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Beholding the Wonder of the Trinity

Posted in Doctrine by nsimmons on December 8, 2009

I have recently been studying and writing my way through a study of Theology Proper, the study of the Godhead. I include below a paper written as a defense of Trinitarianism in brief. Hopefully this will whet your appetite to again consider the awesomeness of the God of Scripture. If it does, then I strongly recommend a book by Dr. Bruce Ware entitled “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Roles, Relationships, and Relevance.” It is the best and most important book I have read this year. Go look it up on Amazon!
N S

“If we are to know God rightly, we must know him as he is, as he has revealed himself. And this means knowing him as the one God who is the triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” In this way, Dr Bruce Ware introduces his study of one the most essential, central, and controversial doctrines of Christianity. He is right. Biblical Christianity demands that we uncompromisingly adhere to what Scripture declares of God. And although the word “trinity” never appears in the Bible, Trinitarian theology is and must be the awesome, rational, inexhaustible, considered, and comprehensive summation of God’s self revelation.

That God is One God, eternally existing in Three Persons, is not a sudden shift, found only in the New Testament. The Shema, the great prayer of Deuteronomy 4:6, lays a certain, unchanging foundation: the Lord is One God. The Old Testament continually affirms this truth, and the New Testament quotes and reinforces it, Jesus himself saying, “I and the Father are one” (1 Kings 8:60, Isaiah 44:6, John 10:30, 1 Corinthians 8:4, Galatians 3:20, James 2:19).

And yet, not only is God One, but He is also Three Persons. This revelation is hinted at as early as Genesis 1:26 and 3:22, while Isaiah 6:8 shows the Trinitarian conversation of the one God in perhaps the clearest light. Isaiah 48:16, read with full New Testament understanding, presents Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together. At the Jordan, however, the Trinity blazes plainly in view: Father speaking, Spirit descending, and Son obediently fulfilling the scripture (Matthew 3:16-17). Matthew’s gospel concludes with the Great Commission baptism command “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, and references abound through the writings of the Apostles (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 2 Corinthians 3:14, Ephesians 2:18, 4:4-6, 1 Peter 1:2, Jude 20–21, Revelation 1:4–5).

That God, who is One God, has equally, eternally, and simultaneously existed in one essence but three persons is readily demonstrated by an examination of the deity of the Son. That Jesus is the eternal Son of the Father is seen early in Scripture in the mysterious appearances of the Angel of the Lord. This messenger is clearly not the Father, but is also clearly God (Genesis 16:7-13, 22:15-17, Exodus 3:3, 23:20-22, Judges 13:8-9, 1 Chronicles 21:15-17, Zechariah 3:1-7). Building on that foundation are passages from the Psalms in which God addresses God, passages which the New Testament both affirm and attribute to the Father and the Son (Psalm 34:6-7, Hebrews 1:8, Psalm 110:1, Matthew 22:41-46, Malachi 3:1-2). The New Testament, also, is replete with clear references to the deity of Christ; the most striking of these claims is perhaps that of Jesus in John 8:51-58, where he not only claims the attributes of God, but also God’s covenant name for Himself (Exodus 3:14-15, Romans 9:5, Hebrews 1:1). Clearly, as the four great counsels affirm, Jesus Christ was fully God (Nicea) and fully man (Constantinople), one Person (Ephesus) with a divine nature and a human nature that are conjoined but not confused (Chalcedon).

Scripture then testifies to us that God is One, and yet Three. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God. Once again, even in the Old Testament, reference is made to the Spirit’s personhood and deity (Isaiah 61:1, 63:10). The Apostles pick up the theme, Paul declaring to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (cf. also John 14:26, Acts 5:3-4, and 1 Corinthians 2:10-11).

Truly then may we affirm the witness of Scripture in the words of the Westminster divines: “There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection… God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient… In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.” Amen.

