HOSEA

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1.Background

The Major (writing) Prophets (who wrote long books) Isaiah (J), Jeremiah (J/E), Ezekiel(B) and Daniel(B/MP) were all from Judah in the Southern Kingdom. Where they prophesied: J=Judah, E=Egypt, B=Babylon and MP=Medo-Persian empire.

Among the Old Testament prophets of which we will name 20 we have:  The Minor (writing) Prophets (who wrote shorter books) of which three  prophesied in Israel, the Northern Kingdom namely Hosea, Amos and Jonah. There are other non-writing prophets to Israel namely Elijah, Elisha, Ahijah and Micaiah.

All the rest namely Joel, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi prophesied in Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Of the three who prophesied in Israel Amos was actually from Tekoa in Judah, Jonah was from Gath-hepher which was in Israel and we believe Hosea was also from Israel because his Hebrew has a Northern dialect to it, and in chapter 7:5 he speaks of “our” king who was given to drunkenness and vomiting which fits exactly with the sins he spoke against.

So summing up Hosea was the only prophet born and brought up in Israel, sent to Israel and who wrote about his people Israel. Hence he exhibits an intimate knowledge of his people and expresses great distress over them.

It is worth remembering that the North/South split of the Promised Land which occurred around 975BC in the time of Rehoboam was a grave sin and apostasy on the part of the Israelites under Jeroboam who rebelled against the Davidic Kingdom (which typified Christ’s Kingdom) set up their idols, the golden calves in Dan and Bethel, and who thenceforth suffered under a total of 19 kings, every one of which was wicked! Israel was never Reformed! In the midst then of this rebellious apostate people (church), Hosea could still maintain his godly walk and attend the great pilgrimage feast thrice yearly in Jerusalem.

It is difficult to precisely number the years of his ministry but based on verse 1 and the length of the reigns of all the kings north and south it is reckoned he prophesied for around 60 years (roughly 785-722BC). He was faithful though he, like Noah, saw little fruit

 

Reputation and greatness.

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I noted with interest but also great sadness and horror that the co-pilot of the plane who apparently crashed it into the Alpine hillside was seeking a name for himself and to be remembered. Murder to get a name-hellish logic! How appallingly deceived he was! He was deceived by the same evil being who also wanted to be great and be like the Most High, the one who now ferociously attacks God’s church to try and destroy it, namely Satan. Seekest thou great things for thyself, seek them not (Jer.45:5).

What a contrast to the one who made himself of no reputation and took the form of a servant, who was willing to be utterly humiliated and die for others, even his enemies, only to then be exalted to the highest station as king of heaven and earth (Phil.2:5-11).

Surely our purpose in life must be no more or less to find the will of God for us and do it, whether it means reputation or ignominy. But woe to you if all men speak well of you! Let Christ’s mind be in you.

Does Matthew 5:44-45 Teach Common Grace?

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Rev. Angus Stewart

(Pastor CPRC-the church of which I am a member)

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“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:44-45).

Of the few texts which are cited in support of common grace with any plausibility, Matthew 5:44-45 perhaps occurs the most frequently, though usually without any supporting exegesis. All agree that God does give good things to the reprobate in this life. But does this text really teach that the earthly good things given by God to the reprobate are given by God out of **love** for the reprobate?

The common grace interpretation of Matthew 5:44-45, of course, creates several serious problems, problems which are largely ignored by the theory’s advocates. How can the one and undivided God love and hate the same people at the same time? How can the eternal, unchanging God have a temporal, changeable love for the reprobate? Remember … this alleged “love” of God for the reprobate begins with their conception (unless it is posited that God eternally loved the reprobate) and ends with their death (unless it is posited that God loves the reprobate in Hell). Various evasions, such as “paradox,” have been made but no proper response has been given. In the meantime, the churches and individuals who hold this theory (and those who follow them) go further away from the truth of Calvinism (which they profess to hold) and deeper and deeper into Arminianism, protesting all the while that they are Reformed.

But aside from these wider issues, we must examine the text itself. Its subject is the Christian’s treatment of his “enemies,” who are also called “them that curse you,” “them that hate you” and “them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Christ tells us here that we must do four things with respect to our enemies: we must “love,” “bless,” “do good” and “pray for” them. Our motivation for loving, blessing, doing good and praying for our enemies is “that [we] may be the children of [our] Father which is in heaven.” For there is a likeness between our righteous actions and those of our Father who “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” To put it differently, the text makes a comparison between what believers are called to do (v. 44) and what God does (v. 45), for in our doing these things (v. 44), we show ourselves to be His children (v. 45). Thus we need to consider the similarities and dissimilarities between what we must do towards our enemies and what our Father does towards the “evil” and “unjust.” What exactly is being compared?

