the way, and soon found peace in Christ.

If you are a believer daily crucifying of the old man is essential-this is the only way to overcome the sinful nature, the spiritual root of all human problems. Christ Jesus  became a man who bore a weakened human nature—a human nature subject to hunger and thirst, to disease and weariness, to sickness and death for the sole purpose of dying and being resurrected for our sin, the guilt, power and presence of it, his aim being the ultimate total eradication of what corrupted his good creation.

 

* Ibid p169

** Ibid p192

A Reformed view of health, sickness and disease prevention (3)

A Reformed view of health, sickness and disease prevention.

Part 3   Sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS

 

Remember our background verse: ” And God said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26). Living according to God’s commandments precludes the diseases or plagues of the Egyptians (representing the godless world) and certainly applies to those outlined in this article.

Circumcision, you might think, is irrelevant but it’s not, because God, in wisdom, gave this rite to his people, the Jews. Circumcision on day eight, when prothrombin (clotting) levels are highest and when the child is young enough to forget the pain, is a ritual cleansing which reduces markedly the incidence of urinary infections in the new-born, penile and cervical cancer in adults, and the spread and incidence of HIV/AIDS. Spiritually it counts for nothing (Colossians 3:11) but for health and hygiene reasons it has much to commend it.

AIDS (Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a modern plague affecting millions around the world and spread mainly by heterosexual intercourse (90%), but also homosexual intercourse and infected blood. Uncircumcised men are up to eight times more likely to become infected. AIDS deaths leads to orphans in huge numbers. Monogamous marriages would eradicate AIDS and all the other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs include syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes, the papilloma virus and warts, and chlamydia. The more sexual partners ─ the greater the risk. “Human sexuality is complex but it certainly is not predetermined at birth. Genes do not cause homosexuality. Homosexuality describes what someone thinks and does.”* God strictly condemns all sex outside monogamous heterosexual marriage (Lev.18:22, Romans 1:24-32, I Cor.6:9-11, Hebrews 13:4, Proverbs 5:15-18). “Women have an inalienable right to keep their virginity until marriage. With this right comes power. Casual selfish sex is certainly not the answer to happiness. God made sex sacred and good (Genesis 2:23-25, I Cor.7:3-5). When sex is part of a loving marriage, both partners don’t need to hold back anything. They are free to enjoy and give themselves completely to each other. In this kind of sex, we can experience blessing in our everyday lives. Thus sex can be a spiritual act of worship. It is the union of body and soul in the blessing of God. We live in his presence even in the sexual act.”* All of the physical creation teaches us about spiritual things and I personally believe the extasy of sexual orgasm reflects in some way the exquisite joy of our final perfect union with Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb when Christ and his bride are finally and perfectly united. By the way, McMillen and Stern view incompatibility as one of the purposes of marriage and a well-known mission leader called marriage “God’s graduate school”. It is through our differences, conflicts and resolutions that we grow spiritually and learn tolerance, love and forgiveness.                                                                                                                     Love says, ”What can I give? How can I adapt to please my spouse?” We are called to love in spite of faults. Love keeps no record of wrongs. This is the love of God. Godly everyday marital life and unselfish love leads to satisfying sex. The so-called sexual revolution did not satisfy and often was a forlorn quest to beat loneliness. Promiscuity among teenagers is a time bomb already exploding and leading to massive increases in STDs and inevitably abortions. Condoms are NOT a failsafe safety feature. They have holes 50 times larger than the HIV and against STDs are only 50% effective.

Click on pic to enlarge.

Just saying “no” works for drug education, and being chaste works for sex education. I have addressed family planning which I see as a matter for each couple to decide (before God if believers) in my booklet “Handle with Care”*.

Sodomites are characteristically promiscuous, insecure, neurotic and often violent in their perverse sexual addiction-it is unnatural, unhealthy and psychologically abnormal. There is help if you know where to look. There are several Christian organisations that have seen much success. Another clear result of promiscuity and co-habiting is rampant abortion and the murder of millions of unborn ─ the worst genocide the world has ever seen and still continuing. Every parent and health care worker who participated in these cruel deeds will have hell to pay literally, unless they repent. Thus I have shown that all STDs, several serious cancers of the sexual organs and murderous abortion could all be avoided if men and women followed the maker’s instructions in the Bible.

  • None of These Diseases (p91)
  • Handle with Care, Dr Julian Kennedy 2017 Wipf p81ff

Health, disease and disease prevention (2)

A Biblical and Reformed view of health, sickness and disease prevention.

Part two: Diet, alcohol, smoking and drugs.

The Bible has a lot to say about eating. Firstly, gluttony is a sin (Proverbs 23:21) and even Christ was wrongly accused of this (Matthew 11:19). As with everything that enters our mouths, no food per se defiles us, but we reap what we sow (Gal.6:7,8). We need a range of foods for energy, replacement and regeneration, healing and growth. Water is also a necessity. Consistently eating more than we should, usually results in obesity and all its attendant diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and osteoarthritis. I am convinced that many people, including Christians, overeat. The simple fact is, that if your energy output for work and exercise, is less than your energy input from food and drink, you will gain weight! There are widely available tables that will show you what you ought to weigh and what your Body Mass Index should be (ratio of your weight in Kg divided by your height in metres squared). Overweight is defined as a BMI of over 25 and obese is BMI of over 30. Here are recent WHO global estimates:

  • In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults (25% world population!) aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these over 650 million adults were obese.
  • The worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.
  • Singapore’s rate of obesity is low (8%) but it is predicted to rise to 15% in next seven years

We know we ought to eat a balanced diet, but do we? A recent Lancet (a UK medical magazine) report (16/1/2019) states we should eat more whole grains and tubers (carrots, potatoes, turnips, parsnips), protein from plants, less red meat, and plenty green vegetables, fruit (five portions of fruit/veg daily) and nuts. We should restrict our sugar and intake of refined foods and eat more low fat products. Regular weighing and participation at the gym or some sport we enjoy, will tell us how we are doing! How quickly do we get breathless and how long does it take for our heart rate to return to normal after exercise?

Regular exercise, especially if quite vigorous, keeps us fit and healthy, raises the basal metabolic rate of burning calories which means that even when not exercising you are burning more. Exercise reduces incidence of type II or acquired diabetes, cardiovascular disease (arteriosclerosis), falls, depression, dementia, joint and back pain and certain cancers. Arteriosclerosis can be mitigated by a low meat-fat diet (note Leviticus 7:22), weight loss*, regular exercise, not smoking and managing stress. Regular exercise contributes to good stewardship of the body, well-being, and often longevity. Adam was a tiller of the ground and in the past most work was physical. God encouraged vigorous work. Medical advice encourages us to be more active (at least three twenty-minute periods of vigorous exercise or an hour and a half of moderate exercise, like walking or swimming, every week).Sit less (many of us have sedentery jobs), build strength (carry things, climb stairs, walk or use a bicycle rather than car). Make regular exercise a part of your life. “Discipline in exercise will help you in other areas, such as discipline in diet, discipline in prayer and disciplining your temper. You will even work more efficiently.”*** It ought also be noted that diabetes, especially type two or acquired diabetes which is closely related to obesity, is increasing at an alarming rate and the prevalence of diabetes (type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes) will increase by 54% to more than 54.9 million Americans between 2015 and 2030; annual deaths attributed to diabetes will climb by 38% to 385,800; and total annual medical and societal costs related to diabetes will increase 53% to more than $622 billion.

