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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The Covenant of God

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The Reformation brought the church again to the Apostolic faith by emphasizing the 5 “onlys” (Solas) but really there are 6! The one often set aside is central to all the purposes of God namely, the Covenant Alone.

 

We are saved by Faith alone,

by Grace alone,

In Christ alone,

because of the Covenant alone,

which is revealed in Scripture alone,

and all to the Glory of God alone.

The covenant “formula” oft repeated throughout Scripture is “I will be your God and you will be my people”. God dwells in love as three persons and extends that covenant of love to include his people in all of history, through his Son. God’s friendship with elect sinners is its essence. It is a huge privilege to be a covenant friend and child of God! Treasure it!

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Audio Recordings
At this year’s Reformation Day Conference in the CERC (Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore), Rev Andy Lanning gave three speeches under the theme “The Forgotten Sola Of the Reformation: Solus Foedus”.
Was the Covenant a forgotten Sola? Which doctrine of the covenant is true? How does the covenant affect our lives as God’s people?
Click to listen to the 3 RDC speeches!

If you cannot give the time to listening to these speeches to which I highly commend , here are three summaries:

Message One-The Covenant and Reformation History

The 5 “Solas” by their nature rule out all human meriting with God (Pelagianism)

Covenant means relationship, a bond of friendship (Psalm 25:4-where secrets (literally pillow-talk) are revealed). The formula make clear it is made with believers and their seed (gen 17:7). Christian marriage, indeed all marriage, is meant to reflect that covenant (Eph.5:26).

Teaching on God’s covenant relates to marriage, family, infants, worship and church membership.

The Anabaptists (part of the Reformation) anathematised Roman Catholic baptism of infants as the grossest of errors they opposed. They also held to recognizing no civil authority, no military, no oaths, direct revelation by dreams, extreme communal living. Their cause meant great suffering and harm for the true Reformed people who were lumped with them by the RC authorities and severely persecuted with over 100,000 deaths. They were the reason the Belgic Confession was written and providentially no Reformed died in the Dutch lowlands. We see the same bad name given the cause of Christ today by their successors in the  excesses of Pentecostalism and charismaticism. The answer to their erroneous doctrines is the truth of God’s covenant formulated mainly in Zurich by Zwingli and his successor Bullinger. In summary:

  1. The covenant is with God’s people AND their seed (hence each generation get the sign of the covenant applied). Baptism is based on God’s promise NOT man’s ex
  2. The covenant is eternal (it stretches back in the history of Old Testament as well as New Testament).

Is Roman Catholic baptism valid?

Yes according to Calvin and the Reformers as is any baptism that is:

a) Done in the name of the Trinity

b) Done with water.

c) Done by a lawfully called clergyman.

Regarding Adam and God’s covenant with him we can say:

  1. He was typical of Christ. He was a covenant head and was a covenant-breaker. He could never have merited with God. The covenant with him was gracious. We, in Adam, are also covenant-breakers and as  such, we all died in him (Romans 5:12).
  2. Christ as the Second Adam, in contrast to the first Adam, merited for us, and we, his elect, also all died in him. As a result we are brought into covenant friendship with the Triune God on a higher plane than even Adam experienced.

Message Two-The Covenant in Modern Debate

Mutual ownership. “I will be your God and you will be my people”-God belongs to us and we belong to God.

Intimate relationship. The tabernacle and temple were where God dwelt with his people just as a married couple dwell together. Marriage reflects the covenant between Christ and his church. Yet he has no need of us.

Structured. It is his covenant. He orders, He promises, He is Father. We have obligations e.g. the sign to be given, he orders, we are children.

Unconditional. He establishes it unilaterally with the elect of which Christ is the federal head (Gen.17:7). The promise is to the elect seed only (Acts 2:38, Rom.8:30, 9:7-8).

Unbreakable. (Gen.17:7) “everlasting”.

False view is the conditional covenant. Klaas Schilder of Liberated Reformed Churches of Netherlands.

