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.

____________

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.

 

Consecration of Israel (8)

 

Sung Psalm 50:1-6

Reading I Peter 1:1-16

Reading Exodus 19 and 24 alongside I Peter 2:9 we see great similarities. In both passages God’s people are called:

1) Peculiar treasure (v5)

2) Kingdom of priests (v6)

3) Holy nation (v6)

This demonstrates that the New Testament church to whom Peter is writing, in what is modern Turkey, is Israel. Both passages describe the one covenant people of God; hence dispensationalists and Jewish pre-millennialists are in error.

The true Israel of God are:

  1. Catholic (Jew and Gentile)-there were always proselytes alongside Jews in the first century church.
  2. Elect according to foreknowledge (Deut.7:6-8), foreknowledge being God’s sovereign eternal love.
  3. Sanctified-then by animal blood (external and ceremonial cleansing), now by Christ’s blood (internally and in reality)-note both sprinkled as redemption is applied.
  4. The goal is obedience (Ex.19:5, 24:7, I Peter 1:14 and I Peter 3 (wives)).
  5. The N.T. is better as we have definite rebirth and eternal heavenly inheritance (inheritance of land an emphasis in O.T).
  6. Trials (all of life) all to the purpose of purifying our faith (I Peter 1:7)-the Jews manifestly failed on this score e.g. in the wilderness.

But thank God, in Christ, we have the “full package” of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace etc) along with faith and a lively hope through the resurrection of Christ, to whom we are bound eternally.

Consecration of Israel (7)

Sung Psalm 89:29-37

Reading II Corinthians 3:1-18

It is interesting but also illuminating that the Spirit in time and in salvation takes away the vail (Old Covenant of Law or covenant of works v16) from any Jew (or Gentile) and replaces it with an open face beholding Christ in the New Covenant. The Jews made Moses wear that vail because God in Christ was too bright and holy and condemning of them!

The key verse exposing Israel’s breaking of the Old Covenant law is Jeremiah 31:31-34. We know that breaking the covenant is disobeying the commandments (Deut.4:13) not that God ever breaks his covenant (spiritual bond of faith) with any of his elect people (OC or NT). The nation of Israel broke the covenant for centuries through its reprobate majority (Dan.9:5,6) as also Christ’s makes clear in his parable of the vineyard (Matt.21:33ff).

The Law considered apart from the Spirit and Christ, kills people by condemning them (to death). Romans 6:23! But remember that OT faithful believers had the law in their hearts (Psalm 37:31) the promise of Jeremiah was not only prospective but retrospective! Moses and David had faith!

We considered the covenant breaking of Adam (hiding and blaming), Noah (drunkenness and exposure), Abraham (lying, bigamy), David (adultery) and this latter despite the wonderful promises in II Sam.7:16 and I Chron.17:12,13). Yet, even through this breaking of the covenant, God kept his side by causing Christ to be in line of David and Bathsheba!

Israel as a nation is mentioned more than any other covenant recipient as a covenant breaker because as a covenant it concerned so many people and such detailed laws, and this was seen in the secession of the Northern Kingdom and the wickedness of many of the Kings of Judah, all this despite the wonderful promises of Isaiah (chapters 7 and 9 especially), Psalms 2, 45 and 110 all pointing to the eternal Davidic King. The Davidic covenant though later in time, was essentially only broken by one man and as such, his covenant-breaking is not so extensively mentioned in Scripture.

In Psalm 89 we see God’s covenant faithfulness to David (Christ) esp. in vv28-37 along with his subsequent desertion (think cross)/chastisement in vv37-47 and this being also true for every backsliding believer.

The New Covenant is not like the Old Covenant (Jer.31:32,33) in that every true recipient or friend of God has the law written on their heart and the ability, by the Holy Spirit, to keep it! The organic nature of God’s covenant people needs to be kept in mind. The people of God in all ages are a vine or a wheat field when considered as a whole (organic idea) yet there are always dead branches and tares mixed in (they are not all Israel who are of Israel).

A NT verse to sum up todays class might be II Timothy 2:12,13

 

 

 

 

 

Consecration of Israel (6)

 

Covenant Consent

Sung Psalm 103:17-22

Reading Leviticus 26:14-46

In Exodus 24:7 and other places the people of Israel en masse say they will keep God’s covenant/commandments. The covenant presupposes mutual responsibilities (God as father and people as obedient children) and is a reciprocal relationship of friendship where there is loving communication.

We know that neither Israel nor us can keep this covenant perfectly Heidelberg Catechism LD 44 Q114 Only Christ ultimately was able to perfectly keep this covenant but the wonderful truth is that the Holy Spirit who inspired and authored the commandments is the one in us enabling us to aspire to keep them (Phil.2:12,13). To willingly consent to the terms of the covenant is like confessing your faith when joining the church. We are saved to keep the commandments out of gratitude.

Covenant Breaking

The definition of Lev.26:15 shows it is disobedience. Believers may disobey but that does not break the covenant bond. Apostates are professors in the sphere of the covenant, may well have been given the covenant sign (e.g.Esau circumcised, Ananias/Sapphira baptised) but they were never really in the covenant (election governs who is in the covenant) and they never obey/repent.

We discussed the curses of the chapter we read and said that the outward prosperity or health of ANYONE may have no bearing on their spiritual state (Eccles. 9:1,2). We lamented the Pentecostal/charismatic pastors and churches who teach a “health and wealth” gospel and fleecing falsehood and who make themselves out to be above criticism. God curses a nation or individual as punishment to the reprobate and he chastises in love, a nation or individual out of love-both may suffer according to his word but God’s motive differs. Lev.26:44 says God never breaks his covenant with his elect. He knows, in advance, what his unbelieving professing people will do (Deut.31:16,20, Judges 2:1,2, Ezekiel 16:59ff), just as he knows, because he decrees, the good works of his people and rewards them out of pure grace (and knows their sins too (e.g. Peter’s denial).

Acts 9:1-9

Acts 9:1-9

Conversion of Saul

The mention of Damascus proves the gospel had now spread to Syria and this rapid spread had been partly due to persecution.

Saul’s intention was to apprehend believers (believing Jews) and bring them bound to Jerusalem (100 miles) by the authority of the chief priest.

