Covenant Communion with God (2)

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“This is the will of God, that he may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love. We rest in the Father’s love. We love him in return.

Both his love and ours are a love of rest and delight (Zeph. 3:17) seeking nothing more. The two-way love is through Christ. He is the treasury wherein the Father disposeth all the riches of his grace, taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love; and he is the priest into whose hand we put all the offerings that we return unto the Father. Love is first poured out on Christ; and from him it drops as the dew of Hermon upon the souls of his saints.”

But God’s love and ours differ─”The love of God is a love of bounty; our love unto him is a love of duty. The cause of his love is his good pleasure and the cause of ours his love for us. His love is unchangeable and infinite, ours variable and weak.

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The love of God for his elect people is like the sun shining in all its strength despite being apparently hidden by the clouds of circumstance or our variable emotions. (from prayer of Rev. Angus Stewart CPRC).

 

Reflection on my medical career 1977-2017

Revelation 1:7 reads, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:”, so the glorified ascended Lord Jesus Christ introduces himself to John as the initiator and creator of all things and the conclusion and goal of all things also.

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When I was faced with my university application form back in 1970, though not a believer, my heartfelt tears and cry for help to Jesus were answered when providentially I was led to apply for medicine at Edinburgh university. During my undergraduate studies I was converted and started attending a true church. My medical career encompassed many specialties initially, all in the Glasgow area from 1977 till 1993, then a job move to Bournemouth saw me devote myself to Emergency Medicine there for the next 15 years. Sadly no true church in Bournemouth so when a job arose in Belfast near enough to Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Ballymena I applied and got the job. Having retired from full time work in ED at Belfast Royal in 2012 I continued doing locums till 27th January this year when I retired fully.

Medical life has not been easy and there have been many humiliating circumstances but I have derived a lot of satisfaction and enjoyed good relations with many colleagues. With no pressure now to earn more or cover empty shifts I can devote myself to, roughly in order of priority:

  • Fellowship with my covenant divine friend (Bible, prayer, studies, good books, periodicals)
  • Church work (caretaking, deacon, treasurer, writing)
  • Family home and Joseph’s business with animals
  • Keeping fit                                                                                                                                                                                   The Lord started my medical career, carried me through it, and now has brought it to an end so I thank him.
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The Holy War (14)

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Sung Psalm 18:36-42 (graphic imagery!)

Read Micah 4:9-5:6

First century Jews wrongly expected a king who would deliver them from and defeat the Romans. In John 6:14-15 they clearly expected a king like David and a prophet like Moses, both of whom fought holy wars. That there were Jewish freedom-fighters is clear from Acts 5:36-37 and 21:38. Matthew 24 is a warning against false prophets and christs who through their physical rebellion, would bring about the mass killing of the Jews in AD 70. All these ideas were based on misunderstood prophesy and eventually led to the death of their true Messiah.

In Micah, another prophet from Judah contemporary with Isaiah, we read of the coming shepherd king who will have worldwide dominion. In 4:1-3 we read of the last days, or N.T. age of peace between God’s people when physical holy war against their enemies ceases.

The latter chapters of Isaiah cast more light on the messianic king. Metaphorical roads would be made for him (40:3-5), he would be a shepherd king (10-11), no rallying cry (42:1-3), he wields a metaphorical sword (the words of his mouth 49:1-4), and he would suffer (50:4-11). Isaiah 40:10, 51:9 and 53:1ff speak of the arm of the Lord who is Christ. Zech.13:7 is a clear messianic prophecy describing how the messiah must suffer to deliver his people from slavery to sin and Isaiah 59:16-21 shows him to be the warrior Redeemer. The messiah starts his ministry proclaiming liberty to captive sinners and the coming day of judgment. This messiah will eventually tread down all his enemies (63:1-6) c.f. Revelation 19:11-13 on the final day.

Now we need to learn how to fight our battles for the kingdom following Christ and the apostles’ example as per Paul’s exhortation in I Timothy 1:8, to “wage a good warfare.”

The Heart of a Servant in the Church

Very challenging article. Anytime our motives are scrutinised it calls for some soul-searching!

Young Calvinists

“He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.”  (Proverbs 27:14).