  1. Based on a universal promise to every baptised infant.
  2. Condition is faith. They must believe and obey i.e. salvation depends on man.
  3. Breakable.The resultant heresy is  “Federal Vision” theology held by the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches who teach salvation by faith and works which can be lost and so they deny election.The danger of this to the souls of men and their children is that it eventually leads to Roman Catholicism which is Pelagian, denies the solas, robs God of his glory, is sin (Rom.6:23) and means damnation to those who follow it.Infant baptism is based on this Biblical teaching of the covenant:
  1. Abraham’s children were included in the covenant and church.
  2. Unity of church in all time, therefore sign must be given in N.T.
  3. Household baptisms.
  4. Parent(s) promise to teach and admonish their children.
  5. Is no guarantee of regeneration.

 

Message  Three- The Application of Covenant Theology

  1. Family-marriage reflecting God’s covenant is a GOOD institution as also is the single life. The covenant teaches us our Biblical roles in marriage (Eph.5) The covenant, and therefore the marriage bond likewise, is UNBREAKABLE, lawful divorce does NOT break the bond therefore divorce (only allowed for adultery) does NOT allow remarriage. Only death breaks the bond. The covenant mandates covenant baptism of the infant children of a believer. The covenant mandates Christian parental teaching and admonition.
  2. Church-the key expression of covenant life where Christ speaks to his people and they respond, is public church worship (John 10:27). Church life is covenant life with brothers and sisters in covenant communion (Lord’s Supper and fellowship).
  3. Personally-our priority over all else is our relationship with our covenant head and this is fostered by using the personal means of grace in devotions.

Household Baptism (Baptism of infants)

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Who should be baptised? Well every denomination agrees that adults who confess their faith should. Fine, but when it comes to the children of believing parents we separate into credobaptist and paedobaptist. The credobaptist says children, especially infants, can’t profess faith so they must not be baptised. The paedobaptist says God makes his covenant with believers and their seed (children). The O.T. people of God gave their young children the covenant sign and since there is only ONE people of God in all time, the N.T. believer has the same command to obey. Paul calls the children of at least one believing parent “holy” in first Corinthians. While we acknowledge only the elect children are included in the covenant, the fact remains ALL were to be given the sign. Witness Jacob and Esau. Jacob was elect and Esau was not. But wasn’t circumcision given to the Jews only and a sign of their incorporation into the physical seed of Abraham? It had nothing to do with believing! No! Listen to this quote, “Herman Hanko: “Baptism and circumcision are identical in every respect except in their outward form, and their outward form is in keeping with the different dispensation in which they were given as signs of the covenant. The Scriptures are very clear on the point that circumcision and baptism both signify essentially the same thing. Both refer to the inward cleansing of the hearts of God’s people through regeneration and sanctification; both are signs and seals of the righteousness which is by faith; both refer to the work of sanctification through Jesus Christ” (We Are Our Children, p. 54).

Further reading

COVENANT LIFE AND OUR DAILY DEVOTIONS

From Salt Shakers-the magazine of the youth of Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church, Singapore.

Elisa Boon
COVENANT LIFE AND
OUR DAILY DEVOTIONS

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Elisa Boon is a confessing young adult in CERC.
How often do we do our personal devotions? Do we do it in a rush? Do we do it grudgingly

and only because our parents force us to do it? Are our hearts in it? Do we give priority

to our personal devotions over all our other daily activities? The Oxford dictionary defines

“devotion” to be love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person or activity. Our personal devotions

should hence stem from our love for God and always be placed in first priority.

Do we display love, loyalty, and enthusiasm when it comes to spending time

with God daily? Let us be reminded of how important daily devotions are in

our Covenant Life with God and may we be encouraged to spend time with God

in prayer and the reading of His Word daily.

Covenant Life
According to Prof. Engelsma, the Covenant of God with His elect is a unique

relationship of intimate fellowship in mutual love. And this intimate relation of

friendship is established in our Lord Jesus Christ. God reveals this in Scripture,

saying, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” (Jeremiah 7:23)

And in Jeremiah 31:33, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with

the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their
inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall

be my people.” God claims us as His people and as His children we are called

to keep this Covenant by living out the Truth of the Covenant. This can be

done in so many ways, for example, obeying God’s commandments,

and living antithetically in marriage and in the institution of the home.