The light that shone around him was from heaven and was a revelation of the glorious body of the risen Christ (like the transfiguration and Christ’s appearing to John in Revelation).

Christ spoke accusing Paul of persecuting himself.

This appearance was important because it was his initial conversion and call to apostleship (an apostle had to have seen and be called by Christ personally). See also Acts 22:5-11, 26:14ff and I Cor.15:9,10.

Saul knew it was the Lord when he declared himself to be Jesus.

To kick against the pricks, a picture from animal husbandry, means to resist Christ and his work either in the conscience or providence or his people.

Initially it appears Paul did not know who spoke and he was seeking instruction regarding his own salvation.

The men with Saul heard the voice but did not really hear it (Isaiah 6:9) and saw the light but “no man”. The revelation and real illumination was only for Paul (II Cor.4:6).

We think Paul was struck blind as a sign of his own blindness and to show God’s power, humble him and then heal him (Deut.28:28, Rev.3:17) Others struck with blindness were the Sodomites (Gen.19:11), the sorcerer Elymas (Acts 13:11)and the syrian soldiers (II Kings 6:18).

Paul did not eat or drink for three days because of the massive spiritual upheaval and probably mourning over his sin and as an aid to prayer.

Saul’s conversion was anything but the norm and truly supernatural and unique because he was to be a special example of grace(I Tim.1:13-15), told how much he would suffer and be specially used by God as a master church builder. It would also become well known as his persecution was (Acts 9:21).

Next study (DV) Saturday April 27th on Acts 9:10-22

 

Consecration of Israel (5)

Covenant with Israel (5)

Sung Psalm 110:1-6

Reading Exodus 19:1-9

We have covered covenant mediator, people, blood, book and now we have:

Covenant Calling

Adam-to look for the seed of the woman, work etc

Noah-multiply, have dominion, carry out capital punishment, eat meat etc

Abraham-circumcision, teach children (Gen.26:5)

Moses/Israel-moral law (Ten Commandments), ceremonial and civil laws.

New Covenant calling-Romans 12, Matthew 5-7, I Peter, practical parts of epistles.

Israel en-masse made a covenant commitment/confession (Ex.19:8, 24:3,4,7) but it was not conditional on their obedience because it is called MY covenant by God and it was established UNILATERALLY when he redeemed them from Egypt. Sadly within a short period they reneged on their confession it and built the golden calf because they are not all (covenant/spiritual) Israel who are of Israel. Only the elect who were truly in covenant fellowship with God would obey him for ever (Ex.19:9) and enter the rest of the promised land (signifying rest in Christ).

We had a wide-ranging discussion about the “common operations” of the Holy Spirit. Biblical facts are that by the Spirit working in irresistible grace we have salvation now and forever. But the Spirit also upholds all things and all people, enabling them to do all their work and play, gives them abilities and good things but also in their impenitence hardens them, sends strong delusion and eventually condemns them to hell. “For from him, to him and through him are all things…” Romans 11:36.

Image of God?

Many believers and influential Christian organisations have a wrong view of what image man bears. They include Answers in Genesis headed by Ken Ham, Christian Concern and the Christian Institute.

CC

Fallen man bears the image of fallen Adam. We are by nature earthy, we are totally depraved and incapable of doing any good. If we say man retains something of the image of God then we say man retains some good and is not totally depraved. Scripture teaches that we are earthy (I Cor.15:49) and have a nature wholly corrupted by sin and in the image of the devil (Psalm 51.John 8:44). This is an image of corruption. The only way of salvation is the be elect in Christ and bear the image of the heavenly second and last Adam (Eph. 4:24) whose righteousness is imputed to us and then you will one day have a spiritual incorruptible body. The image of God is unsullied righteousness NOT rationality, a will, or reason which Satan and his demons also have!

Consecration of Israel (4)

The Covenant Book

Psalm 81:1-8

Exodus 23:24-24:8

The covenant book was what Moses had recently written (v7), previously spoken (v3) and then read.

It’s content was the judgments initially spoken by God and eventually written down in Exodus 20:1 to 23:33. These judgements included the Decalogue. Simply put Exodus 20 is the moral law, chapters 21 and 22 are the civil law and 23 is the ceremonial law. There is no other covenant like this in all Scripture except perhaps I Sam.10:25 but that concerned behaviour in the new kingdom. The moral part of this law is eternal and was written on Adam’s heart pre-fall, in ours post regeneration and stands unchanged till Christ comes again.

Why did God get his word written down? Two probable reasons:

  1. There were more people (over a million)
  2. They were entering the land and would spread out.

Why was the book sprinkled? (Heb.9:19) What does sprinkled blood signify?

Two things:

  1. The sprinkled blood set apart or consecrated objects for divine worship
  2. It signified forgiveness (I Peter 1:2)

Hebrew 9:23 calls the tabernacle and all its accoutrement’s and activities patterns of what happens in heaven, the true tabernacle of God.

 

The Covenant Calling

This was conveyed by the book. Ex.20:1-17 was all moral law except the Sabbath being the seventh day.

Acts 8:26-40

Acts 8:26-40

The Ethiopian Eunuch

Philip was instructed to head towards the desert road leading to Gaza, some forty to fifty miles from Jerusalem. Being a desert there would be little or no water, no people, no sustenance. Then having encountered the man by God’s providence and the sovereign seeking of his lost sheep, he was then instructed to join the courtier in his chariot.

The Ethiopians were descendants of Cush, the son of Ham and were very dark-skinned people among whom there were Jews who traded. It had been part of the Persian empire and at one time fought Israel. It was a heathen people to whom God promised salvation and represented the Gentiles in a number of Scriptures. Gen.10:6-8, II Chron.14:9, Esther 1:1, I Kings 1:10-13, Ps.68:31, Isaiah 11:11,43:3, 45:14, Jer.13:23, 38:10,39:16-18, Amos 9:7. Ethiopia had many Falasha Jews who were transported to Israel when communists deposed their Emperor Haile Selassie. There have been Christians in the nation for centuries but for most of that time their religion has been a dead and corrupt orthodox one.

