Wrath and love?

It is true that no human being can be under the wrath of God and be loved by him simultaneously. Christian believers, God’s elect sheep have been loved by him IN CHRIST from before the world was. Before we were saved we were BY NATURE children of wrath even as others and we retain this sinful nature till our dying day, yet we are loved infinitely and everlastingly.

What about Christ?

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Our Heidelberg Catechism puts it this way,”Q. 37.  What dost thou understand by the words, “He suffered”?
A.  That He, all the time that He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, sustained in body and soul the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind; that so by His passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice, He might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the favor of God, righteousness and eternal life.”

In the Triple Knowledge*, Herman Hoeksema’s exposition of H.C. he states, “All his (Christ’s) life is one testimony of the fact that he lived in perfect fellowship with his father, and was conscious of his approval and favour.” But didn’t he bear God’s wrath too? Let it be clearly stated that Christ as a person was never the object of his father’s wrath but “he suffered the expression, the concrete effect of the wrath of God against sin”, “the reaction of his holiness against (us) the workers of iniquity.” This comes to it’s climax in Christ’s God-forsakenness at Calvary, “At the moment when God is most highly pleased with him, he experiences all the terror of being forsaken of God!”

What a Saviour! Who would not consecrate themselves body and soul to live for him?

*Books

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The Anointing

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Famous prophets.   Jewish High Priest.   King Edward I

Psalm 23:5 reads, “ Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

What is this anointing? Well for David it was a literal anointing when he was anointed King of Israel by Samuel in I Samuel 16:13. Prophets and priests were also anointed (I Kings 19:16, Exodus 28:41) but for us it is an anointing by David’s greater son, Christ and in Christ.

When was he anointed ?

Hear Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 12

Q. 31.Why is He called Christ, that is, anointed?

A.  Because He is ordained of God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Ghost (Heb.1:9, Acts 10:38), to be our chief Prophet (Deut.18:18, Acts 3:22) and Teacher (Isaiah 61:1), who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and to be our only High Priest (Psalm 110:4), who by the one sacrifice of His body has redeemed us, and makes continual intercession with the Father for us; and also to be our eternal King (Luke 1:33), who governs us by His Word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in (the enjoyment of) that salvation He has purchased for us (John 10:28).

Now because every true believer is in Christ he or she is also anointed and John and Paul confirm this in I John 2:27 and II Cor.1:21. We, like Christ, are anointed by the Holy Spirit into the office of believer and made prophets, priests and kings. Prophets to tell forth God’s truth, priests to intercede for others and offer ourselves as living sacrifices to him and kings to rule over ourselves, our families if we are men, and the church if we are office-bearers. Let us be good stewards of our offices!

What is true faith?

What is true faith?
A.  True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart; that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.                  Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 7.

Faith is also the bond uniting us to Christ by our being grafted into him. Picture of grafted vine.

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The Importance of Creeds

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Rev. Decker

Rev. Nathan Decker, Trinity PRC, Michigan, USA

Sung Psalm 100 noting especially the lines, “his truth at all times firmly stood, and shall from age to age endure.”

Reading John 16:1-13 and John 17:1-3

A confession, the word is derived from two Latin words meaning together or with, and to speak, is what we together speak in the church or what we speak together with God,

A creed is what we believe.

Romans 10:9 unites the two verbs derived from these words and when they have Christ as their object as the risen Lord then together they constitute salvation.

A creed is a statement by a church or denomination containing a declaration of what that church believes to be the truth and has officially adopted as such.

It is a systematization of the teaching of the inspired Scriptures which are not set out systematically.

What are some of the purposes of creeds:

  1. They are a confession of faith (unity and like mindedness are vital see Phil.1:27 and 2:2) and so is being part of a true instituted church.
  2. They preserve the truth (history cannot be set aside).
  3. They form the basis of teaching, preaching and witness.
  4. They guard against error.
  5. They are the foundation for subsequent development of the truth.
  6. They aid our understanding of Scripture and help us remember.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Our creeds are the Three Forms of Unity and the Apostolic Creeds.

Read them here: http://www.cprf.co.uk/faith.htm

It is worth noting that we highly respect the Westminster Confession but as with all creeds, though they were written with the oversight of the Holy Spirit, they are not Spirit-breathed (inspired) as the Bible is, hence error can creep in as we believe it has with WCF’s errors on divorce and remarriage. Creeds can be changed with due process.

Filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

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God’s people are speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit inspires and enables them to do good works but even these works which are acceptable through Christ’s mediation, are so tainted and corrupted by sin (mainly in motive) that in God’s eyes they are as filthy rags. The only untainted righteousness they possessed then, and we possess now, is alien to us and imputed by Jesus Christ. Even worse, anyone thinking their own righteousnesses can merit salvation, like the Pharisee in the temple, are gravely mistaken and need to know that “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh shall be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20).