However, in this article, we will focus on how we can keep the Covenant by

doing our daily devotions.
Covenant Life and Daily Devotions
What is vital in maintaining relationships with your friends, parents,

and those that you love? Communication, isn’t it? It is only through

continuous perseverance and patience in communication that we
discover what the other party likes or dislikes, what their personality is like,

and what their desires are— among many other things. It requires

communication to form a close and intimate friendship between two
parties. This is the same for the relationship we have with God.

In order to have a Covenant life with God, communication with God is key.

God communicates with us through the preaching of His Word in the Bible,
and through our daily prayers and devotions. But the most intimate

and personal means of communication we have with God is through

our devotions and prayers. It is only through personal devotions that we get
to share our unique needs, struggles and thanksgiving with our Covenant Friend.

At the same time, we learn of His will for us through the Scriptures.

Personal devotions are also a great Covenantal privilege!When we do our
devotions, we enter into the presence of Jehovah to listen to Him speak to us

through the reading of His Word (Psa 119:9, 105), and we also speak to Him

through our prayers. This is indeed a Covenantal blessing! There are many

verses in the Bible that exhort us to do our devotions! Daily devotions should

generally consist of at least two parts: prayer to God and the reading of Scripture.

The following two paragraphs show proof from the Bible about praying

and reading God’s Word respectively.
a) Prayer
These verses exhort us to be always praying and always talking with our

Covenant Friend. By praying, we are walking with God and will enjoy

the blessings of Covenant Life, just like Enoch did. (Genesis 5:22)
Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought

always to pray, and not to faint; Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always,

that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass,

and to stand before the Son of man. Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope;

patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,

and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Other verses include Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18.
b) Reading God’s Word
First, we want to read God’s Word because His Word is a lamp unto

our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). His Word reveals

His way for us and guides our footsteps as we journey as pilgrims.

Just as it would be foolishness for a traveller not to seek counsel from maps,

it will be foolishness for a child of God not to seek God’s will in the Scriptures.

Second, God’s Word is a weapon for His children in the midst of this
wicked world—it is the sword of the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:17)

Daily devotions prepare us for the daily battles we face with the devil;

not  doing our devotions would be akin to  going to the battlefield unarmed!
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:

and they are they which testify of me. Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said,

It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that
proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Psalm 119:9 Wherewithal shall a

young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Other verses include Act 17:11, Isaiah 34:16, and Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
We can also learn from many godly men in the bible who showed such

devotion for doing their devotions (pun intended) and enjoyed the fruits

of this Covenantal exercise. Look at David who prayed three times a day
and always sought after God (Psalm 55:17; 63:1,6), Daniel who continued

to pray and worship God despite threats to his life (Daniel 6:10),

Job who esteemed the words of God more than food for his body (Job 23:12)
and Jesus who set the example for His disciples and followers by making prayer

and devotions His priority and
exhorted them to do the same (Mark 1:35; Matthew 6:6).
Spiritual Laziness
Today, there are many attacks of the devil targeted at this Covenant Life

we have with God. The message of the world is to live life to the fullest,

to pursue material wealth and highflying careers, to seek fun and all sorts
of worldly entertainment so much so that the wonderful Truth and the

importance of the Covenant is pushed to a dark corner of a youth’s

closet and forgotten. As Christian youth, we must be vigilant and not fall into the
devil’s temptations which lead us away from the blessedness of keeping

God’s Covenant. Applying this specifically to daily devotions, let us

beware of spiritual laziness. A spiritually lazy youth neglects his prayers and the
reading of God’s Word; he lacks appreciation for the Truth and takes it for granted.

A spiritually lazy generation would be detrimental to the church and even the

denomination becauseapostasy begins with spiritual laziness! This is so

because he would choose worldly entertainment or the pursuit of worldly goals over
reading God’s Word and prayer. He will then lack a good understanding of Scripture,

which will allow false doctrines to creep into the church easily.
Conclusion
My fellow youth, when we plan our week’s or day’s activities, let us consider these:

“Will I have enough quiet time alone to meditate on God’s Word?

