God is good!

Jehovah’s Goodness

This meditation was written by Rev. Herman Hoeksema and published in the very first issue of the Standard Bearer, dated October 1924.

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The Lord is good to all…but all the wicked will he destroy. Ps. 145:9a, 20b

Emphatically, according to the Hebrew original, the poet, who is the inspired author of this psalm, puts it: “Good is Jehovah.”

The Lord is goodness essentially.

Apart from any relation to his creatures, conceived all by himself, in himself, for himself, as the absolutely self-existent, self-sufficient, independent one, the Lord is good. His essence is goodness, his eternally adorable divine being is only good. Could we enter into the amazing profundity and explore the fathomless depths of his infinite being, the deepest depths of the incompre­hensible divine essence would reveal nothing but good­ness.

He is the light and there is no darkness in him. He is truth, righteousness, holiness, purity, love, grace, mercy and eternal life, and there is no lie, unrighteous­ness, defilement, corruption and death in him.

He is Summum Bonum, the highest good, not in a mere superlative sense, not in a sense that would compare him with other goods or goodnesses, that might perhaps be conceived as existing next to him though in a far inferior degree; but in the sense that he is the sole good, that there is no good apart from him or without him. He is the ultimate and absolute criterion of all good. He is not good in the sense that he answers to a certain standard of goodness that might be applied to him, but himself is the only standard of all that is called good.

He is good because he is God.

Very perfection in all his adorable virtues. Good is Jehovah!

The Lord is good!

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And because the very being of his adorable godhead is goodness, the divine nature in all the glorious attributes thereof is purest perfection and immaculate goodness. Neither is there any reason of want in God why he should need an object unto which to reveal and upon which to lavish his goodness. For as the triune God he lives from everlasting to everlasting the perfect life of Infinite goodness in and thru himself. Never there arises from the unfathomable depths of his perfect essence the slightest thought that is not good, perfect, true. Never the faintest thrill of imperfection there is in the will of Jehovah. Never the most imperceptible dis­cord there is in his divine feeling. Never there is the tiniest ripple of evil on the stream of life flowing from his divine heart.

No shadow of darkness ever bedims the light of life, perfect and infinite, of the divine family. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, each eternally subsisting in the unchange­able essence of limitless goodness, thinking in the perfect mind, willing with the perfect will are living in absolute self-sufficiency an uninterrupted divine life of purest goodness, dwelling in a light that is never in any wise bedimmed.

Yea, good is Jehovah!

Everlastingly, solely, unchangeably good!

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Because the Lord is good, the absolute good in himself he is also good to all his creatures.

Good is Jehovah to all!

He is the overflowing fount of all good.

All the good his creatures ever receive is solely from him and is only good because he is good, assumes an attitude of goodness to them. He is full of richest benevolence which he lavishes in profuse abundance upon all the wide creation. His goodness profuses the silvery luster throughout the starry heavens and arranges their marvelous harmony night upon night. His goodness decks the sun with that glorious attire of wondrous gold, day after day. His goodness adorns the lily of the field with purest beauty such as Solomon never possessed and clothes the royal cedars of Lebanon with strength and majesty. His goodness causes the royal eagle to renew its strength as it sweeps the firmament with powerful wing; and fills the mouth of the young raven crying to him for food. His goodness remembers the roaring lion and the chirping sparrow on the housetop. His goodness clothes the meadows in velvety green and covers the fields with golden grain. His goodness made man a little lower than the angels, adds keenness to his mind and strength to his arm and fills his heart with gladness.

Surely, all the works of his hand speak of his good­ness.

Good is Jehovah to all!

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Nor is this the last word that is to be said about the goodness of Jehovah.

It may be the last in the estimation of a natural religion, that knows of no sin and speaks of no grace.

It might be the last word had paradise not been lost. There in the midst of that Edenic virgin beauty of crea­tion, in that original state of unmarred perfection, where sin had not dropped her stain and misery had not left her scar and the groan of the sufferer was not heard,—there God’s goodness displayed itself simply as goodness, overflowing riches of benevolence, poured upon every creature according to the measure of its capacity.

The single light-beam of God’s goodness had not re­solved itself into the many-colored rays of his grace, tender mercy and loving kindness in contrast with his holy wrath and faultless justice.

But sin entered. And in the wake of sin came death. And with death followed suffering in all its awful forms, agony of soul and body, pain, sorrow, grief, fear. And the curse of God was pronounced upon the creature and subjected it to vanity; the chilling breath of a good God, maintaining himself in his goodness over against a sin­ful world, caused the w-hole creation to groan and travail together in pain. And even thus the creature made subject to vanity and man in his guilt bending under the cruel scourge of suffering and death are testimonies that the Lord is good and that there is no evil in him.

But more must be said.

