Eating of Blood (4)

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Sung Psalm 16:1-7

Read John 6:32-65

From not eating blood in Old Testament times we moved to eating Christ’s body and drinking his blood. Christ states that he is the true bread from heaven (v51). He, as incarnate Saviour, by his Spirit sustains our souls in eternal life (v54) in the same way that physical bread sustains our earthly, temporal life and physical body. He gives himself as the bread and blood of the covenant (v56). Only election and irresistible grace enable anyone to be saved (v44,65)

Further readings: I Cor.11:23-29, Hebrews 2:14, 9:22 (Lev.17:11),10:4-10,13:20. His blood is applied to us by spiritual sprinkling to cleanse us.

Prohibition on eating fat. Lev.3:16-17, 7:22-27. These verses prohibited eating animal fat at home of the clean animals or animals for sacrifice. This was because the innards with the fat, liver, diaphragm, kidneys and fat round the kidneys were precious first burnt offerings to God. Apparently it was this fat only that was prohibited (Exodus 29:13,22). Contrariwise we have Deut.32:14, Neh.8:10 and Isaiah 25:6 alluding to God giving his people the fat of the land and literal animal fat to eat. The last of these references and perhaps all of them allude to the New Testament age and the eternal state where no food is prohibited and rich spiritual food is supplied us by the Spirit of Christ.

Internet reference:

Blood and Fat

Jewish Law (Halakha) from the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah)

It is permitted to eat the fat of a clean* wild animal. The penalty for intentionally eating a quantity of fat equal to the size of an olive from the three species of clean domesticated animals, ox, sheep or goat (Leviticus 7:23, cited above), is extinction (karet), which includes a flogging.[13] The punishment of extinction only applies to fat on the digestive organs, on the kidneys and on the flanks.[14] Maimonides explains what parts of the animal are included in these designated areas from which fat is forbidden.[15] It is only fat that is on the flank or kidney that is forbidden, not the fat that is covered by meat or inside the kidney.[16] A butcher who leaves a quantity of forbidden fat the size of a barleycorn after cleaning meat is to lose his position as butcher; if it is the size of an olive, he is to be flogged for disobedience as well.[17]

Profit and loss

PROFIT AND LOSS

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We usually associate these words with commerce, but our Bible also uses them about what we are accruing in our lives and souls in this life and the next. There is temporal and eternal profit and loss. There is earthly and there is heavenly treasure. Christ is the pearl of great price and the treasure without measure! We have this treasure (Christ and the gospel) in earthen vessels. If we do not possess him we have nothing and are spiritually bankrupt!

The unprofitable reprobate wicked will perish (Matthew 25:30), and all men apart from grace are unprofitable (Romans 3:12), the flesh (man’s natural depravity) profiteth nothing (John 6:63).

After all is said and done we believers are unprofitable servants. God cannot be profited by us as he is absolutely self-sufficient and even when we have done all he commands or asks of us we are to say we have only done our duty (Luke 17:10).

Perhaps the most well-known verse on profit and loss is Mark 8:36 where our Lord spells out the sad fact that if a man could gain the whole world and yet lose his soul, he has nothing, he has in fact lost all he lived for!

Some verses clearly speak about profiting in our physical and spiritual lives here on earth, I Cor.7:35 falls into this category where Paul speaks of the advantages of being a Christian single.

Salvation is the eternal profit he speaks of in I Cor.10:33, Galatians 5:2 and Hebrew 4:2. In I Cor.12:7 the topic is the profit of the local church in time and eternity through members using their gifts and especially preaching (Acts 20:20). Godliness is profitable now and forever (I Tim.4:8) whereas physical exercise, if done regularly, is profitable only in this life. Arguments may be unprofitable (II Tim.2:14, Titus 3:9) and so also asceticism and man-made food laws (Heb.13:9).     God’s discipline profits us (Heb.12:10) because it makes us holy. True faith that produces good works profits for time and eternity (James 2:14-16 and Titus 3:8). Works done in faith and obedience to the glory of God and out of love for him and the neighbour profit (I Cor.13:3).

We are each to lay up treasure in heaven (Matt.19:21) which is of real eternal profit and that is only done as we spend our lives advancing his kingdom (Luke 12:21).

The source of all our profiting is Scripture (II Tim.3:16) and the man who meditates and applies the Scripture will be seen to profit thereby (I Tim.4:15). May that be you and me!

