Category Archives: scripture

Peace

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – – Romans 5:1
 
The reality of this peace is that God has made peace where there was no peace – and this peace comes through the blood of Christ’s cross.
 
“For in [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” – – Colossians 1:19-20

Sincere

1 Peter 1:22-25

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Transfigured

Mark 9:2-8

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.  And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

In this passage, we get a picture of Jesus in His splendour and majesty.  We see Him here in purity and beauty.  We see Him shining with the glory of God.  We see Him revealing Himself as more than just a man. We see Him here as the one worthy of our attention.

But what about Moses and Elijah?  What are they doing there?  Well, they represent God’s revelation.  In Old Testament terms the represented the prophetic witness that Yahweh had graciously given to His people, the means by which He revealed Himself to Israel.  By having these two power houses of God’s special revelation along-side Jesus it’s testimony to the reality that Jesus belongs there, as a prophet, as a spokesman for the divine.

The Office of Prophet

Q24 of the WSC famously asks “How does Christ execute (or carry out) the office of a prophet?  And answers it by pointing us to His work of revealing to us, by His word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Notice the way the passage begins and ends with Jesus. Notice that He is the one transfigured.  Notice He is the only one left standing there in verse 8. And then notice what is spoken in verse 7. There comes a voice from heaven – the audible expression of God’s special revelation.  The voice centres the disciples on one of the three.  The voice does so in order to clearly establish that one of these men isn’t like the others.  It is of the one who is present at both the beginning and the end of this passage that this voice speaks.

This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.  This is the heavenly assessment of who Jesus is. The divine Son.  The heavenly Son.  The beloved Son.  And the injunction is that the disciples were to listen to Him.

A Better Word

Now, that is not to say that they were to reject the previously revealed word as it came especially through Moses, but rather they were to listen to Jesus as the originator and fulfilment of all that Moses had said. And rather than looking to Moses as chief among the prophets, they were to look to Jesus.

And thus the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 31 points to the fact that Jesus is our chief prophet and teacher who perfectly reveals to us the secret counsel and word of a God for our deliverance.

And so we come to worship and adore and ultimately hear from The Word of God that was made flesh, dwelt among us, and in love laid down His life as an enduring demonstration of divine love for us.

What does the law of God require?

Question seven of the New City Catechism asks: What does the law of God require?

Personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience; that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love our neighbor as ourselves.What God forbids should never be done and what God commands should always be done.

Bible on: What does the law of God require?

Matthew 22:37–40

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Commentary on: What does the law of God require?

Loving the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength is the first great branch of Christian righteousness. You shall delight yourself in the Lord your God; seeking and finding all happiness in Him. You shall hear and fulfill His word, “My son, give me your heart.” And having given Him your inmost soul to reign there without a rival, you may well cry out in the fulness of your heart, “I will love You, O my Lord, my strength. The Lord IS my strong rock; my Savior, my God, in whom l trust.” The second commandment, the second great branch of Christian righteousness, is closely and inseparably connected with the first: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love—embrace with the most tender goodwill, the most earnest and cordial affection, the most inflamed desires of preventing or removing all evil and bringing every possible good. Your neighbor—not only your friends, kinfolk, or acquaintances; not only the virtuous ones who regard you, who extend or return your kindness, but every person, not excluding those you have never seen or know by name; not excluding those you know to be evil and unthankful, those who despitefully use you. Even those you shall love as yourself with the same invariable thirst after their happiness. Use the same unwearied care to screen them from whatever might grieve or hurt either their soul or body. This is love.

John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.

From “The Two Great Commandments” in Renew My Heart: Classic Insights by John Wesley (Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour, 2011).

Juan Sanchez: What does the law of God require?

Prayer on: What does the law of God require?

We thank you Heavenly Father that you have not left us to grope in the darkness without any light to show us the way. We thank you that your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. And we thank you that you have given us in the Holy Spirit an indwelling comforter and strengthener who writes your law in our hearts enabling us to love and to obey it. Grant us in increasing measure the fulness of the Spirit that we may live a life that is pleasing in your holy sight. For the glory of your great name. Amen.

John Stott (1921–2011). An English Anglican preacher who for many years served as rector of All Souls Church in London, Stott was one of the principal framers of the Lausanne Covenant (1974). His numerous books include Why I Am a Christian and The Cross of Christ.

From the end of the sermon “The Call to Fulfil the Law” on Matthew 5:17–20, recorded 15th October 1989, available from www.allsouls.org

What else did God create?