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Sola Scriptura Part III

Posted in Convictions by nsimmons on December 9, 2008
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Fourth. Jesus teaches that the Scripture is specifically limited. In regards to Old Testament Canon, this may be seen in the way he refers to the Scripture. In the above passage he refers to it as simply the Law, and as the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 says “Moses and the prophets,” while Luke 24:44 includes the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. In Luke 24:27 he equates these groupings to “all the Scriptures. This is a fairly conclusive argument for the 39 books of the Hebrew Old Testament as they were commonly found in his day. But, just to make sure, in Luke 11:51 while discussing the peoples’ disregard for the wisdom of God dispensed by the prophets, he identifies the revelation from “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.” Abel was, of course, in Genesis, and Zechariah in 2d Chronicles; those two books were the first and last in the Hebrew organization of the Old Testament.

For the sake of brevity, I will only address the nature of New Testament canon, and not it’s recognition. It is canon because it is the inspired Word of God, and the manner of its recognition has no bearing on that. I am fully persuaded and able to defend the facts of its recognition, but will not here.

A. Jesus appointed the apostles as his witnesses, and specially provided for their remembrance of all that he had said. John 14:25-26, 1 John 1:1-4.

B. The apostles or those under their supervision (ie Luke, Mark, etc) wrote to record that which was called to their remembrance as an infallible and reviewable witness, as indeed has always been the practice and command of God’s people. Deuteronomy 31:24-26, Josh24:25-27, 1 Samuel 10:25, Daniel 9:2, 1 Corinthians 14:37, 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

C. While the apostles spoke with authority for the time of their earthly ministry, they viewed the written word as superior and complete and binding.

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 2 Peter 2:16

“2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” Acts 17:2-3

“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” 1 Cor 4:6-7

D. The written word of the apostles was recognized by the church and by each other as scripture, and as complete and final.

15“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.” 2 Peter 3:15-17

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.“ Jude 3 (also1 Thess 2:13, Revelation 22:18-19)

One more section to go,
Nat

P.S. Here’s a link to an excellent article on canon, I highly recommend it.

Sola Scriptura Part II

Posted in Convictions by nsimmons on December 1, 2008
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Third. Jesus believed that the scripture was both verbally and plenarily inspired. Look again at Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Verbal inspiration is demonstrated by the every word; the inspiration was not that of ideas but of exact words. Plenary inspiration is seen not only in every word, but also, as we continue to read, in every phrase.

Satan responds to the first use of Scripture with more Scripture. He quotes Psalm 91:11-12, but he intentionally leaves out the phrase “to guard you in all your ways.” This dramatically distorts the harmony of scripture. This abuse seems to be only in a bit of insignificant poetry, but truly does the Psalmist say “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Psalm 119: 160).

The word is not only entirely inspired down to every phrase and every word, but also to every letter and every stroke of a letter.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-19

The King James uses “jot and tittle” to describe these strokes, and some English translations of Psalm 119 include the Hebrew letters for illustration. The smallest stroke is roughly the size of the English apostrophe!

More to come.
Nat

A Defense of Sola Scriptura Part 1

Posted in Convictions by nsimmons on November 23, 2008
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I have recently had the opportunity to write a defense of the principle of Sola Scriptura in response to a set of questions asked of me by a Roman Catholic.  Specifically, he asked whether the principle was an “invention” of the Reformation, or whether it was present immediately following Christ’s ascension.  Also, he asked how the church might have had access to the Scripture, how they might understand it, and several other related questions.  This is the first in a series of posts; don’t fear, the rest are already written.  I encourage you to look up each of the references, and savor how God has provided for his Church.  The sheer volume of internal evidence in the Bible is truly overwhelming.  I’m indebted to Steve Lawson’s excellent two-part message “Christ, the Reformers, and Sola Scriptura” for a clear, and recognizable, foundation.  It’s available from the Sola Scriptura conference audio at countrysidebible.org.  All the references are ESV.  Look them all up!

