HOPE

HOPE OUR ANCHOR

A short but fairly comprehensive word study:

  • The godless majority of people in this world are without hope (Eph.2:12, I Thess.4:13) and even believers for a time may feel hopeless (Job 7:6, 19:10) but Job saw in the illustration of a tree cut down, that for him “hope springs eternal!” (Job 14:7). He saw that God purposely destroys the false hopes of the godless (Job 14:19, 27:8, 31:24-28). Job also knew about the three great spiritual graces, faith, hope and love (I Cor.13:13) and that hope ceases to exist after death (Job 17:15). Why? Because hope means the certain expectation of future good at the hands of God and it only pertains to this life. Its source is God himself (Rom.15:13, II Thess.2:16) and it is ours as we believe his word (Psalm 119:81, 114, 130:5). Specifically hope concerns our resurrection from the dead and our glorification in the new heavens and earth (Psalm 16:9, Prov.14:32, Acts 24:15, I Cor.15:19, Col.1:5,27, Titus 1:2) it, like faith, believes in something unseen (Rom.8:24,25). This hope come to fruition at the return of Christ (Titus 2:13). The basis for this hope is our regeneration or the dwelling of Christ in us and us in him (I Tim.1:1, I Peter 1:3). Since he has gone before us, we are bound to follow (Heb. 6:18-20).
  • Abraham, the archetypical Old Testament saint and father of us all, exhibited hope in God’s covenant promise (Rom.4:18).
  • King David speaks much of his hope and often prophetically speaks for Christ his Lord (Psalm 16:9, Acts 2:26, Psalms 39:7, 22:9, 71:5, 119:116, 146:5), his was  a hope he even had as an infant showing how even the very young can be regenerate. He exhorts us and Israel to have hope (Psalms 42:5,11, 43:5, 130:7. 131:3).
  • Jeremiah also confessed his hope (Jer.17:7,17) and that of the people of Israel (Jer.14:8, 17:13) as did Joel (Joel 3:16) and even Paul (Acts 28:20).
  • Paul probably writes more about it than anyone and he rejoiced in it (Rom.5:2, 8:24, 12:12, 15:4, Eph.1:18, 4:4) and also spoke of his hope in fellow believers (II Cor.1:7, I Thess.2:19).
  • Our hope is a witness (I Peter 3:15) and a great motivation to lead a holy life (I John 3:3), it is something we must, and will, by God’s grace, maintain to the end of our lives (I Peter 1:13). Hope is a vital helmet of defence against Satan’s temptations to fear and have  foreboding about our future (I Thess.5:8). As with all of our salvation, our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Covenant Consecration of Israel (14)-their priests.

Consecration of Israel’s priests.

Sung Psalm 132:7-14

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

 

Remember the stages in the consecration of the priests:

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

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

Consecration of Christ

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

 

Pursuit of Glory (9)

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

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

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

Pursuit of Glory (8)

Holiness

 

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

Pursuit of Glory (5)

Companionship

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review-“The Pursuit of Glory.”

Book Review

The Pursuit of Glory by Jeffrey D. Johnson

Paperback 113 pages published by Reformation Heritage books Grand Rapids 2018

Amazon Books £5.73p

 

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Julian Kennedy, Ballymena.

The Pursuit of Glory (2)

Happiness

The world is depressed. The author really ought to use the Biblical word joy because that is what he means– enduring joy, not just passing pleasure (I Peter 1:8). It is a satisfaction and contentment deep in the soul. Either immediate or future happiness is behind all we do. We must seek it in enjoying and glorifying God. Happiness in self-love? No, because we are never self-sufficient and not designed to be selfishly independent, only God is completely and eternally happy.

Materialism is empty. God’s providential gifts are designed to draw our affections to him. All of creation is designed to tell of the glory of God, not feed the lusts of our flesh. Of course we have needs but all the seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling  are things to enjoy and be thankful for as his gifts. Being ungrateful, and coveting what we don’t have, is idolatry (witness Adam and Eve).  The vast majority of sin and crime is caused by this. (James 4:1,2 and subsequently breaking all of the second table of God’s law, the ten commandments).

   Christ, the fount of living water is substituted  by broken cisterns. Being deprived of spiritual joy necessarily makes people get addicted to physical pleasures (Eccles. 1:8, Proverbs 27:20). Perverse appetites are insatiable. “We must pursue God with all our heart, mind and strength.”  We go after fool’s gold…

when Christ must be our supreme treasure. We must deny ourselves and whatever is hindering us to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). ” Those who find pleasure in God will find pleasure in every situation”-Henry Scougal. This was how Paul and Silas could rejoice in prison. The loss of all we have ought not to diminish our joy. We must relinquish all to follow him….and this is practiclally outworked by believers seeking to belong to a true church where Christ is present-JK. Blessed is the nation (or man) whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12).