The fifth question in the New City Catechism asks:  What Else did God Create?

God created all things by his powerful Word, and all his creation was very good; everything flourished under his loving rule.

The Bible on: What Else did God Create?

Genesis 1:31

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

Commentary on: What Else did God Create?

God did by his power create of nothing heaven, earth, and the sea; which he did immediately adorn and enrich with all kinds of good things. And into this world…it pleased him to bring man, to whom he did put all things in subjection….

How great our God is; how great the power of God is; how good, rich, and liberal to man, who never deserved any such thing at his hand, our God is, who hath created so great riches, so exquisite delights, and such furniture as cannot be sufficiently praised, for man alone, and hath made them all subject, and will have them all to obey man as their lord and master…. But here by the way, in the creation of the world, we have to consider the preservation and government of the whole by the same God. For neither doth the world stand and endure by any power of its own; neither do those things move and stir of their own accord….

It is a most absurd thing to say, that God hath created all things, but that he hath no care of the things which he hath made; and that his creature, as a boat destitute of a steersman, is with contrary winds tossed to and fro, and knocked and cracked upon shelves and rocks…. God…doth care for and regard the state of mortal men and of all the things that he hath made for the use of mortal men….

Therefore God hath not only created the world and all things that are in the world; but doth also govern and preserve them at this day, and shall govern and preserve them even till the end.

Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575). A Swiss reformer, and the successor of Zwingli as head of the Zurich church, Bullinger wrote both theological and historical works comprising some 127 titles. There exist about 12,000 letters from and to Bullinger, the most extended correspondence preserved from Reformation times. He corresponded with Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I of England, Christian II of Denmark, and Frederick III Elector Palatine among others.

From “That God is the Creator of All Things: The Fourth Sermon” in “The Other Eight Sermons of the Fourth Decade” in Decades of Henry Bullinger, translated by H.I., Volume 4 (Cambridge: University Press, 1851), 177–179.

R. Kent Hughes on:  What Else did God Create?

Prayer on:  What Else did God Create?

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who wast and art to come; eternal, without beginning or end; immense, without all bounds or measure; the infinite Spirit, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost. The infinite Life, Understanding, and Will, infinitely powerful, wise, and good.

Of thee, and through thee, and to thee, are all things. To thee be glory for evermore. All thy works declare thy glory, for thy glorious perfections appear on all; and for thy glory, and the pleasure of thy holy will, didst thou create them. The heavens, and all the hosts thereof; the sun, and all the glorious stars; the fire, with its motion, light, and heat; the earth, and all that dwell thereon, with all its sweet and beauteous ornaments; the air, and all the meteors; the great deeps, and all that swim therein: all are the preachers of thy praise, and show forth the great Creator’s glory.

How great is that power which made so great a world of nothing; which, with wonderful swiftness, moveth those great and glorious luminaries which in a moment send forth the influences of their motion, light and heat, through all the air, to sea and earth.

Thy powerful life giveth life to all; and preserveth this frame of nature, which thou hast made. How glorious is that wisdom which ordereth all things, and assigneth to all their place and office, and by its perfect laws maintaineth the beauty and harmony of all! How glorious is that goodness and love which made all good, and very good! We praise and glorify thee, our Lord and Owner; for we, and all things, are thine own.

Richard Baxter (1615–1691). An English Puritan, Baxter served as a chaplain in the army of Oliver Cromwell and as a pastor in Kidderminster. When James II was overthrown, he was persecuted and imprisoned for 18 months. He continued to preach, writing at the time that: “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” As well as his theological works he was a poet and hymn-writer. He also wrote his own Family Catechism.

From “A Shorter Form of Praise and Prayer for the Lord’s Day” in “The Poor Man’s Family Book” in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Volume 19 (London: Paternoster, 1830), 635–636.

How and why did God create us?

The Fourth Question in the New City Catechism asks:  How and why did God create us?

God created us male and female in his own image to know him, love him, live with him, and glorify him.  And it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.

Commentary on:  How and why did God create us?