Alcohol in the form of wine, spirits or beer is something humans have produced and consumed since earliest times e.g. Noah, and at the same time it is given us by God to cheer our hearts (Psalm 104:15). It is a blessing in moderation, but sadly when taken to excess, becomes addictive, leading to dependence called alcoholism. Alcohol contributes in great measure to road deaths, murders, assaults and other incidents but particularly to alcoholic liver disease, pancreatitis and diabetes. Alcohol poisons and kills nerves, liver, heart and brain and severely disables new-born babies born to alcoholic mothers. The estimated harm caused by alcohol in the UK in 2012 was £25 billion! On top of this it contributes to broken marriages and fatherless children. The simple reason is that intemperance or drunkenness slackens self-control, inhibitions and reasoning power. This is a sin (Eph.5:18). When oft repeated, one becomes alcohol dependent, a sinful self-inflicted state (labelled a disease in medicine) from which it is difficult to be freed, though many who have been converted to Christ are able to kick the habit by the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture warns us in several places of its dangers (Prov.20:1, Is.5:22 and 28:7). It is notable that Christ on the cross refused wine-vinegar because he wanted to be fully aware while suffering for our sins.

 

Tobacco chewed is dangerous, but much more prevalent, tobacco smoking causes bronchitis, chronic lung disease including asthma and emphysema and of course, lung cancer which kills 120,000 Americans annually, it also causes cancer of bladder, pancreas and breast and cardiovascular and heart disease (killing 200,000 Americans annually). It is the major cause of heart attacks and loss of limbs to gangrene. Passive smoking by relatives and the children of smokers is also a major cause of lung illness. All told, cigarettes kill more annually than road crashes, AIDS, alcohol, murder, suicide and drugs combined. Someone rightly stated, “It is both godless and unseemly that the mouth of man which is intended to breathe in fresh air and utter praise to the Most High, should be defiled by the indrawing and expelling of tobacco smoke.” Our chief end is to glorify God and all believers ought to avoid this offensive, injurious and addictive habit. Paul rightly said about indifferent things that he would not be brought under the power of any (I Cor.6:12) how much more does this apply to harmful addictive habits like smoking! What we do with our bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit, matters to God! (I Cor.6:19,20).

Need I say anything about so called “soft” or “hard” drugs? Of course, alcohol and the nicotine in tobacco are addictive drugs themselves but generally when drugs are considered we mean compounds like marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, LSD, heroin etc. Apart from marijuana which may yet prove useful as a medicine, but has recently been associated with paranoia and psychosis, the rest are all extremely addictive, mind bending and dangerous. Marjiuana impairs memory and attention span and impairs judgment e.g. driving, as well as lowering inhibitions against sinful actions (like alcohol).**The personal and social destructiveness of these drugs is well documented and deaths from overdose are happening daily all over the globe. Never even try them! Flee fornication and flee drugs!  As my P.E. teacher used to say about smoking (but also relevant to drugs), “the best way to stop is never start!” Modern medicine has led to the discovery of myriads of useful medicines for almost every illness, and morphine, codeine and the benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam) are very useful under medical supervision (Prov.31:6) in pain relief and epilepsy respectively, but to use them “recreationally” for “fun” to get “high” is always a foolish and dangerous attempt to escape reality with subsequent bad after effects. Whether all or any of these substances are indulged in for personal or social reasons, they reflect depravity in mankind vainly trying to find pleasure and satisfaction apart from God. As the children’s chorus rightly states, “There is no peace, no joy, no thrill, like walking in his will, for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

 

 

 

*“Correction of overweight is probably the most important hygienic measure (aside from avoiding cigarettes) available for the control of cardiovascular disease, “ Dr W.B. Kennel

** Russell Dykstra “Believer’s response to legalised marjiuna” in Beacon Lights, April 2019

*** None of These Diseases p181

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*“Correction of overweight is probably the most important hygienic measure (aside from avoiding cigarettes) available for the control of cardiovascular disease, “ Dr W.B. Kennel

** Russell Dykstra “Believer’s response to legalised marjiuna” in Beacon Lights, April 2019

*** None of These Diseases p181

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health, disease and disease prevention (1)

A Reformed view of health, sickness and disease prevention.

Part One: Introduction, some Biblical principles.

 

The Bible …is a book in which (a person) may learn from his creator the art of healthy living* said Paul Tournier MD.

Paul, in writing to the Romans states,” If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12:18). Now what relevance has this to health and sickness? Well simply this, we know that however careful we are in relating to others inevitably there will be those who hate and persecute us because of the antithesis created by God when he made enmity between the seed of the woman (Christ and his people) and the seed of the serpent (the wicked). In the same way, however careful you are to maintain health and fitness, inevitably you, and I, will succumb to some disease and die! Nothing makes us immune to either persecution or illness because of the common cause the fall! Death, spiritual and physical, passed upon all men in Adam.

Much of what I write accords with God’s word to the Israelites in Exodus 15:26, the verse used as foundational to the book “None of these diseases“, by McMillen and Stern which I heavily quote and use in this series of articles. “ If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

In the way of obedience to God’s law and stewardship of our bodies God will generally reward us with prolonged good health. “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.” (Proverbs 10:27).The diseases sent upon the Egyptians were by way of God’s curse, something to which God’s people will never be subject, though chastisement may take the form of physical affliction including disease or physical hurt (e.g. Miriam, Gehazi, David, King Uzziah, the Corinthians and the warnings given to Israel for disobedience which included physical plagues in Deuteronomy 28:22,26,35,59-61 and note that both physical and mental illness may come from God’s hand. Thus, this is not a promise of good health to all God’s people as I said, we all degenerate eventually, whether believer or unbeliever, and God may have ordained various illnesses or infirmities for us to magnify his grace and glory in us.

Infirmity was often healed by Christ and the apostles as in the case of the man born blind in John 9, alternatively it may be borne bravely by God’s grace as in Paul’s thorn. In both scenarios it is all for the glory of God and the good of the believer.

Congenital club feet-perhaps the problem with the man at the beautiful gate in Acts 3.

We know for sure that good spiritual health is promised in the way of thankful obedience!

If I was to summarize the Christian’s attitude to his or her body in one word that word would be “stewardship”. Actually, the most precious physical, earthly possession we have, is our body. The fact our Lord took a body and raised it from the dead and that we will one day inhabit a new one like his, just adds to its significance. Respect for the body means most believers bury their dead rather than cremate them. Our body is a precious gift to be cherished (Eph.5:29). We may be really well endowed physically-lean, mean and fit as a fiddle, or we may be born with physical defects (Exod.4:11) or belong to a family with a history of disease like heart disease or diabetes. To whom much is given, much is required! (Luke 12:48). Use what you have to the highest standard and the glory of God. However remember, that if blessed with vigorous health, that the greatest sportsmen and women actually have nothing to glory in, because God has endowed them with all their abilities but how few acknowledge this!

Sadly, many of the ungodly, and not a few Christians, abuse their bodies! Galatians 6:7.8 applies—you reap what you sow! Excess alcohol, illicit drugs, illicit sex, gluttony/bulimia/anorexia, lack of exercise, cigarettes and exposure to unnecessary danger are all abuses of the body, which usually have detrimental consequences. Most of us are well aware of drunkenness and its relationship to violence and incidents^, alcoholic liver disease, pancreatitis and foetal alcohol syndrome. Drugs e.g. heroin, LSD, amphetamines and cocaine are illegal because our governments know how harmful they are in ruining lives, families and society. They ruin body and soul, and drug overdoses and completed suicide are a terrible self-harming, sinful reality. Illicit sex and sexual perversion lead in many cases to sexually transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancies and AIDS. Genetic factors notwithstanding, gluttony and/or lack of exercise, persisted in, over years, lead to obesity, a host of other diseases and premature death. There are too many dangerously overweight believers! It is a bad witness. The opposite, anorexia, can also kill. Since the 1960s we have known what cigarettes do to heart and lungs and yet despite all the evidence, many people including Reformed people still smoke! I find this detestable! Women force their feet, in the name of fashion, into pointed, usually high-heeled shoes, and get bunions and weak, shortened, Achilles tendons! The fleeting pleasures of sin reap a sad harvest. I would say many extreme sports involving free rock climbing, jumping out of planes or off cliffs or bridges are not only extremely dangerous but also sinful. Proof that this is confessional and correctly surmised from Scripture is found in the Heidelberg Catechism LD 40 Q. 105.  What doth God require in the sixth commandment?
A.  That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonour, hate, wound, or kill my neighbour, by myself or by another; but that I lay aside all desire of revenge; also, that I hurt not myself, nor wilfully expose myself to any danger. Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword to prevent murder.) God expects his people to protect themselves according to law and common sense: seat belts, crash helmets, lifejackets, ear defenders, gloves, immunization etc.