The Pursuit of Glory (1)

 

Glory

This excellent little paperback by Jeff Johnson published by Reformed Heritage Books 2018 costing less than £6 on line, is excellent because it examines our motives-why we do what we do. In other words it helps answer David’s prayer in Psalm 139-“SEARCH ME AND KNOW MY THOUGHTS AND LEAD ME IN THE WAY EVERLASTING”. It is a modern day equivalent of the book of Ecclesiastes setting forth what all human hearts long for, and proving that not in anything created but in the Creator is glory and fulfillment to be found. Its subtitle is “Finding satisfaction in Christ alone.”  I purpose to summarize each chapter in a series of blogs.  He sees our longings being for glory, happiness, peace, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, holiness and life eternal. The glory we seek is infinite and eternal and is found only in God (II Cor.4:17). Only he is of infinite value, his glory is the sum of all he is. This glory completely and forever satisfies the three persons of the trinity (John 17:5). We are miserable because we aspire after glory in the wrong things. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.(Proverbs 16:25). “The biblical contrast to glory is vanity…the praise of people and the glory of this world are passing away.” (I John 2:17, Eccl.1:2). What is your glory?Or to put it another way, what do you worship? Augustine said, ” Thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless, until they find rest in thee.” In actual fact what we as believers long for, is the restoration of the image of God in us accompanied by seeing and living with God-this desire will be ultimately fulfilled. (I John 3:2). Because Christ is the image of God all our goals are found in him. The sinful world foolishly follows Satan in the perverse notion that following his suggestions and following our lusts will fulfil us-it is a lie! ( I John 2:15-17, John 8:44).

Essence of God’s Covenant

This feature article was written by Rev. Gise VanBaren in the March 1, 1984 issue of the Standard Bearer.

_____________

The truth concerning man’s relation with God is one which deserves our attention and our understanding. Nothing can be more important than one’s standing before God. It is very literally a mat­ter of life and death.

There is a relationship of fellowship between God and his people. That relationship has been called a “covenant relationship.” This concept is fundamental unto a proper understanding of our duties and responsibilities before God and with men. Within the church it becomes very plain that some sort of beautiful relationship exists between God and this people of his church. It is also to be clearly understood that this relationship exists only because of and through the cross of Jesus Christ.

“Covenant” involves a coming together, a dwelling under one roof. The term emphasizes that God and his people have a basis for unity. This, we believe, is the purpose of God’s revelation outside of himself—that a people might eternally dwell with him in Christ.

This covenant with God must not be misunder­stood. Many use the term “covenant” rather freely—while defining it in an unscriptural way. Some have regarded the covenant of God with men as a form of alliance. As two nations might sign an agree­ment for cooperation with mutual stipulations, so the covenant of God with man is presented. God will perform his part of the agreement provided that man carries out his part.

Connected with that, the covenant is presented as a way to an end. It is become the way to attain glory. It is, so it is said, God’s arrangement whereby he, with man’s assistance, will get some into heaven. With man’s obedience and cooperation, God will be able to save him and exalt him to the glory of heaven.

Rather, it is the teaching of scripture that God’s covenant with man is itself the purpose and end of God’s grand design of creating all things and redeeming his people in Jesus Christ. God’s covenant with man is not an after-thought. It is his eternal plan to reveal outside of himself the bless­edness of the relationship which exists within him­self.

The full, glorious realization of this covenant re­lationship will be seen in heaven. There, the purpose of God will be fulfilled when his people can perfectly and forever have communion and fellowship with God. This is the goal which God has in mind. His purpose is not simply to bring a people to a wonderful place—but he will bring them into wonderful fellowship with himself. The purpose is not simply to enjoy the good things of a perfect world—but to enjoy speaking with God which is life itself. All of creation and all of the body of Christ will be united in beautiful harmony to the praise of the name of our God.

This covenant fellowship is already enjoyed by the child of God in this earth. He has the opportu­nity to speak with God through prayer. He has the desire and opportunity to read his word. He knows that God speaks to him through his word and by his Spirit. There is the foretaste of eternal fellowship already now. This is the essence of eternal life, as Jesus taught, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

The reason that God determines that this shall be the essence of the glory of heaven is that it is his pleasure to reveal outside of himself to his people that glorious relationship which exists within the Triune God eternally. God, after all, plans all things in order to show within his creation the beautiful fellowship which exists in the Trinity between Father, Son, and Spirit.

Though it is difficult for mere creature to com­prehend, we confess that there is in God eternal communion of the three persons in one being. That is life—the life of God. Without that interaction, there could be no living God. Were he not three persons in eternal fellowship, there would have been no creation and no salvation.

Jesus spake of this eternal fellowship in John 5:19, 20: “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, they ye may marvel.” Of the Son, too, scripture declares (Heb. 1:3), “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, and when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high.” And Father and Son fellowship in the Spirit. The Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son as Jesus points out in John 15:26: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”

This covenant life of fellowship which eternally exists within God, is the basis for the manifestation of covenant life between God and his people in Christ. God would show, in the highest way possi­ble, the wonder and glory of that fellowship.

