The fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ

The fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ          A booklet by Rev. Richard Smit      RFPA 2012

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Available here.

 

PURPOSE

Smit makes it clear in his introduction that believers bring forth the fruit because we are united to Christ. The Spirit is the bond and the irresistible source of the fruit. Gal.5:22,23 teach that the fruit is one fruit with nine aspects. Why called fruit? Because it is sweet and delightful both to God and the saints. Smit also exhorts from the same passage, the crucifying of the works of the flesh, daily warfare against lusts and submission to God’s pruning.

“ It is important that we seek in daily prayer that God by his Spirit may work in us the fruit of the Spirit.” This assures us, is vital to the  communion of saints and equips us to bear one another’s burdens.

Each chapter is followed by helpful questions for discussion which could profitably be a group Bible Study.

 

LOVE

The Holy Spirit cultivates and nurtures love by the means of grace, the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments-hence the need to attend a true church. By the living Word, the Spirit cultivates, fertilizes, waters and rigorously prunes us into faithful production of the sweet fruit of love. It is love toward God that delights in the knowledge of him and communion with him. It is also love of the neighbour and the standard is, “as I have loved you.” Unconditional love. His purpose was our salvation. We must address sinners and their offences. Our influence should make them think of their sins and duty to repent.

I would personally add that love in the context of the church is serving others, by showing interest in them, listening to them, teaching and admonishing them,praying for them and  helping in any necessary practical ways.

 

JOY

The new life in Christ is one of spiritual joy. Even the wine of the Lord’s Supper signifies this heavenly joy of gladness in him and with our fellow saints. Christ’s words come to us to give us joy (John15:11, I John 1:4). Even in difficult times we rejoice (Phil.4:4). We need the Spirit to produce this. The world is wrong about how to find real joy-like a fish out of water, all they get is misery and death. Joy is only found in God and within God-ordained boundaries. There is no joy walking in sin. Joy is found in communion and friendship with the Sovereign Lord. It is full of contentment and delights to do his will. True joy is everlasting and victorious, based on the substitutionary atonement of Christ. That is why we need to know the doctrines of the Reformed faith. Joy is also found in the assurance of God’s goodness and love toward us for Christ’s sake (Psalm 21:6).Do you believe you are in Christ blessed  for  ever?  This assurance includes the confidence that we belong to him body and soul. We know God in his being. We delight in God’s handiwork displayed. We rejoice in the man of sorrows whose joy was to do the Father’s will. Christ delights to work in us his beauty and joy  as the author and finisher of our faith. All things are directed and governed by Christ for our sake and through preserving  grace. We lack nothing. He supplies all our needs. We have the privilege of serving him in his church and to spend ourselves for the cause of his kingdom and covenant. By the Spirit we can be joyful in all affliction.

 

PEACE

There is none for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22). They are like the troubled sea, ceaselessly restless and refusing to admit their unrighteousness.  Men are at war with God  and would if they could, destroy him (witness the cross)-their actions testify that hatred of God and the neighbour.

But for God’s people we have John 14:27, Rom.5:1 and Phil.4:6,7. All our sins washed away, peace in reconciliation with our Father, spiritual calm in the midst of calamity because we trust in our God who does all things well and works everything for our good to bless us. Great peace have they that love thy law.

 

LONGSUFFERING

The first three virtues mentioned are inner but the second three are those (perhaps more-JK) evident in dealings with others, especially family and church members.

1. Patience is bearing joyfully and with contentment all the circumstances of our lives especially adversity. Patience is spiritual endurance like that of Job to endure trials and afflictions.  Col.1:11 mentions patience and longsuffering as distinct. Longsuffering  is related to persons in our lives and is bearing peaceably without resentment and retaliation the sins and weaknesses of those near us in family and church even sins against us. Longsuffering leads to gentleness. Chrysostom calls it the queen of virtues (Love is king).

2. Learning to be longsuffering with one’s parents trains a child to be longsuffering to all in authority later in life.

3. Eli was lax in discipline with his sons, not longsuffering. Longsuffering remains a holy virtue set against all sin and falsehood which purposes salvation.

4. God is longsuffering to all his elect-he wills their eternal salvation and does not hold our sins against us. When we are longsuffering we react to afflictions, temptations and suffering as a result of the sins of others in a Christ-like way. 1 Peter 2:23,24. It does not retaliate. Just as God does not in justice destroy us but deals with us in mercy so it is the ability to be slow to anger and wrath and ready to forgive. Longsuffering leaves judgement to God. An example was Moses and the rebellion of Miriam-he left it to God. It does not mean however we tolerate sin and turn a blind eye to it especially if the Lord’s name is taken in vain.