Suffering creation, sin and guilt and misery and death and all the thick darkness from hell only became the occasion for God to manifest his goodness more abun­dantly. Darkness was employed by him as a prism thru which to resolve the pure white beam of his goodness into wonderful rays of manifold perfection. First of all there is, on occasion of sin and suffering, the beautiful and rich manifestation of God’s wonderful mercy and lovingkindness. His tender mercies are over all his works. Radiating from the cross of God’s beloved Son this tender mercy beams its warm glory first of all upon his chosen people whom he loved with love everlasting, with a love that is always first. Upon them he lavishes his tender mercy in the blood pouring from the heart of his only begotten, and in these streams of mercy he cleanses them from guilt, heals them from sin, redeems them from the power of death, comforts them forever for their misery and makes them heirs of a glory unspeakable, of a life incomparably richer, fuller, deeper than ever first paradise knew. They taste his lovingkindness and tender mercy, speak of it and sing of it, showing forth the praises of him that called them from darkness into his marvelous light. But even as the awful darkness of sin and misery spread from the first Adam till it enshrouded an entire groaning creation in its horrors, so the glad light of redemption radiates from the second Adam, falls first upon the elect, thence to spread again over the whole creation. Remembering his groaning creature with bowels of mercy and compassion, the Lord stretches the rainbow of an everlasting covenant over all. His tender mercies are over all his works.

The creature is made subject to vanity. It is subject to the yoke of bondage. It is travailing in pain together until now….

But in hope!

The whole creation shall be liberated from the bondage of corruption and be made to partake of the glorious liberty of the children of God!

Bowels of mercy!

The Lord is good to all!! His tender mercy is over all his works!

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Good is Jehovah.

But all the wicked will he destroy.

Seemingly there is irreconcilable conflict here. The Lord is good and yet he destroys. Many a sinful mind will not have it so. Many would dream of a goodness without righteousness, of a grace without justice, of a benevolence without holy wrath. And yet, upon closer investigation this apparent conflict disappears, dissolves itself into most sublime harmony. He will destroy all the wicked because he is good. The destruction of the wicked, God’s wrath upon them is but another aspect of his perfect goodness.

The wicked are the vessels of wrath, fitted unto destruction. They are those that love iniquity and righteousness. God is not in all their thoughts. They say within their hearts, they express it in their words, they reveal it in their ways,—that there is no God. They are God’s enemies and children of their father the devil. They dwell in darkness and love it. They crucify Christ and persecute his people. They make the measure of their iniquity full.

So are all the wicked.

But the Lord is good. And because he is good and there is no evil in him, because he is a light and there is no darkness in him, therefore, his soul loves the righteous and loatheth the wicked, his face beams with tender mercy upon those that love him, but burns with fierce wrath upon them that love iniquity; he preserves the righteous but destroys all the wicked.

The Lord is good. Therefore there are in him bowels of mercy and consuming fires of holy wrath!

Hallelujah!

Acts 17

Acts 17:1-9
Thessalonica
This city, now called Thessaloniki was on the coast and on a highway from Italy to the east (Egnation Way). It was a centre of commerce and military base. Paul went into the synagogue to speak to Jews and Jewish proselytes because they had at least some knowledge of God and he preached Christ.
He used the Old Testament scriptures, likely the Greek Septuagint, to show that Christ portrayed in them, had to suffer die and rise again, fulfilling prophecy. He did this because this is the central tenet of the gospel, the only way of salvation and the power of God.
This teaching was contrary to the Jewish idea of a conquering, political, military king-messiah. Some Jews believed and wanting to learn more spent time with Paul and Silas. The numbers suggest more Gentiles than Jews were present and the mention of prominent women suggested the men were busy elsewhere. The unbelieving Jews instigated trouble because they were envious of the influence of the apostles and were undoubtedly moved by Satan to persecute them. They enrolled a mob attempting to find and assault them. It looks as though Jason had given the apostles hospitality but they had left his house before the mob struck. The Jews accused Jason, and by inference the apostles, of instigating a new religion asserting that Jesus was a new king. The rulers took bail money from Jason as security there would be no further trouble.


Fist century synagogue ruin.

Acts 17:10-15
Berea
The Thessalonians sent Paul and Silas away at night so they could escape persecution just as Christ prescribed in Matthew 10:23, this was wise. Paul went into the synagogue and preached to the Bereans who were more receptive than the Thessalonians, showing deep interest to learn the truth and obey it, like good prepared soil. They checked the scriptures to verify the content of Paul’s message. The word searched, studied and believed brought them to faith (Rom.10:14). There appeared again to be a majority of women here and many upper class. The Jews from Thessalonica, again jealous of the apostles’ influence and perhaps fearing financial loss and detesting the message of Messiah, stirred up trouble. Paul, because persecution was imminent, was taken to Athens but Timothy and Silas stayed to teach and establish the new converts.