Does Christ do any of the four things (i.e. “love,” “bless,” “do good” and “pray”) for His enemies that we are to do to our enemies? Christ most certainly does “love,” “bless,” “do good” and “pray for” His **elect** enemies. His doing these very things for us is our salvation through the blood of His cross. But does Christ do any, all or some of these things for His **reprobate** enemies? And does God do any, all or some of these things for His reprobate enemies?

First, Christ certainly does not pray for them, for He says in His “high priestly prayer:” “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (John 17:9). Second, Christ blesses the children of Israel (Gen. 48:16) and His disciples (Luke 24:50-51), but there is no word in Scripture of Christ blessing the reprobate. Third, all agree that Christ did good to the ungodly. He healed 10 lepers though 9 did not return to thank Him, and He fed 5,000 though many of them did not believe on Him. So with respect to the reprobate, Christ did not do two of the four things that we are commanded to do for our neighbours: He did not pray for nor bless the reprobate. He did do one of the four things we are commanded to do: He “did good” to the reprobate. What about the fourth one? Did He love the reprobate? We say that He did not; those who believe in common grace say that He did. This verse of itself does not determine the issue either way. Other texts will have to decide this question.

What then about God? Does He “love,” “bless,” “do good to” and “pray for” His reprobate enemies? First, God does not **pray** for the reprobate, for God does not pray! Second, God blesses His elect (Eph. 1:3), the righteous (Ps. 5:12), His inheritance (Ps. 28:9) and those who fear Him (Ps. 115:13). Each of the beatitudes begins “Blessed are …” (Matt. 5:3-11), and many Psalms contain the line: “Blessed is the man …” (e.g., Ps. 1:1) or “Blessed are they …” (e.g., Ps. 84:4). In each case it is God’s people (the meek, the godly, etc.) who are blessed. God blesses His elect people “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3-4), who is the One supremely blessed of the Father (Ps. 45:2). Our being blessed in Christ is the realization of the Abrahamic covenant in Christ with His elect (Gen. 12:2-3; Gal. 3:8-9, 14, 16, 29). This is God’s irreversible blessing of salvation (Num. 23:20) which turns us away from our iniquities (Acts 3:26). What then about the reprobate? As those who curse Christ and His people, God curses them (Gen. 12:3; Num. 24:9). Scripture teaches that “the wicked … blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth” (Ps. 10:3). Proverbs 3:33 declares, “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.” Third, all agree that God does good to the reprobate wicked in this life. Acts 14:17 states that God “did good” to the pagan nations by giving them “rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” We conclude that with respect to the reprobate, God does not do two of the four things that we are commanded to do for our neighbours: God does not pray for nor bless the reprobate. God does one of the four things we are commanded to do: He “does good” to the reprobate. What about the fourth one? Does God love the reprobate? We say that he does not; those who believe in common grace say that He does. This verse of itself does not determine the issue either way. Other texts will have to decide this question.

How are we to decide which view is correct? First, one could argue from the analogy between what we are called to do (v. 44) and what God does (v. 45). But since we are called to do two things (i.e. pray for and bless our enemies) which God does not do for His reprobate enemies, it cannot be proved that God loves His reprobate enemies. Second, we could look more closely at what God is said to do in verse 45: “he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” The “evil” and the “unjust” surely include those who are reprobate. Causing the sun to rise and the rain to fall (in moderate amounts) on the reprobate is doing good to them (cf. Acts 14:17), but it does not prove that God “loves” them. God gives earthly “prosperity” to “the wicked” (Ps. 73:3)—something which requires sunshine and rain—but this is “surely” His setting them in “slippery places” before He casts “them down into destruction” (v. 18). Though God gives them good things in His providence, He “despises” them (v. 20) as “corrupt” sinners (v. 8). Third, since the passage itself does not prove whether or not God loves His reprobate enemies, this will have to be settled on the basis of other biblical texts and doctrines. To quote a couple of relevant verses, Romans 9:13 declares, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” and Psalm 11:5 teaches that “the wicked and him that loveth violence [God’s] soul hateth.”

But what of our calling? We are to love, bless, do good to and pray for our enemies who curse, hate, despitefully use and persecute us (Matt. 5:44). Loving our enemies is not fellowshipping with them in their sin (II Cor. 6:14-18) but desiring and “seeking their good” physically and spiritually. Out of love, we “do good” to our enemies by helping them in whatever way we can, including greeting them and being friendly towards them (Matt. 5:47). Out of love, we “pray” for them, that is, we ask God to save them from their sins and grant them eternal life through Jesus Christ, if it be His will. Our calling to “bless” our enemies does not mean that we actually confer blessedness upon them; only the Triune God can do that. Nor are we to declare that they are blessed by God, for they are living under His curse (Prov. 3:33; Gal. 3:10). Blessedness is only found in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:14). Thus we bless our enemies by pointing them to Christ and calling them to repent and believe. As frail creatures made from the dust, as guilty sinners redeemed by grace and as rational-moral beings before God’s holy law, this is our calling towards our ungodly fellow creatures and neighbours. In loving, blessing, doing good to and praying for our enemies (Matt. 5:44), we show ourselves to be the children of our heavenly Father who does good to both just and unjust by giving them the good gifts of rain and sunshine (v. 45).

