Elijah at the brook Cherith

 

What should we learn from this episode in the fiery prophet’s life? One thing Rev. Bleyenberg makes clear is that Israel (Northern Kingdom) has grievously apostatised from true religion and as a result God withdraws his word (Amos 8:11). When churches like the Church of Scotland AND Church of England apostatise, which they have as denominations Christ withdraws his presence and grace and it is the calling of his elect people to come out, be separate and raise their voices against the wicked compromises with the world. For Elijah it meant safety, separation and provision. Following Christ faithfully will never leave us needy (Romans 8:32).

DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU.

So states Christ in Luke 6:27.

Helen Berhane who was imprisoned and tortured for her faith in Eritrea shares this exhortation.

The love of God shed abroad in our hearts enables us to do what is otherwise humanly impossible-to love our enemies.

” Every good gift that comes to us comes as a gift from our amazing Father in heaven. Sharing in the sufferings of Christ always brings us deeper into fellowship with Jesus-and for this gift we must be thankful.”

“Here is a great mystery: when we respond to hatred with the love of God , it sets us free!”

Can you guess what we are freed from? Free from slavery to fear, revenge and hatred.

” It enables us to be free even when in prison.”

“God so loved the world that he sent his son into the world to die for those who would hate him, harm him and ultimately put him to death.” AMAZING!

” There may be some who chose to hate me and harm me because I am a Christian-but God’s love complels me to do them good.”

AMAZING POWER OF GRACE!

Brothers and sisters reading this. May this be our experience too as it is soon coming our way!

Attitude to Persecution

Hear Cyprian:

Cyprian of Carthage (200-258AD), while suffering banishment, writes a letter to three of his church members (Nemesian, Felix, and Lucius), who were sent to work in the mines as punishment for their faith. Cyprian, who by all accounts, should be the recipient of letters of encouragement, writes one himself to his fellow suffering Christians. He writes, “That you have been grievously beaten with clubs, and have been initiated by that punishment in your Christian confession, is a thing not to be lamented. The body of a Christian trembles not on account of clubs: all his hope is in the wood (i.e., the cross of Christ). The servant of Christ acknowledges the emblem of his salvation: redeemed by wood to eternal life, by this wood he is advanced to his crown. O happy feet, shackled indeed at present with fetters, ye will quickly finish a glorious journey to Christ! Let malice and cruelty bind you as they please, ye will soon pass from earth and its sorrows to the kingdom of heaven. In the mines ye have not a bed on which the body may be refreshed; nevertheless, Christ is your rest and consolation: your limbs are fatigued with labour, and have only the ground to lie on; but so to lie down, when you have Christ with you, is no punishment. Filth and dirt defile your limbs, and ye have no baths at hand; but remember, ye are inwardly washed from all uncleanness: your allowance of bread is but scanty; be it so, ‘man doth not live by bread alone, but by the word of God: ye have no proper clothes to defend you from the cold; but he who has put on Christ, is clothed abundantly. How will all these deformities be compensated with honour proportioned to the disgrace! What a blessed exchange will be made of this transient punishment for an exceeding and eternal glory!… And though your travail be great, yet is the reward greater, which is most certain to follow: for God, beholding and looking down upon them that confess his name, in their willing mind approveth them, in their striving helpeth them, in their victory crowneth them; rewarding that in us which he hath performed, and crowning that which he hath perfected in us.”

Thanks to Andy Underhile.

National repentance of the Jews?