Acts 17:16-34
Athens
Paul was so disturbed (the Greek word used is APOPLEXY meaning a stroke or epileptic fit)because of the idolatry which was robbing God of his rightful glory and worship. Paul disputed with the Jews and proselytes because their worship was idolatrous and false in alleging any other way than Christ and self-righteousness as the way to God. In the public market he disputed with people who were buying and selling. Epicureans were Greeks who were atheists, believers in chance, and who developed into pure hedonists (lovers of pleasure). Stoics were Greeks who believed in a creator who now stood back from creation (deism) and that happiness came in bravely accepting everything that happened to you. Some called Paul a babbler (picker up of scraps) and others of teaching new Gods-Jesus and Anastasis (resurrection).

The Areopagus hill in Athens.
The Areopagus on Mars Hill (Mars being the Greek god of war) was a venerable institution and centre of learning and worship. The Athenians wanted to know what he was speaking about but with only a superficial interest. They were later very dismissive and generally thought the gospel was foolishness (I Cor. 1:23). They were an inquisitive people and religious, perhaps realising that there was another God the creator and wanting to ensure he was not missed out of their pantheon. They were ignorantly worshipping because they had no knowledge of true worship of God through his Son. Paul started with creation, rejecting the notion that God could be represented by anything material (Rom.1). He taught God as self-sufficient, omnipresent, creator and sustainer of all life and who made all men from one and controls all peoples and nations. Paul mentioned in support of his speech, a Greek poet Aratus who belonged to the Macedonian court and who was an astronomer and stoic who wrote the exact same things.His conclusion was that since all things were made by an omnpresent invisible God he cannot be represented by an idol/image. This willful ignorance of the nature of God was culpable (Romans 1) but God refrained from judging it immediately. Because the revelation of Christ has now come God now commands all men to repent and believe. Paul refers to the final judgment because that is when all will give account and be judged, the proof being God’s resurrection of Christ. The Athenians mostly mocked but some showed slight interest and presumably he departed because of their poor response despite one Greek philosopher, a noble woman and some others becoming believers.
Next Study (DV) Saturday February 1st 2020 on Acts 18

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.

What Does it Mean to “Grieve” the Holy Spirit? (Eph. 4:30)

In Ephesians 4:30, we are commanded, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

This exhortation well accords with the Spirit’s being a person, even the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, for a stone or a blind, impersonal force cannot be grieved. Only a person, one possessed of reason and will, one who can think and choose as a moral agent, can be grieved.

This grieving of the Spirit must also be understood in the light of His Deity. Someone is grieved if they suffer sorrow or pain. Man grieves at the loss of a loved one. Believers grieve over their sins. We experience mental pain and sadness. But this does not apply to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, who is possessed of an infinite and unchangeable blessedness that admits of no diminution. In understanding the grieving of the Holy Spirit, we must not ascribe any imperfection to His glorious majesty.

So what then is it to grieve the Holy Spirit? First, we grieve the Holy Spirit when we do things that He hates. Here it is helpful to think of one human being grieving another: a child irritating his parents, a neighbour doing something you cannot stand, a foolish man speaking in a way his wife detests. And what is the one thing we do that grieves the Spirit? Sin and only sin. The Spirit loathes, detests and abhors the evil that we think and do. He hates our iniquities because they are contrary to His character as the spotlessly pure One, the One who is the personal consecration of the Father to the Son and the Son to the Father. The Spirit abhors our transgressions because they oppose His work in us. His purpose with us and activity in us is to sanctify and cleanse us. So He cannot but loathe our filthiness, our perversity in jumping back into the mire of iniquity. He is the One who leads us according to the Word in paths of righteousness, crying, “This is the way; walk ye in it.” So He detests our unfaithfulness if we (for a time) leave the way of obedience and walk in sin.

Second, we grieve the Holy Spirit when, because of our iniquities, He withdraws the sense of His gracious presence from us, until we are brought to repentance. We can understand this too from the realm of human relationships. You have an acquaintance who uses foul language; you admonish him; he fails to repent; you separate from him. Or you have a son still living in your home who walks openly and impenitently in gross sin, bringing great misery and distress upon your family. After your repeated and earnest rebukes fall upon deaf ears, you tell him that he must leave your home and get a house of his own.

The Holy Spirit is God’s love and covenant friendship in us personally. What does He do, when He sees us walking impenitently in sin? He hates it and withdraws from us His sweet presence, for the Spirit only fellowships with us as we walk in the light. He cannot continue to grant us comfort and peace while we live in sin, as if God approved of our wickedness and was not terribly offended, as if the Holy One of Israel has communion with unrighteousness!

You see this don’t you? You understand the seriousness of disobedience? You do not want to grieve the Spirit or see your children do so. How awful it is to grieve the Spirit: for Him to hate the way we live and to withdraw His comforting presence from us!