This man was the queen of Ethiopia’s treasurer, a eunuch and a proselyte Jew travelling to one of the feasts in Jerusalem. He was a stranger who had been circumcised and joined God’s people in worship. Much can be learned about “strangers” in both testaments-the name means non-Jew, foreigner, alien or guest. They were to obey Israel’s laws, be circumcised and treated well. Gen.17:12-14,Ex.12:19,48,49, 20:10, Lev.16:29, Num.15:14,15, 19:14, Deut.10:19, 11:14,29:22, II sam.22:45, I Kings 8:41, Ps.18:44, Is.14:1,56:6, Ezek.44:9, Matt.25:43, Eph.2:19.

We cannot assume he was alone. We know he was in a powerful chariot and likely armed.

The Spirit may have spoken to Philip either audibly or internally (c.f. Elijah)

Philip as the eunuch if he understood what he was reading because everything concerning faith depends on understanding c.f. the good soil in the parable are those who understood.

He was reading Isaiah 53-unsure whether in Greek or Hebrew.

He was reading aloud for his own benefit, or perhaps for anyone with him, because Philip heard him.

The eunuch suspected Philip could help him because the question implied that.

The eunuch’s problem was interpreting the prophecy.

Philip preached Christ, the fulfilment of all O.T. prophecy, who died and rose, poured out his spirit and commands repentance, faith and baptism with water.

The eunuch asked for baptism at the oasis.

The requirement for adult baptism is repentance and faith in Christ as the son of God.

Verse 38 by no means supports baptism by immersion because the prepositions can mean they went down TO the water and came up FROM the water. Implying they both went into the water would mean they were both submersed! Scripture teaches baptism by sprinkling or pouring signifying the sprinkling of Christ’s atoning blood and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon us from above.

The Spirit caused Philip to vanish because his work was done and he had other work to do namely preaching in all the coastal towns as far as Caesarea where he eventually settled (Acts 21:8). He was an evangelist which was an apostolic helper who preached and had miraculous power.

The eunuch went on his way rejoicing in the joy of God and no doubt to be a witness to his countrymen and found an Ethiopian church. Sadly it declined and became apostate within a few centuries.

Next study (DV) April 6th on Acts 9:1-22

 

The Real St.Patrick

New LRF Blog Post


Who Was “St Patrick”?

Posted: 16 Mar 2019 01:21 AM PDT

Patrick was born in the Fourth/Fifth Century in the village of Bannavem Taburniae, probably somewhere in Western Wales or England. His father was Calpornius, a deacon; and his grandfather, Potitus, was a priest or presbyter. Although raised in a Christian home, Patrick, by his own admission “did not know the true God,” when, at the age of sixteen, pirates abducted him and sold him into slavery. Patrick attributes this calamity to the chastisement of God: “deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep his commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation.” Patrick’s captors brought him to Ireland, where he became a shepherd on the lonely Irish hills. In God’s providence and grace, however, Ireland became the place of Patrick’s new birth: “And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God.” The young convert praises God’s “mercy on [his] youth and ignorance,” as well as God’s fatherly care of him: “[He] guarded me and comforted me as would a father his son.” He escaped from Ireland, but later returned to be a missionary to the Irish.

Although claimed by the Roman church as an emissary of the pope, Patrick and the British church were not under the papal yoke, nor would the Irish church be under papal authority until many centuries after Patrick, when in 1155 pope Adrian IV, the only English pope, granted Ireland to King Henry II of England. Typical Roman doctrines such as purgatory and Mariolatry are absent from Patrick’s writings, although there are some areas, such as his citations from the Apocrypha and reliance on dreams as divine guidance, where we would disagree with him theologically. Significantly, Patrick was neither an Arian (a denier of the Trinity) nor a Pelagian (a denier of the efficacy of God’s grace and a proponent of freewill theology) and he quotes repeatedly from the Scriptures, establishing them, and not the Church or the pope, as his authority in doctrine and life.

Patrick’s Trinitarianism is solid, although the legend that has him explaining the Trinity to the pagans of Ireland with the bad analogy of the shamrock is almost certainly spurious, being first mentioned more than one thousand years after Patrick. Patrick writes about Christ, “We declare [him] to have always been with the Father, spiritually and ineffably begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, before all beginning.” Later, Patrick writes, “Christ abideth forever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and the Holy Spirit before time, and now, and in all eternity.”

Patrick’s doctrine of salvation is a powerful confession that God alone is the Saviour through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit by grace alone. The missionary to Ireland never attributes salvation in any part to his good works. Indeed, Patrick begins his confession in these words: “I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful.” He attributes his deliverance from unbelief not to the power of his freewill, but to God: “the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief.” In a beautiful, homely way, he describes his conversion: “before I was humiliated I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and he that is mighty came and in his mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft, and placed me on the top of the wall.”

Having committed his soul to Christ the Saviour, Patrick had personal assurance of eternal life: “On that day without doubt we shall rise in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as sons of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be made conformable to his image, for of him, and by him, and in him we shall reign.”

[All citations are from “St. Patrick’s Confession, one of only two of his extant writings].

Rev.Martyn McGeown, Missionary-Pastor, Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

Consecration of Israel (4)

Israel’s Covenant Consecration

Sung Psalm 50:1-6

Reading Exodus 24

The covenant people

Looking back in Scripture at the progressive revelation of God’s one covenant of grace we start with an enumeration of those with whom God covenanted and we have Adam and Eve (2 people) and eventually their progeny (the seed of the woman) (Gen.3:15). With Noah (Gen.6:18) we have Noah and his family (8 people). Next to enter into covenant were Abraham and his house (approximately 1000 people comprising 318 men and their families) and through him an innumerable seed (Gen.14:14, 15:18). The innumerable seed started with Jacob’s sons and their progeny (70 in Egypt) multiplying to 603,550 men and their dependants (likely 2 million plus) by the time they left that land. These were the twelve tribes or children of Israel with whom God entered covenant through the mediator Moses (Ex.19:6) whom God called a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The New Covenant in Christ covers all the Old Testament saints plus the N.T. saints and comprises billions from every nation, the mediator now being seated at God’s right hand.

