The Man behind the Curtain

English: the first of the Epistles to the Colo...
English: the first of the Epistles to the Colossians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So often we teach that abiding in Christ means spending time with Him in His Word and prayer. In so doing, we may tend to neglect a proper emphasis on Christ Himself. It is not the Word of God itself or even prayer that supplies the power and grace to live the Christian life. It is Christ who is our life (see Colossians 3: 4). The Word of God and prayer are the primary means by which the Holy Spirit mediates Christ’s life to us. But we must never so emphasize the Word and prayer, which are God’s instruments of grace, that we lose sight of Christ, who is the source of our life. We must actively “abide in Christ”; that is, we must look to Him by faith to sustain us, nurture us, and provide all that we need to live a life pleasing to God and worthy of Him. When we come to Christ for salvation, we renounce any confidence in ourselves, placing our trust entirely in Him. In the same way, as we live the Christian life, we should continue to renounce any confidence in ourselves, placing our trust entirely in Him. But this does not mean we should become passive in a “let go and let God” approach to the Christian life. Rather, we are called to a dependence on Christ, as well as a dependence on the Holy Spirit, whose work it is to mediate the life of Christ to us, enabling us to live the kind of lives that are pleasing to God.

Bridges, Jerry (2012-09-14). True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia (Kindle Locations 311-320). Navpress. Kindle Edition.

God Vowed to Walk There With Them

Zampieri - Adam et Ève (détail)
Zampieri – Adam et Ève (détail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adam stood outside the Garden, with God, in the valley of death; ashamed and defeated. God cursed the ground on Adam’s behalf, increased the pain of labor for Eve and spilled the blood of a substitute to make a covering for His wayward and fallen children. In the midst of the first evil, God promised a son to restore the lost and broken relationship that God had  enjoyed with man.

In the pain of that moment, betrayed, accused and hated by His own children whom He had given the world, God knew something profound. That all the sons of Adam and Eve would be unable to bear the burden, were too weak and broken to fight back against the dragon. God knew that the Son that was promised would be ravaged and that the battle would cost that Son his life. And God knew, God promised in that moment, at the very beginning, with the tears of betrayal fresh on His cheeks, that the Son whose blood would be spilled for mankind, would be His own Son; His only Son. Continue reading “God Vowed to Walk There With Them”

The Tie that Binds

It is this spiritually organic relationship that forms the basis of true Christian community. It is not the fact that we are united in common goals or purposes that makes us a community. Rather, it is the fact that we share a common life in Christ. There are many organizations, both secular and Christian, whose members work together to pursue common goals. Some of these groups may call themselves communities. But biblical community goes much deeper than sharing common goals, though it ultimately involves that. Biblical community is first of all the sharing of a common life in Christ. It is when we grasp this truth that we are in a position to begin to understand true community.

Bridges, Jerry (2012-09-14). True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia (Kindle Locations 108-113). Navpress. Kindle Edition.

For the Glory of His name

Chapter 4, section 1

It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Heb. 1:2; John 1:2–3; Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; 33:4), for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness (Rom. 1:20; Jer. 10:12; Ps. 104:24; 33:5–6), in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good (Gen. 1; Heb. 11:3; Col. 1:16; Acts 17:24).

Scripture Verses

Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,

Isaiah 45:12 I made the earth
and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.

Exposition

We learn from this section that the world had a beginning. This might be considered one of the most obvious truths that can be stated, but is one that has always required confirmation by divine revelation, due to man’s impudent mythologies. Continue reading “For the Glory of His name”

The Suffering Servant

A sermon delivered on February 10th, 2013.

Do you suffer? Have you experienced a broken heart or a broken arm? Have you been betrayed or falsely accused? Are you alone and misunderstood? Why in an otherwise decent world, full of beauty and good things, do events occur that have no apparent upside? Why does a good God allow suffering?