We read of God grieving in the days before the flood. Sin developed, especially through mixed marriages between the sons of the church and the daughters of the world (Gen. 6:2), and so God was “grieved” in His “heart” (6). He hated their wickedness (5) and sent the flood.

The other period particularly known for God’s being grieved is that of Israel’s wilderness wandering. “How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!” (Ps. 78:40). “Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest” (95:10-11). Isaiah 63 speaks of the same period and specifically states that the ‘Holy Spirit’ was grieved: “But they rebelled, and vexed [i.e., grieved] his holy Spirit” (10).

But what about those things which are said to grieve the Holy Spirit in the immediate context of Ephesians 4:30? Notice that the text begins with “And,” linking it to the preceding verse: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (29). Foul speech, obscene language and malicious words are “corrupt,” that is, putrid and rotten. Such talk grieves the Holy Spirit because He is the Spirit of life and purity. He cannot dwell at peace with one who speaks this way; He hates corrupt conversation and withdraws.

Some point out that the word “corrupt” in Ephesians 4:29 also carries the idea of “worthless.” Why use worthless, corrupt and rotten talk, when you could be “edifying [others by your speech], that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (29)?

It is not only corrupt speech (Eph. 4:29) that grieves the Holy Spirit (30). Lying (25) grieves the Spirit, for He is the Spirit of truth. Sinful anger (26-27) grieves the Spirit, for He is the Spirit of self-control. Stealing (28) grieves the Spirit, for He is the Spirit who works and enables us to labour honestly. The verse after our text lists other sins which grieve the Spirit: “bitterness,” “wrath,” “anger,” “clamour,” “evil speaking” and “malice” (31). These things are abhorred by the heavenly dove and drive Him away from our breasts.

Notice that these sins are sins against our brothers and sisters in the church. Do not lie, “for we are members one of another” (25). Do not steal but work in order to help those who are in need (28). Use wholesome, not corrupt, speech “that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (29). Instead of “bitterness,” “malice,” etc., we must be “kind one to another” (31-32). Thus the prohibition of sinful anger (26-27) especially deals with our fellow saints in the church. If you go to bed at night without confessing the evil of wrath against your brother or sister, you are not only giving place to the devil (26-27), you are also giving him room to work destruction through you in the church, the body of Jesus Christ. And you are grieving the Spirit, the Spirit of love and communion.

At this someone might protest, “I was bitter only towards my sister; I spoke harshly only to my brother; I sinned only in a particular area of my life. I did not realize that the Holy Spirit was involved. I did not intend to grieve Him!” You did not intend to, but you did. We must use the truth of Ephesians 4:30 (in its context) to fight against our iniquities, realizing that it is not only that corrupt speech and all these other things transgress the law but also that they grieve the blessed Spirit. Surely, we do not wish to treat the Holy Spirit unkindly or disrespectfully, or displease Him. We do not want Him to withdraw or depart from us with the comforts of the gospel of Christ. We need Him. We pray for His presence with us. We love Him as God’s Spirit and Christ’s representative, who makes us enjoy the blessings of the covenant of grace.

The result of grieving the Holy Spirit is not the loss of salvation, for this would overthrow the preservation and perseverance of the saints. We are God’s inviolable property—past, present and future—”ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (30). The Spirit, personally, is this seal.

The result of grieving the Holy Spirit is the loss of our assurance. This is the rationale of the text: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Grieving the Spirit results in His withdrawing from us His gracious operation of assurance as a seal (cf. Covenant Reformed News XII:8-9). Thus lying (25), sinful anger (26-27), stealing (28), corrupt speech (29), “bitterness,” “wrath,” “anger,” “clamour,” “evil speaking” and “malice” (31), as well as other sins, especially those against our fellow believers in the church, grieve the Spirit and cause us to lose our assurance.

Do you have assurance that you belong to Jesus Christ, that He died for your sins, that you were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that you are His forever? If you do not, there is something wrong. Have you been grieving the Spirit by sinning against the saints? Repent, child of God, and believe in the power of the cross of Christ for forgiveness and sanctification!

When we grieve the Spirit, the Spirit grieves us; we are grieved too. You respond, “But Ephesians 4:30 does not say this!” Ah, but it logically follows. When we grieve the Spirit, He withdraws from us. Remember that He is the Comforter! Withdrawal of the Comforter means we lose comfort and thus experience sorrow and pangs of conscience—grief! Loss of assurance is itself grief. No longer convinced of the Father’s hearty love for you; not sure if you are His child; walking in spiritual darkness and coldness; what else is this but grief! It is grief too for your family, your fellow saints and your church’s office-bearers, who are to look after your spiritual health. Ultimately and by sheer grace, the Spirit brings us to the wholesome grief of true repentance!