Nathan

If Sola Scriptura is indeed true, than the scripture will be able to defend itself; I intend only on including my own words to organize the various references into a logical and orderly presentation.  I have also tried to include as much of the context of each reference as possible, but certainly encourage you to examine the original reference.

To clarify what I mean by Sola Scriptura, I recognize it as the principle or doctrine that the written Word of God is the only formal and material rule of faith, complete and sufficient.
You ask if this doctrine was present immediately after the ascension, or whether it was an invention of the Reformation.  Therefore, I wish to contain my answer primarily to the Lord’s own teaching and observations on the scripture.  Certainly we must both agree that: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb 1:3)” and “… the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14).  He must therefore be the ultimate authority on this question, and I intend to show that He himself established Sola Scriptura.

First. Christ believed and taught that the Word was divine revelation. In Matthew 4:4 he calls it the Word of God: “But he answered, “It is written,  ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” This may also be seen in Mark 7:13, and again in John 10:34-35, where he identifies that Word as Scripture: “34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken….” He elsewhere refers to this word as the commandment of God in Matthew 15:3 and again as the law of God in Matthew 5:18.  Both of these titles recognize the authoritative nature of the revelation.

Second. Jesus recognized the supernatural inspiration of the Word. He recognized that there were many human authors writing under divine revelation.  For example, in Mark 7:9-10 He credits Moses, “9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’” But, of course, Moses is only recording that which God actually handed to him on a stone tablet in Exodus 20:12.  Moses is also mentioned in Mark 10:3, Mark 12:26, and Luke 5:13.  Moses is not alone, David appears in Luke 20:42, Isaiah in Mark 7:6-7, and Daniel in Matthew 24:15.

But Jesus also demonstrates that there is One Divine Author.  This is shown clearly in Matthew 22: 43, “He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,”  (emphasis added).  Obviously, the Lord is quoting Psalm 110, a psalm David humanly authored. But the Spirit of God was supernaturally guiding his pen as 2 Peter 1:20-21 shows, “20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy, has caused us to be born again to a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)

This verse is a great picture of the reality of salvation in Christ. But it is even MORE amazing when taken in context…read the verses before!

“…who are chosen, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” (1 Peter 1:1-2)

Why should I be able to say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”? 

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter presents several irrefutable, Scripturally sound, and God-honoring arguments in favor of blessing the Lord:

  1. The doctrine of election. One of the most profound doctrines in Scripture. God, who is sovereign and omniscient, chooses those He will save. He does not choose based on our merits, our abilities, or even our “likelihood to respond.” He chooses out of His grace and love. (Romans 8:29-30.)
  2. The foreknowledge of God. According to secular dictionaries, foreknowledge means “knowledge or awareness of something before its existence or occurrence.” [How many human beings (or supernatural beings, for that matter) do you know have foreknowledge, apart from God?] This doctrine is not limited to the New Testament. God, in the Old Testament, foreknew His chosen people, Israel. (Deut. 7:6.)
  3. The mercy of God. “The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression.” (Num. 14:18.) [Lovingkindness = mercy.] The word, “lovingkindness,” is the English translation of the Hebrew word, hesed – pity; merciful, mercy.
  4. The grace of God. “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.” (Eph. 2:8-9.) Grace is what sets Biblical Christianity apart from all other world religions. Every other religious system, including the “Christian” religion of Roman Catholicism, require human efforts or merits to gain salvation. As sinful human beings, there is NOTHING we can do to earn our salvation. We are saved by God’s grace alone!!

(Other important doctrines: the Trinity; the atonement; sanctification; the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Other arguments: the duty of the Christian – obedience; the peace found in Christ alone; the promise of eternal life; the assurance and security of salvation.)

So why should I bless the Lord?? Because He has blessed me more than I ever deserved!!

I don’t fully understand every facet of these doctrines. And I will never fully grasp every detail in this life. That is one thing I have to look forward to in eternity – learning from Christ Himself!