There is no doubt that John’s prayer in III John 2 for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of his brethren is a good one and one we can emulate, but we know the “health and wealth” gospel is a false one. God NEVER promised perfect health and plenty money or possessions to those who follow Christ, on the contrary God in his sovereignty often sends illness as chastisement or judgment as mentioned above. Many disciples in all ages are poor!

At this point I want to mention the necessity of the medical, nursing and many paramedical professions. These are all worthy callings and may entail a work of necessity on Sabbath days, and there is no doubt medical missions have been and are used of God as an opening for the gospel into closed or hostile needy lands.

 

I need to remind you at this point that the fall brought death and corruption upon mankind. The cells in all plants and animals die and if they are not replaced or regenerated, eventually the whole creature dies, and that is our future destiny, however hard we try to postpone it! Bodily exercise, a careful diet, weight loss, abstaining from smoking, and measures to reduce stress profit for the short term (this short life!), particularly in the avoidance of arteriosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of arteries that leads to heart attacks, strokes and gangrene). Back in Leviticus 7:22 God prohibited the eating of animal fat which accords with modern guidelines. Exercise invigorates your heart, helps reduce weight and lowers blood cholesterol and reduces risk of diabetes. Regular exercise was part of God’s original plan when he set Adam to tend the garden (Genesis 2:15) and “Six days shalt thou labour “, (Exodus 20:9). God encouraged work and blessed it and if you have a sedentary job you need to PLAN regular exercise into your days. Stress raises blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin.” Stress will come and stress will go; but the peace of God (through prayer) can stay for good—for the good of your heart and the good of your soul**”. God also heals us from trauma like broken bones, exposure to toxins, and many diseases and he has created a powerful immune system to fight infection (see excellent article by Mr. Looyinga in Standard Bearer of RFPA Dec.15th 2018), but despite this, the wages of sin is death and it is appointed for all of us (Heb.7:25).

A few words on vaccination. Vaccination is the deliberate exposure of the body to an invasive antigen, bacterial or viral that causes the body’s own immune system to produce antibodies and thus be rendered immune to infection to the real pathogen (invader bug) in the future. Edward Jenner, a Christian doctor, around 1796, was the first to use vaccination when he used cowpox virus to give immunity to smallpox and thus help towards the eradication of the disease. Today vaccination is in worldwide use against tetanus, measles, mumps, whooping cough, German measles and polio and it is the bound duty of every Christian parent to vaccinate their children, not only for the safety of their own children but for the good of others to prevent outbreaks among the susceptible.

 

Sanitation, hygiene surrounding dead bodies and the quarantine or isolation of certain sick people is solidly Bible based (Deut.23:12,13, 24:8, Numbers 5:2,3), indeed many Biblical chapters are full of instruction concerning ceremonial uncleanness which have a direct bearing on physical sickness and avoiding spread of disease. These public health measures have been one of the most far-reaching improvements in modern life since the industrial revolution.

^ Incidents rather than accidents because most are due to human stupidity.

References

* Paul Tournier-A Doctor’s Casebook in the Light of the Bible

**None of These Diseases by McMillen and Stern Revell Book 2000 p183.

 

Goals

 

Christ our Lord and the great Apostle Paul worked towards goals or targets that gave them purpose for their lives.

Christ’s aim was always to do the will of his Father (John 8:29) and preach and heal everywhere especially among the Jews. Paul in contrast was commissioned especially to preach to the Gentiles, even those never reached (Rom.15:20, II Cor.10:16)

Christ’s aim (cup) was the cross, resurrection and ascension-the ultimate joy set before him and the inheritance of all his redeemed for whom he died (Isaiah 53:10-11, Psalm 2:8, 74:2).

Similarly Paul speaks of his purpose (II Tim.3:10) and aim to know Christ more intimately, the fellowship of his sufferings (Phil.3:10-14) and the upward call (the mark or target he was aiming at, Titus 2:13) with the joy and crown of rejoicing being his many converts in the churches he planted on the last day (I Thess.2:19, II Thess. 1:7, II Tim.4:8) whom he aimed to present perfect or mature (Col.1:28,29).

Surely our aim is to zealously and sincerely praise him, get to know him better through the word, be faithful in our callings in the world and church and lay up treasure in heaven by our love and giving of ourselves and our resources to advance God’s kingdom.

Accounting

This is the short speech gave at my church AGM earlier this week:

CPRC AGM June 12th 2019

Accounting


Last year, you may remember, I spoke regarding a word that has meaning in accounting as well as the spiritual realm and that word was “reconciliation”. This year the word is “account” itself. Accounts make me think of the adjective accountable and accountability, reckoning, calculating etc. Romans 14:12 states, “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” and that on the last day. We will have to account of our stewardship, faithfulness, use of opportunities and it will literally be a “day of reckoning”.
For Christ the day of reckoning was at the cross where he was reckoned with the transgressors (Luke 22:37 quoting Isaiah 53:12) literally “numbered”.
The word account or reckon occurs forty times in the New Testament actually LOGOZOMI in Greek which means take an inventory, count, compute or calculate and because Christ was reckoned with the transgressors we are reckoned as righteous by imputation or credit (same word again) of his perfect righteousness (II Cor.5:19). The great chapter on imputation is Romans 4 especially verses 10 and 11 (also Gal.3:6) regarding Abraham whose imputed righteousness means his justification (by faith). However reckon is also used in relation to sanctification as Romans 6:11 teaches we are to “reckon ourselves dead to sin”-this is the fact that we are no longer enslaved by sin and are freed to live righteously. As a result of our antithetical life we will be persecuted “accounted as sheep to the slaughter” (Rom.8:36).
So there we have some thoughts of accounting/reckoning/imputing in the Bible. The one common factor that unites the work of financial accounting and Biblical reckoning is that they are both exact sciences. They ought to be correct, without mistake and balance out and in God’s economy they do because he is infallible as an accountant, knowing the end from the beginning (having decreed everything) whose work is detailed, accurate and totally dependable, unlike this fallible treasurer giving his accounts!

Covenant Consecration of Israel (13)

 

The Priests

Sung Psalm 132;7-14

Reading Leviticus 8 (obeying Exodus 29)

With the institution of the Aaronic priesthood five men are consecrated namely Aaron and his four sons Eleazar, Ithamar, Nadab and Abihu. These and all subsequent priests had to go through this process. It was the first public ordination into the office.

Stages:

  1. Washing–at the laver-hands and feet (c.f. Titus 3:5).
  2. Clothing—nine parts (believers and ministers now need no special clothes Psalm 132:9, Isaiah 61:10, we have the whole armour, righteousness of Christ, the new man etc.
  3. Anointing—with oil (Ex.30:23-31) typifies the Holy Spirit (I John 2:9, I Tim.3, Gal.5:22-23)
  4. Sacrificing –of animals: a bullock (sin offering v14), a ram (burnt offering v180 and another ram (peace offering v22).
  5. Smearing—of blood on earlobes, right thumb and right big toe (consecration of our walk).
  6. Sprinkling –with oil and blood (v30)
  7. Waiting—seven days in tabernacle courts (John 15 abiding).