The covenant blood

With Adam the blood shed was incidental in God’s clothing of their nakedness. It is likely that Abel’s lamb was sacrificed and blood deliberately spilt or sprinkled. With Noah (Gen.8:20) there was undoubtedly an altar and bloody sacrifice. With Abraham initially with the animals cleaved in two there was no deliberated blood letting (Gen.12:7,8) but there was later in the typical offering of Isaac (the ram providentially substituting for him in Gen.22. With Moses in Ex.20:24 we have an altar with burnt offerings and peace offerings which were offered by fit young men along with Moses who acts as priest and there was more blood requiring basins (chapter 24) and a means of sprinkling. So we can see a clear progression in the use of blood in the covenant which of course culminated in Christ’s atoning death through the better mediator and eternal high priest namely himself (Heb.9:15,18-20). In the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Matt.26, Mark 14, I Cor.11) Christ’s bloody sacrifice is represented in the bread and wine.

 

Baptist theology found wanting!

 

Infant baptism is proved from Scripture not so much by a direct and explicit ‘command’ saying “Infants must be baptised,” or by an explicit ‘example’ in the NT (i.e. “… and the infants were baptized aswell …).

Infant baptism is proved, however, as the Westminster Confession puts it, “by good and necessary consequence” (WCF 1:6). It is “deduced” from Scripture. This, of course, involves getting your thinking cap on in order to see this. (BTW, it is quite interesting that that phrase was left out by the Baptists when they copied their confession from the Westminster. I wonder why … ).

From my own research, I would like to put into my own words how infant baptism can be “deduced” from Holy Writ. Here is a brief overview. You may disagree with some of the premises, but this is the Reformed position:

(1) There is only one people of God throughout Scripture. The church IS Israel. And this can be proved in many ways.

(2) There is only one covenant (a covenant of grace) revealed in Scripture — in the OT it was revealed under types and shadows, in the new, it is unfolded in its fullness. The essence of the covenant is *friendship with God*.

(3) There is only one covenant ‘promise’ (“to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee in their generations”); and that same covenant ‘promise’ is made to the same people all throughout Scripture, namely, “to believers and their seed” (Gen. 17:7 Acts 2:39).

(4) There is only one way of salvation in both OT and NT: namely, salvation in Jesus Christ, by grace, through faith. It was never by works, nor was it ever conditional upon man.

(5) There is only one covenant ‘sign’ in each dispensation. In the OT the sign was circumcision, and in the NT that same sign was replaced by baptism. And what’s more, both circumcision and baptism symbolise the same one spiritual reality, namely, the removal of the body of the sins of the flesh (Col. 2:11-12). Circumcision was never merely an “ethnic marker”; and it was never symbolic of “physical earthly blessings”; what it symbolised was purely *spiritual* things: e.g. the removal of sin, and other things. And water baptism has that very same meaning: the removal of sins by the washing of the Holy Spirit.

(6) Because of this organic continuity and unity all throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, the onus is actually on the BAPTIST (or other anti-Infant Baptists) to show where in the NT that children are now ‘cut off’ or ‘excluded’ from the one covenant of grace. There needs to be an express statement or command saying that. If this can’t be found, then it must be conceded that children of believers are STILL recipients of the covenant promise and therefore are STILL comprehended as being in the covenant.

And because they are comprehended as being included in the covenant, they are candidates for baptism (for baptism is a sign of the covenant).

“For THE PROMISE is unto you (believer) AND TO YOUR CHILDREN” (Acts 2:39). God never promises to be a God unto those who are ‘outside’ of or ‘excluded’ from His covenant. All recipients of His covenant promise are members of the covenant. Therefore because “the promise” is “to your children,” they also must be seen or viewed as covenant children.

Support Felix!

Prayer Alert

Please pray for vital Christian freedom case

Felix Ngole’s case will be heard tomorrow at the Court of Appeal 
Since 2016 the Christian Legal Centre has been supporting Felix Ngole after he was expelled from his social work course at the University of Sheffield. What had he done to deserve such a punishment? On Facebook, outside of course hours, Felix had expressed what the Bible says about marriage and sexuality.

His case, due to be heard tomorrow and Wednesday will have implications for whether the 6 million regulated professionals in the UK truly have freedom of speech.

Watch Felix’s prayer update

“I pray the court will recognise the freedom to express my Christian faith.”

The effect of this decision by the University of Sheffield on Felix and his family has been immense. Yet his faith and trust in Jesus Christ is immovable.

Ahead of proceedings, Felix said: “I pray that the court will recognise the freedom to express my Christian faith. It is chilling that we live in a society where you can share your beliefs on social media and yet you find yourself in trouble when certain people disagree with you.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is backing Felix, said:

“Once again, the freedom to be a committed Christian while holding a professional role is under threat. From magistrates to nurses, teachers to doctors, Christian professionals are increasingly under pressure to hide away their beliefs – to hide away the light of Christ in them, depriving society of the love of Jesus. This is why we urgently ask you to pray for Felix and our team this week.”

Pray for justice

This week we have been encouraged by this passage from the Book of Acts as we prepare for Felix’s case:

His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:40 – 42)

Felix’s courage is an inspiration to us all, and we ask that on Tuesday, wherever you are, that will you stand with him by praying for justice in this case. With this in mind, please pray for:

  • Felix and his wife, Pepsy, that their courage and strength to keep going will inspire Christians across the country and demonstrate to non-Christians what the hope of the gospel means
  • For Paul Diamond, who will be representing Felix in court
  • That universities would uphold freedom of speech
  • For the judges presiding over the case
  • For Andrea Williams and the rest of our legal team as they support Felix and speak about the case
  • For a just result that would protect Christian freedoms
  • That through all of this, the truth of the gospel will be made known in society.

We would like to thank everyone who has already prayed for Felix or sent messages of support. Thanks to you, we were able to give Felix nearly 11,000 words of Christian encouragement this morning.

We will keep you updated as the story develops – could you share Felix’s story with others who could pray?

Preaching and witnessing

“Ye shall be my witnesses” said Christ to his disciples who were divinely appointed preachers of the gospel in whose line every modern-day pastor/teacher stands publicly declaring the good tidings of the evangel or gospel. The words used for preaching and witnessing, by this latter term I mean the private speaking of Biblical truth to one’s neighbour, are evangelize (evangeliso) and proclaim (kerrusso) are used interchangeably, so how do we differentiate, compare and contrast these two activities.