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Here is proof that there will be no national repentance of the Jews:

  1. The Land: Although Abraham and his descendants were promised Canaan, Hebrews 11 makes it clear that the patriarchs actually looked for heaven as their homeland and Canaan just represented that hope. So the land of Israel has no great significance any more, it is real estate like England or India, one day to enter the conflagration and be renewed.
  2. The Temple: This structure representing God’s presence with Israel, was destroyed in 70AD thus ending God’s covenant with them as a nation (Matthew 21:43). We are told that we believers are now the temple of God. No more sacrifices will ever be offered because Christ has fulfilled them all and any return to them in the future would be a blasphemous denial of his once-for-all work on the cross.
  3. The King: David is a type of Christ. No more tabernacle of David ever (Isaiah 16:5 notwithstanding!) Christ’s kingdom is NOT of this world…ever. So no messianic state in Israel!
  4. Israel: This name which once stood for the Jews as a nation, although in reality it meant only the elect remnant among them (Romans 9:6). Israel, the church in the Old Testament is now the name for the church composed of Jew and Gentile, the true circumcision. So when Scripture states “All Israel shall be saved” it means all the elect of all nations. God’s elect church are now the only single nation of God (I Peter 2:9). God never did love the whole nation of Israel or any other nation for that matter. His everlasting, foreknowing, electing love has always and will always be, only for Christ and all those chosen in him before the foundation of the world, because love is the bond of perfectness (Col.3:14) that is, the bond between the members of the trinity and of all the elect in the Son, given to him and united to him by faith. God never did and never will love his enemies, the reprobate wicked (like Esau Romans 9).

For all these reasons Romans 11 CANNOT and DOES NOT mean there will be a national repentance and turning to God among the Jews in the last days. They are like any other people, they will have representatives before the throne in eternity.

The Books

 

The books were opened and all men were judged according to what was written in the books (Revelation 20:12-13). What are the various books mentioned in Revelation and other Scriptures?

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The first mention of a book is Genesis 5:1 where Moses is commanded to keep a record of the genealogy of the first generations of mankind. To this was added all the books of the law or covenant, the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible). To this was added the writings, or poetry books and the books of the prophets to comprise all the Old Testament. The whole of this book testifies of Christ to come (Psalm 40:7, Heb.10:7). In many places where prophets or an apostle are required to write, read, assimilate and preach this word we are to believe these are parts of inspired Scripture e.g. Jer.15:16, Ezek. 2:8,3:1, Rev.1:11, 10:2, 9-10. After the coming of Christ and the apostles, the New Testament, gospels and epistles, including Revelation, all of which are the inspired word of God and infallible, were added to the Old to comprise the whole Bible. This is God’s book in which we learn of all the other books! It is the canon of Scripture, now fixed (Rev.22:18-19). It is real, we can handle it and read it (in several thousand languages) and be blessed by so doing (Rev.1:3), it has power to save and harden (Heb.4, Is. 6:9-10, II Cor.2:16).

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The book mentioned in Revelation 5:1,3, 5ff is the book of God’s eternal decree which only Christ is fit to open and execute. This “book” is in the mind of the eternal, unchanging God and determines all that has or will ever happen in this universe.

The books (Rev.20:12-13, 15) out of which all men will be judged are a record of all the thoughts, words and actions of all men who have ever lived down to the minutest detail which will be opened on the last day and which will determine the eternal destiny of all men (Matt.12:36, 25:31-46, II Cor.5:10, Rom 14:12). Daniel knew of them (Dan.7:10). Think of them this way. God’s mind and memory are infinite and contain, like the greatest computer ever made, a full record of everything that has come to pass, inevitably because he also decreed it before time began!

The key book as far as Christian believers are concerned is the Lamb’s book of life. This book, kept invisibly in the mind of God, which is also eternal, contains a record of all the elect (Dan.12:1, Phil.4:3, Rev.13;8, 20:15, 21:27). This book cannot be added to or subtracted from (Ex.32:33), to be “blotted out “of it means to have never been in it! It also determines who will not follow Antichrist.