 

GENTLENESS

Gentleness is kindness. Luke 6:35 -God is kind even to the unthankful and evil. We are to be kind to neighbours as God is kind to us Eph.2:7. Examples are the woman caught in adultery and Peter in the courtyard. The aim of kindness is often to bring someone to repentance. Christ in kindness received the infants and we do so in baptism Is.40:11. God is kind to his children Where there is love to Christ in a life there will be gentleness toward one another Col.3:12. This kindness  should be unconditional and constant.

Kindness is righteous with a call to forsake sin (woman caught). The opposite is cruelty, harshness, retaliation and bitterness. Kindness does not react angrily to perceived slights or slowness. It is treating family and brethren patiently, serving them. The love of the Spirit of Christ ought to issue in gentleness and kindness. Expect cruelty from the world.

 

GOODNESS

Moral purity and purpose to advance God’s kingdom. Acts that have a proper and honourable purpose with respect to God.The fruit of the spirit  is essentially one. Love for neighbour means we will be good to him. It involves the desire for the everlasting happiness of others. We should want to be remembered as one who did good to others. God is abundant in goodness (Ex.34:6). Goodness is the spiritual health and wholesomeness of the sanctified and godly believer. Goodness also describes the purposes of the believer’s actions as God-centred and heavenly orientated. The creation of all things was good because the purpose of them is to glorify Jehovah.

1.God is good (Psalm 25:8) so we are to thank him for our salvation and his provision of everything material and spiritual and that all things are working for our good (Rom.8:28) even  the destruction of the wicked. Christ is the Good Shepherd (John 10:4) always seeking our everlasting good. As imitators of God (Eph.5:1) we are to display goodness to others because we are united to Christ and this will help  our assurance to grow (III John 11). Examples of God’s goodness-Christ, redemption, prophets, apostles, Scripture, judgment day and glory.

2.Doing good is a witness Matthew 5:16).  Goodness may mean rebuke and admonition aiming at the others restoration and the glory of God (Rom.15:14). Goodness means self–sacrifice and denying our own will. Edifying speech is good (Eph.4:29). Goodness is the virtue of a godly wife (Prov.31:11,12). Goodness leads to a happy life (I Peter 3:10, 11). What would you be remembered for?  Sporting prowess?  It ought to be our goodness toward others, even our enemies, to the intent that they come to enjoy our only comfort in Christ. Doing good is never easy because of our sin and selfishness.

 

FAITHFULNESS

This is loyalty to the Father and Son and being loyal, reliable and dependable towards others who we must serve. Faithfulness to the Father will mean faithfulness in church, marriage, work or school. Christ was faithful in life, faithful especially in going all the way to the cross, faithful in executing God’s decree, faithful as an intercessor. His faithfulness is vital to us as he continues to execute God’s counsel and covenant faithfulness toward us.

1. For holy marriage and any godly friendship, faithfulness ie constant love, commitment, forgiveness and prayerfulness is vital. It means a consistent cleaving to that person, open communication and mutual service.

2. Faithfulness is especially important for church members and office bearers in the church when members stray and need brought back.

3. God’s faithfulness inspires us because despite our unfaithfulness he abides faithful, indeed we depend on God’s faithfulness toward us (I Thess.5:24,II Tim.2:13, I John 1:9).

Israel was unfaithful, something God hates and he had to punish them (Psalm 78:58-64). We must hate unfaithfulness to Christ, disloyalty to God’s truth etc. Rev.2:10 calls us to be faithful even unto death. Christ is the faithful and true witness of Revelation. Living out of God’s truth daily, praying on the basis of his promises and labouring daily though faith in Christ alone is the way of faithfulness. I would add here, ” He that is faithful in little is faithful also in much.” If you cannot be faithful with your money how can God entrust you with spiritual riches? Luke 16:10,11. Faithfulness labours and by God’s grace raises godly children. Faithful office bearers strengthen a congregation. Faithful spouses lead stable, God-glorifying homes.

4. A faithful believer will receive the crown of life and Christ’s ” Well done”.

 

MEEKNESS

1. Meekness is bearing suffering and wrong patiently ands sins against you. It is especially required in restoring a backslidden brother.