So we see that each of these stages in their exclusive physical consecration mirrors our inclusive spiritual consecration as a priesthood in Christ.

Acts 9:36 -10:16

Acts 9:36-43
Raising of Dorcas
Dorcas (Greek) and Tabitha (Aramaic) means a gazelle.
She spent her time serving others by making clothes etc
Alms deeds were acts of giving-of clothes or the proceeds of sewing.
The believers in Lydda especially the widows were the objects of her charity.
Her body was washed and put in a room to allow mourning and perhaps because they expected a miracle.
The believers sent for Peter either expecting him to preach at her burial or raise her from the dead (Matthew 10:8).
Peter removed everyone wanting the miracle to be private and peace and quiet so he could pray.c.f. Jairus’ daughter in Luke 8:54.
Peter must have prayed that her soul would return.
Tabitha responded because she must have been alive and heard c.f. Lazarus in John 11 and Elisha and the boy in 2 Kings 4.
The widows are specifically mentioned because they were especially dependent upon her James 1:27. I Tim.5:3-4, 5:16.
Many believed because of the miracle and Peter’s subsequent preaching.
Simon the tanner’s work must have been unclean because he was touching the skins of dead animals. Perhaps Peter was coming to realize the Old Testament ceremonial laws were passing away but in any case this brother offered hospitality.
By the healing of Aeneas God was preparing the disciples, especially Peter for the in-gathering of the gentiles into the church.

Acts 10:1-16
Peter, Cornelius and the beginning of the inclusion of Gentiles in the early church.
Cornelius was a Roman soldier, with 100 men under him, stationed in Caesarea, a seaport town in the north of Israel. He was a devout proselyte and undoubtedly regenerate.
He and his family worshiped God through the Messiah they expected and gave generously to the Jewish synagogue. His devotion, alms-giving and prayers prove he was a believer but he needed confirmation of the gospel and that Christ had come through Peter. We guess he prayed for his family, his men and the Jewish nation. His prayers and good works are called a “memorial” showing that they were recorded and will be rewarded (treasure in heaven).
He saw an angel at 3 p.m. who spoke to him. He was afraid because angelic glory reflecting God’s holiness, brightness, purity, power and glory is awesome c.f. Moses, Joshua, Manoah, Isaiah, John and confirmed to him it was God speaking through him.
The angel commanded Cornelius to send for Peter and precise directions were given because any arranged meeting needs a precise time and place. So he did and his men walked or rode the 40 miles to Joppa.
Peter went up on the housetop at the regular Jewish time of prayer at the temple namely noon-see Psalm 55:17. His hunger may well have been related to the vision he saw of animals he was told to eat. A trance is a state of unresponsiveness and in this state he saw the vision (v.v. 17,19) of a sheet full of unclean animals
Next study (D.V.) June 29th Acts 10:17-48

 Ten Rules for Producing Unspiritual Young People

Ten Rules for Producing Unspiritual Young People

This Strength of Youth article was written by Rev. Ronald Cammenga and published in the October 1, 1983 issue of the Standard Bearer.

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In any great undertaking there are certain basic rules or principles which need to be followed if the endeavor is to be capped with success. The pilot must know the principles of aeronautics; the draftsman the principles of engineering; the surgeon the principles of human physiology. Such is also the case in the great enterprise of producing unspiritual young people. Here, too, one’s goal is most easily achieved, and success guaranteed, when these basic rules are taken into consideration. Application of these time-tested laws, either singly or in any combination, is sure to bring about the desired goal. Any consistency in applying the rules is sure to make the devil cheer and the world applaud. By the same token the Holy Spirit will be grieved and the cause of Christ’s church in the world dealt a severe blow.

What are these rules, the practice of which is most effective in producing unspiritual young people, a virtual serpent’s brood?

Rule #1. Parents should take little or no interest in the spiritual education of their children and young people. They should not be involved in teaching their children their catechism, their sunday school material, or their Bible material for school. The best excuse to use in implementing this rule is that you are too busy; after all, you’ve got to put food on the table. Instead of seeing to it that your children are prepared for school and catechism, just assume it. It doesn’t hurt either to take the position that Christian education isn’t really necessary, and that public school training is adequate. In carrying this rule out, parents should see to it that their evenings are so filled up with other activities that they simply have not time for their children. Careful application of the rule is sure to produce spiritually ignorant young people, young people who neither know nor are interested in the truth.

Rule #2. Beginning already when the children are very young, parents should give them anything that they want. Satisfy their every whim. Always buy them the very finest. See to it that they always have new toys. Dress them in the finest clothes. As soon as they can drive, buy them a new car. Lavish them with every extravagance possible. This is a most effective means of producing unspiritual young people. It is sure to make cross-bearing and self-sacrifice, things which are absolutely necessary to the Christian life, repulsive to them. When their faith requires of them self-denial, or even requires them to endure suffering, they are sure to deny their faith. When it becomes plain to them that the way into the kingdom is always a way of tribulation (Acts 14:22), they will want no part of it.

Rule #3. Cultivate in your young people a love for pleasure and entertainment. Tell them that, after all, we only live once, and so we ought to get the most out of life that we can. You can best do this by madly pursuing pleasure yourself. Instead of impressing upon them that life is a battlefield, tell them that life is a playground. Enjoy yourself with sports, or entertainments, or vacations. And if they should become involved in worldly amusements, so much the better. Their attending the movie or going to dances will only further your cause. Consistent application of this principle is sure to produce young people who are “. . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4).

Rule #4. Set before your young people an inconsistent example. You know the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do.” This is sure to work confusion and discourage the young people from living a life of obedience to the glory of God. Some examples. Tell your children that they must go to church regularly, but be irregular in your own attendance. Tell your children to obey those in authority over them, but you be quick to become angry at the boss, the policeman, or the elders. Tell them that they may not go to the movie, but you watch the movies and drama that come over the TV. Tell them that they must live chastely, but you read dirty novels and watch filthy television programs. This kind of life is sure to be offensive to the young people. They’ll notice the inconsistency immediately, and your example will speak louder than your words. This is an especially old and time-tested rule, that over the years has met with a great deal of success.

Rule #5. When your children do break one of God’s commandments, be sure that you don’t discipline them, at least not severely. You may, perhaps, scold them; but nothing more. You know what Solomon says, after all, in Proverbs 23:13, 14: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” There is scarcely anything so destructive to our goal as the consistent and loving application of discipline. When it comes to your attention that your son or daughter is guilty of some wrongdoing, minimize the seriousness of their deed. And at all costs, protect them, even if they’re in the wrong. Cover for them and give excuses for their bad behavior. Make sure the teachers in the Christian school are aware of your disapproval of their disciplining the children. And if their bad behavior continues, don’t go to the pastor or the elders to seek their help. If the church should sooner or later become involved anyway, become angry and attempt to stand in the way of the church’s work. This rule, carefully followed, is sure to produce young people who are unholy and wicked.

Rule #6. At every opportunity, be critical of the Christian school teachers, the elders, and the pastor. Make your criticisms known to your children, and the ill will you feel toward these people. Don’t hide your feelings toward them, and don’t honor them at least for their office’s and work’s sake. This, too, is most effective in producing unspiritual young people. It will encourage the same critical spirit in them. It will cultivate a low view of the church and the members of the church, and make it easy for them to leave the church later on. And this is what usually happens. Once out of the church and separated from the means of grace and the preaching of the truth, they are fair game.

Rule #7. Allow them to make friends with unbelievers, or at least do not strongly disapprove of their establishing these friendships. After all, you can reason, they can be a good and effective witness to these unbelievers in this way. Don’t stop them from running with these other young people who have no concern to live a holy life and no interest in spiritual things. When they are with these worldly friends, don’t be concerned where they are or what they might be doing. After all, they’re old enough to know better, and they can make their own decisions. We all know the influence a Delilah had on Samson. We all know that Israel’s making leagues and friendships with the ungodly Canaanites was instrumental in bringing about their apostasy from the Lord God. A most effective measure!

