Forgiveness

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34. Jesus prayed for the elect among his persecutors and killers and as a result they were forgiven and saved (many on Pentecost). Acts 5:31 “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”

Who are we to forgive? Are there conditions to forgiveness? Often we hear testimonies of people whose loved ones have been butchered, murdered by Islamists who testify they have forgiven those evil men. But are they commanded to do so? There is no doubt that every believer is to forgive a brother or sister who sins against them and repents. Luke 17:4 “And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” Clear examples are the incestuous Corinthian who repented: 2 Corinthians 2:7 “So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.” Paul’s teaching is clear: Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” But remember God’s forgiveness of us is,  and was conditional: 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

What about enemies and unbelievers? Unconditional forgiveness? I say no! Scripture says no! Peter preached to Christ’s killers at Pentecost: Acts 2:38 “ Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Here is another clear example, the hypocrite Simon Magus: Acts 8:22 “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” Repentance and confession of sin is mandatory for God’s forgiveness and for human forgiveness, whether it be for a fellow believer or rank enemy and unbeliever. Correct me if I am wrong!

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The Lord of Hosts with Us

Our God a Mighty Refuge 

Psalm 46

The Lord of Hosts with Us

Quotes to Consider

Charles Spurgeon: “With no other instrumentality than a word the Lord ruled the storm. He gave forth a voice and stout hearts were dissolved, proud armies were annihilated, conquering powers were enfeebled. At first the confusion appeared to be worse confounded, when the element of divine power came into view; the very earth seemed turned to wax, the most solid and substantial of human things melted like the fat of rams upon the altar; but anon peace followed, the rage of man subsided, hearts capable of repentance relented, and the implacable were silenced. How mighty is a word from God! How mighty the Incarnate Word. O that such a word would come from the excellent glory even now to melt all hearts in love to Jesus, and to end for ever all the persecutions, wars, and rebellions of men! … The Lord of hosts is with us. This is the reason for all Zion’s security, and for the overthrow of her foes. The Lord rules the angels, the stars, the elements, and all the hosts of heaven; and the heaven of heavens are under his sway. The armies of men though they know it not are made to subserve his will. This Generalissimo of the forces of the land, and the Lord High Admiral of the seas, is on our side—our august ally; woe unto those who fight against him, for they shall fly like smoke before the wind when he gives the word to scatter them. The God of Jacob is our refuge, Immanuel is Jehovah of Hosts, and Jacob’s God is our high place of defence. When this glad verse is sung to music worthy of such a jubilate, well may the singers pause and the players wait awhile to tune their instruments again; here, therefore, fitly stands that solemn, stately, peaceful note of rest, SELAH” (Treasury of David, vol. 1, pp. 341-342).

William Secker: “The enemies of the church may toss her as waves, but they shall not split her as rocks. She may be dipped in water as a feather, but shall not sink therein as lead. He that is a well of water within her to keep her from fainting will also prove a wall of fire about her to preserve her from falling. Tried she may be, but destroyed she cannot be. Her foundation is the Rock of Ages, and her defence the everlasting Arms. It is only such fabrics as are bottomed upon the sand, that are overthrown by the wind. The adversaries of God’s people will push at them as far as their horns will go, but when they have scoured them by persecution, as tarnished vessels, then God will throw such wisps into the fire” (ibid, vol. 1, p. 346).

John Calvin: “Since the Church of God is never without enemies, and these very powerful, and such as consequently fight against her with cruel and unbridled fury, the prophet now confirms from experience the doctrine which he had advanced concerning the impregnable character of the divine protection. He then deduces from it this general ground of consolation that it belongs continually to God to restrain and quell all commotions, and that his arm is strong enough to break all the efforts of the enemy. This passage, I admit, might be understood in a more general sense, as meaning that the city of God is liable to be assailed by many storms and tempests; but that by the favour of God she is, nevertheless, always preserved in safety. It is, however, more probable, as I have already said at the beginning, that the Psalmist is here speaking of some notable deliverance, in which God had given a striking proof of the power and favour which he exercises in the constant preservation of the Church. Accordingly, he relates what had taken place, namely, that the enemies of the Church came with a dreadful host to waste and destroy it; but that immediately, by the voice of God, they, as it were, melted and vanished away. From this we derive an invaluable ground of consolation, when it is said, that although the whole world rise up against us, and confound all things by their increased madness, they can be brought to nought in a moment, as soon as God shows himself favourable towards us” (Commentary on Psalms, p. 201).