James 2:12-17

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James 2:12-13

Showing Mercy

1.The law of liberty is God’s Law (The Ten Commandments) as interpreted by and expanded upon by Christ and the NT apostles. For example the sermon on the mount includes the standard that our thoughts as well as our actions must conform to God’s law. We are under law to Christ (I Cor.9:21). The law is summarised by the two great commandments to love God and our neighbour which originate in the Old Testament (Lev.19:18, Deut.6:5) quoted by the lawyer who asked Christ what he must do to inherit eternal life. All our thoughts, words and actions will be judged according to that perfect standard and we shall, alongside all other men, be exposed as lifelong persistent lawbreakers BUT Christ kept the law perfectly for us and his righteousness is imputed to us and we shall be exonerated on that day. Note that even before judgment is pronounced sheep and goats are on different sides of Christ, the Judge.

  1. We must be merciful (Matt.6:12). Mercy is forgiving others for Christ’s sake or a readiness to do so when they confess and repent. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” God only forgives us on repentance and faith so we are correct to expect the same from those who sin against us. We have already received mercy (II Cor.4:1 in the cross and we shall receive mercy on the last day (Jude 21).
  2. The judgment here is the final judgment of condemnation for all who showed no mercy to others (Matt.5:7). See also Matthew 25 (latter half) as examples of works of mercy and lack of mercy.
  3. Judgment and mercy are not contradictory because in the cross, God as well as showing his judgment against all sin, also showed his mercy in Christ (John 12:31).
  4. The parables that teach judgment without mercy are: The unjust steward (Matt.18:23-35), the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). The unjust steward, the priest and Levite and the elder brother all did not show mercy.
  5. Mercy rejoicing against judgment can be human or divine.
  6. Mercy has the last word or triumphs over judgment when justice (judgment) has been satisfied and yet mercy prevails.

James 2:14-17

Faith without Works

  1. The answers to the question James poses in verse 14 is “nothing” and “no”. Faith without works does not profit (now or in eternity) and faith alone cannot save you. The main profit in view is eternal reward and treasure in heaven by grace (see blog on PROFIT).
  2. James describes the man as someone who says he has faith because he is only a professor and does not have real faith.
  3. The profit or good of which James writes is eternal life encompassing salvation and eternal reward (Matt.16:26, Gal.5:2, Heb.4:2).
  4. James gives us the example of clothing and feeding the hungry fellow brother/church member as a work of faith.
  5. Dead faith is head knowledge or profession in a nominal believer (one who will fall away if persecution arises). True faith in a true believer is trust in Christ for all of salvation borne out of vital union with him by the Holy Spirit. This issues in good works (Gal.5:6, John 15). Belgic Confession Article 24.
  6. Fake faith without works is dead, meaning useless, lifeless, pointless, profitless and condemned (the dead branches of John 15!) Faith being alone means it has nothing alongside it to show it is genuine, a bit like the watermark on a banknote.

Next BS (DV) July 30th to look at James 2:18-24

Grace

What is grace?

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Many believers, even Reformed ones, believe it is “undeserved favour”, in other words, the blessing of God that redeems elect fallen humanity through the atonement of Christ. This is true but it is only part of the meaning.

If grace only means undeserved favour how can it be said of Christ that as a child the grace of God was upon him (Luke 2:40) and that he was full of grace (John 1:14). He needed no undeserved favour! It has to have another meaning! From Psalm 27:4 and 90:17 we learn that God is beautiful. His multifaceted character comprising all his communicable and incommunicable attributes make for one absolutely, infinitely beautiful and desirable being. He has to be! He is love. He is good. He is holy. He is righteous. He is just. Yes he is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16). The triune God and our Lord Jesus Christ in his adopted humanity are full of grace, full of divine beauty, and this beauty is given us in salvation from regeneration to glory till the day we awake with his likeness!

“This is the grace of God. Grace, which carries out the work of redemption, is divine power that blesses and saves guilty, depraved sinners. The power of grace originates in and is controlled by the counsel of predestination, which purposes the salvation of the elect church (Eph. 1:3-12).” David J. Engelsma. But that grace blesses the elect by progressively infusing into them by that power  the beautiful image of his Son. Grace is power and beauty! The everlasting covenant of grace is what unifies and governs all God’s dealings with mankind from before creation to the new heavens and earth. Praise his beautiful grace!