Lord’s Day 24 Heidelberg Catechism

  • Q. 62.  But why cannot our good works be the whole or part of our righteousness before God?
    A.  Because that the righteousness which can be approved of before the tribunal of God must be absolutely perfect, and in all respects conformable to the divine law; and also, that our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.

Christian Sabbath observance

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How do you spend your Sundays? Reformed Christians call Sunday the LORD’S day because they believe it is the Christian Sabbath, the day Christ rose, the day he poured out his Spirit, the first day of the week.

Do you go to church twice, if there are two services?

Do you play sport, watch TV, play on your I phone?

It ought to be a day wholly set apart for private and public worship of God and not doing our own pleasure (Isaiah 58:13).

Check out the following:

Here is the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s explanation of keeping the Sabbath Day:

 

Q. 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy sabbath to himself.

 

Q. 59. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly sabbath?

A. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian sabbath.

 

Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?

A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

 

Q. 61. What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

 

Q. 62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?

A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath day.

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Circumcision and baptism signs of the covenant.

Excellent article showing that O.T. circumcision and N.T baptism are equivalent as signs of the one covenant which states, ” I will be your God and ye shall be my people.”

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Belgic Confession, Article 34: An End of All Other Sheddings of Blood

by Rev. Martyn McGeown, Missionary Pastor of Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

 

Hebrews 9:22 “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood there is no remission…”

 

In Article 33, we looked at the idea of sacraments in general. Now we consider baptism. Remember two things as we study this important subject. First, we must make a distinction between the sign of baptism (water baptism) and the reality behind the sign (spiritual salvation). Second, sacraments are not only signs, but also seals, or pledges of the goodwill and grace of our God toward us, and therefore not empty symbols. If we bear these two things in mind, we will avoid many errors.

The Belgic Confession contrasts baptism with circumcision. This is fitting because they have essentially the same meaning. “Jesus Christ,” says the Confession, “having abolished circumcision … hath instituted the sacrament of baptism instead thereof.”

To understand baptism, therefore, we examine circumcision.

When an Israelite boy was but eight days old, the priest or his father would remove part of that child’s flesh in a rite called circumcision. This was done according to God’s express commandment. This taught the people that their corrupt flesh had to be cut off, that they had to be cleansed, in order to have fellowship with God. Colossians 2:11 calls circumcision “the putting off the body of the sins of the flesh.” What man did with hands, God did spiritually without hands in the heart. Thus, God promised to circumcise the hearts of Israel and of their seed after them (Deut. 30:6).

Circumcision was, therefore, not a sign of Jewishness, of physical descent from Abraham or of citizenship in the nation of Israel. Circumcision was the sign of the covenant, in which Jehovah was Israel’s God and Israel was Jehovah’s people in their generations for an everlasting covenant (Gen. 17:7, 11).  This must be the case because a sign is a visible thing pointing to an invisible, spiritual reality. Neither physical descent from Abraham nor citizenship in Israel are invisible, spiritual realities, but spiritual circumcision of the heart and covenant membership are.

God abolished circumcision in the New Testament and fulfilled it in the better sign of baptism. He did this for at least three reasons. First, only boys were circumcised. In the New Testament, there is neither male nor female (Gal. 3:28). Second, circumcision divided Jews from Gentiles. Christ came to unite believing Jews and Gentles in one body by His sacrifice on the cross (Eph. 2:13-16). Third, and most importantly, circumcision involved the shedding of blood. In the New Testament, there is no more shedding of blood. By one sacrifice Jesus Christ has accomplished everything which all shedding of blood in the OT signified and promised. Thus the Belgic Confession says, “He, having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood, hath instituted the sacrament of baptism instead thereof.”

Circumcision was a sacrament. It was a sign and a seal: “[Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of righteousness of [the] faith” (Rom. 4:11). In the New Testament the signs and seals are baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both bloodless signs and seals of the finished work of our Saviour.

What is means to be a Reformed Christian.

This message was given at our mission in Limerick Reformed Fellowship on Friday January 16th 2015 by Professor Barry Gritters from the Protestant Reformed Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

He first spoke about the DEFORMATION of the church as in the days of the Reformers and sadly in many churches today and the need for it to be REFORMED-how? By the adherence to the word of God, that is the Holy Scriptures. The key area of church life that spurred the Reformers was the degrading of church WORSHIP. Right doctrine serves right worship and this can be summed in, “not unto us but unto thy great name be glory”.

A Reformed Church and  Reformed Christian, that is a true church and a true Christian has the following characteristics:

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COVENANTAL-this means that the essence of Christianity is the spiritual, living bond of friendship between God and his people in Christ and that includes their elect children. It is based on promises and our response is one of love. The real marriage (covenant), of which a good earthly marriage is a picture, is established by God (in unconditional election), maintained by God (by the union of faith) and completed (by his preservation).