2. Humility is a state of mind and lowliness before God shown in a willingness to serve others, even in the lowliest of jobs and exemplified par excellence by Christ who went all the way to the humiliation and service of the cross (Phil.2:3-8).

Humility is a right assessment of self in the light of Scripture (Romans 12:3). Our true worth is our standing in Christ totally apart from our works, achievements and our calling.

3. Humility or meekness is a vital fruit of the Spirit nurtured by the faithful preaching of God’s sovereign grace (Psalm 22:25,26 and  Canons Head 1 art 13). Moses, John the Baptist and Paul were marked by meekness.  Rev. Smit states that selfishness is the enemy of humility because it seeks its own name and glory, not God’s. The opposite of humility is vainglory or pride, seeking the honour and praise of men. Pride may be manifest in ways we may not initially associate with it as in refusing to turn away from false teaching, walking in wickedness, committing offences against others, being discontent with one’s station or gifting, self-pity in affliction and thinking we are better than others. Phil.2:3 describes meekness as ‘lowliness of mind’, that is, how we view ourselves before God and others, based on a true recognition of our creature-hood and sinfulness, we esteem others better than ourselves and that our all is in Christ alone who was ‘meek and lowly’ (Matthew 11:29).Meek ones serve others, care about them, so as to seek their spiritual good, speak up in ministry to them and pray for them. One result is peace (Psalm 37:11) and eventually they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). It will speak up when God’s glory or truth is besmirched.

4. Humility is shown in prayerful dependence upon God and submission to oversight.

There is an excellent book on Humility by Andrew Murray which can be read here.

 

TEMPERANCE

This is also called self-control or self-discipline but in reality it is the spiritual ability to be governed willingly by Christ’s word and Spirit. It involves self-denial. As prophets, priests and kings it is the exercise of this latter calling, the kingly strength to be master over oneself and not let oneself become a slave to whim, uncontrolled passions, the deceitfulness of riches, carnal lusts or peer pressure. It is one of the qualities necessary of an elder (Titus 1:8). Temperance is vital for the worldly athlete and even more so for the faithful Christian (I Cor.9:24-27). The apostle explains that it was necessary for him to be so governed in all areas of his life that he could be effective in his work for the welfare of the church.

 

CONCLUSION

1. Affliction and suffering may effectively cause us to bear more fruit as they are a form of pruning which actually cause the budding of fruit as the Christlike response eg to persecution that leads to meekness and joy.

2.Covenant youth must be taught about it, exhorted to bring it forth and shown it by their parents and elders.

3.Fruit in others is attractive and should be imitated. Bearing this fruit especially patience and love will foster friendship and fellowship.

4. True freedom for the believer is being filled with the fruit of the Spirit, which will only happen in glory. It is not the world’s idea of happiness and freedom by fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.

5. What proof have we that we will bear this fruit?

a) The Spirit is the guarantee (down payment).

b) The resurrection of Christ and our union with him.

c) The promises of Scripture eg II Peter 1:3

John 15:1-8 and 16. I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

 

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Search me and lead me.

 

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Psalm139:23,24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Search me.

“Realizing that his trial of himself is very imperfect, considering that in the depth of his heart there are other wicked ways of which he is not even conscious, he implores the Most High for more light, for more thorough searching of the heart, for a clearer and more penetrating exposure of the hidden sins within.” This is the boldness of faith because the psalmist is confident that he will not come into condemnation because, “There in the darkness of desolation, (his Saviour) too cried ‘Search me’ and see if there be in me, as I offer myself a sacrifice for the sins of my people, any wicked way. He was answered in the resurrection. No wicked way was found in him.” And we are forever justified in him.

And lead me.

How can faith ever be satisfied with forgiveness alone?  How can it ever rest until perfectly delivered to be like him and dwell in his tabernacle forever and see him face to face?

“Hence see if there is any wicked way in me-the way of an idol, the secret inclination to follow after vanity, to deny the living God, to serve the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Discover the evil tendency in me, not merely so that I may have forgiveness, but that I may know the evil, fight it, and be delivered from it by grace. And lead me in the way everlasting. The way of the righteousness of Christ.”

Quotes and abridgments from “All glory” by Herman Hoeksema

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Spirals

God’s universe is full of order and pattern.

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Daniel Stephen Courney's photo.
Daniel Stephen Courney's photo.
Daniel Stephen Courney's photo.
Daniel Stephen Courney's photo.
Daniel Stephen Courney's photo.