Does playing computer games or watching the television edify my  soul?

Can I put some of these things away and spend more time cultivating the

Covenantal relationship I have with my Covenant Friend? Am I just giving

excuses when I say that I do not have time for God?” May we be encouraged

that there is much spiritual profit in doing our devotions and how it adds to the
blessedness of the Covenant Life we have with God. All the attempts we

make to read God’s Word and develop spiritually will surely be rewarded by

God’s grace. Through devotions, the reality of God’s grace and love for us
will become more apparent; and when God’s Word becomes more precious to us,

we will have a much deeper comfort and security as we live as pilgrims in this world.

Let us press on in keeping the Covenant through doing our daily devotions,

and be comforted by the spiritual profit we will have as shown in Proverbs 13:4,

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the

diligent shall be made fat.”
Salt Shakers | Love for God’s Word

Are Your Minds & Your Hearts Prepared Daily For The Spiritual Battle We’re In?

Now more than ever, I feel an urgency to speak about the tribulation gripping the world.  As scene after scene plays out like a horror film that doesn’t end.  Even America is embroiled in awaiting chaos, as events unfold in the heartland of our country that threatens a civil type war.  We watched again this morning as murder from a horror film played out in Jerusalem as people praying in a synagogue were brutally attacked with axes, knives and guns.  Scenes too gruesome to display on public television.  Beheadings, crucifixions, amputations, stonings, all manner of public execution and mass graves, images too graphic for us to fully take in.  Suffering that is unimaginable.

As I listened tonight to a well known pastor and theologian describe the battle that is ensuing for our very souls by satan and his legion of demons, as he explained how important it was to guard our minds from deceiving spirits, as well as our hearts.  Our hearts so that we may turn to faith and love instead of hatred and calls for murder and revenge.  And again, I felt the urgent need to warn the Body of Christ that the time is now.  The time to arm ourselves with the Armor of God.   As the Pastor pointed out, Paul used the description of Roman armor because it was heavy and meant to guard the head, heart and vital organs.

The Christian’s Vital Organs: Our minds where Christ has placed the truth—the sword with which to fight the deception. And our hearts as we turn to faith and love.  Not hate, fear or vengeance.

Are you ready?  Is your mind, body, heart protected?  Soon it will be too late.  Many will fall away as the Bible predicts.  Are you ready?

Read Ephesians 6:10-18

Credit to ImpurFektFaith you tube

By C. Refsland, VOP Advocate

Practically speaking you put on the full armour every day as you seek the Lord in his word and prayer devotedly going into the day dependent upon him and unceasing in your prayerful fellowship with him-JK.

FORGIVENESS

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“Who can forgive sins but, God alone?” was the charge made by the pharisees to Christ as he healed the paralytic man who had been let down through the roof by his friends. Christ’s reply was “but that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins,” he said unto the sick of the palsy, “ I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.” (Luke 5:20-24). By this answer Christ not only claimed to be divine, he exercised the prerogative of the divine, namely to forgive sins. “To err is human, to forgive divine” is a well known truism.

Since all sins are against God and he is a just judge and has made a way for fallen man to be forgiven, namely by the sacrifice of his Son for sin, it is to him alone we must come to ask forgiveness( Acts 13:38; Eph.1:7). Scripture says,” But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Ps.130:4) and “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9).

What about forgiving the sins of others? For the believer there is no dispute, he is commanded to forgive his brother or sister as many times as necessary (Matt.6:14; 18: 21-22,35;II Cor.2:7;Eph.4:32), with the important proviso that the one who sinned must repent and ask for forgiveness (Luke 17:3-4). What about the believer forgiving the unbeliever e.g. a persecutor? The supreme examples here are the Lord Jesus himself and Stephen, the first martyr. Both men asked their heavenly Father to forgive the men who were putting them to death and God heard their prayers: witness the centurion’s statement as Christ expired and Saul consenting to Stephen’s death. If they prayed that God would forgive, then presumably they forgave their killers themselves. These prayers did not wait for any repentance on the behalf of the sinners. What about us? Can we do the same? Should we do the same? Many persecuted in foreign lands testify to doing this! Just last night I read of a US POW who forgave his evil Japanese tormentors and warmly embraced them when decades later he met them again in Japan.

