Christ’s fullness

Colossians 1:19: “ For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;” and John 1:14: “ And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

  Hear John Owen: For the fountain of grace, the Holy Ghost, he received not him “by measure,” John 3. 34; and for the communications of the Spirit, “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” This is the Beloved of our souls, “holy, harmless, undefiled;” “full of grace and truth;” — full, to a sufficiency for every end of grace, — full, for practice, to be an example to men and angels as to obedience, full, to a certainty of uninterrupted communion with God, — full, to a readiness of giving supply to others, — full, to suit him to all the occasions and necessities of the souls of men, — full, to a glory not unbecoming a subsistence in the person of the Son of God, — full, to a perfect
victory, in trials, over all temptations, — full, to an exact correspondence to the whole law, every righteous and holy law of God, full to the utmost capacity of a limited, created, finite nature, — full, to the greatest beauty and glory of a living temple of God, — full, to the full pleasure and delight of the soul of his Father, — full to an everlasting monument of the glory of God, in giving such inconceivable excellencies to the Son of man.”

    And by his cross and resurrection we are the recipients of some of this fullness all our days.

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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Joseph

Every time I read Genesis 45 tears well up in my eyes. The story evokes so much pathos. Joseph, the long-lost eleventh son of Jacob having been sold as a slave by his jealous brothers has risen to be prime minister of Egypt.

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He has given his brothers a taste of injustice by returning their food money in their sacks and planting his silver cup in Benjamin’s. He has been testing their characters by demanding a hostage when they return home and now for the last time, having sent his steward to apprehend them, he finally cannot control himself any longer in their presence and leaves the room to weep returning to reveal his identity with much weeping and embracing.

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Although not a type of Christ there are many parallels in the two lives:

  • He is betrayed by jealous brethren (Christ and the Jews).
  • He is sold for twenty pieces of silver (Christ was sold for thirty)
  • He is unjustly bound and imprisoned
  • God is manifestly with him throughout (Chapter 39 x4)
  • Having suffered he is exalted to very high station
  • He forgives his brethren
  • He believes in the absolute sovereignty of God
  • He is a saviour to his family
  • He forgave them their sin against him

He is a godly example and man of faith (Hebrews 11:22), is there any wonder I named my son after him?

The Holy Spirit and the Ascension

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What was promised?

What happened?

What changed?

 

Christ promised to pour out his spirit on the disciples after the resurrection. He said that he would send the comforter who would be their teacher and we know this PARAKLETE would apply all the benefits of Christ’s atoning death, resurrection and ascension to his people (John 14:16, 16:7, 13, Acts 1:8), namely adoption, assurance, sealing and gifting.

The outpouring of the spirit at Pentecost, and subsequently on all the elect, was promised in the Old Testament as Peter stated (Acts 2:33). Psalm 68:18 (quoted in Eph.4:8), Isaiah 32:15, 44:3, 59:21, Ezekiel 39:29 and especially Joel 2:28 are relevant.

The Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son (BC Art.11*) was poured out on the fledgling church enabling miraculous signs to authenticate their ministry, gift them for all their service, teach them, and seal them as his people for ever.

What changed was, that the eternal unchangeable Spirit came as the Spirit of the risen Christ (John 7:38-39, I Cor.15:45), merited by Christ’s great work, promised as his inheritance (along with all his seed) and received by him as mediator, not for himself, because he was always filled without measure (Psalm 45:7, Heb.1:9, John 3:34) but for the church.

What changed was:

  • He was poured out publicly and universally (previously almost exclusively among the Jews)
  • He came as the teacher of God’s truth, to complete the canon and develop truth throughout church history.
  • He came with greater revelation (especially concerning Christ’s work and eschatology), dispensing richer grace (the least in the kingdom is greater than John the Baptist) and all the gifts (I Cor.12), tongues especially was new and a reversal of Babel. New Testament believers are all prophets, priests and kings!

* Belgic Confession.

Blessed are the pure in heart.

 

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Matthew 5:8.                                                                                                                                                                    Blessed are the pure in heart,…. Not in the head; for men may have pure notions and impure hearts; not in the hand, or action, or in outward conversation only; so the Pharisees were outwardly righteous before men, but inwardly full of impurity; but “in heart.” The heart of man is naturally unclean; nor is it in the power of man to make it clean, or to be pure from his sin; nor is any man in this life, in such sense, so pure in heart, as to be entirely free from sin. This is only true of Christ, angels, and glorified saints: but such may be said to be so, who, though they have sin dwelling in them, are justified from all sin, by the righteousness of Christ, and are “clean through the word,” or sentence of justification pronounced upon them, on the account of that righteousness; whose iniquities are all of them forgiven, and whose hearts are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, which cleanses from all sin; and who have the grace of God wrought in their hearts, which, though as yet imperfect, it is entirely pure; there is not the least spot or stain of sin in it: and such souls as they are in love with, so they most earnestly desire after more purity of heart, lip, life, and conversation. And happy they are,
for they shall see God; in this life, enjoying communion with him, both in private and public, in the several duties of religion, in the house and ordinances of God; where they often behold his beauty, see his power and his glory, and taste, and know, that he is good and gracious: and in the other world, where they shall see God in Christ, with the eyes of their understanding; and God incarnate, with the eyes of their bodies, after the resurrection; which sight of Christ, and God in Christ, will be unspeakably glorious, desirable, delightful, and satisfying; it will be free from all darkness and error, and from all interruption; it will be an appropriating and transforming one, and will last for ever. John Gill Commentary<!–