Carl Pagan (sorry, Sagan) amassed billions of dollars in US tax-payer funding to build a fleet of massive radio telescopes in northern California (the Allen Telescope Array) for his Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence (SETI) institute, in an attempt to establish first contact with an alien intelligence and prove we are not alone in the universe, all the while rejecting the notion of the God of the Bible. Atheists and agnostics, claiming to be wise (famous roboticist and atheist Isaac Asimov once narcissistically boasted that he only met two men with am intellect greater than his, one of them being Carl Sagan) prove to be fools, as intelligence pervades the observable universe. But Romans 1 explains how they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18-20), and Peter says that scoffers are willingly ignorant (the root of the word ignorant being ignore; 2 Peter 3:5 KJV)

A vivisection of the nautilus fish lucidly demonstrates the 4th century BC Alexandrian Greek Euclid’s “golden ratio” (1.61803398875): the quotient of a shell compartment divided by its successively smaller compartment is this ratio (hence the “golden spiral”), forming the Fibonacci sequence (in combinatorics, a sequence of numbers formed by adding the previous pair of numbers in the series starting with 0 and 1, i.e. 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 ad infinitum). This ratio and sequence are ubiquitous in nature, from the golden spirals formed by hurricanes and spiral galaxies, to pauses in music, as well as to the proportions of the bones of our hands and arms (the distal, intermediate, and proximal phalanges and the metacarpals in your hands each create a golden section relative to each other, as does the ratio of your forearm to your hand, to cite a few anatomical examples). The golden ratio being aesthetically pleasing has inspired men to attempt to duplicate and is thus found in much of ancient art and architecture, such as the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Greek Parthenon, Leonardo Da Vinci’s De Divina Proportione (On the Divine Proportion). This universe is filled with beauty if only men had eyes to see it. May God open your eyes to see the beauty of His design so that you would fall down in repentance for your sins and in worship and adoration of His infinite intellect.

Hair

CONSIDER THE CREATION-every part of it teaches something  about its Creator.

 

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As I looked at all the references to hair in Scripture it immediately became obvious that God has a multitude of lessons to teach us from this covering on the top of our heads! In this article my purpose is to share what Biblical lessons we can learn from the subject, and at the same time share some of the creative wonder of this material which to some extent is all over our body but especially noticeable and thick, on top. I want to acknowledge material from an article by Dr David Menton, Ph.D.in July 4, 2007 issue of ‘Answers in Genesis’ as the source of the biological facts quoted. He states ‘A human hair is so complex that man will never fully understand it.’ Well that is something few of us recognise. Hair is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible. I will be mentioning most, but not all of these references. I guess the most famous and most comforting verse concerning human hair is Matthew 10:30 where our Lord Jesus Christ says he knows the number of hairs on our heads and alongside that Luke 21:18 where he says not one of them will perish ie be destroyed (in hell). The hair falling to earth probably symbolise harm and death as when David reassured the woman of Tekoa in II Samuel 14:11 regarding her surviving son and Paul his fellow sailors in Acts 27:34. The first reference we have to hair is in Genesis 25:25 where Esau is described as one covered with red hair even as a baby, later this redness gave us the name of his descendants, the Edomites.

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Later in Genesis 42:38 old Jacob fears that his sons,” shall bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave”, this would happen he feared if he lost another son after having already, he thought, lost Joseph.  Then we read in Exodus 25:4 and 26:7 that goat’s hair is one of the coverings of the tabernacle and shortly thereafter in relation to the laws concerning leprosy the priest was to see if any hairs had turned white in making a diagnosis of a skin disease. It appears that a change in colour to a white or yellow hair was a bad sign. We here also have the first reference to baldness in Lev.13:40 which as we all know, is generally confined to the male sex and usually as they get older! Interestingly you never lose hair follicles they just change to produce tiny hairs that are invisible when people go bald! If a leper was healed he had to shave and wash all over and offer sacrifices for his cleansing (Lev.14:9). Hair standing on end is the body’s response to fear or fright and this happened to one of Job’s ‘comforters’ Eliphaz, in Job 4:15  when he experienced a frightening vision in the night. This incidentally was to teach him a very important lesson that God alone is just, pure and true (vv17-19). The OT word for hair is SAAR which is from the root of a word meaning fear (when your hairs stand on end!) In Deuteronomy we come across the Nazarite vow (Deut.6:5, 6) where a man had to let his hair grow all his life as a sign of his consecration to God like Samson. John the Baptist who was a Nazarite (Luke 1:15) and the last Old Testament prophet who came in the spirit and power of Elijah who happened to also be a hairy man (II Kings 1:8). How many hairs are there on an average head? Answer about 100,000.  God knows! (Matt.10:30) Which is just one instance of his amazing omniscience and care of his people.  David felt that the number of his enemies and the troubles that beset him were as many as his hairs (Psalm 40:2 and 69:4).  Hair grows from tube-like depressions in the skin called hair follicles. The hair shaft is formed from living cells deep in the follicle. These fragile living cells subsequently die to form the remarkably strong fibre we call a hair. The same follicle is capable of producing more than one type of hair during the course of our lives. The hair needs to be locked inside the hair follicle to prevent it from being easily pulled out. Without a “hair lock,” hair loss would likely prove fatal for most mammals.   Growth-1figure-3-a-tn