The communion of the saints is a wonderful thing. Feeling the care and spiritual encouragement of one’s church family, especially in times of grief or spiritual struggle, is a great blessing and comfort to the Child of God. God did not mean for us to walk this pilgrimage alone. As it is written in Ecclesiastes 4:10, “woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” The unity of the body of Christ is a good and beautiful thing.

However, we must search our hearts so that our good deeds towards our brothers and sisters don’t become a source of pride on our own part. In Proverbs 27, Solomon writes of a man who wakes up early…

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James 5:19-20

studyguidejames

James 5:19-20 and resumé of book

The Conversion of the Sinner

  1. Ultimately the truth is Christ (John 14:6) but in terms that we can see and understand it is the Scriptures (Ps.119:128,142).
  2. To err from the truth is to believe falsehood and/or teach it which then affects the way you live. Unbelief, deception and wrong behaviour are all sinful. Denominations that err from the truth usually apostatise. The necessity is knowing the truth AND loving it (II Thess.2:10-11).
  3. To convert means to come to confess sin or falsehood, repent from it and re-consecrate oneself to God. Peter is an example (Luke 22:32) and David (Ps.51).
  4. Although God must work in the heart, we may be the means whereby a sinner is converted. It is severally illustrated in terms of eyes, ears and mind. The eyes must be opened (John 3:3) and the ears (Matt.13:15, Mark 4:12, John 12:40 and Acts 28:27) to hear Christ’s voice and the heart needs to understand. The word is also the instrument (Ps.19:7). This is true at initial conversion and subsequent on-going conversion.
  5. The death of which James writes is that of backsliding and ultimately, if unrepentant, eternal death in apostasy.
  6. To hide a multitude of sins is to have them covered by the blood of Christ when they are confessed and forsaken (I John 1:9, Ps.103:12, Ps.32:1). God declares them buried in the deepest sea and no longer remembered.

Key themes of the book of James

  • Affliction through trial and temptation to which we are to respond by rejoicing and prayer.
  • Fleeting nature of riches and not respecting persons.
  • Control of the tongue.
  • Living faith is shown by works.
  • Prayer encouraged and the restoration of the backslider.

Divisions of book

1:1-8 Greetings and exhortation to rejoice in trials knowing they work for good and that God will grant wisdom.

1:9-16 Riches fade. The source of temptation.

1:17-27 Control your anger. Obey the word.

2:1-9 Don’t respect persons.

2:10-26 Your faith works to show you are justified.

3:1-18 Teachers judged more strictly. Control tongue. Exhibition of godly wisdom.

4:1-17 Against lust and pride and boasting.

5:1-9 Against riches and injustice.

5:10-18 Exhortation to endure, no rash swearing, need to pray with examples.

5:19-20 Need to restore backslider.

Next BS (DV) March 25th to look at first chapter of “War of Words” by Paul David Tripp (on e bay £10 incl. p&p)

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See also: War of Words

Covenant Communion with God

In light of my love for the gracious covenant of God, the bond of friendship every true believer enjoys with Father, Son and Spirit, I propose to share notes from John Owen’s great work on communion with the triune God. May you be blessed and edified as I am sure I will be!

communion

It can be read in its totality here: Communion

I John 1:3

Communion implies:

  • common nature (humanity and spirituality) with Christ
  • common interest (God’s glory)
  • common condition (blessed, suffering)
  • common actions (gospel)
  • common delight

Essentially in this bond of fellowship God communicates himself.

II Cor.13:14

I Cor.12:4-6

Our worship, love and the exercise of faith are toward  each of the persons of the trinity.

Each TEACH: John 6:45, Matthew 17:5, John 14:26.

All GRACES come from all three persons. The Father communicates by way of original authority, the Son by purchased treasury and the Spirit by immediate efficacy. (Romans 8:11).