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CALVINISTIC-The covenant is defined by the 5 SOLAS, that is it is by GRACE ALONE, through  FAITH ALONE,  in CHRIST ALONE, and to the GLORY OF GOD ALONE. We confess the five points of Calvinism- (TULIP) meaning total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace and the preservation of the saints (a detailed explanation of these is on the church website) http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles.htm#fivepoints

We emphasize the CHURCH. The purpose of Christ was to save his church. Church membership for many reasons is vital.

CONFESSIONAL-we are transparent about our beliefs and hold to centuries-old traditions because the Bible has been studied for millennia and we stand on the shoulders of those who by the Spirit have systematized the Bible’s teaching namely in the THREE FORMS of UNITY (our creeds)-see under confessions. II Thess.2:15 speaks of the “traditions” handed down and Jer.6:16 of the “old paths”.

There is a Reformed view of the CHRISTIAN LIFE. We are antithetical-against the wicked world, the flesh and devil. We seek to obey all the moral commandments. We are pilgrims focussing on heaven and seek first his righteousness and kingdom.

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Here the whole message…HERE.

What it means to inherit the Kingdom of God.

Our Inheritance: The Church

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A summary of article (with embellishments) by Ryan Kregel, Beacon Lights, Lights, November 2014.

The words “inheritance” and “heritage” have much in common. A heritage is inherited.Our true (spiritual) family is the church of all ages. We inherit what God has given to the church.

Supremely God has given himself to us as our portion. In fellowship with him we know him and through him−the truth. The truth is made known to us in our lifetimes in the church institute, thus we inherit through the church, all the truth she presently stands for and has stood for through the ages, and we inherit the church ourselves.

What is the church? Belgic Confession Article 27.

Bound to join-yes! BC Art 28

What is the true church? BC Art 29.

The marks of the true church are part of our inheritance, preserved through the ages in faithful churches.

The teaching of the apostles, given to the NT church is formulated accurately in the creeds and holding to these creeds is part of what makes us Reformed. If this foundation is destroyed we will lose all.

If any of this inheritance of pure doctrine is jettisoned overboard, our ship (personal or ecclesiastical) will be in danger of being dashed against the rocks of false doctrine and opened up to the world, wave after wave of temptation and lies will plunge souls into the depths. Doctrine is vital to our own and the church’s stability!

We must guard our inheritance like Naboth (even to the death!) If we don’t value our inheritance we dishonor the giver.

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Three further thoughts:

1) An inheritance is generally the most valuable asset our parents (forefathers) leave to us.

2) It is given freely, we do nothing to deserve it.

3) It must not be squandered!-indeed the most unselfish and God-glorifying thing we do with it, is preserve it intact, and pass it on to the next generation!

Finally the inheritance, the pleasant lines of it, fall to us now and even more-so when we inherit heaven and earth at the last day!

Gratitude!

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Rev.Carl Haak of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America thanks God for the “Queen of creeds” the Heidelberg Catechism which will stand the church in good stead in the perilous days to come, just as it has fortified many even in death and a martyr’s death in bygone days.

The Catechism expresses a “triple knowledge”: the personal knowledge of my sin, my deliverance and my gratitude knowing my only comfort is belonging to Jesus Christ. Guilt and grace lead daily to gratitude!

He states rightly that the prevailing sprit of the life of the believer is thankfulness.

1). It is the sole motivation for the Christian’s life of good works. It underlies all our conduct. (Psalm 116; II Cor.5:14). The Christian life is an offering of thanks by the whole of our conduct.

2). Through it we become a people pleasing to God. It is basic to worship. Our worship is only acceptable to God when it arises out of thanksgiving.

3). Our experience of gratitude is abundantly fruitful. We “must” do good works and we do! You cannot keep the lid on the thanks of a renewed and redeemed heart any more than you can keep on the lid of a drum with water in it being brought to the boil! With the exposition of each of the ten commandments in the third part of the Heidelberger we learn what love (our love) will and will not do. We cannot mortify sin or forsake addictive sins if we do not have the motive of thankfulness to God. The power of holiness only emerges from the understanding of what Christ has done, is doing and will do. Hence regular exposure to good Reformed preaching and teaching which expounds God’s work and grace is the gospel power unto salvation-JK. Thanksgiving recognises God as the source of all good. Is your thankfulness growing as you get older? No grace means no thankfulness (Rom.1:21). The Spirit works thankfulness. The world sees our thankfulness and some will be attracted to its source. This thankfulness will withstand even the hatred of Antichrist and his purpose to overthrow it. The small beginning of this thankfulness reaches full bloom in heaven.