Pulling your hair out is painful, and a sign of extreme exasperation and anger and this was true of Ezra in Ezra 9:3! What is more it was a punishment meted out by Nehemiah in Nehemiah 13:25 to those who had married foreign wives, which is always a serious offence and warned against in both testaments and notably by Paul in II Cor.6:14! Hair is a covering on the head, given to men and women and a thing of beauty and adornment, especially, but not exclusively, in women (Song of Solomon 4:1, 7:5). The female lover of Solomon praises her husband’s hair in chapter 6:5. For a woman to lose her hair is a disaster and this was one of the punishments God would send on the proud women of Israel (Isaiah 3:24). Presumably they were to be shaved in captivity or they cut it in mourning for their killed husbands. Cutting off the hair was definitely a sign of mourning (Jeremiah 7:29). A woman with a shaved head in the first century was a prostitute. The picture of being shaven is used by God as a metaphor of the destruction he would bring on Israel by the Assyrians in Isaiah 7:20. Remember the shame felt by David’s messengers sent to Hanun who had half their hair and beards shaved off! (II Samuel 10). Ezekiel was told to shave himself and what he did to his hairs in burning, scattering and cutting them was a picture of Israel’s fate (Ezekiel 5:1-5). Some people today will have their heads shaved for charity. Paul had his shaved for a vow in Acts 18:18. We have no idea what the vow was but it was no doubt, a sign to others of a promise made to God. The New Testament word for hair is TRICHOS or THRIX from which we get many words eg trichology, the study of hair.     download (17)

Grey hair has always been associated with age and in Isaiah 64:6 the Lord promises to carry us up to and through this late period in our lives, which is a great comfort as we all get weak and subject often to sickness and difficulties in mobility. How fast do hairs grow? Answer-just over a centimetre a month, which is 15 cm or 6 inches a year. Animal hairs are shed so they don’t need a barber. Nebuchadnezzar, lacking a regular haircut for seven years, when having been stricken with madness, he was driven from his kingship, ended up grazing like a cow and grew hair like eagles feathers-he must have been a sight! His barber must have despaired when he regained his senses and headed for his needed makeover! Skins with hairs have been a covering for mankind for millennia, think of our first parents in Eden for whom God prepared animal skins and John the Baptist who was clothed with camel’s hair, which would have been unusual in his day. Today the Eskimos especially use animal fur which has a very high ‘tog’ value to keep them warm. It must be said that our hair does little to keep us warm apart from our heads. Thinking back to not a hair of our heads perishing we ought to remember the three brave Hebrews in Daniel 3 who when they were thrown into the furnace met a theophany, namely the pre-incarnate Christ who kept his word of promise in Isaiah 43:4 and none of their hairs were singed. We have a beautiful scene in Luke 7:38-44 when a converted prostitute, a notorious sinner, wept tears on Christ’s feet and dried them with her hair before anointing them with ointment. In a similar incident later in Christ’s life during passion week Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ sister, anointed her Lord’s feet with expensive perfume and then wiped them with her hair (John 12:3).From a beautiful scene of love and devotion we turn to one of hatred and despite, the worst case in Scripture of hair being plucked out of someone’s beard, which happened to our Lord in the courtyard of Pilate’s palace at the hands of his tormentors, presumably by the soldiers (Isaiah 50:6, Mark 15:19). When we come to the epistles of Paul we have clear teaching that hair is given as a covering particularly to women and long hair on a woman is a thing of beauty and when coupled with a covering of some kind, is a symbol of submission under male headship and something that the angels view with approval (I Cor.11:5-16). At the same time Paul says that long hair is shameful on a man. What a woman does with her hair is important-it should not be elaborately coiffured to draw attention to her, as would lots of gold and jewellery (I Tim.2:9 and I Peter 3:2). Finally in Revelation we have the glorified Christ appearing to John as having hair white as wool (Rev.1:14) and then the menacing ‘harpie-like’ locusts which have the face of men, long hair like women and teeth like lions, a picture I believe, of demons that torment men (Rev.9:8).   To recap the main lessons:

