Vital importance of play

I have always loved sport. Running, jumping, throwing, tennis, badminton, indoor rowing, sailing, fishing etc. Many species play especially when young and for good reason-to hone their skills for hunting, fighting, mating and survival. It always encourages my participation when I see dolphins surfing, gibbons brachiating (swinging by their arms) and otters juggling stones. Play is addictive because endorphins and dopamine chemicals are realeased which are “feel-good” factors. Play is characterised by:

  • Voluntary
  • Reward in the activity itself
  • Starts early in life
  • Repeated
  • Species must be healthy, safe and relaxed

God invented play!

There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

New Testament believers are consecrated priests (15)

New Testament believers are priests

Our consecration as (prophets), priests (and kings) is more like Christ’s consecration than the O.T. priesthood. There is no hereditary transmission and no public ceremony (it is an invisible consecration).

The Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 12  Q32 http://www.prca.org/about/official-standards/creeds/three-forms-of-unity/heidelberg-catechism/the-second-part/of-god-the-son/lord-s-day-12

We are consecrated in Christ. No ecclesiastical hierarchy or sacerdotalism as with the Roman Catholic false priesthood. Luther was clear, “Every Christian is a priest.” There will also be no future literal Jewish millennial priesthood as this is not only a misinterpretation of scripture but  would be an absolutely  retrograde step (Heb.6:12-19).

Proof of the universal and catholic priesthood of believers:

  • I Peter 2:9-we are a royal priesthood
  • Revelation 1:6- we are made priests by Christ, by his redemption and are such here and now on earth.
  • Revelation 5:10- we will be a catholic priesthood (meaning universal-from every tribe and nation), in the new heaven and earth (future eternal state).

Revelation 20:6-again these are priests here and now in the NT age but in their spirit in the  intermediate state (after their first resurrection at death) in heaven.

So as prophets, priests and kings (the latter two offices always being linked in the N.T.) we function to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, use our lips to  praise and thank God and offer our prayers as intercessors for others.

Covenant Consecration of Israel (14)-their priests.

Consecration of Israel’s priests.

Sung Psalm 132:7-14

Reading Exodus 29:1-37 (carried out in Leviticus 8)

 

Remember the stages in the consecration of the priests:

  1. washing
  2. dressing
  3. anointing
  4. sacrificing
  5. smearing (of blood)
  6. sprinkling
  7. abiding

The Aaronic priesthood was: *hereditary, with public ordination (Lev.8:3) and ceremonial (ceremonial liquids, objects e.g. altar and garments .

Consecration of Christ

We looked at Hebrews and the contrast of Christ’s consecration and calling (Heb.5:5, Acts 13:33, Psalm 2:7). It had none of the above* characteristics. He was called severally-in eternity, at his birth, baptism, resurrection/ascension. He has an eternal priesthood given him under an oath from God the Father which is none other than a divine “fiat” or decree-“Thou art a priest for ever…” What a wonderful High Priest we have and what priviledges and responsibilities have church office bearers and members who are also called into office as priests.

 

Acts 11:1-30

Acts 11:1-30

Peter reports to the church in Jerusalem because certain Jewish leaders were critical of his association with Gentiles in Caesarea. Some of them accused him of associating and eating with Gentiles which was a traditional addition to God’s law. These men were called the “circumcision”. Their accusation was correct but unjustified. This tells us that many in the New Testament church were zealous converted Jews who kept the law but were ignorant of the fact that ceremonies were passing and the church was becoming catholic or universal (see also Acts 15:24 where the same thing is repeated and 21:21-25 where Paul makes a small concession to them).

Peter logically recounted in detail the events in Joppa and Caesarea to show God’s providential hand in them. He gives three arguments that Gentiles are to be included in the church:

  • The Holy Spirit was poured out on them
  • Christ said his disciples would be baptized with the Spirit
  • The gift of tongues was seen as proof

The church at Jerusalem had nothing to say because Peter proved that the events were orchestrated by God and should be cause for gladness not criticism and that Gentiles as well as Jews were granted repentance and eternal life.