The glory of God is the first thing that God’s children should desire. It is the object of one of our Lord’s own prayers: “Father, glorify thy name.” (John xii. 28.) It is the purpose for which the world was created. It is the end for which the saints are called and converted. It is the chief thing we should seek, that “God in all things may be glorified.” (1 Peter iv. 11.)… He alone deserves to receive all glory…we give Him all honor and praise and rejoice that He is King of kings, and Lord of lords…. Where are our hearts? What do we love best? Are our chiefest affections on things in earth, or things in heaven?… Singleness of purpose is one great secret of spiritual prosperity. If our eyes do not see distinctly, we cannot walk without stumbling and falling. If we attempt to work for two different masters, we are sure to give satisfaction to neither. It is just the same with respect to our souls. We cannot serve [God] and the world at the same time. It is vain to attempt it. The thing cannot be done…. God must be king over our hearts. His law, His will, His precepts must receive our first attention.

We have all talents in God’s sight…. Anything whereby we may glorify God is a talent, our gifts, our influence, our money, our knowledge, our health, our strength, our time, our senses, our reason, our intellect, our memory, our affections, our privileges as members of Christ’s Church, our advantages as possessors of the Bible, —all, all are talents. Whence came these things? What hand bestowed them? Why are we what we are? Why are we not the worms that crawl on the earth? There is only one answer to these questions. All that we have is a loan from God. We are God’s stewards. We are God’s debtors. Let this thought sink deeply into our hearts.

John Charles Ryle (1816–1900). The first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, Ryle’s appointment was at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. As well as being a writer and pastor, Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played cricket for Oxford University. He also was responsible for the building of over forty churches.

From Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: St. Matthew (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1870), 51–56, 336–337.

John Piper on:  How and why did God create us?

A prayer for: How and Why did God create us?

I pray God, for the sake of Christ…to receive me now as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his. Now, henceforth, I am not to act, in any respect, as my own—I shall act as my own, if I ever make use of any of my powers to any thing that is not to the glory of God, and do not make the glorifying of him my whole and entire business.

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). A colonial American preacher, theologian, and philosopher, Edwards became pastor of his church in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1726. He is widely known for his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” as well as his many books including The End For Which God Created the World and A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University).

From “Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1 (London: William Ball, 1840), lxvii.

How many persons are there in God?

The third question in the New City Catechism asks: How many persons are there in God?

There are three persons inthe one true and living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

The Bible on: How many persons are there in God?

2 Corinthians 13:14

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Commentary on: How many persons are there in God?

The…Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, beingone God, is…necessary to us to be believed, not only as to the eternal…but especially for the knowledge of God’s three great sorts of works on man: that is, as our Creator, and the God of nature; as our Redeemer, and the God of governing and reconciling grace, and as our Sanctifier, and the Applier and Perfecter of all to fit us to glory.

The Scripture tells us that there are three, and yet but one God.… We are to be baptised into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Matt. xxviii. 29.) And there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one (1 John v. 7.)… [That] God is one infinite, undivided Spirit; and yet that he is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, must be believed.

We must…know, believe and esteem him to be the only infinite, eternal, self-sufficient Spirit, vital Power, Understanding, and Will, our most perfect Life, Light, and Love; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things; our absolute Owner, Ruler, and Father; our Maker, our Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

Richard Baxter (1615–1691). An English Puritan, Baxter served as a chaplain in the army of Oliver Cromwell and as a pastor in Kidderminster. When James II was overthrown, he was persecuted and imprisoned for 18 months. He continued to preach, writing at the time that: “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.” As well as his theological works he was a poet and hymn-writer. He also wrote his own Family Catechism (from which this quote is taken).

From “The Catechising of Families” in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Volume 19 (London: Paternoster, 1830), 33, 62, 165.

Kevin de Young on: How many persons are there in God?

Prayer on:  How many persons are there in God?

Not without trembling, we have entreated of the most holy mystery of the reverend Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which we have learned out of the scriptures: and here now we will stay, humbly worshipping this Unity in trinity and Trinity in unity. And let us keep in mind and acknowledge this distinction or division most manifestly declared in the scriptures, and the unity also commended unto us with exceeding great diligence…. There is but one God…. Therefore when we read that God created the world, we understand that the Father from whom are all things, by the Son by whom are all things, in the Holy Ghost in whom are all things, created the world. And when we read that the Son became flesh, suffered, died, and rose again for our salvation, we believe that the Father and the Holy Ghost, though they were not partakers of his incarnation and passion, yet notwithstanding that they wrought our salvation by the Son…. And when sins are said to be forgiven in the Holy Ghost, we believe that this benefit and all other benefits of our blessedness are unseparably given and bestowed upon us from one, only, true, living, and everlasting God, who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. To whom be praise and thanksgiving for ever and ever. Amen.

Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575). A Swiss reformer, and the successor of Zwingli as head of the Zurich church, Bullinger wrote both theological and historical works comprising some 127 titles. There exist about 12,000 letters from and to Bullinger, the most extended correspondence preserved from Reformation times. He corresponded with Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I of England, Christian II of Denmark, and Frederick III Elector Palatine among others.

From “Of The Holy Ghost: The Eighth Sermon” in “The Other Eight Sermons of the Fourth Decade” in Decades of Henry Bullinger, translated by H.I., Volume 4 (Cambridge: University Press, 1851), 325–326.

What is God?

The second question of the New City Catechism asks:  What is God?

God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.

What the Bible says about the question:  What is God?

Psalm 86:8–10 and 15

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God…. You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Commentary on the question:  What is God?

God is an eternal, independent being…. He gives being to all creatures…. God is an eternal, unchangeable being…. His being is without any limits.

Angels and men have their beings, but then they are bounded and limited;…but God is an immense being that cannot be included within any bounds….

There never was nor shall be time wherein God could not say of himself, ‘I am’…. He is a God that gives being to all things…. He is the Being of beings, subsisting by himself;…‘I am that I am, and as I am, so will I be to all eternity’….

He is infinite in power, sovereign in dominion, and not bounded as creatures are…. He is so strong that he is almighty, he is one to whom nothing is impossible…. He wanteth nothing, but is infinitely blessed with the infinite perfection of his glorious being…self-sufficient, all-sufficient, absolutely perfect….

There is no succession or variation in God, but he is eternally the same…. God ever was, ever is, and ever shall be. Though the manifestations of himself unto the creatures are in time, yet his essence or being never did nor shall be bound up by time. Look backward or forward, God from eternity to eternity, is a most self-sufficient, infinite, perfect, blessed being, the first cause of our being, and without any cause of his own being; an eternal infinite fulness, and possession to himself and of himself. What God is, he was from eternity, and what God is, he will be so to eternity.

Thomas Brooks (1608–1680). An English Puritan preacher, Brooks studied at Cambridge University before becoming rector of a church in London. He was ejected from his post, but continued to work in London even during the Great Plague. He wrote over a dozen books, most of which are devotional in character, The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod being the best known.

From “Christ’s Eternal Deity Proved” in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, edited by Rev. Alexander Balloch Grosart, Volume 5 (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1866), 150–157.

Don Carson on the question:  What is God?

Prayer on the question:  What is God?

I believe, O sovereign Goodness, O mighty Wisdom, that thou dost sweetly order and govern all things, even the most minute, even the most noxious, to thy glory, and the good of those that love thee.

I believe, O Father of the families of heaven and earth, that thou so disposest all events, as may best magnify thy goodness to all thy children, especially those whose eyes wait upon thee.

I most humbly beseech thee, teach me to adore all thy ways, though I cannot comprehend them; teach me to be glad that thou art king, and to give thee thanks for all things that befall me; seeing thou hast chosen that for me, and hast thereby ‘set to thy seal that they are good.’

And for that which is to come, give me thy grace to do in all things what pleaseth thee; and then, with an absolute submission to thy wisdom, to leave the issues of them in thy hand.

John Wesley (1703–1791). An English preacher and theologian, Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles, with founding the English Methodist movement. He travelled generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day, and is said to have preached more than 40,000 sermons. He also was a noted hymn-writer.

From “Forms of Prayer: Thursday Morning” in The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, Volume 6 (New York: J. Emory & B. Waugh, 1831), 392.

Reading Malachi with a Cold

Reading Malachi with a Cold

 

This is me reading Malachi with a cold.

“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:6-12)

The Church as a Gospel Gathering

There are church gatherings with minimal gospel emphasis.

I know this because I have been part of such gatherings.

The pastors asked me to leave.

Reason?  Making known my dissatisfaction with the deemphasis.

What to Make of Church Gatherings with Minimal Gospel.

Sure, there are many gatherings where in this deemphasis palpable.  So what do we do?  We give thanks?  You see, even when it is deemphasized, we can be thankful that however marginal it is, one truth remains.  Namely, the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

The norm for the church is that the gospel be at the all-encompassing centre of it’s life.  But situations where it is not?  So long as it is somewhere, there ought to be thanks to God.

This demonstrates how powerful the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God is.   This good news is the power of God unto salvation.  No matter how deemphasized it may be, the this remains.