Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Voice of the Lord

A great Psalm for today, and a blessed trail following the Voice...

“The voice of the LORD echoes above the sea. The God of glory thunders. The LORD thunders over the mighty sea. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD splits the mighty cedars; the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon's mountains skip like a calf; He makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD strikes with bolts of lightning. The voice of the LORD makes the barren wilderness quake; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD twists mighty oaks and strips the forests bare. In His Temple everyone shouts, ‘Glory!’” (Psalm 29:3-9, N.L.T.).

“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD's coming! Clear the road for Him!’” (Matthew 3:3).

“Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk Him out of it. ‘I am the one who needs to be baptized by You,’ he said, ‘so why are You coming to me?’ But Jesus said, ‘It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.’ So John agreed to baptize Him. After His baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My dearly loved Son, Who brings Me great joy’’ (Matthew 3:13-17).

“Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus' appearance was transformed so that His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus...a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My dearly loved Son, Who brings Me great joy. Listen to Him’” (Matthew 17:1-5).

“But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't know his voice...I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to My voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd...My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father's hand. The Father and I are one’” (John 10:2-5,16,27,28).

“...the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today when you hear His voice, don't harden your heart...’” (Hebrews 3:8).

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Faithful Word

“For the overseer must be...holding fast the faithful word [πιστου λογου] which is in accordance with the teaching [doctrine], so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:7-9).
  • It is a trustworthy statement [πιστος ο λογος], deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Timothy 1:15).
  • It is a trustworthy statement [πιστος ο λογος]: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do” (3:1).
  • “...discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement [πιστος ο λογος] deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, Who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. Prescribe and teach these things” (4:7-11).
  • It is a trustworthy statement [πιστος ο λογος]: for if we died with Him [a baptismal reference], we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:11-13).
  • “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement [πιστος ο λογος]; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men” (Titus 3:3-8).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Revelation, Couplets, & the Matchless Blessing

Yesterday morning I read through the Revelation looking for couplets that described our purpose, perseverance, and victory over the opposition of those who hate the Lamb of God. John, writing with an obvious Jewish style, uses these couplets, or parallelisms, to build for us a multi-faceted picture of the glorious Word of God.

In 1:2 we get our first couplet: "...the word of God and...the testimony of Jesus Christ." This is the content of John's testimony, and we see that this testimony doesn't guarantee that a person will "win friends and influence people." In 1:9 the same couplet appears again along with the consequences for holding to such a testimony: "I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." John finds himself imprisoned because of "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." The couplet is used again in 6:9, where we see that imprisonment was just the beginning of the consequences. "When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained..." Twice we see that imprisonment and death are the world's answers to "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." However, this is not the last word. "Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years...blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years" (20:4,6). Imprisonment and death to blessed resurrection and reigning with Jesus. This is the way of "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus."

The next couplet in the Revelation is gives us another view of God's blessed voice in our lives here in this world. In this group, the "commandments of God" is paralleled with "the testimony of Jesus." Again, this voice in our life brings opposition from the world: "So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus" (12:17). The same Word that brings the tribulation and persecution also gives the believer endurance: "Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus" (14:12). It seems that the Old Testament Scriptures ("the commandments of God") and New Testament Scriptures ("the testimony of Jesus") are united in this view of the Word that brings both opposition and endurance.

The third parallelism involves the work of God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity. The two witnesses "will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth" (11:3). In 11:7 it is said that this "prophecy" is also a "testimony." This couplet reminds us that when we share God's Word it is not our voice that is heard, but God the Holy Spirit's.  The Scripture tells us that prophecy is the work of the Spirit through us (Matthew 10:17-20; Mark 13:11; 1 Corinthians 12-14; 2 Peter 1:20,21).  This parallelism is clearer in 19:10, where an angel tells John that "the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy."

We have seen the link between "the word of God" and "the testimony of Jesus." We have seen "the commandments of God" and the "testimony of Jesus" put in parallel with each other. "The testimony of Jesus" is then in couplet with the Spirit's work in "prophecy." As I continued exploring these threads through the Revelation, I came to the final couplet:

  • "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death" (12:10,11).
  • "He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God" (19:13).
In this final group, the "Word" is paralleled with "blood." At first, this did not seem to "fit" in my mind (children of Aristotle we are, putting things in neat categories in our heads). I ruminated on this throughout the day without illumination until I went on a run through nearby State land. Then, on a cow trail among the cholla, the link revealed itself. "Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘THIS IS THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD COMMANDED YOU’” (Hebrews 9:18-20). The old covenant contained two elements: the Word and the blood. The new covenant is the same: the blood-sprinkled Word unites us, separated from God by sin, in relationship with Him eternally. It is the inaugurating of the relationship, the power that maintains the relationship through adversity, and the promise of victory. Not only does "blood" fit with "the Word of God," "the testimony of Jesus," "the commandments of God," and "the Spirit of prophecy," it is indispensable.