Rule #8. Don’t take any interest in the dating or courtship of your young people. This rule stands in close connection to Rule #7. Don’t warn them against being yoked together with an unbeliever. Don’t point out how this angers the God of marriage and is destructive to the purposes he has ordained for marriage. Take a light view of their leaving the church for the sake of a marriage partner. Don’t point out their calling to maintain membership in a true church, and don’t point out the importance of this for their children in the future. History has proved the effectiveness of this rule. Just call to mind the outcome of the sons of God marrying the daughters of men prior to the flood, or the result of the children of Israel marrying the ungodly Canaanites prior to the time of the judges. Applied consistently, this rule will surely have the outcome that the young people are weaned away from the church, their spiritual home and the source of the nourishment of their spiritual life.

Rule #9. Point out to your young people the importance of earthly success. Get them to see that they must succeed in life and establish a name for themselves. Their career has got to be the main thing. In the case of the young women, don’t set before them the blessings of establishing a godly home and being a joyful mother of children. Tell them that they ought at least first find fulfillment in some secular pursuit. Have the young men see the importance of success and advancement in the world. Their work must come first, the church and family, the things of the kingdom of God, must take second place. Once they have made spiritual things second place in their lives, it’s only a short step to giving them no place at all.

Rule #10. Set before your children the goal of becoming rich. Get them to see that money means power, and that money talks. Have them exert themselves fully, occupy themselves completely with getting rich. You know what Jesus said, that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into God’s kingdom (Matt. 19:24). You know what happened to Achan in the Old Testament. The apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:9, 10: “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” In the parable of the sower, Jesus speaks of the seed that fell among the thorns as “. . . he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22). This is a particularly timely measure to employ in our affluent society.

These are the ten basic rules to be followed in the production of unspiritual young people. There’s nothing difficult or complicated about any of them. You might say, they come naturally. Apart from the intervening grace of God, their results are guaranteed.

Now test yourself. How many of the rules have you been following?

Covenant Consecration of Israel (12)

Covenant Communion

Psalm 22:26-31

Exodus 24:1-11

Consists:

  1. Vision of God-not in himself as pure Spirit but by a manifestation, and in this case he was above a clear, blue sky typifying his transcendence above all things. He is the God of the covenant with Israel and he is the God of revelation in Christ whose feet were seen. Most theophanies (revelations of God in Christ B.C.) are full of circumlocutions where the penman can’t quite describe what he sees as he struggles to depict unsurpassable glory. Since the incarnation we see God in the face of Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 14:9).
  2. Safety in God-He “laid not his hand” on them and they saw him and lived (c.f.Ex.19:21 with law, wrath and fire and Ex.33:20)
  3. Fellowship meal with God-probably the people’s portion of the peace offering along with wine (c.f. Isaiah 25:6-7)

 

Note the number 70 of the elders, representative of Israel (as in the 70 who went down to Egypt and Christ’s 70 evangelists etc). Alongside 12 which is the usual number of the church (tribes, disciples etc).

 

In summary: The COVENANT PEOPLE needed a COVENANT MEDIATOR, so they can approach God. They do this on the basis of COVENANT BLOOD that atones for sin and then are to live true to their COVENANT CALLING by COVENANT FAITHFULNESS to the BOOK OF THE COVENANT as a kingdom of priests. In this way they enjoy COVENANT FELLOWSHIP  with God.

Regeneration v conversion.

 

 

“Conversion, though it may seem, in some respects, to fall in with regeneration and the effectual calling, yet may be distinguished from them both. Regeneration is the sole act of God; conversion consists both of God’s act upon men, in turning them, and of acts done by men under the influence of converting grace; they turn, being turned. Regeneration is the motion of God towards and upon the heart of a sinner; conversion is the motion of a sinner towards God, as one (Charnock) expresses it. In regeneration men are wholly passive, as they also are in the first moment of conversion; but by it become active: it is therefore sometimes expressed passively; ‘you are returned,’ or converted (1 Peter 2:25), and sometimes actively; ‘a great number believed and turned to the Lord’ (Acts 11:21)…. The effectual calling is the call of men out of darkness to light; and conversion answers to that call, and is the actual ‘turning’ of men from the one to the other; so that, with propriety, conversion may be considered as distinct from regeneration and the effectual calling.” ~

John Gill, A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 6, Chapter 13.

Is faith a work?

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:29

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Acts 16:31

The discussion in the pages of the RFPA Standard Bearer regarding the gospel message seems to be nearly complete and it does appear to me that the controversy was not over the gospel as such, but about the call of the gospel-what the preacher preaches. We all agree that the command must be preached and that this command is different from all others because, if it is said to an elect person, it comes with the power to obey (Psalm 110:3), BUT the response of faith is essential and is granted to every sheep who hear Christ’s voice and thereafter follow him. Faith is granted through the command, and the bond with Christ is made (on God’s side this has already happened by regeneration and on man’s side it is confirmed subsequently by conversion) but God doesn’t believe for man.  From the human standpoint you must believe in him and his work. The issue is not salvation from God’s point of view i.e. regeneration, the issue is how I am saved consciously, and the answer is, by responding in faith, faith granted by Christ himself who is the “one calling forth the faith, through the mouth of the preacher.”  I believe it was rightly stated that, “one cannot know forgiveness or approving love” i.e. be conscious of union with Christ without faith. Faith IS this consciousness. It is the essential activity that the call requires from sinful men AND by this call through it’s own power, because it is the word of Christ, the gift of faith is bequeathed and activity of faith is expressed.

                We don’t want to confuse faith with work though the consensus is that faith is a doing or activity. The jailer and the convicted Jews were commanded to repent and believe, not to do nothing, they had to believe. It is also obedience but does not merit. Is it not easier just to say that believing is a fruit of salvation which salvation comprises regeneration and the bond of faith AND the activity of faith being all graciously given by Christ?

 Canons Head II error 4 is crucial-faith does NOT merit!

Canons of Dort extract

The command to obey the gospel is not law, rather that, like all of Scripture it is part of God’s law/precepts/commandments/statutes (names for Scripture in Psalm 19 and Psalm 119) that convert the soul. It is only like the law in that it is also commanded. We are under Christ’s law.

The contrast has to be kept between faith and good works as the means of salvation but faith as the first step, and good works as subsequent evidence of faith and the fruit of that faith are linked by all being of  grace

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
Both of these verse  inextricably link faith with good works and James says that faith without works is dead! Faith works by love!
  Faith and good works are not two ways of meriting salvation but they are linked in the fact that grace precedes and enables faith and all the subsequent good works of the saved believer. Faith always does work. And when we do get to glory we will only say that we did our duty and  then cast our crowns before the Lord.
 Christ saves us. He saves us objectively and he saves us subjectively. We receive this salvation by faith through which all his imperious life, and what he achieved through his death and  resurrection save us  objectively and subjectively.
When Paul says to the jailer that by believing he shall be saved-perhaps we ought to say that his activity of faith, enabled by the command of the preacher, brought him to the assurance that he was saved (subjective faith). What actually saved him was regeneration by the Holy Spirit that made him cry out, “What must I do?” Subsequently he expressed that faith and was baptized.
Believing in Christ and subsequent good works are examples of Philippians 2:13 in action, both the will to do and the doing are  wrought by Christ and the promise of eternal life for the first and the reward of grace for the second stand firm. This is confessional.

 

Covenant Consecration (Old and New Testament) 11

Covenant Consecration (Old and New Testament)-particularly marriage.