One recognizes through all of scripture how wonderfully God shows this covenant when he created all things and now redeems his creation and people through Christ. The truth concerning the establishment of this covenant between God and his people, a truth often ignored, is that God himself establishes it. It is not a cooperative effort, not an agreement between God and man. Rather, God himself establishes his covenant. He showed this great truth to Abraham in Genesis 15:9-18 in response to the question of Abraham, “Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit the land of Canaan?” God commanded him to take three animals and a dove and young pigeon. The animals were to be divided in half. Normally, when a cove­nant or agreement was made, the participating parties would together pass between the divided animals. In this case there was an obvious differ­ence. When it was dark, Abraham saw a smoking furnace and burning lamp pass between the pieces—signifying the presence of God passing between. But Abraham, with whom the covenant was estab­lished, did not pass between the parts. What did that mean? It pointed to the wonderful fact that the establishment of God’s covenant with Abraham and all his spiritual seed was through the power and act of God—and not with the help of men. The covenant is established by God himself.

God further pointed out in scripture that, after the fall, the covenant is possible only through the blood of the Lamb. In Genesis 17:10, God spake to Abraham, “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.” This circumcision, the shedding of blood, pointed to the truth that the covenant can be established only in the way of shed blood—ultimately of Christ himself on the cross. For God will establish a relationship with his people only in the way of having their sins covered—thus satisfying the just demands of the righteous God. Other scripture confirms this same wonderful truth.

Another important truth which God had revealed concerning this covenant is that it would continue in the line of generations. The covenant was not made with single individuals haphazardly gathered from the peoples of the earth. Rather, God would fellowship with his people and their spiritual seed. Already to Abraham God had said, “And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generation for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7). The same truth was repeated in the New Testament when Peter declared in Acts 2:39 at Pentecost, “For the promise is unto you and to your children….” This fact explains the church’s emphasis not only on the covenant, but also upon covenantal instruction of the youth and their baptism in infancy.

This covenant which God himself establishes through Christ, is the basis for hope and comfort for the child of God. Surely, first, there is no fear or terror of that One with whom we can now have fellowship and communion. God is God. He is just and righteous in all of his ways. He will not allow sin to go unpunished. But he has also provided the way of redemption—the cross. Now in communion with God, we can enjoy guidance and encourage­ment in our earthly journey to glory.

There is also assurance of God’s blessings daily. Those who enjoy a covenant relationship with God, can do so because he bestows all spiritual blessings upon his people. They receive the gifts of love, mercy, wisdom, knowledge. They have what they need to live a covenantal life in this world.

All of this has to do with our relationships with each other—and especially of our relationships within the home. How does our relationship with God reveal itself in our relationships with one another? He who loves God will love his brother also.

Then the covenant child of God will not be guided or set his standards by that which the world has to offer. By way of advertising as well as through its corrupt dramatizations, the world clearly sets forth what its standards and goals are. The heart of man is set upon material things. He finds his pleasure in earthly, worldly amusements. He considers this life as the end of all things.

For the Christian, it is not so. He has the word of God to serve as his guide. That word directs in a godly walk and holy life. It is the standard of measurement for the Christian life. He who begins to understand what is involved in the covenant of God with man, will spend much time with the word of God. Though so many scoff at the very idea, there is really no other answer for proper holy living than that found in scripture. The family which prays together (and studies scripture together) stays together. Where scripture and prayer are ignored in the home, there usually one finds troubles and disruptions.

Of what I have to say, this is the sum: apply the truths of the covenant to our family living—and the blessings of God will rest on such a household.

Covenant Consecration of Israel (12)

Covenant Communion

Psalm 22:26-31

Exodus 24:1-11

Consists:

  1. Vision of God-not in himself as pure Spirit but by a manifestation, and in this case he was above a clear, blue sky typifying his transcendence above all things. He is the God of the covenant with Israel and he is the God of revelation in Christ whose feet were seen. Most theophanies (revelations of God in Christ B.C.) are full of circumlocutions where the penman can’t quite describe what he sees as he struggles to depict unsurpassable glory. Since the incarnation we see God in the face of Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 14:9).
  2. Safety in God-He “laid not his hand” on them and they saw him and lived (c.f.Ex.19:21 with law, wrath and fire and Ex.33:20)
  3. Fellowship meal with God-probably the people’s portion of the peace offering along with wine (c.f. Isaiah 25:6-7)

 

Note the number 70 of the elders, representative of Israel (as in the 70 who went down to Egypt and Christ’s 70 evangelists etc). Alongside 12 which is the usual number of the church (tribes, disciples etc).

 

In summary: The COVENANT PEOPLE needed a COVENANT MEDIATOR, so they can approach God. They do this on the basis of COVENANT BLOOD that atones for sin and then are to live true to their COVENANT CALLING by COVENANT FAITHFULNESS to the BOOK OF THE COVENANT as a kingdom of priests. In this way they enjoy COVENANT FELLOWSHIP  with God.