We have to turn back to the beginning to find out. Have you ever wondered what Jesus was thinking at the moment that Adam ate the fruit, God the Father, commanded Adam not to eat? Adam bit into the fruit and by his action Adam called Jesus’ Father, our father, a liar. The father whom Jesus loved. Who Jesus adored, served, obeyed and revered. Adam bit into that fruit and called God’s Holiness, evil. In that act, in the midst of a paradise, as the king of earth, Adam bowed down and worshiped Satan before the face of God. Adam chewed the fruit and each bite was a tear and gnarling wrench of God’s heart. And at that moment, Jesus entered His suffering at the site of God’s chief creation, God’s image bearer, prostituting himself for the promises of an idol.

At the dawn of time, still rejoicing over the creation made in and through him, Jesus not only witnessed the treachery of man but Jesus was, in that moment, sentenced to death. And that suffering of the Father and the Son and the Spirit would continue as generation after generation proved themselves to be just as treacherous and evil as Adam.

That suffering continued until Jesus laid down His life only to take it up again as the resurrected LORD. And that suffering continues as Christ’s blood spreads from the rivers to the ends of the earth, cleansing everything Adam stained. And what is even more profound about this moment is that it was decreed by God. It was not a shock to Him. “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,” it says in Job 5:7. Man’s fall plunged God’s world into suffering.

We are fallen creatures and the evil that we experience is the result of what we’ve done to God. No matter what we suffer or experience. Evil that befalls evil creatures is not evil. It’s par for the course. The only one who experiences true evil and who truly suffers is God himself. Continue reading “The Suffering Servant”

The Triune God

Introduction to WCF, Chapter 2

Nature confesses there is a God. As Calvin stated:

“There exists in the human minds and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead” (Institutes, 3.1)

The Christian’s knowledge of the Godhead is special because it is relational; it is covenantal. We know who God is because of what he does and what he tell us of himself.  The Lord’s creation, actions and disclosures recorded in the bible are the source for our special knowledge of him. Knowledge that goes beyond mere instinct or a vague “sense;” the God of the bible is relational and personal. Continue reading “The Triune God”

How to Increase Through Decrease

The Christian life is full of paradox; apparent contradictions. The doctrine of the Trinity is chief among these paradoxes, but there are many others. How do many members become one body and not lose their identity as individuals? How do husband and wife make one flesh and also not lose their identity as individuals? How does God ordain everything that comes to pass without doing violence to the will of His creatures? These mysteries are means of exhibiting the necessity of faith and demonstrating the transcending Holiness of our God who is Three in One. We believe so we can understand, as Augustine wrote. We live standing on the promises of God.

Another paradox that stems from God’s very nature is the principle of gaining by losing; growth through death; increase through decrease.  God increases His glory by giving it away. Every person of the Trinity demonstrates this principle. It is at the heart of the Community of Love. Jesus said that anyone who loses his life gains it (Matthew 10:39). This is not some trick or stumbling contradiction meant to frustrate us. It is God’s reality and He demonstrates this principle over and over again.

The Father gave His Son to gain a people (John 3:16). The Son gave His life to gain a crown (Hebrews 12:2). The Father and Son gave their Spirit to gain a church, a world; a kingdom (Acts1:8; Romans 8:14; Ephesians 2:22). The Spirit gives free and abundant access to throne of God to everyone  ordained by the Father and saved by the Son. The Spirit does not withhold, doesn’t horde and does not restrain union and communion with the Father or the Son (Romans 8:15, 15:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:12). The Sprit is generous in His ministry. Continue reading “How to Increase Through Decrease”

Is there a Proof Text for everything?

WCF, Chapter 1, Section 6-7

Section 6

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men (2 Tim. 3:15–17; Gal. 1:8–9; 2 Thess. 2:2). Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the

Quadruple combination opened to the Book of Is...

Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word (John 6:45; 1 Cor. 2:9–12): and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed (1 Cor. 11:13–14; 14:26, 40).

2 Timothy 3:15-17 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

2 Thessalonians 2:2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

John 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

1 Corinthians 14:26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

1 Corinthians 14:40 But all things should be done decently and in order. Continue reading “Is there a Proof Text for everything?”