Luke recalls that after Stephen died great persecution broke out and many disciples scattered over the Roman Empire going as far as Crete, Cyprus, Libya and Antioch. These believers, some of whom were preachers, preached to Jews only because of their similar background and language (carrying on the ministry of Christ and the apostles to the lost sheep of the house of Israel). Grecians were Jews who spoke Greek, who likely came from outside Israel. When the church in Jerusalem heard about conversions outside, they sent Barnabas to assess, as far as Antioch where most were converted. The grace of God (v23) is his power to save (Titus 2:11). Barnabas is described as a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith. He went to get Saul from Tarsus because Saul was very knowledgeable in the Scriptures, an apostle and a teacher, who alongside him, taught and established and built up the church making them disciples.

Apparently, the minister of the church in Antioch and possibly outsiders there, nicknamed the disciples “Christians” or Christ-ones. We do not know if this name was an insult or compliment.

There still were extraordinary prophets in the New Testament church because the canon of Scripture was not finally fixed. These men got direct divine revelation and were able to say, “Thus saith the Lord.” Agabus prophesied a famine in Israel which happened sometime between 43 and 46AD. The disciples in Antioch decided to send money to the Jerusalem church because of their unity and care and we need to respond in the same way today.

Next study (DV) August 11th at 8pm Acts 12:1-25

Pursuit of Glory (9)

We want life-a life of glory, happiness, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, peace and holiness. God, in Christ is the life (John 1:4). To know him is to have eternal life (John 17:3, 1 John 5:11-12). It is abundant life (John 10:10). An unbroken covenantal relationship with God is life. The life of Christ within (Gal.2:20) is “like an everlasting river that quenches all our thirsts.” It’s the life Adam and Eve had pre-fall. Death came as separation from God leading to misery, meaninlessness, bondage, guilt, unrighteousness and shame. Spiritual death (separation from God), physical death and eternal death are all aspects of this death.

Christ rejoiced throughout his life except for the hours of separation fromhis father. He was full of joy because he found pleasure in obeying God and he delighted in him at all times (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 45:7, Heb.1:9, he obeyed Phil.4:4). All that we seek (the headings of this book’s chapters) is found in Christ-we are complete in him (Col.2:10). The lost, born deceived, think that by feeding their bodily appetites, they will fulfill the deep longings of their hearts but these are insatiable till rest is found in Christ.

Excellent little book in it’s analysis of human need, human motives and human satisfaction!

Pursuit of Glory (8)

Holiness

 

Do we not all want to be good? I think not! We all want to please ourselves and  naturally despise God’s authority. The nature of sin is such that it leads to more sin and the conscience gets weaker. God punishes sin with more sin. Religious cloaks cover much evil and actually perpetuate it-think of suicide bombers who believe murdering infidels will bring them to their idea of heaven. We naturally love to sin.  We do self-righteous acts in an attempt to counterbalance the evil. No act is good unless the motive is to plaese God, it is done in faith, in obedience and for his glory. Unregenerate peoplecannot please God (Rom.8:8)-all is selfish. They sin because the come short of God’s glory (Rom.3:23). “Our thoughts, affections and deeds are all tainted by sin.” Only the Spirit resident in believers enables us to return love to God, bear fruit and have pure motives.(to be continued)

Pursuit of Glory (7)

Peace

“All humanity is at war with God since the first act of treason.” Humans hate and fight each other, wars, genocide, killing the unborn and terrorism. God and Satan are at war, and since Satan cannot affect God he wars against God’s church.  Man has no peace internally (Isaiah 48:22) because of guilt. Perfect peace comes only with perfect love, the love in the trinity. Religion and good works cannot expunge guilt, neither the numbing effect of drugs or alcohol or the distraction of entertainment and pleasure.  Christ alone earned peace and righteousness for us. Reconciliation comes by faith  in his finished work and the acknowledgement we are vile depraved sinners who must repent.

The Pursuit of Glory (6)

Truth

We are made to be lifelong students. Sadly the true knowledge of God, which constitutes one of the aspects of the image of God in man, was lost when our parents believed Satan’s lie. This is spiritual darkness, hiding to avoid the truth about our sins and what God says about them (Psalm 82:5). Our inablilty to understand truth is moral. “If anyone will do his will he shall know…” (John 7:17, I Cor.2:14).

 “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21).

The most pervasive and powerful lie infecting humanity is EVOLUTION…              “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:” (2 Peter 3:5)-JK

“Of  all the knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important” (Jonathan Edwards). We are full of self-deceit, and love to make gods in our own image. If we only perceive God’s justice and wrath, we will forever hide from him and suppress the truth, but knowing his mercy and grace in Christ leads us to repentance. The truth (Christ) frees us, sanctifies us and brings forgiveness as we confess our sins (John 8:32, 17:17). “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life….”

