Monday, October 29, 2012

The Religion of Heaven

“If we would learn what true religion is, we must go where there is true religion, and nothing but true religion, and in its highest perfection, without any defect or mixture. All who are truly religious are not of this world, they are strangers here, and belong to heaven; they are born from above, heaven is their native country, and the nature which they receive by this heavenly birth, is a heavenly nature, they receive an anointing from above; that principle of true religion which is in them, is a communication of the religion of heaven; their grace is the dawn of glory; and God fits them for that world by conforming them to it. This appears from the nature and design of the ordinances and duties, which God hath appointed, as means and expressions of true religion.”
- Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), “Religious Affections”

Edwards’ appeal to “the ordinances and duties, which God hath appointed” as the legitimate practice of “the religion of heaven” should make us reverent and sober both in the formation of the liturgy of the gathering of the Church and in our daily lives of worshipful devotion to our Savior-God and King.

“...the acceptable way of worshipping the true God has been instituted by Himself, and therefore our method of worship is limited by His own revealed will. He may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men...He may not be any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.”
- 1689 London Confession of Faith, 22.1

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Don't Blame Love

  • "...put on love, which is the bond of perfectness" (Colossians 3:14, Geneva Bible).
  • "...let us which are of the day...[be] putting" (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

True love is an act of the will, and is not to be blamed for the self-will that breaks covenant.We do not helplessly fall in or out, but either put it on in covenant commitment or unrepentantly masquerade for temporary convenience.

I recognize that all humans (even Christians and especially myself) sin, but there is no biblical justification for an appeal to God's mercy, forgiveness, and love apart from a repentant confession of sin (as defined by the Scripture). The entry-point for the eternal enjoyment and consolation of the benefits of Christ is humbly and freely confessing that sin is sin as defined by the Scripture.

So, breaking covenant in the name of love and then - either in open or tacit unrepentant rebellion - appealing to the fact that "God is love," "forgiving," or "merciful" is further evidence from your own lips that you want the benefits of ideas like love, forgiveness, or mercy without committing to the covenant in which they are solely found.

Don't blame love.

The Covenant that Teaches

“All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His Covenant and His testimonies...the secret of the Lord is revealed to them that fear Him: and His Covenant to give them understanding” (Psalm 25:10,14, Geneva Bible).

The new covenant in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:22; 8:6; 9:15; 12:24) is a covenant that teaches: “‘Behold, the days come,’ saith the Lord, ‘that I will make a new covenant...this shall be the covenant that I will make...I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord”: for they shall all know Me [who are in this covenant] from the least of them unto the greatest of them...’” (Jeremiah 31:31-34; cf. Hebrews 8:6-12; 10:15-25).

Come learn from the Mediator of the new Covenant: “At that time Jesus answered and said, ‘I give Thee thanks, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise, and men of understanding, and hast opened them unto babes. It is so, O Father, because Thy good pleasure was such. All things are given unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father: neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him. Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and laden, and I will ease you. Take My yoke on you, and learn of Me that I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden light’” (Matthew 11:25-30).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Last Debate, Foreign Policy, & the Word

I offer a little perspective for the Church following the final Presidential debate of the 2012 election season.

President Obama: “America remains the one indispensable nation.”
The Truth: “ have tasted that the Lord is bountiful. To Whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed of men, but chosen of God and precious, ye also as lively stones, be made a spiritual house, an holy Priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I put in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect and precious, and he that believeth therein, shall not be ashamed.’ Unto you therefore which believe, it is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone to stumble at, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient, unto the which thing they were even ordained. But ye [the "spiritual house" and "Priesthood" of believers] are a chosen generation, a royal Priesthood, an holy nation, a people set at liberty, that ye should show forth the virtues of Him that hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, which in time past were not a people, yet are now the people of God: which in time past were not under mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:3-10, Geneva Bible).

Governor Romney: “This nation is the hope of the earth.”
The Truth: “And if ye call Him Father, which without respect of person judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your dwelling here in fear. Knowing that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by the traditions of the fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb undefiled, and without spot. Which was ordained before the foundation of the world, but was declared in the last times for your sakes, which by His means do believe in God that raised Him from the dead, and gave Him glory, that your [the "redeemed"faith and hope might be in God. Having purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, to love brotherly without feigning, love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born anew, not of mortal seed, but of immortal, by the Word of God, Who liveth and endureth forever. ‘For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man is as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth away.’ But the Word of the Lord endureth forever: and this is the Word which is preached among you” (1:17-25).

Preparing for Sunday’s message to the Church, my mind’s on foreign policy, too: “Peter an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers that dwell here and there...elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father unto sanctification of the Spirit, through obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you...dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which fight against the soul” (1:1,2; 2:11).

Keep your perspective rooted in the Word, Church.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Beauty of Naming Sin in Zion

“Out of Zion, which is the perfection of beauty, hath God shined” (Psalm 50:2, Geneva Bible).