Sung Psalm 34: 8-14

https://mobile.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+34%3A8-16&version=KJV

Read I Peter 3:1-15

https://mobile.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Peter+3&version=KJV

We continued our comparing and contrasting covenant consecration in Moses’ day and now.

Ex.21:10   speaks of polygamy or concubinage something that Christ and the apostles absolutely forbid. From the beginning in fact God’s ideal is one man and one woman for life. All Old Testament examples of multiple wives multiplied trouble for all concerned! E.g. Abraham, Jacob, David, Elkanah, Solomon. However lessons that abide include care for other wives (if separated from them) and the necessity of provision for a future wife when considering marriage.

Ex.22:16,17 does fornication mandate marriage now? No, especially not if one is a believer and the other not, but neither if both are-there is no compulsion to marry and no law necessitating a dowry.

Deut. 21:10-14   the taking of a captive wife no longer applies because there are no holy wars/booty.

Deut. 24:1-5  “if” should be inserted here because we know God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), he only tolerated it among the hard-hearted unbelieving Jews. Jesus forbad this (Matt.19, Matt.5, I Cor.7, Eph.5)

Ex. 20  no adultery is a moral law for all time.

I Peter 3:1-5 emphasizes submission of wife and adorning being inner beauty.

V7 the husband’s calling

Vv8-12 ethics in church

13-17 suffering

18-22 Christ’s suffering, resurrection and ascension

4:1-6 we are no longer to live in lust

Vv7-11 our calling in church

Vv12-19 suffering persecution

5:1-4 calling of elders

Vv5-14 more exhortations.

For further reading:  http://www.cprf.co.uk/bookstore/pilgrimsmanual.html#.XO0tmIhKiAI

Consecration of Israel (both O.T. and N.T) 10

The Consecration of Israel (O.T. and N.T.)

Sung Psalm 39:6-13

Reading I Peter 2

We continue our comparison and contrasting of Old Testament Israel and New Testament Israel. Peter’s epistle using multiple borrowed Old Testament phrases shows clearly that New Testament Israel equates with Old Testament Israel, they are ONE church. I Peter 2:9,10 refer to the calling of the Gentiles (formerly in darkness and not a people), now elect, holy, royal and part of a spiritual nation (not a political one). Believers are called strangers and pilgrims, descriptions initially given the fathers of Israel (Abraham, Isaac etc). Strangers is also used of Israel (I Chron. 29:15, Psalm 39:12) because they, like us are different from the ungodly world and are moving forward to a heavenly inheritance (Heb.11:10). Our good works are honest labour, submission to rulers c.f. Ex.22:9,28, office bearers in church and state including man-made laws (c.f. Romans 13:8, and Acts 5:29 and all for the Lord’s sake. The Old Testament had no room for Christian liberty mentioned here because it was detailed legislation but now we have habits or activities that are left up to individual conviction e.g. foods, clothes, sports. The civil laws governing slavery (Ex.21) are quite different from I Peter 2:18-21 and v.v. 22-25 show by Christ’s example how that suffering for doing good is praiseworthy and indeed the cross was the ultimate example of non-retaliation in the face of persecution.

Were miracles all signs?

Can we prove that Christ’s (and the apostles’) miracles had spiritual significance?

Clearly they were all God’s work authenticating his messengers.
Everything Christ and the apostles did was to further the kingdom of God which is spiritual.
Christ came to redeem men and creation.
Everything in creation points to spiritual reality e.g. the sun-the Son, grass and food-the word of God, water and fire-the Holy Spirit, the blue sky-heaven, trees-Christian life etc.
Christ taught in parables using earthly things to teach spiritual truth.
Christ equates physical and spiritual healing e.g. blindness (John 9) where he speaks of physical and spiritual blindness, paralysis (Matt.9)-see below*, death (John 5 and 11) where resurrection of the soul by Christ in this life is equated with physical resurrection of the dead. These miracles were all signs signifying deeper reality. *Christ both healed a man and said his sins were forgiven simultaneously, both healings being God’s prerogative and one signifying the other.
Healing and wholeness are the same Greek word (SOZO- I Peter 2:24).
The huge catch of fish in John 21 pictures the apostles being used to catch men.

Acts 9:23-35

Acts 9:23-35

Further results of Saul’s conversion

After many days, which could have been three years, Paul went up to Jerusalem from Damascus. Galatians 1:17-18 do not necessarily teach that Paul went into the desert of Arabia for three years but it certainly means his base was in Damascus for that period during which during a non-specified time he was given direct revelation from Christ in the wilderness. It is worth noting other figures whose ministry started after time in isolation with God namely Moses, John the Baptist and Christ himself.
The Jews in Damascus resented Paul’s preaching and planned to murder him for the simple reason that totally depraved human beings hate the light (the antithesis) and those who bring the gospel message (John 3:20, 7:7) hence from Abel to Zechariah God’s servants are persecuted or killed by Satan’s minions.
The disciples let Paul down over the wall in Damascus to save his life.
The disciples in Jerusalem were initially afraid of Paul but Barnabas communed with him and related his testimony to them leading to him being accepted into the family.
Paul spoke “in the name of Jesus” which means as Christ’s representative he brought his message of salvation presumably based firmly on Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
The Grecians were Jews from Greece (Acts 6:1) who hated the gospel message.
The disciples transported Paul to the port of Caesarea and then by ship to Tarsus, his home town to prevent him being attacked and possibly murdered. Another reason for his going there was that Christ told him in a vision that he was sending him to the Gentile nations (Acts 22:17-22).
His departure, because he was the pre-eminent persecutor in Jerusalem, meant peace for the church who through their regular teaching and worship were edified and grew (I Tim.2:2).

Acts 9:32-35


The healing of Aeneas and groundwork for spread of the gospel to the Gentiles.
Peter it seems systematically went to the villages and towns around Jerusalem obeying the apostolic injunction to be witnesses in Judea and Samaria (Acts 1:8).
Lydda or Lod was about 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem. The palsy or paralysis of Aeneas with which he had been afflicted for eight years could have been a stroke or spinal problem or result of a fall making his legs useless. It was clearly incurable (compare man at pool John 5:4).
The symbolic significance of this illness (disability) was that he was impotent which reflects depraved mankind’s impotence regarding salvation (Rom.5:8, John 6:44).
Peter attributed the healing directly to Jesus Christ and indeed was used to heal him in his name.
Peter told him to make his bed because he was not going to need it the rest of that day!
We believe there was a turning of many to the Lord through Peter’s preaching rather than the miracle because it is the word of God that saves men.

Next study (DV) Saturday June 8th 8pm

Consecration of Israel (9)

Psalm 119:105-112

Reading I Peter 1:10-25

Consecration of Israel (God’s people in every age).

In verses 10-12 the Old Testament prophets are said to be taught by the Spirit of the coming Messiah about his future suffering and glory. What was revealed to them they wrote down as inspired Scripture which signified coming reality. Their writings were Christology and soteriology. Their searching was also signified by the cherubim placed over the ark looking at the mercy seat where the blood was sprinkled (see Num.7:89). Here Christ spoke to Moses. Angels long to look into the reality of redemption which they will never experience!

Holiness in Old Testament times was the keeping of a mixture of ceremonial and moral laws e.g. Leviticus which included foods, bodily issues, sexuality and marriage. Today holiness is obedience to God’s word, killing former lusts and hoping for the second coming.

Verses 18-21 concentrate on the covenant blood of the Lamb signified by the O.T. animal sacrifices. In contrast to perishable metals Christ’s blood is eternally efficacious, incorruptible and precious.

In thy presence is fullness of joy.

Stephen Charnock describes God’s pure actuality and absolute  and blessed fullness of being in reference to the believers’ future state of glory.