Contentment

I reblog this from Brian Allenby of Christians at Work.

Weekending 1st November 2014

Word on Work

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Are you content?
‘Contentment comes when we remember that what God chooses is far better than what we choose’
So – THE SECRETS OF CONTENTMENT…
Last time we looked at the enemies of contentment; now let’s look at the secrets of contentment. There are at least three.
The first secret of contentment is this, have an “Attitude of gratitude.”
All the way through Philippians Paul talks about attitude, and he is saying, “If you have an attitude that causes you to be grateful for everything God has given you, you’ll find contentment.”
Alistair MacLean quotes a story from Tauler, the German mystic: One day Tauler met a beggar. “God give you a good day, my friend.” he said. The beggar answered, “I thank God I never had a bad one.”
Then Tauler said, “God give you a happy life, my friend.” “I thank God,” said the beggar, “I am never unhappy.”
Tauler asked, “What do you mean?” “Well,” said the beggar, “When it is fine, I thank God; when it rains, I thank God; when I have plenty, I thank God; when I am hungry, I thank God. And since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases Him, pleases me, why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?”
Tauler looked at the man in astonishment. “Who are you?” he asked. “I am a king,” said the beggar. “Where then is your kingdom?” asked Tauler. And the beggar answered quietly: “In my heart.”
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.”
Now, you can begin each day by saying, “God, this is going to be a tough day. I hate my life. I hate my work. I hate my spouse. I hate my family. I don’t know how in the world I’m going to make it.”
Or you can say, “God, thank you for the new day you’ve given me. Thank you for the opportunities. Help me today to do something that will last for all eternity. Use this day, Father, to your glory. And use me to your glory, too.” Now that’s an excellent ambition!
The second secret of contentment is to “seek to please Jesus” and to stop worrying about pleasing people. Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
That is a lesson we’ve never really learned. But if we do, then we’ll discover one of the secrets of being content. And Paul tells us, “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
In 1 Thessalonians 2:4 Paul says, “We are not trying to please men but God…” May that dedication be evident in our lives, too.
Here’s the third secret – “Love people, and show your concern for them.” Paul writes, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.” (Philippians 4:10)
Then he goes on to write, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” … “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.” (Philippians 4:11, 14)
Paul thanks the church in Philippi for being so concerned about him, not just for the money they sent, but the fact that they really cared about him. He was in prison and he was sick. So they wrote to him, and sent Epaphroditus to comfort and help him. And he tells them, “Your love means so much to me.
Now if you have someone who cares about you, someone who really loves you, someone who prays for you, someone who encourages you, and if you truly treasure that kind of relationship you may soon, like Paul, be able to say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.
But when the king looked closely at the waterfall, he saw behind it a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.
Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why? “Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. Just like work is on some days. That is the real meaning of peace.”
How about you? Do you have peace? Are you content? If you are not, then learn the secrets of contentment from the apostle Paul who depended upon his sovereign Saviour and Lord of his life.

Grow in grace

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How? By the means!

“The preserving, protecting, quickening, and strengthening grace of God is spread abroad upon the church in word and sacraments, in preaching and instruction, in discipline, and in all the labour expended on God’s church. The Lord cares for his vineyard!”  From “Redeemed with Judgment” by Homer C. Hoeksema.

In other words if you want to grow in grace, in knowledge, in sanctification, then you must seek to be a member of a true church that faithfully teaches and applies the whole counsel of God. Regular faithful exposition of Scripture is the key tool God uses to sanctify his people.

The wild grapes brought forth by the apostate church (Israel in Isaiah’s time and most churches today) are the fruits of sin and death. “The church may look beautiful, be refined, polished, civilized, and ever so religious. But in reality the apostate church which despises God’s revelation, tramples his word, and departs from his truth, stands spiritually and morally far below heathendom, which does not even have God’s revelation.”

To which church do you belong?

The book