  1. Hair reminds us of God’s loving care and protection for His people.
  2. His knowledge of the numbers of our hairs shows his omniscience.
  3. God promises to guide us to old age and grey hairs.
  4. We are eternally grateful for the amazing grace of Christ our Saviour who allowed his own hairs to be plucked from his cheeks as he endured taunting, torment, and then death for our sins.
  5. We should follow the example of the two women in the New Testament in their loving and costly devotion to their Lord.
  6. The length of our hair should be commensurate with our sex and not  ornately sculptured with the aim of ostentation and pride.

Hair is a very visible sign of God’s knowledge and care of us.

CPRC Mens’ Bible Study Ezra booklet

Chapter  four       Beginning to build

 

 BUILD

 

Recapping: We have seen the decree of Cyrus, the return of the remnant and now the work of rebuilding the destroyed temple begins.

Reading  Ezra 3:8-14

This rebuilding of the temple is typical of restoration of fellowship with God. It is worth noting that many of the large foundation stones of Solomon’s temple would be able to be used and so the ‘foundation’ mentioned here is really the first stones on top of what remained of the original.

The church is the building of God (I Cor.3:8-16, I Peter 2:2-4, Eph.2:19-22 and 4:11,16)

What needs rebuilt and restored?  Answer-The church and this is the interpretation of Amos 9:11 in Acts 15:16 which refers to the time of Ezra and the NT church.

What needs rebuilt?

1)      Not the foundation! Christ the chief cornerstone is laid already (Psalm 118, Col.2:7) as is the foundation of the apostles and prophets ( Rev.21:14, I Cor. 3:10)in the Scriptures.

2)      There are important blocks set into the building consisting pastor/teachers, elders, deacons but all members are blocks. There need to be other blocks added till the building is complete and these need tied in to the existing blocks.

The ties between the blocks (cement) or in the body metaphor, the ligaments, are important. Ministry to each other in encouragement is vital eg Barnabas  Acts 4:36, also admonition (Romans 15:14) and all the other ‘one another’ verses eg love, bear burdens, comfort (Jude 20).

3)      Note we are joined to specific other blocks in our local church but also to others in the worldwide church.

 

The Old Testament Psalms are replete with references to the temple or house of God and they contain many spiritual lessons.

Psalm 15 and 24..… we need clean hands and a pure heart to go up to it and benefit.

Psalm 48…..It is where God dwells, his lovingkindness is known, she has defences (the creeds) and these are to be told to the generation to come (catechism classes).

Psalm 73….. it is the place we understand God’s judgement and where we place our confidence in him and his promises.

Psalm 84…..it is a place we should long for, a place of blessing.

Psalm 122….. We should be glad going to it, God compacts it together, provides leadership and unity is vital.

Psalm 127…..The Lord Jesus Christ builds his church (Matthew 16:18, Heb.3:4,11:10) and children are important in that building (Luke 18:16).

Psalm 134….. it should be a place of prayer.

Psalm 137…..it should be our chief joy.

These are wonderful truths-if you find more references to the church in the Psalms mail them to me for addition.

The application of David’s desire to be a doorkeeper in the temple rather than dwell in the tents of wickedness is  that we ought to be glad of even the most menial task in the church-cleaning it, or gritting the icy parking lot, than to be unsaved in the wicked world.

 

In Ezra’s day the priests and Levites led and the people followed (Haggai 1:14). Today the eldership lead churches (I Thess.5:12, Eph. 4, Acts 20:28). They must lead by example with caring supervision and good order ( I Cor.14:40). Their qualifications are detailed in I Timothy and Titus. They need encouraged (the word for leader or choir director is Chief Musician, to whom many of the Psalms were directed).

 

Everyone in the church is involved in the building (gathering God’s elect). The apostles and their successors, church pastors (Matthew 28:18-20), the members (I Thess. 2:8, Acts 1:8- the 120, John 13:34,35, Matt.5:16, Eph.4:12,16.2:21). We must all work. Leaders need to know their gifts and the members , delegate, teachers preach, and  people need to witness and be available.