It is clear that those sent to preach publicly and pastor a church or plant a new one are ordained by other elders or pastors in a church and approved of their prospective congregation. The believer who is also a prophet, is also anointed of God to speak the word in private, and along with the pastor to live a godly life which is also a powerful witness to the truth. Because the unbeliever shies away from and detests the preaching in a true instituted church is all the more reason the members have to take it to them in the world. The aim being to bring them to church and into the church. Whatever the means and whoever the speakers, the word itself is the power of God unto salvation and likewise if it is read or listened to in private.

Witnessing also occurs in the context of the local church where pastor or member testifies to God’s truth to those in error or ignorant or backsliding.

Mini Dort Conference

Come and hear the true Gospel as encapsulated in this great synod of the Reformation in the Netherlands 400 years ago:

Check out the upcoming speeches by Prof. Engelsma celebrating the 400th anniversary of the great Synod of Dordt and its statement of God’s sovereign grace in Jesus Christ!

Prof Engelsma

cprf.co.uk
Mini-Conference Saturday, 13 April, 2019 1) The Onset of the Great War:…

Consecration of Israel (3)

Sung Psalm 99:1-7

Reading Exodus 24:1-11

This narrative is about covenant consecration of the people as proven by the words “book of the covenant” and “blood of the covenant”. Hebrews 9:20 confirms this, and the epistle calls it the “first covenant” (synonymous with “old” see Heb. 8) comparing it with the second or new covenant inaugurated by Christ.

Previous scriptural covenants:

  • Adam (Hosea 6:7) pre-fall and post fall (Gen.3:15 which speaks of enmity assuming contrariwise covenant friendship.
  • Noah (also with creation)
  • Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Lev.26:42) Land promised.
  • Moses the mediator who speaks and writes the words of the covenant (Exodus 20-23) meeting God at Sinai and later in the Tabernacle (Num.7:89)
  • David
  • New Covenant. Mediator Christ (Heb.9:15) He speaks for God and as God and for us. I Tim.2:5 and Heidelberg Catechism Lords Day 6.

 

Profanity

 

 

George W. Bethune: “What motive can there be for profanity? It has nothing in it, but a gross, stupid, devil-like contempt of all that good men love or deprecate. I have never heard anyone defend it upon any principle, and the only excuse ever offered is that it has become an unthinking habit, though some have owned themselves so lost to proper feeling that (to use their own expression), it did them good to swear when excited or irritated. ‘An unthinking habit!’ The rapid growth and strength of such a habit is another proof of the enormous sin… No one was ever naturally or without intentional practice a profane swearer. When he first attempted his awkward oath, he started and trembled lest the lightning of God would consume him on the spot,—his lips grew pale as he faltered out the fearful phrase; but soon, emboldened by the divine forbearance, callous from custom, and shameless through practised effrontery, he tosses from his leprous tongue oath after oath still more and more daring, until he scarcely knows when he swears and his conversation teems with insulting defiance of his Maker. ‘Unthinking habit!’ Is it not the privilege and dignity of a man to think? Wretched swearer, is there naught that can serve to supply your dearth of words but the titles of your good and mighty God? Naught to swell your impoverished speech but the judgments that ere long, except you repent, will crush your soul in eternal anguish? ‘Habit!’ Does habit excuse a thief, a liar, a debauchee? Has habit so corrupted your heart and lips, rendered you so familiar with the dialect of the blackguard, the drunkard, and the damned, that you cannot choose but to blaspheme like a lost spirit before your time? O surely, of all fools that mock at sin and at God who avenges himself on the sinner, the profane swearer is the silliest, cheapest, maddest, and nearest to hell! So far from getting the world in exchange for his soul, the swearer asks for his gratuitous condemnation” (Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude: Lectures on the Heidelberg Catechism, vol. 2, pp. 469-470).

Fire-a useful servant but bad master!

“And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” Lev.9:24.
“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.” 10:1,2.
The same fire that confirmed God’s presence and help to his elect people, slew those who were disobedient and reprobate. In the same way God confirms his loving presence to us in answering prayer and opposes and destroys our enemies who do not repent.
 “Observe how jealous God is in matters of worship; how much he dislikes hypocrites, and formal professors; how severe he will be against such who bring in strange doctrines; what will be the fate of the contemners of Gospel doctrines and ordinances; and how much he resents those who trust in themselves, and their works, and bring in anything of their own in the business of salvation, which is strange fire, sparks of their own kindling, a burning incense to their own drag, and sacrificing to their own net.” John Gill.
“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” Luke 12:49

Acts 8:9-25

Simon the sorcerer

Simon was a well-known Samaritan sorcerer who through wizardry deceived the people into thinking he was the power of God (perhaps even the awaited Messiah-John 4).

Sorcery is tapping into evil powers to achieve apparent or real results that are supernatural. e.g. Jannes and Jambres (Exodus 7:11,22,8:18,19, II Tim.3:8), Elymas (Acts 13:8) also Dan.2:2, Rev.18:23).

The act of simony is seeking to buy a church office or role.

Being bewitched means they believed a lie, just as Adam and Eve did and the Galatians (Gal.3:1). It is noteworthy that both false miracles and false teaching are related in this way. The ultimate example will be that of Antichrist (II Thess.2:8-10).

Simon proudly paraded his powers so as to receive acclaim.

The Samaritans listened to him and were under his spell.

We think he was able to do actual miracles which deceived the people like the Egyptians.

The people respected him because he had been plying his trade for years.

Philip, the deacon came preaching the gospel about Christ, his work and his kingdom.

The people believed the gospel in contrast to being bewitched by the lying signs of Simon. Matthew 24:24.

Simon made a profession of faith which by Peter’s analysis was fake.

Philip, using the judgment of charity accepted this and baptized him.

Simon shadowed Philip to see his works just like many Jews in Jesus’ day.

The apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to Samaria to check on this new phenomenon of Samaritans being converted to check up on it.

We believe the Samaritans had received the Spirit in regeneration (I Cor.12:13) but not with signs e.g. tongues because as with Pentecost (Acts 2) and subsequently the gentiles/Cornelius (Acts 10) God wanted this new phase of kingdom expansion to be attested to publicly by witnesses .

The laying on of hands was simultaneous with the outpouring of the Spirit. C.f. Moses and Joshua (Deut.34:9).

Peter and John were not essential for the outpouring of the Spirit because the Ethiopian Eunuch in the same chapter was converted under Philip without them. But the public manifestation with signs following always occurred with apostles present who reported back to Jerusalem.