“He shall call the heaven above, and the earth to judge His people. Gather My Saints together unto me, those that make a covenant with Me with sacrifice.’ And the heavens shall declare His righteousness: for God is Judge Himself...‘Hear, O my people and I will speak: hear, O Israel, and I will testify unto thee: for I am God, even thy God’...unto the wicked said God, ‘What hast thou to do to declare Mine ordinances, that thou shouldest take My covenant in thy mouth, seeing thou hatest to be reformed, and hast cast My words behind thee? For when thou seest a thief, thou runnest with him, and thou art partaker with the adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and with thy tongue thou forgest deceit. Thou sittest, and speakest against thy brother, and slanderest thy mother’s son. These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue: therefore thou thoughtest that I was like thee: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thee’” (50:4-7,16-21).

God’s beauty, His shining glory, is not diminished when sin is called sin according to His Word in the gathering of His people. It is perfected. See and desire the perfect beauty of the Judge in the gathering. Our idolatrous remaking of Him into our image (50:21) is broken, and His sanctifying remaking of us into His image is beautiful in Zion.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

No Gods Before Him

From last night’s family devotion: “Even the Philistines took the Ark of God, and brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod rose the next day in the morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face on the ground before the Ark of the Lord, and they took up Dagon, and set him in his place again. Also they rose up early in the morning the next day, and behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face on the ground before the Ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and the two palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold: only the stump of Dagon was left to him. Therefore the Priests of Dagon, and all that come into Dagon’s house, tread not on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod, unto this day” (1 Samuel 5:2-5, Geneva Bible).

To put something/someone in a place of equal importance with the one true God of the Bible in your life, heart, or mind is dangerous (Exodus 20:1-5//Deuteronomy 5:6-10).

Give God the Son “the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18)! “...Christ Jesus, Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God...made Himself of no reputation, and took on Him the form of a servant, and was made like unto men, and was found in shape as a man. He humbled himself, and became obedient unto the death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath also highly exalted Him, and given Him a name above every name. That at the Name of Jesus should every knee bow, both of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, unto the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

Friday, October 12, 2012


“Yea, all kings shall worship Him: all nations shall serve Him...His name shall be forever: His name shall endure as long as the Sun: all nations shall bless Him, and be blessed in Him. Blessed be the Lord God, even the God of Israel which only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be His glorious Name forever: and let all the earth be filled with His glory. So be it, even so be it” (Psalm 72:11,17-19, Geneva Bible).

There is one Power: “And Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, ‘All power is given unto Me, in heaven, and in earth’” (Matthew 28:18).

There is one King: “...Jesus Prince of the Kings of the earth...made us Kings and Priests unto God even His Father...He is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings: and they that are on His side, called, and chosen, and faithful...and I saw heaven open, and behold a white horse, and He that sat upon Him was called faithful and true, and He judgeth and fighteth righteously. And His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns: and He had a name written, that no man knew but Himself. And He was clothed with a garment dipped in blood, and His name is called, THE WORD OF GOD. And the hosts which were in heaven, followed Him upon white horses, clothed with fine linen white and pure. And out of His mouth went out a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the heathen: for He shall rule them with a rod of iron, for He it is that treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He hath upon His garment, and upon His thigh, a name written, THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 1:5,6; 17:14; 19:11-16).

Let all the earth be filled with His glory.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Remedy to Idolizing Your Job

“The Lord is known by executing judgment: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands” (Psalm 9:16, Geneva Bible). What a thing, to be ensnared by the god you had worshiped in the judgment of the one true God! “And the remnant of the men...repented not of the works of their hands that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood, which neither can see, neither hear, nor go” (Revelation 9:20; cf. 2 Kings 19:18 [//Isaiah 37:19]; 22:17; Psalm 115:4; Isaiah 2:8).

Remedy. “These now are the commandments, ordinances, and laws, which the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, and keep all His ordinances, and His commandments which I command thee...these words which I command thee this day...thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand” (Deuteronomy 6:1,2,6,8). Guard the workings of your hands today from the tendency of your heart to worship them by meditating on the Word of the one true God while you work.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

From the Chair and the Psalm to the Hill and Him

“The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth them, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near unto them that are of a contrite heart, and will save such as be afflicted in spirit. Great are the troubles of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. But malice shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous, shall perish. The Lord redeemeth the souls of His servants: and none that trust in Him, shall perish” (Psalm 34:17-22, Geneva Bible).

To find the “righteous” One Whose bones are not broken, we must leave the soft chair and cup of coffee where we’re reading our Psalms for the day...we must travel to Golgotha to find this righteous One.

“Now when Jesus had received of the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished,’ and bowed His head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews then (because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day: for that Sabbath was an high day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken down. Then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other, which was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it, bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe it. For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not a bone of him shall be broken [Psalm 34:20]’” (John 19:30-36).

On Golgotha, darkness. On Golgotha, blood. On Golgotha, enemies. On Golgotha, death. Yet, God hears this One Whose bones are not broken. Through the darkness, through the blood, through the enemies, and yes, through the death, there is this promise: “...none that trust in Him, shall perish.” See the empty tomb. See the righteous One glorified and alive. Do you see yourself with Him?

Read John 6:53-58 (esp. vs. 56); 14:8-21 (esp. vs. 20); 15:1-10; 16:33; 17:1-26 (esp. vs. 21).