 

The power and inspiration then, as today, is the Holy Spirit (Zech.6:10-13), had he not stirred up the elect in Babylon, none would have returned to build.

 

The people had daily choirs taking turns, trumpets and cymbals. They  sang Psalms specifically Psalm 136 (Ezra 3:10) and they shouted. They were fulfilling Jeremiah 33:8-11.

 

What hinders us from heartfelt praise?  Answer-self absorption, worldliness and apathy; rather that the great task and all-absorbing ambition to glorify God. The prodigal’s elder brother, elect and brought up believing and worthy of a double portion of inheritance, exhibited envy and selfishness rather  that thankfulness for the return (conversion) of his brother.

 

Spontaneous versus obedient, well-ordered praise? I Cor.14:40, Isaiah 33:10. We believe in the latter.

 

The rebuilt temple was small (Haggai 2:3 and Zech.4:10) but mind you Herod’s temple was very grand.

Perhaps God wanted to point his people away from an earthly temple to a heavenly one.

 

Sources of discouragement are: personal weakness, vain lives, doubts, lack of fruit/growth, schism, persecution, lack of zeal in others for Bible study etc, lack of openly sharing and praying for each other, few visitors, nothing happening among friends and family.

 

What does this make us cry out for?

We are back to the beginning of the study….. unless the LORD builds the house…only God can add to it, mature the bricks and compact them together.

 

WE NEED TO PRAY!

  1. For God to move-give opportunities, give us boldness, open doors to witness, bring people into our lives and to church.
  2. We need to encourage one another.

 

The prophets Haggai and Zechariah help us:  Hag.1:9 challenges us to God-centred  rather than self-centred living.

Zech.1:16, 4:8,9. God is with us and promises that Christ (Zerubbabel) will finish the rebuilding

( Hag.2:9).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orthodox eschatology

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    “I believe in the life everlasting” is part of the Apostles creed which is orthodox doctrine. That life everlasting we have now (John 5:24, I John 5:11,12) and it is conferred by the Spirit of life in us-by it we are resurrected in Christ at regeneration never to die. That life is not interrupted by a period when our body is dead and our souls sleep-it is conscious life forever.To be orthodox we need to believe all this. Heidleberg Catechism LD 23 Q/A 59.
  •  “He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead ” is also Apostles creed and orthodox doctrine. Expanded in Heidleberg Catechism LD 19 Q/A 52 “that I with uplifted head I look for the very same person, who before offered himself for my sake, to the tribunal of God, and has removed all curse from me, to come as judge from heaven: who shall cast all his and my enemies into everlasting condemnation, but shall translate me with all his chosen ones to himself, into heavenly joys and glory.” Thus the orthodox creeds only teach one coming of Christ at the end of the world and no ” millennial” earthly reign. Acts3:20 “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

Joy

 

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The new life in Christ is one of spiritual joy. Even the wine of the Lord’s Supper signifies this heavenly joy of gladness in him and with our fellow saints. Christ’s words come to us to give us joy (John15:11, I John 1:4). Even in difficult times we rejoice (Phil.4:4). We need the Spirit to produce this. The world is wrong about how to find real joy-like a fish out of water, all they get is misery and death. Joy is only found in God and within God-ordained boundaries. There is no joy walking in sin. Joy is found in communion and friendship with the Sovereign Lord. It is full of contentment and delights to do his will. True joy is everlasting and victorious, based on the substitutionary atonement of Christ. That is why we need to know the doctrines of the Reformed faith. Joy is also found in the assurance of God’s goodness and love toward us for Christ’s sakes (Psalm 21:6).Do you believe you are in Christ blessed  for  ever?  This assurance includes the confidence that we belong to him body and soul. We know God in his being. We delight in God’s handiwork displayed. We rejoice in the man of sorrows whose joy was to do the Father’s will. Christ delights to work in us his beauty and joy  as the author and finisher of our faith. All things are directed and governed by Christ for our sake and through preserving  grace. We lack nothing. He supplies all our needs. We have the privilege of serving him in his church and to spend ourselves for the cause of his kingdom and covenant. By the Spirit we can be joyful in all affliction.

The Gospel (2) The Promise

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Abraham believed the promise.

According to Herman Hoeksema the Gospel, as described in his booklet of the same name is the fulfillment of covenant promises that God gave His people from the dawn of creation.