So we see this matchless blessing given to us by God that we may walk with Him through a world that hates Him and be with Him in a world that will never die: the blood-sprinkled, relationship-sealing, powerful Word of God. Hold unceasingly to this blessing, dear Church, proclaiming it, living it, and lifting it up so that its light may send every shadow fleeing.


“Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering” (Psalm 26:1). Walk by faith (“I have trusted”).
“...Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth” (26:3). Walk by truth (the focus of which being God’s covenant-love).
“ for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me” (26:11). Walk by grace.

Walk to where He meets with His people: “I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Your altar, O LORD, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders. O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory foot stands on a level place; in the congregations I shall bless the LORD” (26:6-8,12).


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Saved by the Trinity

One of my favorite parts of The Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan, 1628-1688) is in Book Two, the Fourth Stage, when Prudence catechizes Christiana’s children.

Prudence: And she said, Come, James, canst thou tell me who made thee?
James: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
Prudence: Good boy. And canst thou tell who saved thee? 
James: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. 
Prudence: Good boy still. But how doth God the Father save thee? 
James: By His grace. 
Prudence: How doth God the Son save thee? 
James: By His righteousness, death and blood, and life. 
Prudence: And how doth God the Holy Ghost save thee? 
James: By His illumination, by his renovation, and by his preservation.

Prudence: What is supposed by this word, saved? 
Joseph: That man, by sin, has brought himself into a state of captivity and misery. 
Prudence: What is supposed by his being saved by the Trinity? 
Joseph: That sin is so great and mighty a tyrant that none can pull us out of its clutchesbut God; and that God is so good and loving to man, as to pull him indeed out of thismiserable state. 
Prudence: What is God’s design in saving poor men? 
Joseph: The glorifying of His name, of his grace, and justice, etc., and the everlastinghappiness of his creature. 
Prudence: Who are they that will be saved? 
Joseph: They that accept of his salvation.

"Saved by the Trinity..." (the only place in The Pilgrim's Progress, by the way, where Bunyan uses the word "Trinity"). Lord, grant us to grow in salvation by growth in our relational knowledge of You, great three-in-One God, blessed Trinity.

“ have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring 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 OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER [Isaiah 40:6-8].’ And this is the word which was preached to you. Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord [Psalm 34:8](1 Peter 1:23-2:3). May the Word, by which are caused to be born again, be our hunger and delight unto an ever-deepening growth in salvation, knowing our Triune God (by Whose Name we are baptized as disciples of the Risen Christ, Matthew 28:18-20) more and more unto eternity.

Know what is supposed by "being saved by the Trinity," Beloved Church.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Aphorisms from a Monday Morning Run

Dig the well deep so it doesn't go dry.


Dig the well deeper than it needs to be so that it doesn't go dry.


Preacher/teacher, may you dig much deeper this week than you'll ever need to for those 20-40 minutes next Sunday morning.


Preacher/teacher, may your study be the vastness of a submerged iceberg and the teaching/preaching itself be the mere peak of the great mass that can be seen.


If you are not stretching yourself to learn deeper, more challenging things about God, what does that say about your god?


Yes, "we have received...the Spirit Who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God" - but how does He tell us these "things"? "...which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:12,13). Through the agency of His teachers of His Scripture in His congregation.


Teach, O Father, through the Son, by the Spirit.


God, Who is three in One, Himself brings us closer to Himself through the unity of another three: the teacher, the disciple, and the Scripture.


Have you ever noticed how many times Paul prays for a congregation to increase in knowledge of God (Ephesians 1:17,18; 3:19; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9; Philemon 6)? Why don't we pray like that?


The Bible does not place knowledge/study/teaching in opposition to the Spirit or love. We do that in our laziness and our desire to define "Spirit" and "love" ourselves.