It is noteworthy that on the last day there is a separation of sheep (elect) from goats (reprobate) even before the books are opened and this separation has already occurred at death when each goes to his own place, either to be with Christ in heaven or the place of the dead and damned in hell (John 3:18, Luke 16:23). The final judgment after the general resurrection then determines the eternal destiny of everyone, the sheep having done good works to prove their election, and the goats having done wickedly, especially to God’s people, to cement their damnation. Christ also teaches there will be degrees of reward and punishment in his own words and the epistles (Matt.5:12, Luke 12:48, James 3:1) the rewards include various crowns (I Cor.9:25, Phil.4:1, II Tim.4:8, Rev.2:10, I Peter 5:4, Rev.3:11). All believers who are justified both in this life and the next, stand un-condemned because of Christ, it only remains for them to lay up treasure in heaven as both they and the wicked fill up their cup of suffering or iniquity as the case may be. We can be assured of this, the “judge of all the earth shall do right” (Gen 18:25).

 

Feast of Tabernacles

In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8) there was a great reformation of true religion as over 42,000 returned exiles worshipped the God of Israel in Jerusalem. They kept the feast of Tabernacles in the 7th month for eight days from the 15th day onwards.images

It was a harvest feast and commemorated their pilgrimage through the wilderness when both they and the ark of God dwelt in tents.

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As with every Jewish feast it pointed to Christ. John 1:14 literally reads that God incarnate dwelt among us “tabernacled” among us. Many believe Christ was born at this season of the year, NOT Xmas!

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A sukkah or booth.

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The feast also has a future fulfilment in the great ingathering of God’s elect people at the end of the world, many believe the second coming will be at tabernacles season, when he will usher in eternity, and God in Christ will forever tabernacle with his people, he and his church will be one at the great marriage supper of the lamb (and interestingly many Jewish weddings are held under a sukkah).

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Hope and deliverance.

What is our hope as Christians?

It is deliverance at the Second Coming of Christ, the end of this world and the birth of the New Creation.

Deliverance from what?

From all the miseries of this life-sickness, old age, conflict, sorrow. From sin which is the root cause of all the miseries. From persecution which God has built into creation in the antithesis of enmity between Satan and his seed (the reprobate) and Christ and his seed (the elect). From death itself, the dissolution of living things which is the results also of Adam’s sin.

These are the major reasons we ought to long for Christ’s coming and pray Lord come quickly!

The Christian’s Sins on Judgment Day

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As believers we know that as far as our guilt is concerned, God has buried our sins in the deepest sea and remembers them no more (Psalm 103:3,12, Hebrew 10:17) BUT because every man will be rewarded or punished according to his works, of necessity, every thought, word and action will be exposed on the last day, only we can be confident all our sins will be covered by the blood of Christ who will be standing there as not only the judge but our saviour!  Check out Professor Hanko’s article on this:

Covenant Reformed News

May 2016  •  Volume XVI, Issue 1 ,

The Theodicy (3)