Pursuit of Glory (5)

Companionship

This chapter is about companionship and marriage.  The author describes a trip to Europe where he saw spectacular scenery in Switzerland but had no-one to share it with. “God did not design us to experience life alone” (Gen.2:18).

We crave companionship but we were created originally for fellowship with God, the fellowship that is enjoyed in the Trinity, and the fall destroyed that and our relationships with each other. Selfishness creates conflict in marriage. He quotes the example of a mega-rich businessman whose job priority was at the expense of family. “It is family and friends that make this life so special. We must invest our time in the things that matter most–God, family, and friends.”

God’s law commands us to love him and our neighbour. Counterfeit love is lust. “Love seeks the betterment of others while lust is for the satisfaction of self.” “Lust has more in common with hate than love, it uses people for personal pleasure then throws them in the wastebasket after their resources are used up”–witness Amnon and Tamar (II Samuel 13). Real love is from God and is supernatural (I Cor.13)-love will sacrifice without seeking to receive. “A loving mother understands it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Love delights in bringing joy and blessings to others. To love someone and to be loved by someone is the most treasured of all blessings.”

But even the best earthly relationship falls short. We need the love of God because his love is perfect, unconditional and unchangeing. Out of sheer love Christ gave everything for his people (Rom.5:5,8, 2:4, 8:31-39). We were saved to enter covenant love with God and his people–the fellowship of the saints. Heaven needs no marriage because the earthly type is swallowed up in the reality it typified, namely the marriage of Christ and his church.

Further reading: Keeping God’s covenant (Engelsma/Hanko), Communion with God (John Owen), Handle with Care (Dr Julian Kennedy), Walking in the Way of Love (Nathan Langerak)

Book Review-“The Pursuit of Glory.”

Book Review

The Pursuit of Glory by Jeffrey D. Johnson

Paperback 113 pages published by Reformation Heritage books Grand Rapids 2018

Amazon Books £5.73p

 

This book is useful as an evangelistic tool and as a spur to believers. By reading it I believe, God uses it to answer the prayer of David in Psalm 139:23,24 to search us and know us and lead us in the way everlasting. This book, like Scripture is a sharp sword (Hebrews 4:12) to expose our motives-why we do things, in the same way as we know God looks at our hearts.

By covering all the basic human needs it shows us how fallen humanity perversely seeks to satisfy them. In the main it is theologically sound and very readable. The forward spells out its basic thesis which is Augustinian namely, “ You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” The chapters in turn show that the pursuit of happiness, purpose, truth, freedom (from sin, death and selfishness), companionship, peace, holiness and life (abundant) are all only found in relationship with God.

One basic error he repeats, and it is one widely believed among evangelicals, is that we (though fallen) are made in God’s image. Had he said we WERE made in God’s image he would be correct but now as fallen creatures and totally depraved we have lost all of that image which consisted true knowledge of God, righteousness and holiness which is only renewed when we are born again (Ephesians 4:24). He also ought to have said that pursuing God was part of our original humanity but now no man naturally seeks for God (Romans 3:11). He gets the “ordo salutis” (order of salvation) wrong when he says, “ By faith in God we are not only born again but empowered by the Spirit…” Regeneration precedes faith which is one of its fruits!

Some very pithy sayings include, “The biblical contrast to glory is vanity.” He maintains that the deep seated longings of our hearts (he ought to qualify this by saying regenerated hearts) is for eternal glory that is only found in God, it is the satisfying inter-trinitarian glory (John 17:5). As Westminster Confession states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.” We can never be self-sufficient simply because unlike God we are dependent creatures. “The cause of sin stems from a heart that desires to satisfy a legitimate craving with an illegitimate experience.” “Finite and perishable things were not designed to fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts.” “The end of love is the betterment of the other while the end objective of lust is the satisfaction of self.”

Near the end of the book he says something I had to contemplate but eventually had to agree with namely, that Christ was the “happiest” i.e. most joyful person who ever lived despite the fact he was a man of sorrows. He never lost his joy and was able to obey the Pauline injunction to rejoice evermore (Philippians 4:4) except when he was deserted in those awful last hours before he said ,”It is finished.”Hence the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Dr Julian Kennedy, Ballymena.