The sin of Simon is called simony meaning the act of selling church offices or roles.

Simon wanted this ability to enhance his reputation and perhaps make money.

Peter rebuked him in many ways saying his money should perish with him, that he was outside the kingdom, that his heart was not right and that he ought to repent and pray.

Peter was absolutely clear he was not converted or forgiven.

The gall of bitterness was an entrapment in bitter envy. Gall is bile/bile salts, very bitter substance that breaks down fat in our digestion (Deut.29:18, Heb.12:15, Prov.5:22, Matthew 27:34,48, Mark 15:23,36). Christ did not drink the gall/myrrh because it would have stupefied him.

The bond of iniquity was Simon’s perverse thinking of gaining popularity and fame which enslaved him (John 8:34).

Simon’s request for prayer like Esau’s with Jacob and Pharaoh with Moses was merely a token gesture to avoid the consequences of their actions.

We read no more about Simon because the Spirit has told us all we need to learn and it is likely he was reprobate.

The apostles on their way back to Jerusalem (about 40 miles or two days journey) preached in several Samaritan villages.

Next study (DV) Saturday March 16 at 8pm to look at Acts 8:26-40

 

Consecration of the People of Israel

Sung Psalm 103:3-10 note ref. to Moses

Reading Deut. 34:1-12

There were many events and commandments from God that separated the Israelites from all the other nations in Old Testament times–the ten plagues, the Passover, and the passage through the Red Sea could all be included.

Reviewing our studies over the last three years we have covered many topics pointing to this separation or consecration or holiness:

  1. The Holy Land-promised to them.
  2. The Holy Wars-fought to take the land.
  3. The Holy Times-set apart for extended times of worship e.g. the pilgrimage feasts and year of Jubilee.
  4. The Holy Laws and codes-to cover ceremonial uncleanness (Leviticus 11-15).
  5. The Holy Sacrifices-all the offerings (Leviticus 1-7)
  6. The Holy Parties (people)-Israelites, priests and Levites.
  7. The Holy Places-tabernacle and temple.

Taken together the religion of the Pentateuch which includes all of the above constitute Mosaism or the Mosaic worldview or covenant.

All Old Testament history, the wisdom literature and the prophets are based on, and presuppose the Pentateuch and included in these Mosaic writings are the future history of Israel e.g. the kingdom and the Messiah.

Moses was the pre-eminent Old Testament character having unique face to face revelation from encounters with God (over prolonged periods), of his own Messiah (Deut.18:18, Heb.11:24-29), who performed incomparable works and miracles and was Israel’s mediator and called by God “my servant”.

 

The Lord is My Shepherd

 

Verse 1. The Lord [is] my shepherd,…. This is to be understood of Jehovah the Son, to whom it is most frequently ascribed, Genesis 49:24. This office he was called and appointed to by his Father, and which through his condescending grace he undertook to execute, and for which he is abundantly qualified; being omniscient, and so knows all his sheep and their maladies, where to find them, what is their case, and what is to be done for them; and being omnipotent, he can do everything proper for them; and having all power in heaven and in earth, can protect, defend, and save them; and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge being in him, he can guide and direct them in the best manner; wherefore he is called the great shepherd, and the chief shepherd, and the good shepherd. David calls him “my shepherd”; Christ having a right unto him, as he has to all the sheep of God, by virtue of his Father’s gift, his own purchase, and the power of his grace; and as owning him as such, and yielding subjection to him, following him as the sheep of Christ do wheresoever he goes; and also as expressing our faith in him, affection for him, and joy because of him: and from thence comfortably concludes,

I shall not want; not any temporal good thing, as none of Christ’s sheep do, that he in his wisdom sees proper and convenient for them; nor any spiritual good things, since a fulness of them is in him, out of which all their wants are supplied; they cannot want food, for by him they go in and out and find pasture; in him their bread is given them, where they have enough and to spare, and their waters are sure unto them; nor clothing, for he is the Lord their righteousness, and they are clothed with the robe of his righteousness; nor rest, for he is their resting place, in whom they find rest for their souls, and are by him led to waters of rest, as in Psalm 23:2: the sheep are in his hands, out of which none can pluck them, and therefore shall not perish, but have everlasting life, John 10:27.

<!–Psalms 23:2

–> Verse 2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,…. Or “pastures of tender grass” ; this is one part of the shepherd’s work, and which is performed by Christ, Ezekiel 34:14; by these “green pastures” may be meant the covenant of grace, its blessings and promises, where there is delicious feeding; likewise the fulness of grace in Christ, from whence grace for grace is received; also the flesh and blood, righteousness and sacrifice, of Christ, which faith is led unto and lives upon, and is refreshed and invigorated by; to which may be added the doctrines of the Gospel, with which Christ’s under-shepherds feed his lambs and sheep, there being in them milk for babes and meat for strong men; and likewise the ordinances of the Gospel, the goodness and fatness of the Lord’s house, the feast of fat things, and breasts of consolation: here Christ’s sheep are made to “lie down,” denoting their satiety and fulness; they having in these green pastures what is satisfying and replenishing; as also their rest and safety, these being sure dwellings and quiet resting places, even in the noon of temptation and persecution; see Song of Solomon 1:7;
he leadeth me beside the still waters, or “waters of rest and quietness”; not to rapid torrents, which by reason of the noise they make, and the swiftness of their motion, the sheep are frightened, and not able to drink of them; but to still waters, pure and clear, and motionless, or that go softly, like the waters of Shiloah, Isaiah 8:6; and the “leading” to them is in a gentle way, easily, as they are able to bear it; so Jacob led his flock, Genesis 33:14; and Christ leads his, Isaiah 40:11; by these “still waters” may be designed the everlasting love of God, which is like a river, the streams whereof make glad the hearts of his people; these are the waters of the sanctuary, which rise to the ankles, knees, and loins, and are as a broad river to swim in; the pure river of water of life Christ leads his sheep to, and gives them to drink freely of: also communion with God, which the saints pant after, as the hart pants after the water brooks, and Christ gives access unto; moreover he himself is the fountain of gardens, and well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon; and the graces of his Spirit are also as rivers of living water, all which he makes his people partakers of; to which may be added, that the Scriptures, and the truths of the Gospel, are like still, quiet, and refreshing waters to them, and are the waters to which those that are athirst are invited to come, Isaiah 55:1; and in the immortal state Christ will still be a shepherd, and will feed his people, and lead them to fountains of living water, where they shall solace themselves for ever, and shall know no more sorrow and sighing, Revelation 7:17.