“We are often rightly told that God will not remember our sins and has removed them from us to an infinite distance (as far as the east is from the west) and buried them in the deepest sea. So how can those same sins be brought out into the open on the judgment day, with every believer being rewarded according to his works? Are our sins not to be brought up again as they are all atoned for and simply our works judged? Because surely the quality of the works will expose the sin inherent in them?”
As our readers will recall, I have been discussing the theodicy in the last two articles. I intend to end the discussion with this article. The question quoted above prompted me to widen the answer to include a discussion of the theodicy because 1) it underlies the question and 2) the theodicy is rarely discussed in today’s insipid theological world. Yet it is a truth that lies at the heart of Reformed theology.
I am convinced that the lack of teaching on this subject is due to a wrong emphasis on man in preaching and writing in today’s church world. This is not the emphasis in Scripture. Scripture is God-centred. It teaches what God does, why He does what He does, and that His name alone ought to be praised and given all the glory. With today’s theologians, one hears only man, man, man. In Reformed theology, the emphasis is God, God, God. Read Ephesians 1:3-14. While the passage, only one sentence in the Greek, tells us of the astounding gifts that God gives His people, the purpose is always to show that God gives them and that He does so that He alone may be praised. The truth of the theodicy brings us to the foot of God’s throne in humble adoration.
The questioner wants to know whether our sins will be revealed in the judgment day. He apparently hopes that they are not. In that wish, he is like all of us, for our sins are so many and so great and so terrible that we really do not want anyone to know them. That they will be publicly revealed in the judgment day makes us cringe in fear.
The questioner argues that all our sins are covered by Christ’s blood and that they exist no longer. In addition to that, the questioner argues that our good works will themselves reveal their inherent sinfulness. The point is, however, not whether our sins will be revealed in the judgment day (they will be) but whether God will be justified in saving His people, who are in themselves just as wicked as anyone else in the world, and why they are saved. That is the theodicy.
In the theodicy, God justifies Himself in election, not only in reprobation, as we saw last time. God justifies Himself in a seemingly arbitrary choice to bless in Christ only some of our fallen race equally involved in spiritual ruin.
God did not choose those whom He elected because they were morally superior to others or because they performed more good works than others or because, out of the whole of fallen man, they were found more noble and of more worth. Election is absolutely free and sovereign. God chooses whom He wills to choose. His basis for electing some and not others is His own sovereign good pleasure. He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He wills, He hardens (Rom 9:15-18).
As I said in the last article in connection with reprobation, God has the right to do this and He is under no obligation to explain to us why He does what He does. He is infinite; we are specks of dirt. He is the Creator of all; we are created. He gives life and existence to every creature; we depend on Him for every breath and every beat of our hearts. Paul again: Does not the potter have power over the clay to make a good vessel or a bad vessel (Rom 9:21)? Of course, He does. So it is with God.
The Creator may do with those He creates as He pleases. This is the basic truth. God does all His good pleasure. No one may question His right to do it.
If the church is pictured as a temple, as it is in Ephesians 2:20-22, God chooses to build the temple of the elect on Christ. He chooses the reprobate as scaffolding to make the erection of the temple possible. When the temple is fully built, the scaffolding is no longer needed and is discarded.
But there is more. To show the great wonder of God’s work of salvation, He saves from sin in the death and exaltation of His own dear Son. To demonstrate His grace, He must and does show how wicked His people are in themselves. To show the greatness of the wonder of salvation, all our iniquities will be publicly revealed.
In the death of Christ, as the satisfaction God requires to save His people from their sins against Him, God punishes His Son and not His people. The light of God’s holiness shines the brighter against the background of our dreadful sin. One can see the beam of a torch only in the dark; one can see God’s great glory especially as it shines in the darkness of our sins.
Our sins will never be manifest in all their horror until the last day. They will be publicly revealed as all covered by the blood of Christ. We stand as sinners, who are made into saints by Christ’s death. God does it all that He alone may be glorified as the great eternal author of all His works. Therefore, John tells us that we need not be afraid of the judgment because we know that God loves us (I John 4:16-18).
This is the theodicy. God justifies His work of salvation by grace alone by showing us as we are in ourselves and as saved by Christ.
God reveals as gloriously as possible that He alone is sovereign also in the work of the salvation of His elect. The greatest glory of His name is achieved through revealing all His attributes in the highest possible way. He reveals His (what we call) incommunicable attributes): sovereignty, omnipotence, eternal unchangeableness, the blessedness of His own Triune covenant life He lives as the Triune God.
He also reveals His (what we call) communicable attributes in the highest way in Christ and in all His work: His mercy, grace, love, longsuffering, patience. God reveals all these attributes when an innumerable host of elect sinners stand before Him, clothed in the white robes of Christ’s righteousness. We, who are dreadful sinners, just as bad as everybody else in the world, are saved by God and blessed eternally!
Our sins must be revealed, for only in this way can the greatness of God’s mercy be shown and can we appreciate the wonder of Christ’s work and the greatness of a God who sent His beloved Son to hell to save His people.  Prof. Hanko

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