“The enjoyment of God will be as fresh and glorious after many ages, as it was at first. God is eternal, and eternity knows no change; there will then be the fullest possession without any decay in the object enjoyed. There can be nothing past, nothing future; time neither adds to it, nor detracts from it; that infinite fulness of perfection which flourisheth in him now, will flourish eternally, without any discoloring of it in the least, by those innumerable ages that shall run to eternity, much less any despoiling him of them: ‘He is the same in his endless duration’ (Psalm 102:27). As God is, so will the eternity of him be, without succession, without division; the fulness of joy will be always present; without past to be thought of with regret for being gone; without future to be expected with tormenting desires. When we enjoy God, we enjoy him in his eternity without any flux; an entire possession of all together, without the passing away of pleasures that may be wished to return, or expectation of future joys which might be desired to hasten. Time is fluid, but eternity is stable; and after many ages, the joys will be as savory and satisfying as if they had been but that moment first tasted by our hungry appetites. When the glory of the Lord shall rise upon you, it shall be so far from ever setting, that after millions of years are expired, as numerous as the sands on the seashore, the sun, in the light of whose countenance you shall live, shall be as bright as at the first appearance; he will be so far from ceasing to flow, that he will flow as strong, as full, as at the first communication of himself in glory to the creature. God, therefore, as sitting upon his throne of grace, and acting according to his covenant, is like a jasper-stone, which is of a green color, a color always delightful (Rev. 4:3); because God is always vigorous and flourishing; a pure act of life, sparkling new and fresh rays of life and light to the creature, flourishing with a perpetual spring, and contenting the most capacious desire; forming your interest, pleasure, and satisfaction; with an infinite variety, without any change or succession; he will have variety to increase delights, and eternity to perpetuate them; this will be the fruit of the enjoyment of an infinite and eternal God: be is not a cistern, but a fountain, wherein water is always living, and never putrefies.” ~ Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, Volume 1, 298-299.

From “Philosphy of the Cross” website of Dr. Marco Barone

Marco and Paula Barone

http://philosophyofthecross.blogspot.com/

Acts 9:10-22

Acts 9:10-22

The events following Saul’s conversion.

Ananias was a disciple of Christ living in Damascus and also a prophet (all who see visions are either an apostle or prophet).

A vision is a supernatural audio-visual event through which God communicates with a person or reveals heavenly truth. Visions occurred with Jacob, Moses and the elders, King Saul, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah and the apostle John (among others).

Ananias was told to go to Straight Street to Judas’ house to find Paul who was praying.

We do not know for what Paul prayed but we could guess it concerned regaining his sight and also getting direction from Christ (9:6).

The Lord also gave Paul a vision of Ananias coming to him.

Ananias was reluctant understandably because he had heard of Saul’s reputation for persecuting God’s people.

In explaining to Ananias the Lord makes clear that the tables would be turned and Paul would be terribly persecuted and suffer for Christ-this was revealed to Paul so that he knew and counted the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:28,31). The rest of the book of Acts and II Cor. 6:6 and 11:24-33 bear witness.

The laying on of hands served to confer spiritual gifts/ordain, heal, show care for and identification with the recipient. It was typical of Christ and the apostles and continues in ordinations in Reformed churches today (see Mark 5:23, 16:18, Acts 8:18, 28:18, I Tim.4:14, 5:22, Heb.6:2).

Ananias called Paul “brother” because the Lord had told him of his conversion and future service. His attitude to Paul had changed.

The Lord had to have told Ananias what had happened to Saul.

Saul/Paul received the Holy Spirit through Ananias’ hands.

Saul knew baptism was commanded to signify and seal the washing away of his sins.

Saul began to preach that Christ was the Son of God because this was his calling among the Jews. He went for some time alone into Arabia, then back to Damascus and then some years later to Jerusalem (Gal.1:12, 17,18, I Tim.1:11, Gal.2:2, Acts 24 and 26).

The Jews were initially amazed but later started to violently persecute him.

Saul’s knowledge of and faith in Christ was strengthened.

He was able to prove from Scripture that Jesus was the Messiah and refute their arguments to the contrary. Note that with regard later to Agrippa and Festus he used more personal testimony. Our witness includes God’s word (and church preaching), personal testimony and life (I Peter 3:1, 3:15).

 

Next study (DV) May 18th    

Acts 9:23-35

 

Male headship Biblical.

There is controversy over the ordination of woman to positions of leadership and oversight the Christian church. Arguments are made for this practice on the basis that the difference in authority between male and female was a result of the fall into sin rather than a creation ordinance, and therefore is to be overcome by the Christian church rather than perpetuated. Further, the New Testament itself teaches that in Christ there is no longer any distinction between male and female (Gal. 3:28). Where Paul in his writings seems to contradict this overriding theological truth of sexual equality and identity, it was because he was a product of his patriarchal times at best or a chauvinist at worst. Apart from resulting from an unorthodox doctrine of inspiration and some terrible exegesis, these arguments start to crumble when faced with the true doctrine of the family. To start with, within the family of the Trinity there is both equality of persons and subordination of order and roles – hence the Son is subject to the Father while being of one substance with the Father. This shows that there is nothing inherently sinful about being in a position of authority or being subject to authority, and that there is nothing logically contradictory between the principles of equality in Christ and submission within a society. Also, the fact that this is how God is within Himself implies that this is how things are in the created order also, for the works of God reflect who God is.

   Subordination within a family structure is not a result of the fall but exists in the very nature of things because this is how the Creator lives within Himself. The Bible explicitly and clearly teaches that females are to be subordinate to their male heads within the context of the family. This means that wives are to be submissive to their husbands and that daughters are to be submissive to their fathers (as should sons too showing that authority structures in the Bible and this relate are not simply gender based). How does this relate to the question of ordination in the church? Male headship in the family directly and necessarily implies male leadership in the church· It has already been noted how, in early New Testament times, the church was really an extension of the Christian household. Just as several congregations come together in association now to form a “denomination,” so then the local church was a conglomeration of various families who united for the purpose of forming the institution of a church. To view the matter like this helps us to understand the nonarbitrary nature of God’s clear instructions that only males should serve as elders
and deacons. When female ordination is opposed by us
as it should be it is not opposed just because “the Bible says so” (although this should be sufficient, even if we understood no further). Rather, when the church is
placed in its familial background, as an outgrowth and continuation of the covenant Christian family, our refusal to ordain females makes perfect Biblical sense. What would be the logic of insisting upon male headship
in the home only to deny it in that corporate extension of the home that is the Christian church? Conversely, we can see why denying the headship of man in the church will always lead back to an eroding away of the headship of man in the family, and thus to all others areas of society.
From editorial in British Reformed Fellowship Journal by Dr Allen Baird.

Synod of Dort consequences.

Arminianism today: The war lost?

Today, much—virtually all—of American (and UK) Evangelicalism is affected by Arminian theology. Some Dutch Reformed denominations that count the Synod of Dordt as part of their historical heritage no longer defend Dordt’s doctrine in every respect. The doctrine of the well-meant offer, which compromises Dordt’s stand on total depravity and irresistible grace, plagues many Reformed churches. The idea of common grace that Abraham Kuyper promoted in Dutch Reformed circles, and its further development by the Christian Reformed Church in 1924, undermined the doctrines of total depravity, irresistible grace, and particular atonement. Teach that Christ died only for some humans, not each and every one, and many members of Reformed denominations will believe that you are mistaken. Ask them to explain God’s decree of election, and be saddened but not surprised when many say that it is God’s will to save all who will believe and obey in their own power, not His determination to save certain specific persons whom He ordained to eternal life.

If the battle appears to be lost on those battlefields, what of the closest battlefield? By God’s grace, the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and her three sister churches not only hold the Canons of Dordt as an official confession, but also teach and defend the doctrines taught in it.1 But does each and every member understand those doctrines, and see their importance? Would each and every member readily defend and promote them?