When Christians become deeply backslidden, especially if, for example, they sinfully stop attending church for some time, their whole lives become ones of grief. The Bible remains unread; they lose all joy from the communion of the saints. They are filled with guilt, losing all comfort and becoming deeply miserable. Sometimes they even waste their time and make things worse by going to secular psychologists, who try to alleviate their guilt in humanistic ways rather than pointing them to the cross of Christ. The grieved Christian may even sink to the depths of blaming God: “Look at the mess I’m in, and He does not do anything for me!” What about the atoning death of His Son? Is this not the central thing that He has done for us? “Why does He not assure me of His love?” He has written it in blood in the Scriptures, which tell us that His love is experienced as we walk in the light. “But He does not hear my prayers!” But what are you asking for? What about coming to Him with words such as these: “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.” The Father’s arms are stretched out for you; the fatted calf is ready; you will experience once again the formerly grieved Spirit as a seal of assurance and the blessed Comforter!

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Rev. Angus Stewart

(Covenant Reformed News, vol. 12, nos. 12-13)

https://cprc.co.uk/covenant-reformed-news/

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Our Good Works-Tainted? Yes, But Sanctified and Acceptable.

The Reformed teaching on the good works of the believer clearly teaches that they are the reason we are saved and that despite their taintedness by wrong motives they are acceptable to God and actually rewarded, all BY GRACE.

” These good works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by his grace..” Belgic Confession Art.24. ” even the holiest of men, while in this life, have only the beginning of this obedience; yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live not only according to some, but all the commandments of God” Heidelberg Cat. LD 44.

” Because the incense symbolized the intercession of Christ, the priest (in the temple or tabernacle) had to burn the incense with fire from the great altar on which the atoning sacrifice had just been made. That incense pictured the acceptableness of the prayers of God’s people as those prayers came before God himself through Christ’s intercession. THE COALS FROM THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERING PICTURED THE ONLY REASON OUR PRAYERS (AND OTHER GOOD WORKS-JK) ARE ACCEPTABLE, NAMELY CHRIST’S SACRIFICE.” (i.e grace-JK) Doctrine According to Godliness- Ron Hanko.

” By a wonderful work of the Spirit upon the works, he causes the small beginning of love to him to permeate the entire work. By the time it reaches him no stain of sin mars the good work.” Engelsma’s belgic Confession Commentary Vol. 2.

Thus our sanctification and that of all our works depends on Christ’s sacrifice.

Furthermore, all Christ’s life and work were not only acceptable to his Father but a very sweet-smelling sacrifice and since we are in him, all our life and work are similarly pleasing to him.

For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

New Year’s Blessedness

” To bless, really to bless, is a divine right and power…what seems to be evil may be very good for us….That blessing changes every apparent evil into an eternal good. It is the cause, the reason, that all things work together for good..How shall he not with him freely giuve us all things?..The word of (God’s) good will proceeds toward us continuously, surrounds us, meets us, guides us, watches over us, fills us, permeates our food and drink, wards off the enemy, guards us, strengthens us, comforts us, assures us, follows us all the way to the eternal inheritance.”                                                                                                                        From CPRC bulletin 29th December 2019.

CPRC Bulletin – December 29, 2019

God’s Covenant-a grafting.

 

graft

George Bethune: “The figure of engrafting is taken from our Lord’s own parable of The Living Vine (John 15:1-8), and from the Apostle Paul’s of The Olive Trees (Rom. 11:17-24); but it is familiar to our own observation, and delightfully illustrative. By nature, we are branches of a condemned and pernicious vine, bearing only evil fruit, and soon to be cast into the fire. Of ourselves, we cannot separate ourselves from the accursed stem, much less make ourselves part of the living vine, Christ Jesus. God, by his Holy Spirit, takes us, cuts us off from the ruined vine, and grafts us into the stem of Christ; the vital union is then formed, a new life flows into the grafted branch, and it blossoms, buds, puts forth leaves, and yields good fruit, not from itself, but by virtue of the life it derives out of the stem. Christ is still the vine; the fruit is all his, but he makes the once wild branch a part of himself, and so makes it fruitful, and himself fruitful. Or, to lay aside the figure: the sinner is joined to Christ by the free grace of God, and derives spiritual life from Christ, and Christ works good works through him. The glory is Christ’s; the benefits are the believer’s. God, we have said, is the agent in the grafting, but the method of engraftment that he uses is faith … Faith … is not of our own strength, but is the effect of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating grace, and this grace comes to us from God, through Christ. Thus, the Heavenly Father provides in the Mediator the proper object of faith, and fills him with the Spirit of all grace; he then brings the sinner nigh to the Saviour whom he has pierced, and, as he applies the sinner to the bleeding side, grace flows out to the soul, and the sinner, feeling within him the vivifying power, believes and clings to his embracing Saviour. Grace from the Saviour’s side and grace in the believer’s apprehending soul unite to bind in union close and sweet and vital the sinner saved to the Saviour of sinners” (Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude, 1:160).