The Awfulness of Hell

John Gill on Mark 9:49

” For every one shall be salted with fire”

 

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That is every one of those that transgress the law of God, offend any that, believe in Christ, retain their sins, and sinful companions; every one of them that are cast into hell, where the worm of conscience is always gnawing, and the fire of divine wrath is always burning, with that fire every one of them shall be salted: that fire shall be to them, what salt is to flesh; as that keeps flesh from putrefaction and corruption, so the fire of hell, as it will burn, torture, and distress rebellious sinners, it will preserve them in their beings; they shall not be consumed by it, but continued in it: so that these words are a reason of the former, showing and proving, that the soul in torment shall never die, or lose any of its powers and faculties; and particularly, not its gnawing, torturing conscience; and that the fire of hell is inextinguishable; for though sinners will be inexpressibly tormented in it, they will not be consumed by it; but the smoke of their torments shall ascend for ever and ever; and that they will be so far from being annihilated by the fire of hell, that they shall be preserved in their beings in it, as flesh is preserved by salt:

Song of Solomon (authorship)

From Covenant Reformed News by CPRC February 2017

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Does Solomonic Authorship Befit the Song of Songs?

A reader writes, “I was reading the Song of Solomon and I wondered why the Spirit of God chose a man like Solomon, who flagrantly abused the marriage covenant, to write the book most interpret as exemplifying the one-flesh union between a man and his wife, and between Christ and His bride. Perhaps it is just another way of showing how the type always fails, unlike the antitype! I would be very interested in reading a good Reformed book on the Song of Solomon bringing out all it teaches of God’s covenant. I don’t know if there has been one.”
Sadly, many, even within the Reformed camp, have denied that the Song of Solomon, sometimes known as the Song of Songs or Canticles, is an Old Testament metaphorical song celebrating the marriage relation between Christ and His church. One author, a former classmate in college, called it “An Erotic Love Song.” A former professor in a Reformed seminary denied that it was canonical; that is, he denied that it had a place in Scripture because it could not have been inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless, the questioner is right. It does exemplify the truth of marriage that husband and wife, as earthly pictures of Christ and His church, presuppose an underlying earthly figure. That underlying figure is the institution of marriage that dates from Paradise. And the underlying type is Solomon himself. David was a type of Christ as the warrior that destroys the enemies of the church to prepare the way for the kingdom of heaven. Solomon, in all the wealth and beauty of his kingdom, was a type of Christ who brings about, through His cross, the everlasting kingdom of righteousness.
Solomon married 700 wives and also possessed 300 concubines (I Kings 11:3). It was indeed a mockery of the institution of marriage. Solomon paid the price for this, for his foreign wives led him into idolatry.
I have no interest in justifying Solomon’s sin. But it must be remembered, nonetheless, that before the coming of Christ, who, by His death and resurrection, made possible the true heavenly marriage, the earthly picture in the old dispensation was only a picture and thus defective. And so God permitted polygamy and concubinage because the earthly picture was not very clear in its depiction of the reality. It was like a very bad photo of a royal figure taken with a cheap camera. The picture was fuzzy and blurred; the details could not be clearly seen. When God reminded David of the many things He had given him, one of those was his many wives (II Sam. 12:1-14). But those in Scripture who were married to more than one wife inevitably had family problems: Abraham, Jacob, Elkanah, David, Solomon and many of the kings in both Israel and Judah.
It ought also to be remembered that, although the historical books of the Old Testament do not mention Solomon’s confession of his sin, it is almost certain that Solomon’s book Ecclesiastes is his confession.
Finally, Solomon, though it was sinful, was carrying on a custom which monarchs in his day practised. Harems, sometimes huge, were common in palaces throughout the Middle East. Many wealthy men had harems.
Now to the question itself. The question seems to me to assume that no wicked man could be used by God in inspiring the Scriptures. But all the men whom God used in writing the Bible were sinners. Nevertheless, when they wrote, they were “holy men of God” (II Pet. 1:21). Their holiness was not a total and complete alteration of their entire nature from depravity to sinlessness. David, after all, committed his sins of adultery and murder after writing Psalm 23. It does mean that, in writing the Scriptures, they were kept by God from any possible error. And it means that all who participated in the writing of Scripture were God-fearing men, consecrated to the Lord and His cause. This was true of all of them, including Solomon.
David was a dreadful sinner, as well as his son Solomon. David sinned against the seventh commandment, as well as Solomon, and added the sin of murder to hide his adultery. Before his conversion, Paul committed the dreadful sin of persecuting Christ’s church.
I realize that the questioner meant a little more than the fact that God used sinful men to write the Scriptures: he meant to say that one who broke the marriage bond was used by God to write about that marriage bond. How can one who defiled marriage write about true marriage, especially the marriage of Christ and His church?
It seems to me that we ought to reframe the question in this way: Is not Solomon, the forgiven sinner, in the best possible position to be used by God to write a song on the beauty and wonder of the marriage between Christ and His church? He knew better than most how wicked he was (and we are), and how even saints corrupt an institution that is so sacred and holy. And so he looked at the true marriage of Christ and His bride the church, and saw in it the redemption of the marriage state among God’s people. That is, he saw what a marriage here on earth ought to be when it reflected the reality of the true marriage. So he sang a song about it by the inspiration of the Spirit of Christ. He did so as an expression of hope for the future, when the figure would disappear to make room for the reality.
One more point on the truth of inspiration. God, in His marvellous wisdom, did not pick men at random to write the Bible. From eternity, He conceived in His own mind the one sacred Scripture in which God in Christ is fully revealed. The Bible is a portrait of Christ. From eternity, God also chose those men whom He wanted to write the various parts of Scripture. As if that were not enough, God sovereignly determined all the preparation that each man needed to be able to write what He had determined for him to write. If one does not include in the doctrine of inspiration both predestination and divine providence, he is bound to go wrong. So Solomon, weak and sinful as any man, was chosen to write parts of Scripture (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon). Throughout his life and forty-year reign, God was preparing him for this work. Solomon seems to me the ideal man to write this beautiful song about marriage—here on earth but especially in heaven. It was a longing for the reality, and who can better write about the reality than one who knew how he had corrupted the figure? Prof. Hanko