Song of Solomon 1:6

 

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Song of Solomon 1:6 “Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.” ….the utmost honour man can render to God on earth is the well-kept vineyard of his own heart and life; and the greatest benefit he can bestow on his fellow-men, is to set before them the example, the warning, the attraction, the encouragement, and the holy provocation of his own vineyard well kept; that is well walled, well watched, well watered, well dug, well weeded, well planted, well pruned; a vineyard bearing through Jesus Christ by the Spirit ‘much fruit’ to the great husbandman, even the Father.” Rev. A.M.Stuart’s commentary on Song of Solomon.

Julian Kennedy's photo.

Eating of blood (3)

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 Sung Psalm 16:1-7

Read Genesis 9:1-13 and Acts 15:19-21, 28-29.

It is worth noting that the church council or synod in this fifteenth chapter of Acts when deciding on an issue in accordance with Scripture, in sharing its decision, acts with God’s authority and it’s decrees are binding under the Holy Ghost (v28). Their decision was that gentiles do not need to be circumcised, do not need to keep the ceremonial Mosaic law and in a concession to former idolaters and Jews, they are to avoid eating things offered to idols, things strangled (still containing blood) and blood. All over the empire Jews in synagogues and some converted Jews would be very sensitive about these issues and the liberty of Christians should not be a stumbling block for them (I Cor.9:20).

Blood equals life, life taken in a sacrifice equals atonement, the ultimate once-for-all atonement for fallen mankind and creation has taken place at the cross (Heb.9:12) and so now blood is no longer prohibited.

In Genesis 9 we read of man’s delegated lordship and stewardship over creation and the availability of all animals as a food source. We also read of the institution of the death penalty.

 

TRUE FAITH

Colossians 212 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

In this and the surrounding verses we see the nature of true faith. It is being IN CHRIST “in whom (we) are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands (definitive sanctification),” it is being “buried with him in baptism, wherein also (we) are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God (new life).” Ingrafting into Christ is faith (Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 20,21). Faith is the bond that unites us to Christ, performed by the operation of God at regeneration, that becomes conscious in the believer’s life as he believes the Scriptures and lays hold on Christ as the only hope of salvation.

“Faith is not man’s work, but God’s work.” Herman Hanko in “Faith Made Perfect”. RFPA 2015

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Baptism of Infants Biblical

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There is absolutely no question that the initiatory rite or sacrament of the Christian faith namely baptism is rightly administered to all the infant children of one or two believing parents. Colossians chapter two links the Old Testament and New Testament rites inextricably in verses 11 and 12. Paul states that the reality of spiritual circumcision and spiritual baptism are exactly the same and are the work of Christ. They consist the dethroning of the sinful flesh in mortification and resurrection to new life in Christ. Circumcision of the body and water baptism in themselves mean nothing but what they signify is everything. Deuteronomy 30:6 is one of many Old Testament verses indicating that heart circumcision is the necessary reality that salvation brings. Abraham, our faithful father was circumcised after his justification by faith and his children and servants were circumcised too whether believing or not, at the same time. That circumcision was the sign of Old Testament salvation Paul makes clear in Romans 4:11. So why do Baptists deny the New Testament equivalent sign to their children? They are “hung up” on individual believers’ baptism and baptism by immersion (unnecessary) and are not convinced that God from the beginning till the end of time is a God of the everlasting covenant of grace that he makes with believers AND their elect seed! (Gen.17:7, Acts 2:39). Both believing adults and all the infants of a believer ought to be given the sign in obedience to the Lord who changes not. Besides we know from the example of John the Baptist that children can be regenerated in the womb and many infants believe in Christ as he said himself (Mark 9:42) otherwise how could the mouths of babes and sucklings praise him? Furthermore often in the Old Testament God promised salvation to the children of believers see Isaiah 44:3 and 59:21.

Good Stewards to Enjoy Life

The Reformed, Christian, entire, earthly life is a sacred calling. It is to be lived in any or all or spheres of the earthly creation, for example, marriage, labour, and government. It consists of using and developing all of one’s  physical gifts and abilities, for example , music, scholarship, and motherhood. It not only allows, but also encourages enjoyment of all the legitimate beauties and pleasures of earthly life, whether a painting, a symphony, or a glorious sunset, or simply a good steak dinner. Adapted from “Christianizing the world-Reformed Calling or Ecclesiastical Suicide” by David J. Engelsma RFPA 2016.001 (3)