Adapted from John Gill’s commentary

Order and authority in church

 

Order and authority in church

I Corinthians 11 is about ordinances which are the sacraments, ceremonies, government, and doctrines of the church that are delivered  to the church from  Jesus Christ through the apostles. The ground of all Paul’s instruction is God’s original creation of Adam and Eve. Where Genesis 2 is denied as history, very soon the order of authority will be overturned in the church especially in the form of having women office-bearers. Marriage, the creation ordinance, is the basis of human society. The society that destroys marriage destroys itself. The structure of authority in marriage and in the church is the same: the headship of the male.

What threatened this order in Corinth was woman removing their veils. The veil was the social symbol of married status and being under authority. The apostle is not specifying head coverings for today! Headship is authority in love. Male and female are equally the objects of grace in Christ (Gal.3:28). A body with two heads is a monstrosity. The married woman’s good in marriage is found in the way of subjection. The husband should examine his headship of his wife over against Christ’s headship of the church and after repenting of his sins consciously pattern himself after Christ’s grace, love, sacrifice (authority over), and tender love for his dear wife, the church. If the wife is under her husband in marriage, she cannot rule him in the offices of the church.

Male headship is of God, established in Eden. Remember Christ too, is under authority. A church that  does not observe this structure of authority cannot glorify God (and does not love God!) Women are not “to wear the pants.” A woman who does this does not walk in love with her husband or in the church, this is an affront to God and the angels. When a woman holds office in the church, Christ is dishonoured, God rebelled against and she is obnoxious. Paul says her head should be shaved as the outward sign of her shocking rebellion. Paul faults the men. Lack of headship in the home. WHERE IS THE HEADSHIP OF THE MALES? Paul finally speaks against contentiousness.  Knowledge and love of the truth is  making God all in all, and this keeps you from being contentious where you make yourself central.

Adapted from “Walking in the way of love” a commentary on I Corinthians by Nathan Langerak.

Available here:  CPRC bookshop

Drink Offering (final)

Drink Offering

Sung Psalm 116:9-19

Reading Numbers 15:1-12

Note that the wine of the drink offering was poured out twice daily after the daily burnt offering and the meal offering. It was also poured out after any and every burnt offering on the occasions outlined in v3 namely annual pilgrimage feast days, a vow or freewill offering, and again after and along with the meal offering. Further-more it was also offered with the peace offering (v8). The difference here is that this sacrifice after the burning of the fat and innards, was eaten signifying fellowship with God.

To summarise what all these offerings typify: As we already said, the burnt offering is the accomplishment of atonement for sin by the complete and perfect sacrifice of the consecrated Christ, burnt up under God’s wrath for us, bringing justification, sanctification and ultimately glorification by his Holy Spirit. As a result, his people offer themselves as meal offerings with joy (drink offering) as they too consecrate themselves to his service.

When were these daily burnt offerings first offered? Answer-Mt. Sinai (Exodus 29:38). The meal and drink offerings offered simultaneously and described in Leviticus 1-7 were also offered with the daily burnt offering but not the other “ordinary” burnt offerings till they had access to more wine and flour in the promised land (Lev.23:10ff, Numbers 15:2)

We guess that the drink offering was poured over the burnt offering and the meal offering, while they were being consumed and none was ever drunk by the people or priests. The drink offering was never offered after the sin or trespass offering perhaps because these were for specific sins requiring confession and reparation.

The fact that the meal offering and drink offering always accompanied the daily burnt offering means that for the Christian there is no real joy without Christ and consecration to him.

In Psalm 116: 13 in connection with Leviticus 7:16 David offers a peace offering, and vows to thank God for his salvation (deliverance from his enemies), witnessing publicly among God’s people and not for pride or ostentation (c.f. Matthew 6:5)

Esther and Mordecai deny the God of Israel.

Significant Silence

This article was written by Rev. Heys and published in the October 15, 1983 issue of the Standard Bearer.

____________________

The second chapter of the book of Esther is very revealing, if one does not approach it with a mind biased by the general notions concerning the principal characters in the book but lets the facts speak for themselves. It reveals nothing but deeds of unbelief both on the part of the Gentiles mentioned, of whom it can be expected, but also of the Jews, who knew the law and the prophets. And while this chapter already is revealing, what follows in the remaining chapters also underscores what we wrote before, namely, that not one of the persons mentioned by name in the book was a believer. Indeed some reveal that they know that there is a God, but without exception all show that they have no faith in God. Let us look carefully at what the one true God makes known to us in this chapter.

King Ahasuerus divorced his wife Vashti and did not so much as claim that it was because of adultery. Nor could he correctly do that. God, therefore, continued to consider her his wife; and all men were required to take that same position. Being an unbeliever, not heeding God’s word that what God joined together no man might put asunder, the king put her out of the palace. Advised by his “wise men” he sought another wife. Note that the “wise men” who accused Vashti of “too much contempt and wrath” proceeded to show contempt for God’s laws and to advise deeds rooted in wrath against God.

Shortly thereafter the king began to miss Vashti and considered restoring her. For we read in Esther 2:1 that the king’s wrath was appeased. And that word appeased is the same word that appears in Genesis 8:1 where we read of the waters of the flood being assuaged. In Esther 7:10 we find it translated as pacified. There we read of the king’s wrath being pacified after Haman was hanged on the gallows he built for Mordecai. What is more, we also read in this verse that he “remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her.” Verse 2 also makes it known that the king revealed that he missed her. For we read that his “wise men” said, “Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king.” They wanted no restoration of Vashti and were aware of the king’s loneliness and regret. Now that alcohol no longer warped his thinking, the king, reviewing in his mind what had happened, and, being sober, felt the loss.

Note that the king remembers “what had been decreed” against her. We do not read, “what he had decreed against her.” It is true that he authorized her debasement and departure from the palace. But the decree had not originated in him. He was furious. He wanted her punished. But he was not ready to punish himself by getting rid of a wife in whom he had such pride, and was to him such a treasure, as is evident from his desire to show off her beauty at the feast. His eagerness for another beautiful wife is plain from the fact that the suggestion of his servants that there be a beauty contest, so he could have another most beautiful wife, is adopted.