Bible Quizzing season has come once again at my church. This year we are memorizing the first two chapters of 1 Peter. I am looking forward to learning more from this great New Testament book. I am so grateful for my Savior & His inspired Word!!!

jazz hands:8/5/08

salt & light

Posted in Convictions by Michael on May 27, 2008
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“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:13-16
I was closing up my facebook, getting ready for bed, when I saw these verses nestled in the middle of my profile. It caught my attention because this is something that has been on my mind as of late. Am I living a life different from the world? Do I let the light of Christ shine through my actions and words? Do I want God to receive the glory from all men? Or am I selfishly preventing others from hearing the good news of Jesus Christ?
These are hard questions. For me to say I am being 100% obedient, to the call found in Matthew 28:18-20, would be a lie.
I came home last weekend from a mission trip to Mexico. Part of the trip was focused on helping the local pastors with work projects around their churches and homes. The other part of the trip was centered around the gospel. I participated in providing Vacation Bible School (VBS) for over 80 children in a desert village. The children learned about the story of Moses this year. Another area of evangelism on the trip took place at an outdoor recreation park. Many teenagers and adults came to this park each night. This was a great opportunity to hand out literature to the people.
It is so easy to get caught up in “mission trip mode” while I’m in a different country. But how am I presenting Christ where I live, right now?
The passage above reminds me of a simple children’s song, often sung in a Sunday school class, “This Little Light of Mine.” I don’t ever remember singing the last verse below, but it is so applicable to the Christian life. I remember Pastor Tom once saying, “As Christians, we will do everything else better in heaven…except for preaching the gospel!”
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.
Let it shine til Jesus comes,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine til Jesus comes,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine til Jesus comes,
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine!
jazz hands:5/27/08

Love for all the saints…

Posted in Reflections by nsimmons on February 13, 2008
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“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” (Colossians 3-5 ESV)

 

With these words, Paul sets the tone of a letter dedicated to the supremacy of the Christ. In no other letter are the nature of our Lord and his centrality to our salvation and new life so clearly and magnificently proclaimed. It is not surprising, then, that Paul offers thanks for their faith in Christ. But imagine for a moment that the sentence ran like this: “We always thank God, the Father or our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we have heard of the love you have for all the saints…”. There are two separate and equally important ideas here. Colossians is intensely practical, so it is no surprise that Paul begins with the love of the saints, to the very church itself, which above all earthly relationships ought most to be cognizant of the supremacy of its Lord.

 

I can scarce conceive of a more precious gift to earthly human life than that given in our brotherhood. I do not mean the familial relationship, but something that hints beyond the veil at the image in which we were created. Paul says to the Thessalonians, “How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of God because of you?” Indeed, the apostle uses the word “brother” a little more than 90 times by informal count! But as Lewis, in his momentous Four Loves reminds us, “The highest does not stand without the lowest.” And in our base, rebellious existence, those things which masquerade closest to the divine are those we most easily lift up as gods. Thus it is that friendship, not Eros, or affection, nor any other love of man, is often most deadly.

 

The supremacy of Christ in our love for the brethren is not just the character of the love, it is the difference between the church and “the foreigners and aliens” of Ephesians 2:19. But we are to be “fellow citizens with God’s people, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (Eph. 2:20)” And so Paul says, “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Col 1:5 KJV). Our heavenly hope is established as the foundation of our love: the hope of the gospel, which is Christ. (2 Cor 4:3-6). Indeed, it is only in Christ that we are even able to love: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God” 1 John 4:7)

 

With Christ clearly shown as the foundation of our love, I will skip over the treasures of 1 John 4. I want to look at the practical significance of love based in the hope of Christ. Nowhere is this illustrated more clearly than in Hebrews 2:11-15, in which I find these three essentials of Christian fellowship.