And how goes the battle in our own lives? We confess that God, from eternity, ordained some to eternal life in Christ; but in our hearts do we question His justice in sovereignly reprobating others—especially if those others are our close friends or family members? We confess that the human race is totally depraved, and find abundant evidence of this in current events around us. But do we deny or excuse our own sins—a practical denial of total depravity? We praise God for His irresistible grace—but are we quick to boast of some work of our own?

The battle against Arminianism is unceasing both on the church front and in our own lives. Each of us is susceptible to losing a particular battle against Arminianism in our own hearts. If we have not lost the battle against Arminianism in our own hearts, and if we will not, what is the explanation? Only this: God has preserved us whom He has called in Christ to be saints.

Our sure hope: Certain victory

In history, the cause of orthodoxy seems to have suffered defeat after defeat. But truth will be victorious. Orthodoxy will at last prevail. This will become evident when our ascended Lord brings His glorified church to heaven. No, the church in heaven will not subscribe to the Canons of Dordt; it is an earthly document, and with all other earthly documents will be destroyed with fire. However, the church in heaven will confess and praise the sovereign grace of Jehovah in salvation; we will confess then the same central truths that are expressed in the Canons. The glorified church will sing a new song of praise to Jehovah for His irresistible grace shown to sinners, based solely on the shed blood of the Lamb and its saving effect (Rev. 5:9-10, 14:3). Those singing this song will realize that they, though sinners, have been appointed to everlasting life, and preserved with a view to it.

Even in time, the war will be won. The church must always know that this threat is ever present and constantly fight it, without letting down her guard. This error’s continued presence leads us always to rely on the grace and mercies of Jesus Christ, and gives occasion for many prayers for defense and safety from our enemies.

Yet, there is a sense in which the battle that Dordt won is won again and again. It is won in the hearts of faithful believers who love the truth. It is won every time an unbeliever is brought to true, saving faith, and every time an ungodly person is turned to godliness. It is won by faithful churches who refute and oppose Arminianism and preach sovereign grace. It will be won as the faithful church preaches the gospel, for (as the Canons remind us) this gospel must be preached indiscriminately throughout the world. The preaching of this gospel is the running of the white horse of Revelation 6:2, and the cause of the gospel will be victorious.

Until Christ returns to defeat the enemy decisively and deliver the church from such error, may the prayer with which the Canons conclude be on our lips:

May Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who, seated at the Father’s right hand, gives gifts to men, sanctify us in the truth, bring to the truth those who err, shut the mouths of the calumniators of sound doctrine, and endue the faithful minister of His Word with the spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all their discourses may tend to the glory of God and the edification of those who hear them. Amen.

Douglas Kuiper in Standard Bearer May 1st 2019

Full article

God’s word in our hearts

“But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” This verse quoted in Romans 10:8 shows that not only we presently have, but also the believing Old Testament Jews then had God’s law written inwardly on their hearts by the Holy Spirit who indwells both. The salvation we enjoy, wrought by Christ, retrospectively was applied to all the faithful from Abel till today. They were regenerated, justified, sanctified and glorified just as we are, the only difference being that we have a much fuller and richer revelation of that salvation and the working of God in Scripture.

 

The Steady Eye

The Steady Eye

Brian D. Dykstra

“Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee” (Prov. 4:25).

God warns us many times in Proverbs about disobedience. In this section of Proverbs, however, we are told how to obey Him, how to keep the heart for out of it are the issues of life. God just commanded us to put away a froward mouth. He now gives us direction regarding our eyes.

Our five senses connect us physically to creation. They are also inlets to our souls. How we observe and interact with the creation influences our spiritual life. This is especially true for our eyes. Christ warns us, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matt. 6:22). Jesus also warns us about the evil eye and the resulting spiritual darkness (v. 23).

Knowing that our eyes exert a powerful influence in our lives, Solomon instructs us how to use our eyes properly. We are to “look right on.” Satan knows how powerful temptations presented through our eyes can be. The things on which we fix our eyes will direct the soul. The inspired apostle Peter knew this as well. He wrote of those who departed from the truth, “Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children” (II Pet. 2:14). This is clear to us in today’s entertainment. The music, dancing and various forms of video presentations display to our eyes a world full of adultery which cannot satisfy its depraved desire for sin. The world’s lack of moderation in its use of alcohol fuels the raging fire of hedonistic passion.

Eyes have often led people into sin. Lot’s wife did not keep her eyes straight ahead. She turned to see the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, evidently desiring the life she had enjoyed there, and was turned to a pillar of salt. During the destruction of Jericho, Achan saw among the spoils some treasures which he desired. He coveted, took the accursed thing and all Israel suffered the consequences in a humiliating defeat. Then there is David. Instead of keeping his eyes fixed on the enemy on the battlefield, he stayed in Jerusalem where his wandering eye saw Bathsheba. His life would never be the same.

There are examples of eyes which are looking straight at a goal. The idea is someone who looks steadily at a mark in order to walk a straight path. When I mow my lawn in a diagonal pattern, I do not have the edge of the driveway or side of the road to keep the mower lines nice and straight. I must pick a spot where the grass meets the road on the opposite side of the lawn, stare at it and walk as straight as I can toward it. When I’m successful, the result is a nice, straight pattern.

Job directed his eyes this way. He did not want adulterous thoughts to enter his heart, so he says, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1). He would not allow his eyes to wander so as to arouse sinful desires. He would be careful with his eyes. Joseph did this, though Potiphar’s wife certainly did not keep her eyes fixed on godliness. We read, “his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me” (Gen. 39:7). With her eyes, she recognized Joseph to be attractive and desired to satisfy her sinful passion. Joseph, however, guarded his eyes. In fact, Joseph would not even allow himself to be in the same room as she, so his eyes could not fall upon her and lead him into temptation.

We must keep our eyes straight before us, on the single goal of glorifying God. Our eyes must be on the path God sets before us by His Word. Keeping our eyes fixed shows our gratitude for all the blessings He has given to us in Christ. The pleasures of sin do not lie in the path of God’s law. Distractions to a thankful life lie to the right and left. If we allow our eyes to wander from the single purpose of living a thankful life, we expose ourselves to myriad temptations. Were we to follow our eyes, seek the things of this world and satisfy the desires of the old man of sin, we would lose the feeling of God’s favour. We would no longer feel the spiritual warmth of God’s gracious countenance which is more than life to us.

This brings us to eyelids: “Let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” None of the commentaries on my bookshelf mentioned the significance of why Solomon switches from “eyes” to “eyelids.” However, there must be more to the divine inspiration of Scripture than allowing writers literary discretion to avoid dull repetition of terms.

Here is my attempt in dealing with “eyelids.” When I walk a pathway which is smooth and has nothing which would cause me to stumble, I can keep my eyes up to see distant things. However, when the path has many obstacles and I must place each step carefully, my eyes are down. This is when someone coming from the opposite direction sees my eyelids, not my eyes. In the next verse, Solomon writes, “Ponder the path of thy feet,” which has the idea of having to walk carefully. We must have our eyelids straight before us when the path of life becomes more difficult or presents more dangers.

We must take this admonition seriously. Living a Christian life is no joke. This world is not a place of amusement for us. God does not call us to serve ourselves. We may not live a frivolous life. We are engaged in a serious spiritual battle. The stakes are high. Satan is as a lion seeking his prey so we had better be alert, keeping our eyes fixed straight before us and not allowing our eyes to see the sinful distractions which the world offers. If we cannot control our eyes, if we realize they constantly lead us into sin, Christ instructs us, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:29). It is that serious.

Being careful about the use of our eyes is an aspect of keeping our hearts. We must protect our spiritual eyes at all times. We want to enjoy fellowship with God through grateful living. This is the true life of our hearts. May God help us and our children to have our eyes look right on and let our eyelids look straight before us.