More articles by Rev. Stewart/CPRC website

Is God’s grace “common”?

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There are many in Christendom who believe God’s benevolence to the wicked, who end up in hell i.e. the reprobate is grace or love of some kind, it is not the infinite, eternal love and mercy of God but something less but still ought to be called “grace”. Are they correct?

No! For clearly God, who is one in all his attributes, and whose attributes are all eternal, omnipotent and infinite, has only one kind of love, mercy and grace and that grace saves to the uttermost(Titus 2:11). Sending rain, sunshine and providing food, clothing and a family are neutral aspects of God’s providence, things common to all men (except the impoverished who live in deserts!) and are not in themselves evidence of grace and Scripture clearly states as much in Eccles.9:1. Furthermore if you believe this then drought or floods would be proof of God’s hatred!

If grace means unmerited favour, and to some extent it does, as applied to undeserving mankind, then how was “unmerited favour” upon our Lord Jesus Christ as spoken of in Luke 2:40? Fact is grace (CHARIS-Gr.) also means beauty and this is the meaning here. This beauty which is an attribute of God is given to his people in salvation. If grace meant unmerited favour here and Christ required it then he could not be and is not our perfect saviour!

So we thus sink the unseaworthy boat, full of holes called  “common grace”!

Thanks to Brian Crossett, Elder of CPRC  for help in this.

 

Death of a great statesman!

I thought this pastoral letter by Rev. Lanning worth sharing regarding the late Lee Kuan Yew….

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Dearly beloved saints of CERC,

On Monday, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew passed away, having reached the full number of days appointed him by God. A gifted statesman, Mr. Lee led Singapore to prominence not only in Asia, but also on the world stage. His far-reaching influence was evident last week as news outlets all over the world reported on and reflected on his death, and that influence will be noted again today as leaders from around the globe join Singaporeans for Mr. Lee’s funeral.  As the church of our Lord in Singapore, we too are keenly interested in the passing away of our nation’s founding father. Many things have been said about Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s policies, and the debates will continue about the soundness of those policies. However, our interest in the Pastoral Voice today is not so much political as it is spiritual. As Mr. Lee departs the scene, let us turn to Scripture and reflect on three important truths regarding our nation’s first Prime Minister.

First, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was appointed by God to be a leader in Singapore. It was not the elections, or circumstances, or Mr. Lee’s own vision and gifts that led him to power. These were all instruments in the sovereign control of God, who alone ordains rulers over the nations. Romans 13: 1 reminds us, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” According to Romans 13: 4, our first Prime Minister was a “minister of God,” meaning that he was raised up by God Himself to accomplish God’s will in Singapore. For the Christian, a powerful leader such as Mr. Lee is a testament to God’s absolute sovereignty as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Second, through Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership, Singapore is a nation where Christ’s church is free to worship according to God’s Word. This is something we are exhorted to pray for in I Timothy 2: 1, 2. And according to our Belgic Confession, Article 36, one of the main duties of the civil government is to “countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere. . . .” In other Asian countries, the church faces restriction and persecution, either from the government, or from local citizens who see Christianity as a threat to their idolatry. But in Singapore, we can have a Reformed church with Reformed worship each Lord’s Day, with no fear of government interference, and with assurance of government protection if anyone else tries to interfere. It is true that our nation has the ominous Sedition Act lurking in the background, which could be used to restrict our preaching that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation and that Christianity is the only true religion. Revelation 11: 7 reminds us that Singapore will not always allow true Christian churches to worship, for one of the devilish works of the antichrist will be to slay the two witnesses and silence the preaching of the gospel. However, at present, CERC is grateful to God for the freedom to worship as His Word commands. Let us continue to pray for our leaders, that the church “may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

Third, 1 Timothy 2: 1 – 4 reminds us to pray for the salvation of our leaders who are still living. As powerful and visionary as a man might be, this does not give him access to heaven, for that is found through the blood of Jesus Christ alone. As Scripture says, God will have all men to be saved, that is, all kinds of men: rich and poor, strong and weak, Jews and Gentiles, kings and citizens. But that salvation is only through the blood of Jesus Christ. In the final judgment, it will not be man’s works and vision that determine his destiny, but the electing love of God. It will not be man’s gifts that gain him access to glory, but the blood of Jesus Christ. All who finish their days outside of Christ shall perish, but God has His chosen people among the leaders too. Therefore, let us pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority. . . . For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men” – including rulers – “to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

The 5 “Solas” of the Reformation.