Calvin: “In this verse we are taught how we shall be able to apply to our own use the things which the Scriptures everywhere record concerning the infinite power of God. We shall be able to do this when we believe ourselves to be of the number of those whom God has embraced with his fatherly love, and whom he will cherish. The Psalmist again alludes, in terms of commendation, to the adoption by which Israel was separated from the common condition of all the other nations of the earth. And, indeed, apart from this, the description of the power of God would only inspire us with dread. Confident boasting, then, arises from this, that God has chosen us for his peculiar people, to show forth his power in preserving and defending us... That our faith may rest truly and firmly in God, we must take into consideration at the same time these two parts of his character—his immeasurable power, by which he is able to subdue the whole world under him; and his fatherly love which he has manifested in his word. When these two things are joined together, there is nothing which can hinder our faith from defying all the enemies which may rise up against us, nor must we doubt that God will succour us, since he has promised to do it; and as to power, he is sufficiently able also to fulfil his promise, for he is the God of armies. From this we learn, that those persons err egregiously in the interpretation of Scripture, who leave in entire suspense the application of all that is said concerning the power of God, and do not rest assured that he will be a Father to them, inasmuch as they are of his flock, and partakers of the adoption” (ibid, p. 202).

The Protestant Refomed teaching on Scripture

 The Bible


1. The doctrine of Scripture is critical to the health of the believer and the church, for this determines everything that we believe. a. Faith depends upon the Word of God, the Bible. b. We confess that God is the Author of Scripture by the Holy Spirit, who inspired men for the writing of His Word (II Peter 1:19-21;  II Tim. 3:15-17).


2. We believe also that inspiration was a wonder work of grace, the Holy Spirit moving certain men whom God had chosen and prepared for this work to write God’s Word and governing them as they wrote, so that they wrote God’s Word and His Word only. a. Because it is inspired, Scripture is reliable, authoritative and infallible. (1) We believe this inspiration was plenary (full or complete) and verbal (word for word). (2) This belief in Scripture’s inspiration and authority does not rest only upon a couple proof texts. b. Scripture gives evidence throughout by its own testimony, also by that of Jesus and the apostles. (1) Scripture claims to be the Word of God, and witnesses to the truth of this claim — this testimony the Holy Spirit binds upon the heart of the believer. (2) If then the Scripture gives this testimony of itself and that too through the word of Him who is the holy and true One, the faithful witness, Who cannot lie, then there is certainly no choice for the believer but to receive that Scripture as the Word of God.

3. The Dignity and Authority of Scripture a. A fundamental truth of the Reformed faith is that Scripture alone has authority over the Church’s faith and life. (1) There is one authority in the Church and over the Church, Jesus Christ. (2) Jesus Christ exercises His authority by His Word, the Scriptures, which are applied to the church by the Holy Spirit. b. By Scripture, all teachings, writings, decisions and demands of men, as well as all our actions, must be judged (cf.  II Tim. 3:16,17). (1) Nothing need be believed which Scripture does not teach and nothing may be believed which Scripture contradicts. (2) The sole authority of Scripture is a truth of supreme significance for the Church.  To abandon this truth is, principally, to abandon Christ Himself and to choose instead the authority of the words of men, “of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself.”


4. The Sufficiency of Scripture a. The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contains all that is necessary for the Church and believer to know, both as regards faith and life, doctrine and morals. b. If Scripture is in any way deficient or if it needs to be complemented by something else, Scripture is not the sole authority.
5. The truth of the perspicuity or clearness of Scripture is vital in connection with Scripture’s sufficiency. a. This truth contains two elements: (1) Scripture in itself is clear and can be understood by the individual believer.

(2) The individual believer can interpret Scripture by the Holy Spirit’s guidance. b. I John 4:1 and II John 10 put the Bible in the hand of all believers and calls all believers to study Scripture. (1) Bible study must always be a spiritual exercise. (2) True knowledge is possible only through the work of the Holy Spirit causing the objective truth of Scripture to be reflected in the consciousness of a believing child of God. 


6. The Infallibility of Scripture a. If the Bible is not infallible, it cannot be authoritative. b. The Bible has authority since it is the truth of God, which truth of God, in contrast with the lying and vain nature of man and his words, is infallible. c. Denial of the infallibility of Scripture, as widely made in Protestantism today, is a great step away from the doctrine of Scripture’s sole authority and a great step back to the bondage of Rome.


Recommended Reading: The Doctrine of Scripture, Homer C. Hoeksema

Taken from THE FAITH AND PRACTICE OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMED CHURCHES
A SUMMARY by
PASTOR STEVEN R. KEY

You can read full pamphlet Here:

The Power of the Gospel

A “must hear” message delivered 10 years ago when CPRC building opened. Summarised below:

Notes:

Power of the Gospel  Prof. Herman Hanko

Text: 2 Cor.10:4-5

  1. Strongholds Conquered: Satan sets up wicked man-centred and man-honouring false religions the fruit of man’s imaginations including Roman Catholicism and Arminianism and systems of thought e.g. pagan philosophy and evolutionism which are all contrary to the true knowledge of God and designed to keep men from that knowledge through the gospel.
  2. Conquering Gospel: the most powerful force of God that smashes all these imaginations is the preaching of the gospel (the word of God preached by ordained, sent men).
  3. Glorious Victory: The gospel of the cross has the power eventually to bring everything under the dominion of Christ.