 

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

http://www.cprf.co.uk/crnews.htm#.WK2Bq8LPue8

The Holy War (13)

 

Sung Psalm 60:5-12

Read Isaiah 7:1-14

Holy War by the major prophets

images Assyrians besieging.

The major prophet writing most about this was Isaiah. Specifically, we hear about the Assyrian invasion under Sennacherib in the days of Hezekiah when God miraculously saves Jerusalem by an angel that destroys 185,000 of the enemy. Check out Is.30:15 and 37:36 where we have another example of pacific expectancy, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” This is the last major holy war in the O.T.

In this chapter (7) we have a wicked confederacy of Syria and Israel seeking to install a puppet king in Judah (v6) and hence together resist Assyrian dominance. Judah is afraid (v26). Ahaz, perhaps the most wicked ever king of Judah, refuses to ask God for a sign yet nevertheless God uses the Assyrians to defeat this confederacy.

Scripture links the later victory of Judah over the Assyrians (vv4-6) with the coming of Christ who brings victory to the church as their King (v7) and establish his eternal kingdom. The King of chapters 7,9 and 11 will be victorious (11: 6-9) by his zeal and ultimately will usher in the new heaven and earth. The new Davidic empire typified here includes the Gentiles (v10, 14).

Thinking ahead about 750 years we have all the enemies of the church and God defeated at the cross and in the resurrection.

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  • the wicked world is destroyed and renewed (Daniel 2:35, Romans 8:21, II Peter 3:13).
  • The flesh or old man in every believer is dealt a death blow (Romans 8:10-11).
  • Satan defeated and ultimately destroyed (Hebrews 2:14).

Is it not amazing and contrary to all this world’s thinking, that the moment of utmost human helplessness and weakness when Christ gave up the ghost on the cross, was the most powerful event in God’s holy war and ultimately the efficient means whereby he will renew all of creation?

The result is an exultant song of victory (11:12) just like Miriam’s at the Red Sea and Deborah and Barak’s.

War of Words

 

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Paul David Tripp has come in for criticism for psycho-heresy but he has a lot of worthwhile material. ” Love is willing self-sacrifice for the redemptive good of another not demanding reciprocation or that the person is deserving.” ” Immanuel is his name, not just because he came to earth but because he made us his dwelling place.”

His book “War of Words” emphasises the importance of our words that are either life-giving or deadly, never neutral, words that are always the overflow of our hearts.

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