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This can be cross-referenced with Paul’s aim, ” bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” in II Corinthians. 10:5

Identity

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It is noteworthy that the first two temptations of Christ were centred on his identity. “I thou be the Son of God….”. Christ’s firm conviction of who he was (John 13:3) saw him overcome. Similarly we as God’s children need to be utterly convinced that we are adopted, loved, helped and kept by our heavenly Father despite the fact that of ourselves we are guilty totally depraved sinners.

“Content with who I am in Christ”

Lecture at C.P.R.C. Ballymena

Rev. Ron VanOverloop (Michigan, USA)

Weds. 18th January 2017 at 7.30pm

Fear for the Future

 

If you are like me you constantly need reassurance that you have no need to fear. In fact you are commanded 75 times in Scripture to “fear not!” Rev. John Heys wrote about this in the Standard Bearer in 1970.

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“..the thought of death gives us fear and many an anxious moment.”  But, “Let the eye of faith be fixed on Christ, and our fear will not be one of terror and fright but of reverence and awe, ” and I would add COMFORT. “Death does not seem such a terrible woe to the believer, because he sees it as his servant instead of his enemy…And he fears God rather than death which God controls so perfectly.”…”And if (God’s) mercy is ALWAYS upon us (Psalm 103:17) and was upon us from everlasting and will be everlastingly, what can or will harm us?” The Lord is constantly with us his people, ready and willing to meet every need. We have covenant fellowship with him. He is in us and we in him. NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

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Samples from Seminary – What is Mercy?

Good definition.

Young Calvinists

At seminary, the professors stress the importance of coming up with clear definitions whenever we develop a concept. Recently, we had a discussion over the idea of mercy.

The question arises: what exactly is mercy?

Some speak of mercy as it relates to grace. Grace is God’s undeserved favor toward those who deserve the opposite. In other words, because God is gracious toward us, we receive something we do not deserve. Some assert that mercy is just the opposite. Namely, that out of his mercy for us, God withholds what we rightly deserve. For example, while we deserve to be condemned for ours sins, in his mercy, God withholds that condemnation from us.

While this is an attractive way to keep these two concepts straight, I’m not sure that it gets at the heart of mercy. Certainly this explanation is not unbiblical; however, it is more of an example of…

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Spiritual Exercise Means Effort in Affliction.

Afflictions evidence to ourselves, and manifest to others, the reality of grace. When we suffer as Christians, exercise some measure of that patience and submission, and receive some measure of these supports and supplies, which the Gospel requires and promises to believers—we are more confirmed that we have not taken up with mere notions; and others may be convinced that we do not follow cunningly devised fables. Afflictions likewise strengthen us—by the exercise our graces. As our limbs and natural powers would be feeble if not called to daily exertion—so the graces of the Spirit would languish, without something which was provided to draw them out to use.

John Newton

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This is exercising oneself unto godliness (I Tim.4:7).

Contentment

In Philippians 4:11, Paul declares, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

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How can he say this?

Firstly discontentment is sin and leads to sin! “Covetousness, pleasure madness, discontent, complaining, self-centredness, entitlement etc.”

Contentment is demanded by the Sovereign Creator.

“Hebrews 13:5, Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have.” God “knows what we need and what is good for us, and he demands contentment from us.”

“One of the greatest ways we can show contentment is submission to the will of God for our lives.”

Contentment is given by a Gracious Saviour

“Contentment is a grace, a gift graciously given with Christ to the believer.”

Our contentment is in God alone.

“Christian contentment, then, means that my satisfaction is independent of my circumstances.”

(Our) “contentment is in the sufficiency  of Christ. (We can say),”I can do all things—both being abased and abounding—through Christ” Phil.4:13.

“However, as Paul says, contentment was something he had to learn.”

Contentment is learned in the school of trials.

“When one learns to be content, the comparing, the covetousness, and the complaining stop.” Because we acknowledge God puts everything in our lives.

“Christian ambition is to live my life to its fullest potential for God’s glory.”

“How true are the words of Augustine, ‘Thou hast made us for thyself O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

All quotations from article in Beacon Lights Magazine October 2016 edition by Rev. Rodney  Kleyn. 

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                               Further Reading: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. http://www.preachtheword.com/bookstore/contentment.pdf