I find this a very helpful way to view the gospel because it does not just home in on the cross, which of course is central, but it encompasses the whole swathe of Biblical history and revelation of God.

1. He promised to put enmity between the seed of Eve and the seed of the serpent and send a Saviour who would bruise the serpent’s head (a fatal blow)-this is Christ. Gen.3:15

2. He promised that through Abraham, and his seed, all the nations would be blessed-this is Christ who is the fulfillment of the promise and also the chief recipient. Gen. 17:7, Acts 13:32, 26:6, Romans 4:16, Gal.3:8, 16,18.

3. He promised Moses to send a Prophet to whom we must listen-this is Christ. Deut. 18:18, Heb.11: 13, 39.

4. He promised David that the Messiah would be from his seed. I Chronicles 17:11-13, 22:10, Acts 13:22,23.

4. He promised to cause a virgin to conceive a son who would be divine, send His servant and messenger of the covenant who would see the travail of His soul and be satisfied-this is Christ. Isaiah 9:6, Chapters 42, 52, 53,61.

5. He promised to send His Spirit given to Him at the ascension, who would give His people new hearts, circumcise them spiritually, and confer gifts upon them-This is the Spirit of the ascended Christ. Deut. 30:6, Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4, 2:33, Gal.3:14, Eph. 1:13, I Tim.4:8.

6. He promised His people in all ages a land, an inheritance, life everlasting-this is glory, this is where Christ is gone as our forerunner. Isaiah 66:22,II Tim.1:1, Hebrews 6:17-20, 9:15, 10:36, 11:9,10, I John 2:25.

7. He promises through this gospel to forgive and save with an everlasting salvation all who come to Him in repentance and faith. Acts 2:38, 16:31.

8. He promises to come again to take all His people to be with Himself. II Peter 3:4, John 14:3.

This is the gospel.

to recap: the promise is….1) To send Christ. 2) to send the Spirit. 3) to save the elect. 4) to take them to glory.

It is the covenant promise or formula worked out…. I will be your God and you shall be my people.

The covenant conceived in eternity past and the Mediator is appointed. He is sent as the propitiation for the sins of His people and then exalted to heaven as their forerunner. He then, by His Spirit applies the benefits of the covenant to them. He consummates the covenant (marriage) at the end of the world.

The Gospel (1) Can I say Christ died for you?

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Probably you have been told at some time or other that God loves you and that Christ died for you. You may then have even decided that things cannot be so bad. True, the Bible talks about punishment for all those who do not believe in Christ, but if God loves everyone and if Christ died for everyone, then there really is no need to worry, is there?

Did you know that it is not necessarily true that Christ died for you? The Bible teaches very clearly that Christ did not die for everyone, but only for those who were given to Him by His heavenly Father (e.g., John 10:11; Ephesians 5:25).

When Christ died on the cross some two thousand years ago, He died to pay for the sins of those whom His Father had given Him. He took their place and died because He was suffering the punishment for their sins.

That means that if Christ died for you, all your sins are taken away and there is no reason any more for God to be angry with you or to punish you. It would be wonderful to know that, would it not?

But if Christ did not die for you, then there is no hope for you. Then you are doomed to suffer the punishment for your own sin. The story of how Jesus suffered and died will show you what that means. He was left in darkness and was forsaken of God. So will you be punished by God forever if Jesus Christ did not die for you.

Perhaps you do not realize what a terrible thing that is. The Bible says that the punishment for sin is both eternal darkness and fire that is never quenched. It is to be hated by God forever and to be thrown out of His presence (Matthew 13:49-50; 25:30, 46).

The only way of being delivered from such punishment is by the death of Jesus on the cross. Only if Jesus suffered your punishment will you be saved from it.

But how do you know whether or not Christ died for you? How does anyone know?

There are three things that will be true if Christ died for you.

First, you will see that you are a sinner and will be sorry before God for all the iniquities that you have committed against Him and against others. The Bible calls this repentance.

Second, you will want Jesus to be your Saviour and, by the grace of God, will trust in Him. You will believe that He is the Son of God, that He did die for sins, and (most wonderful of all) that he died for you too!

Third, you will seek to live a new life of obedience to the Triune God—a life that shows true thankfulness to Him for such wonderful salvation.

The Bible, therefore, commands you and every one else to repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ, and insists that you obey God, not your wishes, in all things.

We would like you to think about these words from the Bible:

“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:17-18).

http://www.cprf.co.uk/pamphlets/didChristdieforyou.htm