Nobody says to a child, "that's a new word for you" or "why are you using such big words?" We expect children to learn and use new words. At what point are we supposed to stop learning and using new words, like "aphorism"?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Be Warned & Be Blessed By the Trinity

I wrote on the possibility of losing salvation and the letter to the Hebrews about two years ago. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. on this Monday morning (an all too common thing for this desert rat/pastor-teacher after a Sunday of ministry in the Word) and considered afresh the warning and blessing of the Trinity. For all the controversy and muddiness we tend to make of Hebrews (especially in passages like the one below), may we not lose sight of the infinitely great and mysterious God of the Bible, Who is one God in three Persons.

“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God [the Father, 1:1,2] and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6). Here we have a warning to those who would, after being confessing participators in the life of the congregation of God, depart from the assembly of Christ’s family by faith. I do not regard these as having “lost their salvation,” for they are set in opposition to those who are both confessing and producing fruit of that confession; the writer is assured of their salvation by their fruit (6:9-12). There are those, however, who hear the Word sown in the congregation, demonstrate some response, but never produce fruit because of pressure, difficulty, or temptation (our writer traces the root to the fact that, though they hear, the Word is not united by faith in their hearts, 4:2):
  • “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:20-22).
  • “In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:16-19).
  • “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:13,14).
These are those who have “forsaken the assembly” (10:25) and therefore are under threat of the terror of falling into the hands of “the living God” (10:26-31 - a judgment on those who "go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth," and the only sin mentioned in this section is the assembly-forsaking). These are those who “went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). The rejection is not just of the assembly. They are falling away from the household of God the Holy Spirit, the Gift and Promise of God’s Personal Presence. They are falling away from the Church, the Temple of God the Father, Who speaks and there is light and life for those whom He has chosen. They are falling away from the Body of God the Son, Who has “made purification of sins” by His death on the cross, and was raised from the grave and up to the Father, where “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:3). Hebrews 6:4-6 outlines a rejection of the Trinity, one God in three Persons, blessed forever.

“For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned” (6:7,8). A simple enough illustration, isn’t it? Remember also Jesus’ words to His disciples as they traveled between the upper room and the garden of Gethsemane: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned” (John 15:1-6). Abide in the vine of Christ!

“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (6:9-12). Keep abiding in Christ by faith, continue producing the fruit of that faith, and be motivated and assured by that faith-fruit.

Read 6:4-6 again. The warning to those who leave the fellowship of faith is at the same time a blessing of the Trinity’s glorious involvement in that same fellowship for those who faithfully remain in it!
  • Church, we have “been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit.” It is this Spirit Who dances in the spoken Word of God “by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts” in perfect expression of the will of the Trinity (2:4), Who breathes millennia-old Scripture to us in the present tense (3:7; 4:12; 10:15)!
  • Church, we “have tasted the good word of God [the Father, 1:1,2] and the powers of the age to come.” He is “the Father of spirits,” Who “disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (12:9-11).
  • Church, the the Son of God” been crucified for us, “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time” (10:12), “through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (9:12), “bringing many sons to glory...through sufferings” (2:10).

Consider the fellowship of the Triune God, His Church. Live your confession together with His people faithfully, fruitfully, and forever. Be warned and be blessed by the Trinity.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Taxes, a Prompt to Obedience to God

“So they watched [Jesus], and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. They questioned Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But He detected their trickery and said to them, ‘Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's’” (Luke 20:20-25).

“Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:7,8).

We pay taxes on everything we do every day, often several times on the same monies. We expend time/expense preparing our returns. Rendering “to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” or “tax unto whom tax is due” is not just an April 15 event, but something that happens every day many, many times.

May we dedicate ourselves all the more to rendering “to God the things that are God’s” and owing “nothing to anyone except to love one another.” Lord, may the things we give to Caesar prompt us to obey the two greatest commandments more continually, purposefully, and to a far greater degree than we do Caesar. Use something as universally disliked as taxes to prompt us to greater obedience to You in Christ for Your glory and our fellowship with each other in Christ.

“One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 22:35-40).

Yes, Caesar will waste and misuse a large percentage of that which is given him and still want more and more. God in Christ wastes nothing, especially the glory owed and given Him. The Church in Christ reflects His love and so the love we give each other originates with God anyway. Again, He wastes nothing of it ultimately. May we make Caesar smaller through the glory we give to God and the love we give to each other.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blessed Trinity, Teach Us to Pray

“...we should always give thanks to God [the Father, see 1:1,12; 2:16] for you, brethren beloved by the Lord [the Son, 11 times in this letter], because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Thanks to the Father for the work of the Spirit in those loved by the Son – God teaches us through Paul to pray bigger than us without losing us in the prayer. God in three Persons, blessed Trinity, teach us to pray!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Meditation on the Baptist's Trinitarian Way-Making

“Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, ‘THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, “MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!”’ Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father”; for I say to you that from these stones God [the Father] is able to raise up children to Abraham. The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He Who is coming [the Son] after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire’” (Matthew 3:1-12).