The Christian in Complete Armour (205)

PEACE (3)

 Having discussed 1) peace with God and 2) peace of conscience. We now look at peace of love and unitythe blessing of the gospel.

We come now to the third kind of peace, which I called a peace of love
and unity. A heavenly grace this is, whereby the minds and hearts of men, chime all in to an harmonious consent and concord among themselves. Thus peace in Scripture is frequently taken, as you may see, Mark 9:50; Heb. 12:14; I Thes.5:13. Only the true gospel knits the hearts and minds of men together in a solid peace and love. This, next the reconciling us to God and ourselves, is especially designed by Christ in the gospel; that is, to make them friends with God and one
another. This is the natural effect of the gospel, where it is powerfully and sincerely embraced—to unite and endear the hearts of men and women in love and peace together, how contrary soever they were before. This is the strange metamorphosis, which the prophet speaks shall be under the gospel. Naturally men hate each other (Titus 3:3) ‘The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,’ (Isaiah 11:6) which may apply in the new heavens and earth where presumably there will be brute creation without predation and death! (JK) But church peace is this blessing to the gospel, that Christ appoints it for the badge e.g.John 13:35. ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’When the gospel was first preached and embraced, what a sweet harmony of peace and admirable oneness of heart was then amongst the holy professors of it, who but a while before were strangers to or bitter enemies one against another!  ‘They sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need; and they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their bread with gladness and singleness of heart,’ Acts 2:46. Pagans said, ‘See how they love one another.’

The Believer is Blessed (2)

The Believer’s Blessing (2)

For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance. For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.” Psalm 21:6,7.

” Blessing is upon a man (or woman, or boy or girl) when every word of God over that man flows from God’s everlasting good pleasure unto his eternal glory, from his counsel of salvation. That blessing changes every apparent evil into an eternal good. It is the cause, the reason, that all things work together for good. It is the irresistible operation of God’s grace through every means; through all the way, through every experience, every circumstance, leading inevitably and with absolute certainty unto the joy and the happiness of God’s everlasting tabernacle! God’s blessing is singular, not plural, one, not many. To be sure, there is in that blessing of God a plurality of infinite and manifold riches. But there is only one blessing of God! It cannot be divided into a general and a particular blessing, a common and a special blessing. God is one; his counsel is one; his Word is one; and his blessing is one. Upon they people is thy blessing!”

As we look further into 2020 no matter what, “we know that God’s blessing shall be upon us, his people, in the end. It is upon us now. The word of God’s good will (Jesus Christ) proceeds toward us continuously, surrounds us, meets us, guides us, comforts us, assures us, follows us all the way to our eternal inheritance.”

UNKNOWN WRITER

The Believer is Blessed (1)

The Believer’s Blessing (1)

 In Numbers 23 we read the strange account of Balaam, the false prophet hired by King Balak of Moab to curse Israel. What do we read?

“God is not a man, that he should lie;
neither the son of man, that he should repent:
hath he said, and shall he not do it?
or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless:
and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.
21 He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob*,
neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel:
the Lord his God is with him,
and the shout of a king is among them.
22 God brought them out of Egypt;
he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
23 Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob,
neither is there any divination against Israel:
according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel,
What hath God wrought!”
The reason the true Israelites are blessed is that they are seen as righteous (justified) in Christ*

In the other reading for the day, Psalm 37 we read,

For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth;
and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord:
and he delighteth in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down:
for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old;
yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth;
and his seed is blessed.
27 Depart from evil, and do good;
and dwell for evermore.
28 For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints;
they are preserved for ever:
but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
and dwell therein for ever.

God’s true Israel, all elect believers, are unchangeably blessed in this life and forever, as are their elect children. No force of evil, either men or devils, can curse them and their eternal future in God’s new creation is assured. (tbc)

The Burnt Offering

 
  The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; It shall never go out.
Leviticus 6:13
The burnt offering, offered morning and evening, and the continually burning fire on the altar typify the utter consecration of our Lord Jesus Christ to the will of his father. It also represents our consecration to God.
    “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor. ” Ephesians 5:2.
  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. ” Romans 12:1
John the Baptist was a great example, described as:
   “a burning and a shining light. ”  John 5:35 .
“And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offering s and sacrifices.” Mark 12:33
  “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.”        Romans 15:16
   “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  See Hebrews 10:6-10
    For presbyterians, the burning bush is their symbol, aflame yet unconsumed (by persecution).
   I trust you are committed body and soul to the service of your Lord.