 

1. Our brothers are chosen by God.

The scripture says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” If Christ himself received his church from the hand of the Father, don’t you imagine for a minute that you did any choosing. Remember what you were when you were called, the apostle warns; God chose the things that were not to nullify the things that are. The minute you slip past this, when you begin to congratulate yourself on the company you keep, you have forgotten the utter wretchedness of your nature. Pride creeps in, grace is forgotten, and a unified church is replaced by a people-focused club. This is the root of that favoritism that is so strongly condemned by all the apostles. Paul does not ask the Corinthians if they do not have homes of their own in which to dine to question their manners but to remind them that they are in God’s home, guests of his grace alone.

 

2. Christ in you, the hope of glory.

They seemed to be a terror one to the other, for that they could not see that Glory each one on herself which they could see in each other.”

 

Jon Bunyan’s words capture the purpose to our fellowship. If we are looking at Christ, then we shall see His infinite nature manifest in the unique temple each Christian was made to be; if we seek to admire man, we will find only corruption and death. This is why Hebrews says, “I will declare you name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.” Remember our text from Colossians is set in the middle of a prayer of thanksgiving. We are to praise Christ together (Eph 5:19-20, just for extra credit), we are to strengthen and minister to each other (1 Thess. 5-11), we are even to discipline each other (1 Cor. 6:1-6, and the result in 2 Cor 2:5-11). We may either build each other up in Him, or else tear each other down.

 

3. Hope laid up in heaven.

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb… And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

One might say that the church here and now is merely a dress rehearsal for eternity. Rather than attempt to wax eloquent, I turn again to Paul: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory…. We know that the whole creation has been groaning right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”

 

I have written before about joy, and “living longing.” But I would leave you with one last thought, the caution I borrowed earlier from the pen of C.S. Lewis. It is by no accident that I have refrained from using friendship with fellowship and brotherhood. Earthly friendship is a most tragic perversion. By it, men exalt the pride of life, they seek to mold one another into their own image. They worship themselves. They live for today, for tomorrow they will die. They use it to mask the wretched need of their souls. Reader, do not travel that path. You must live in Christ alone.

 

Nat Simmons:2/13/08

The Meaning of the Sign

Posted in Reflections by Michael on December 25, 2007
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from Pastor Tom’s sermon on Sunday…
(check out the audio on http://www.countrysidebible.org)

Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Immanuel = God Among Us!

  1. YHWH is the one and only true God. [“Prophecy is an effective apologetic for YHWH being the one & only true God!” –> “This should strengthen and confirm our faith in God!”]
  2. YHWH is sovereign over human history. [i. He will bring lasting judgment on Judah for her sins. ii. He will order history to accomplish His salvation purposes.]
  3. YHWH alone can provide physical deliverance.
  4. YHWH alone can provide spiritual deliverance.
~-~
my thoughts…

What an encouraging statement?! God WILL accomplish HIS purposes…even through something as impossible as a virgin birth!!

There is also a challenge in this sermon to go through and read through the prophecies and see the fulfillments later on in history. What an amazing God we serve!! He promises to send salvation and then faithfully fulfills His promise (dotting every ‘i’ and crossing every ‘t.’ In other words, fulfilling His promise exactly as He said He would do!!)

I hope we will all take this Christmas day to remember the real reason we celebrate this season…the birth of our Lord & Savior Christ Jesus…and ultimately, the real reason He was even sent to be born as a human, to be the perfect sacrifice for sinful, undeserving, ungrateful humanity. Praise God for His perfect, indescribable gift – His one and only Son!!

jazz hands:12/25/07

An Evening with Spurgeon…

Posted in Reflections by Michael on December 11, 2007
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After reading my evening devotion, written by the great Charles Spurgeon, I was struck by the highly applicable message he shared with his readership. He took a “simple” verse and turned it into an almost life “mission statement.”