Dead souls, as cold, lifeless, and stony as the idols you worship (Psalm 115:4-8//135:15-18), may the Father grant you true life this day: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:4-10). A Christ-less, non-Trinitarian god will not save you (he is an idolatrous imagination of humans), for Abraham looked to Christ’s day in joyous faith (John 8:56-58) and the Father seeks those who will worship Him in Spirit and the truth of His Word (John 4:21-24).

The Son separates humanity into two categories: those who come to the Father through Him and those who are children of the devil (John 8:31-47). No one comes to the Son except that the Father draws Him (John 6:44), and those who come to the Son are given the greatest Promise ever given: the forever-Presence of God Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33,38; Galatians 3:13,14; Ephesians 1:13). May the Father draw you to the Son this day that you may be immersed in the Person of His Presence of joy, peace, love, and rest forever.

“The light of nature shows that there is a God, Who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men...any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures...religious worship is to be given to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to Him alone” (London Confession of Faith [1689], XXII.1,2).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Trinity's House

“...Christ [Son] is faithful over God's [Father] house as a son. And we are His house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.” As I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”’” (Hebrews 3:6-11, E.S.V.). The Holy Spirit warns and guides the Father’s household as they continually confess faith in the Son.

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (3:12,13). Church, faithful House of the Father, encourage and exhort each other in the teaching and warning of the Holy Spirit (the Scripture) as you unwaveringly confess and live your hope in the Son.

* * * * * * *

“...our Lord Jesus Christ...has knit together the society of His new people by sacraments, very few in number, most easy of observance, and most excellent in meaning; such is baptism consecrated by the name of the Trinity; such is the communion of the body and blood of the Lord...”
Augustine, quoted in John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (4.19.3).

Fellowship’s foundation: one God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.
Fellowship’s binding grace: the cross of Christ.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Tenebrae. Darkness between Good Friday and Resurrection Day. Two lessons from this sign:
  • “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here’” (Matthew 12:38-41). Repent at the message of the One greater than Jonah.
  • “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said, ‘I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. For You had cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. So I said, “I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.” Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, weeds were wrapped around my head. I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple. Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD’” (Jonah 2:1-9). Cry out for salvation from the only One Who can give it: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Out of the darkness, Light is coming for all who repent, believe, and follow the One Who gave the sign of Jonah. “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).

Out of the darkness, repent, believe, and follow the One Who is Light and enables us to make the confession of Jonah (2:9): “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God [the confession of Jonah, the confession of the Church] Who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9,10).
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins(Colossians 1:9-14).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Your Glory

Your glory: Christ.
  • “...those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified (Romans 8:29,30). Conformity “to the image of His Son” is to be “glorified.”
  • “When Christ, Who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4). Whatever glory we are given is inseparable from Christ, for He is our glory.
  • “To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11,12). Paul’s “so that” points back to the source of our glory: God’s power working through our “every desire for goodness and the work of faith.” We see this in 1 Thessalonians 2.
  • “For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God Who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed - God is witness - nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:1-20). Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, in teaching the Thessalonian Church, were not motivated by a desire for glory. Instead, their heart was to teach the Thessalonians to walk toward the call of God to His glory. When the Thessalonians are glorified at Christ’s coming, their glory will, in turn, be the apostles’ glory, as well, since they were the ones who were used of God to guide the Church to its glory. This is the preacher-teacher's glory - to see others glorified in Christ through their teaching of the Word by the power and wisdom of God the Holy Spirit. 
Our glory is Christ. There is another type of glory among men, a false glory that, when sought, shuts the mouth from confessing Christ, the Source of true glory: “But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: ‘LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?’ For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, ‘HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.’ These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval [την δόξαν, or "glory"] of men rather than the approval [την δόξαν, or "glory"] of God (John 12:37-43).

There are two glories mentioned in this passage. One is the glory, or approval, of men. This is the barrier to confessing Christ. The other is the glory seen by Isaiah the prophet: Christ’s glory is God’s glory, for Christ is God the Son, the second Person of the one true God. Loving (Jesus’ verb choice) the glory of God is shown through “believing” (12:37) and “confessing” (12:42).

“...the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:8-10). Believe, confess, and begin the walk to glory.