Having made all this known to us the chapter introduces Mordecai. Now surely he was not the same Mordecai who is mentioned in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7, and was one of the men who with Zerubbabel led the Jews back to Jerusalem. Some claim, or suggest this, but the somewhat detailed description of his genealogy—as well as all the acts of unbelief which he displays in the book—forbids such a conclusion. He is presented as a descendant of Kish (most likely the father of Israel’s first king) and as from the tribe of Benjamin. It is not important to determine whether this Kish is actually the father of King Saul. What is important is that he is a Benjamite, and thus a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whose youngest son was Benjamin.

In a broad, general sense then we may say that Mordecai was a covenant father, that is, one born among the covenant people that in generations had been taught the law and the prophets, and knew God’s covenant promises. In his eloquent plea which he makes before Esther, Mordecai reveals this to be the case. He speaks of enlargement and deliverance that will arise to the Jews from another quarter, if Esther does not speak to the king (Esther 4:13). Note here his significant silence consisting in this that he does not mention God’s name, when there was a beautiful opportunity to use it, and a time when it was required.

But there are two matters here that must be considered. He is in Shushan long after the Jews had returned to Jerusalem and the promised land. Mordecai’s heart was fixed on the world, and he had no interest in returning to Jerusalem and in worshipping God in his temple. His burning desire to see Esther become queen of a godless nation, and wife of a thoroughly corrupt heathen king, reveals that.

The other matter is that although he was, in that broad sense of the word, a covenant father, of an adopted daughter whose father also was born in and raised up in the covenant sphere, she being the daughter of his own brother, he did not bring this daughter up with covenant instruction. And what those who extol Mordecai and Esther as great heroes of faith disregard completely is that Mordecai does nothing (and that word nothing can be underscored), to keep Esther out of this sinful, immoral beauty contest, is so eager to see her win it, is not at all concerned by the fact that to become the wife of Ahasuerus is a flagrant violation of the seventh commandment, and that in order to get that position he not only instructs her but commands her to turn her back completely upon God’s covenant. Let us look at that a moment more fully.

We will not accuse Mordecai of entering Esther into the wicked contest. We do not read that. We read that the king sent out men to look for fair virgins. Now Mordecai could have tried to hide her, for a time at least, but he makes no attempt. And even as there are ways to accentuate beauty of face and body, so there are ways, if one has a will and a mind to do so, to cover up and play it down. He makes no attempt and spoke no command to Esther to do so. More of this in a moment. But note that “Mordecai walked every day before the court of the woman’s house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.” That cannot mean that he was worried about her spiritual life. It cannot mean that he feared that she would fall into temptation. He knew that she had to spend a night with the king. This was not a sin she might fall into. It was a sin required to obtain the queenship. Mordecai was quite happy to have Esther pass this test of “trial marriage” and “lustful compatibility.” Here too he is completely silent. No warning is given Esther, no command to refuse going in unto the king. In fact, both knew that all this “purifying” of the candidates was with a view to this fornication.

And all this fits in so perfectly with that command of Mordecai that she in no way at any time show that she belonged to the nation that served Jehovah! That is what it means that she must hide her kindred and her people. And that is what Mordecai wanted her to do. Now let me come back to that failure of Mordecai to keep Esther out of the wicked beauty contest. There was a way which he knew would disqualify her. There was a way whereby he could keep her from all that sin. Just let it be known that she is a Benjamite, a Jewess, one whose nation professed to believe in the God Who clearly stated, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and no matter how beautiful of face, the king, if not the king’s men, would have no part in entering her into this beauty contest to be the queen of their land. How, O how, can you exalt a man like this and hold him up as a hero of faith?

Consider that his command to Esther means that she might never pray to Jehovah. And for what would she pray—if she did it secretly on her bed at night in the dark? Would she pray for forgiveness of her sins in which she intended to continue to walk? She was preparing for fornication and had set her face to go that way, at her uncle’s command. Could she sincerely pray for forgiveness of a sin she intended to hold on to until her fleshly ambitions were satisfied?

Not to reveal her kindred and her people meant that Esther had to desecrate the Sabbath so she could be kept on the list of candidates who would commit fornication to be joined to a godless, unbelieving king and be one flesh with him! It meant that she could not confess Jehovah and must not speak one word of faith or hope or love toward him! It meant that, what the three friends of Daniel, and Daniel himself, would not do, she would gladly do, namely, eat and drink things offered up to idols! She was to turn her back upon the Lamb of God and declare by her works that she had no connection with him whatsoever. There was no way in this heathen land and palace of a godless king that she could keep the passover and manifest faith in God’s wrath passing over her because of his Son’s blood.

But let us concentrate for the moment on this father who commands all this of her. And later we will have occasion, the Lord willing, to point out several times when he could have used God’s name, and as a believer most assuredly would have done so. Instead there comes out of his mouth not one word that indicates even a weak faith in him. How dare anyone hold him up before his children as a hero of faith, a man after God’s heart who ought to be emulated and praised for what he did for God’s church

Mordecai was interested in Israel as a nation, but not as the people of God. He was interested in having one of the seed of Abraham in the king’s palace, but he was not interested in having the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob confessed and praised in that palace. Not only did he with interest watch to see whether his daughter would succeed in this immoral night of “sleeping” with the king, he taught her also to break the ninth commandment. O, yes, you can bear false witness by silence. Silence can speak louder than words, as well as actions often speak louder than words. And Mordecai’s unbelief becomes manifest not only in what he did but in what he did not do; in what he said, but also in what he did not, would not, and could not say. Indeed we have significant silence here in this book. A silence that loudly speaks of unbelief?

Consider that in New Testament language what Mordecai commanded Esther was, “In no way, at any time, let anyone think that you are a Christian. Be sure all think you are one with the world. Let your speech be in every way the speech of the world.”

But also in New Testament language take careful note of what Jesus said in Matthew 10:32, 33: “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.” That hold true also for those who teach their children not to confess Christ.

You can extol Mordecai, though he never uses God’s name and forbids his daughter to use it. But the point is that Jesus in no uncertain terms teaches that such he will not confess before his Father in heaven. How terrible that silence is, and what significance it carries!