Pentecostals and charismatic beware! Looking for signs and wonders? Do not be deceived!

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“But the apostle writes: “I would not have you ignorant of this mystery, brethren.” Why not? He gives us the answer: “lest ye be wise in your own conceits.” To be wise in our own conceit means, in general, that we pretend to know anything outside of and apart from revelation, and that we act according to this pretended knowledge. This may, indeed, be applied quite generally. The man who rejects the Word of God is always wise in his own conceits. The natural mind, that cannot discern the things of the Spirit, is wise in its own conceits. Science that will have nothing to do with revelation is self-conceited wisdom. And thus in the Church we must never be wise in our own conceits, whether as a Church or as individual Christians, whether in our society life or in the pulpit, because apart from the revelation of God in Christ we know exactly nothing. One who is wise in his own conceits, who will not absolutely submit himself to the Word of God, simply seeks his own destruction. The Church of Christ, therefore, must always be willing and eager to be instructed by God’s own revelation, and must reject in doctrine and life whatever in not according to the Word of God.” Herman Hoeksema

By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, by the Scriptures alone, and to the glory of God alone.

See also..

How much did the devil know?

 

Revelation 12:3-9 “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God,  that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,  And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

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The overarching truth we must remember is that God is omniscient and omnipotent and Satan actually serves him (Job 1).

In this chapter of Revelation John’s vision spans the whole of history. Satan initially deceived himself into thinking he could be as God or in the place of God (Isaiah 14), otherwise he would not have rebelled. But he is NOT omniscient. He knows Scripture intellectually though I question whether he really believes it! After all, he has no faith or revelation from God’s Spirit. Did he believe Christ is God’s Son? Did he not reckon with the resurrection and ascension of Christ? Herman Hoeksema in his book “Behold He Cometh” thinks not! (Chapter on Rev.12:1-6) He certainly knows now! The devils believe and tremble? (James 2:19) Believe what?? Presumably that Christ is Lord and they are doomed. Did the resurrection take him by surprise? Well not long after when Christ ascended he was thrown out of heaven (John 12:31) with the host of demons. He knew then the wicked mistake he made in using wicked men to crucify the Lord. The devils and their master do know their doom is writ as witnessed by the demons Christ drove out of Legion (Matt.8:29). If this is so then their war against the church, for they cannot get at God, is a miserably vindictive one in the knowledge that their destiny is the lake of fire (Rev.12:12-13). The devil is a liar and murderer from the beginning yet makes out God to be one (Gen.3:4). His minions are also deceived, namely false teachers who give some assent to Scripture but avoid sections that prove they are wrong and twist many other parts e.g. Papists, free-will Arminians and other heretics. So, to conclude, it seems that the reprobate wicked and their master are similarly self-deceived but know deep down that divine judgment awaits them. One day they will unwillingly, but of necessity, bow down and acknowledge Christ is Lord (Phil.2:10).

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Kingdom of God and Church (6)

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Sung Psalm 122 (note references to kingly thrones and palaces).

Reading Acts 20:17-38

Review of the keys of the kingdom:

  1. Preaching (Matt.16) Acts 8:12, 19:8, 20:25, 28:23, 31.
  2. Church discipline (Matt.18) I Cor.4:20, Acts 20:28.

Thus, as the keys are rightly used, Christ builds his kingdom.

Sacraments

Baptism as the sign of the reality of Spirit baptism and entrance into the kingdom.  John 3:5, ministry of John the Baptist, Matt.18:19-20, I Cor.6:11.

Lord’s supper is the supper of the kingdom. Matt.26.Kingdom rule is by elders (Acts 14:23, Acts 20:25, 28) when they are in place (as a plurality) we have an instituted church. Note Paul’s submission and account of himself to the Ephesian elders.

With the two keys and the sacraments properly administered we have the three marks of a true (Reformed) church.

Kingdom day is Sunday (Birth of N.T. church on Pentecost, first sermon, first baptisms, Lord’s day (Rev.1:8-9)

 

Sow the wind-Reap the whirlwind

UK tops table for single-parent families

For the second year running, the UK has a higher percentage of lone parent families than any other Western European nation, according to Eurostat statistics. Lone parent families constitute 23% of families in Britain – as opposed to 7% single parent families in Greece, for example. Marriage Foundation Research Director Harry Benson notes, “By the time children reach their teenage years, nearly half are not living with both natural parents.”

Fornication, divorce, family breakdown—these lead to single-parent families and the offspring will be the most unruly generation ever in these shores. More riots to come!

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