Acts 16:13-40

CPRC Mens Bible Study
Acts 16:13-40
Conversion of Lydia
Philippi was a Roman colony, named after Philip of Macedon (Alexander the Great’s father), many of its citizens may have been ex-army, the people had a forum and theatre and nearby gold mines.

 

Artists impression of ancient Philippi.              Remains of their theatre.

The missionaries went down by the riverside where Jews and Jewish proselytes worshipped and prayed, perhaps because they were persecuted and had no synagogue. They could also follow ritual washings there. We think Lydia was a God-fearing Gentile proselyte.
She sold purple* (and perhaps clothes) called Lydian purple. She would have been well off. Coming from Thyatira in Lydia, in Asia Minor where there may well have been a church founded already (Rev.1:11).
The Lord enlightened her mind (already regenerated) to understand the gospel proclaimed by Paul and she listened intently, being good soil. She professed faith and in line with God’s covenant promises the baptism of her household followed and was significant suggesting as a widow or single woman she was head of it (family and/or servants). She had great respect and love for the missionaries and wanted to serve them materially who had served her spiritually (II Cor.9). She implored them persuasively to accept her hospitality and this meant they could give their full attention to preaching and teaching and not have to earn their keep.
Acts 16:16-24
Persecution of the apostles at Philippi.
This soothsaying girl was demon-possessed and told people’s fortunes making money for her minders. This was a supernatural evil power and must have been correct some of the time though we don’t know how, as only God knows the future. The spirit knew the apostles and their Lord because evil spirits work in the same realm and know who their enemies are (like Legion in Mark 5:9) who recognised Christ and the demons who overpowered the sons of Sceva in Acts 19:14 who knew Jesus and Paul. She was an agent of Satan to mislead the people (“a” way of salvation, not “the” way) and draw unnecessary attention to them. Paul commanded the spirit by the Spirit and with the authority of Christ (Matthew 10:1). The girl’s masters wanted to persecute and prosecute the apostles because they had ruined their source of livelihood. They charged the apostles with teaching foreign unlawful customs, which may have been true except that obedient believers do not break any righteous law (Gal.5:23). Perhaps Caesar worship was a problem or the fact that any new diety had to be approved by the senate. Antisemitism was rife then, witnessed by the fact Jews were expelled from Rome (Acts 18:2). Although ultimately this persecution served the gospel and was for the sake of the gospel it was motivated mainly by financial loss. The magistrates tore off their clothes so that the whipping would be harsher, skipping a fair trial because of mob rule and pressure. The high security imprisonment may have been to pacify the plaintiffs and also because they recognised the apostles had power.
Acts 16:25-34
The conversion of the Philippian jailer.
In the Psalms we hear of praises in the night. Whether this was their habit or they just could not contain their joy in persecution we cannot be sure and we can only guess they praised God for his working through them. The timing of the earthquake was certainly providential but only possibly coincidental-did God show he was the living listening God? All earthquakes are signs of God’s power and his judgment. This one had the unusual effect of loosing the prisoners and opening gates. The jailer was about to kill himself realising that execution was inevitable if his prisoners escaped. He asked the apostles how to be saved realising that these men were godly and he was a lost sinner. Paul’s response was God’s command in the gospel, not a condition. Only a regenerated man could obey this in conversion. It is implied all his family followed him, confessing their faith or being covenant children who all got the sign (see also Acts 2 for baptism immediately upon confession). As a result the jailer cared for them, was overjoyed in his new faith and also relayed messages from and to the magistrates concerning the apostles. The magistrates had to free them as there were no charges and they wanted them to leave quietly. Paul wanted a public apology as they had been publicly punished. They were afraid as they were unaware of Paul and Silas’s Roman citizenship. The magistrates timidly begged their pardon in complete contrast to their earlier rough assault on them. The apostles stayed a while in Lydia’s teaching and encouraging the saints and then departed into Greece.

Next study (DV) Acts 17:1-34 on January 11th.

*Purple’s elite status stems from the rarity and cost of the dye originally used to produce it. Purple fabric used to be so outrageously expensive that only rulers could afford it. The dye initially used to make purple came from the Phoenician trading city of Tyre, which is now in modern-day Lebanon. “Tyrian purple” came from a species of sea snail now known as Bolinus brandaris, and it was so exceedingly rare that it became worth its weight in gold. Clothes made from the dye were exorbitantly expensive—a pound of purple wool cost more than most people earned in a year—so they naturally became the calling card of the rich and powerful.

The Holy Spirit of Truth.