Colossians 3:24, “knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Here is the devotion:

“Ye serve the Lord Christ.”
– Col 3:24
To what choice order of officials was this word spoken? To kings who proudly boast a right divine? Ah, no! too often do they serve themselves or Satan, and forget the God whose sufferance permits them to wear their mimic majesty for their little hour. Speaks then the apostle to those so-called “right reverend fathers in God,” the bishops, or “the venerable the archdeacons”? No, indeed, Paul knew nothing of these mere inventions of man. Not even to pastors and teachers, or to the wealthy and esteemed among believers, was this word spoken, but to servants, aye, and to slaves. Among the toiling multitudes, the journeymen, the day labourers, the domestic servants, the drudges of the kitchen, the apostle found, as we find still, some of the Lord’s chosen, and to them he says, “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” This saying ennobles the weary routine of earthly employments, and sheds a halo around the most humble occupations. To wash feet may be servile, but to wash his feet is royal work. To unloose the shoe-latchet is poor employ, but to unloose the great Master’s shoe is a princely privilege. The shop, the barn, the scullery, and the smithy become temples when men and women do all to the glory of God! Then “divine service” is not a thing of a few hours and a few places, but all life becomes holiness unto the Lord, and every place and thing, as consecrated as the tabernacle and its golden candlestick.

“Teach me, my God and King, in all things thee to see;
And what I do in anything to do it as to thee.
All may of thee partake, nothing can be so mean,
Which with this tincture, for thy sake, will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws, makes that and the action fine.”

 

Lately, my life has been bombarded with the stress of making decisions about degrees and career choices. What a great and timely reminder?! Ultimately, whatever I end up choosing, if I pursue God’s glory in that decision, the degree or career does not matter. As Spurgeon said, “The shop, the barn, the scullery, and the smithy become temples when men and women do all to the glory of God! Then ‘divine service’ is not a thing of a few hours and a few places, but all life becomes holiness unto the Lord, and every place and thing, as consecrated as the tabernacle and its golden candlestick.

jazz hands:12/11/07

 

 

Ambassadors of the Gospel

Posted in Reflections by nsimmons on November 30, 2007
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Over the next couple of weeks, I want to look at a favorite analogy of our Christian walk, that of ambassador. Paul himself is the first to use the title in Ephesians 6:19-20 “…that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Now the great thing here is that Paul really understood what it meant to be an ambassador. Throw aside, if you will, all our modern “advantages”, and return to a time when communication was far slower and more difficult, travel more dangerous, and the power of kings absolute.

A king, of course, prefers first of all to order his will and be done with it, but even the Caesar’s could not extend their will everywhere. And when a king does not rule somewhere, why then, he must find another way of exerting his will or protecting his interests. And here’s the rub, try as he might, a king just cannot be everywhere he doesn’t control to deal with every issue concerning him, especially when his empire is vast and his caravan slow! So, the king must appoint someone to watch his interest for him. An ideal ambassador is exactly like his king: in motive, in power, and in nature. I think you see where I’m getting at with this.

Now, Ephesians 6 introduces the first and primary attribute of the ambassador, to which everything else is incidental. The ambassador must speak. He must in all things proclaim the will of his Lord, announce his purpose and interests, and persuade his hearers to action. He speaks in accord with the instructions given him, but he also speaks from his knowledge of his Lord, and what he says comes with authority. Because of this great trust, the ambassador must not speak his own opinion or will; he is in no way his own person, but everything he does will be viewed as an extension of the one he represents. For this reason, most ambassadors have been either great statesmen (accustomed to putting the good of the state above their own) or great politicians (accustomed to lying convincingly)!

Thus Paul prays that he may speak boldly (as befits the greatest King), and of the gospel (the interest of his King in this world). He also asks for instructions, the words to say, as should we. And, of course, these words are given us in the written word, but they also come from our intimate personal knowledge of the one we represent.

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1st Cor 2:16, KJV)

In His Service,

Nat

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