One Body Animated by One Spirit

Letter to Timothy

by Prof. Herman Hanko
(an excerpt from an article in the Standard Bearer, volume 54, issue 5)

This letter, Timothy, is going to be of a slightly different kind. It is occasioned by the fact that I was reading the other day a recent publication by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It is a continuation of his exposition of Ephesians; more particularly, it is an exposition of Ephesians 6:10-13. In this book, Lloyd-Jones spends a great deal of time concentrating on the expression found in these verses: “the wiles of the devil.” Among those wiles of the devil, he finds the temptation to abandon doctrine. In this connection, he has a very interesting section on the importance of doctrine in the life of the child of God. I want to quote this section for you in this letter … It is well worthwhile. For your information, the book is entitled The Christian Warfare and was put out by Baker. I have received permission from the publishers to make this lengthy quote.

He writes about the fact that heresies have appeared in the church from the earliest times, and that the great confessions of the church were composed for purposes of combating heresy and making the truth of God’s Word clear for God’s people. He then goes on to say,

Is there someone who feels at this point, ‘Well, really, what has all this to do with me? I am an ordinary person, I am a member of the church and life is very difficult. What has all this to say to me?’ Or there may be someone who is recovering after illness and who says, ‘Well, I was hoping to have a word of comfort, something to strengthen me along the way, something to make me feel a little happier; what has all this about creeds and confessions and the wiles of the devil to do with me?’ If you feel like that, the truth is that the devil has defeated you. The Apostle Paul says, ‘Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners’ (I Cor. 15:33). He means that wrong teaching is desperately dangerous. He is there dealing with the great question of the resurrection, he is concerned with that one doctrine, and he says, Make no mistake about this; it is not a matter of indifference as to whether you believe in the literal physical resurrection or not. ‘Ah but,’ you say, ‘I am a practical man of affairs, I am not interested in doctrine, I am not a theologian, I have no time for these things. All I want is something to help me to live my daily life.’ But according to the Apostle you cannot divorce these things, ‘Evil communications’—wrong teaching, wrong thinking, wrong belief—’corrupt good manners.’ It will affect the whole of your life.

One of the first things you are to learn in this Christian life and warfare is that, if you go wrong in your doctrine, you will go wrong in all aspects of your life. You will probably go wrong in your practice and behavior; and you will certainly go wrong in your experience. Why is it that people are defeated by the things that happen to them? Why is it that some people are completely cast down if they are taken ill, or if someone who is dear to them is taken ill? They were wonderful Christians when all was going well; the sun was shining, the family was well, everything was perfect, and you would have thought that they were the best Christians in the country. But suddenly there is an illness and they seem to be shattered, they do not know what to do or where to turn, and they begin to doubt God. They say, ‘We were living the Christian life, and we were praying to God, and our lives have been committed to God; but look at what is happening. Why should this happen to us?’ They begin to doubt God and all His gracious dealings with them. Do such people need ‘a bit of comfort’? Do they need the church simply as a kind of soporific or tranquilizer? Do they only need something which will make them feel a little happier, and lift the burden a little while they are in the church?

Their real trouble is that they lack an understanding of the Christian faith. They have an utterly inadequate notion of what Christianity means. Their idea of Christianity was: ‘Believe in Christ and you will never have another trouble or problem; God will bless you, nothing will ever go wrong with you’; whereas the Scripture itself teaches that ‘through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God’ (Acts 14:22), or as the Apostle expresses it elsewhere, ‘In nothing be terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake’ (Phil. 1:28-29). Our Lord says, ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). There is nothing which is so wrong, and so utterly false, as to fail to see the primary importance of true doctrine; Looking back over my experience as a pastor for some thirty-four years, I can testify without the slightest hesitation that the people I have found most frequently in trouble in their spiritual experience have been those who have lacked understanding. You cannot divorce these things. You will go wrong in the realms of practical living and experience if you have not a true understanding. If you drop off into some heresy, if you go wrong at some point, if you believe, for instance—I give one example in passing—’that healing is in the atonement,’ that it is never God’s will that any of His children should be ill, that it is always God’s will that all His children should be healthy, and that no Christian should ever die from a disease … if you believe that, and then find yourself, or someone who is dear to you, dying of some incurable disease, you will be miserable and unhappy … Such a person’s condition is due to error or heresy concerning a primary central doctrine. He or she has insinuated something into the Christian faith that does not truly belong to it.

Nothing is more urgently relevant, whether we think of ourselves in particular or the church in general, than that we should be aware of heresy. Take the New Testament, take the history of the Christian church, or take individual Christian experience, and you will see that true doctrine is always urgently relevant. It is of supreme importance for the whole life of the church. The Holy Spirit is the power in the church, and the Holy Spirit will never honour anything except His own Word. It is the Holy Spirit who has given this Word. He is its Author. It is not of men! Nor is the Bible the product of ‘flesh and blood.’ The Apostle Paul was not simply giving expression to contemporary teaching or his own thoughts. He says, ‘I received it by revelation.’ It was given to him; given to him by the Lord, the risen Lord, through the Holy Spirit. So I am arguing that the Holy Spirit will honour nothing but His own Word. Therefore if we do not believe and accept His Word, or if in any way we deviate from it, we have no right to expect the blessing of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will honour truth, and will honour nothing else. Whatever else we may do, if we do not honour this truth He will not honour us …

According to the teaching of the Bible, one thing only matters, and that is the truth. The Holy Spirit will honour nothing but the truth, His own truth. But that, He will honour.

To me the most marvelous thing of all is that, the moment you come to such a conclusion, you realize that in a sense nothing else matters. Numbers certainly do not matter. But today the prevailing argument is the one that exalts numbers …

But this argument is not only wrong, it is dangerously wrong, if you relate it to the realm of the Christian faith. The whole Bible testifies against it. The glories of church history protest loudly against it. The Christian position is entirely different. Here, you do not begin by counting heads, you are not concerned primarily about numbers and masses. You do not think in that way. You are in an entirely different realm …

Nothing matters in the spiritual realm except truth, the truth given by the Holy Spirit, the truth that can be honored by the Holy Spirit. Is there anything more glorious in the whole of the Old Testament than the way in which this great principle stands out? God often used individual men, or but two or three, against hordes and masses. Is there anything more exhilarating than the doctrine of the remnant? While the majority had gone wrong, the ones and the twos saw the truth …

Is it not amazing that people should forget the Scriptures and past history? …

I do not understand that mentality in the Christian church today which says that we must all come together and sink our differences; and that what we believe does not matter …

There is an exclusiveness in the New Testament that is quite amazing. The Apostle Paul writing to the Galatians says, ‘Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed’ (Gal. 1:8) … So many of these modern preachers are much nicer people than the Apostle Paul! They never say a word against anyone at all, they praise everybody, and they are praised by everybody. They are never ‘negative’! They never define what they believe and what they do not believe. They are said to be ‘full of love’ … The explanation is that they do not ‘contend for the truth’, they are innocent concerning the ‘wiles of the devil.’ It is not for us to decide what to leave out and what to drop for the sake of unity. My business is to expound this truth, to declare it—come what may! We must not be interested primarily in numbers, we must be interested in the truth of God.

Well, Timothy, I have to end this quote—and this letter. What Lloyd-Jones has to say on this topic is well said and we do well to take it to heart.

Good article on Adam.

 

AIG link

What more can be said about Adam?

He was made in God’s image, a glorious creature physically and spiritually-with true knowledge of God, righteousness and holiness, upright, able to look up and also upright in conformity to God’s law and God’s covenant friend. He had power and dominion. His immortal body would not disease or decay but did he tire in his work?? sleep??But his  righteusness was mutable, unlike that of his Creator. Some theologians and creeds speak of a conditional covenant of works whereby Adam, under probabtion, would eventually attain eternal life had he continued in holiness, but this is a fiction. All God’s covenants are covenants of grace because man can never merit with God-he owes God everything. Adam related to God by the Spirit in him, the bond of love between Father and eternal Son and now between Father and created son, but he was the only person along with Eve who could have that Spirit taken from him which happened when he sinned and took on the nature of Satan. Through God’s proclamation of the gospel of the promised seed of the woman Jesus Christ, he believed and was regenerated, renewed by the Spirit and endowed with eternal life by the Spirit who would dwell in him for ever.

A BLAST AGAINST THE (ANA) BAPTISTS!

 

 

“That (Ana)baptists, therefore, in denying baptism to the children of the church does not only deprive them (covenant children) of their rights, but also prevents the grace of God being seen in its riches, since God wills that the offspring of the faithful should be amongst the members of the church even from the womb, yea they manifestly detract from the grace of the New Covenant, and narrow down that of the Old inasmuch as they refuse to extend baptism to infants to whom circumcision, was formerly extended;they weaken the comfort of the church and of faithful parents; they set aside the solemn obligation by which God will have the offspring of His people consecrated to Him from their very infancy, distinguished and separated from the world; they weaken in parents and children the sense of gratitude, and the desire which they should have to perform their obligation to God; they boldly contradict the apostles who declared that water baptism should not be forbidden those to whom the Holy Ghost is given, they wickedly keep back from Christ, infants who He has commanded to be brought unto Him: and lastly they narrow the universal command of Christ which requires that all should be baptized. From all of these things it is clear that the denial of infant baptism is not trifling error, but grievous heresy, in direct opposition to the Word of God and the comfort of the church. This is in harmony with the scripture in the Old Testament Where circumcision was considered of such importance that we read in the scriptures that when Moses failed to circumcise his child because of the objections of his wife God met him in the way in order to kill him.”

Quoted from the commentary of Zacharias Ursinus one of the authors of the Heidelberg Catechism. The Reformation made this judgment on the Anabaptists at the time.