Archive for the ‘Meditations on the Scriptures’ Category

Meditations on Various Scriptures 10

January 21, 2016

John 6:41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven ‘?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

The contrast that Jesus was setting out is the contrast between the inability of man and the ability of God. It is the contrast between the total lack of strength of man and the strength of God. It is the contrast between man as spiritually dead and God as life. Jesus says that no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. This is the same language as John 3 where Jesus said that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The person that has not been born from above (again) has no ability to recognize the kingdom of God unless God gives that person a new heart. A person will not have faith (sight of the soul) apart from a new heart which is a believing heart and the Spirit alone can do that work. Again, the emphasis is on man’s total inability and the total ability of God in this matter. This is not a minor issue, but a vital one.

The way that the Father draws a person is not specifically set out in this text, but we can look to other Scriptures for this. First, however, the point must go past the surface of our hearts. Just because we have some information about Christ and just because we don’t want to go to hell does not mean that we are being drawn to Christ. We must be taught by the Father. It is not just that we must be drawn in some way, but we must be drawn by a specific Person and that Person is the Father. It is not just that we can be taught by anyone, but we must be taught by the Father. We may agree that we must be born again, but we may have a hard time agreeing that it is the sovereign work of God alone who can do that. We must have this great truth driven into our hearts that we may know that we cannot do this and that no man can do this either.

Paul said that he was slain by the law, so this is one way that God slays men to their self and self-seeking. By His teaching them of their sin in their hearts so that they will seek Him for grace alone rather than seeking Him by their own strength and methods. The illuminating work of the Spirit in the soul is one way that the Father teaches us. He shows us ourselves in light of His holy law which is a reflection of Himself, but the true holiness of the law is seen in Christ. It was Christ who was the perfect law-keeper and it is Christ alone who can work in us to fulfill this law which is really only kept in love.

Another aspect of this inward teaching is that as God hardens the hearts of sinner in turning them over to judgment, so He begins to soften the hearts of sinners as He teaches them the true nature of their sin (their own natures and selfish hearts) and then the true nature of the Gospel. While the law does indeed break unregenerate sinners to humbles them before God, it is grace that breaks the sinner to the deepest levels of his being. Man is so helpless in his sin that he cannot break his own heart from pride and selfishness, but instead it takes grace to break the heart and show the sinner that Christ alone will save it. The Lord Jesus told us in Matthew 11:25ff that only He knew the Father and only He could reveal Him to those whom He pleased. How humbling for the soul to know that it can understand nothing and receive nothing unless it has been give from above by free-grace.

Part of this teaching is seen in irresistible grace which is really seen in regeneration. The soul that has been awakened, humbled, and broken from self by grace now has the very life of God in his or her soul and it flees to Christ with utter abandonment. It is only the regenerate soul that hears and learns from the Father. As Jesus told Peter when he confessed Christ, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). Oh how wonderful this is to know that the Father reveals Christ and teaches His people and He does this by free-grace and not because we are worthy of anything but His wrath. Oh how the glories of God shine forth in His showing grace to sinners from Himself and for Christ’s sake.

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Meditations on Various Scriptures 9

January 20, 2016

John 6:41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven ‘?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

The Jews were grumbling about Jesus because He spoke of Himself as being the bread that came down out of heaven. They knew Him, or at least they thought so, and knew of his father and mother. It did not make sense to them that he claimed to have come down out of heaven. Jesus told them not to grumble and told them that no one could come to Him unless the Father who sent Him would draw that person. This was a huge and hard teaching for the Jews of that day to grasp and it is a hard teaching in our day for people to grasp. We must not be surprised that the full deity of Christ is not accepted since it is a hard teaching for the natural mind to grasp.

The words of Jesus are also hard and it certainly appears that they are virtually universally denied. The word “can” is a word of power and ability. It is a word that speaks of what a person can actually carry out. Jesus speaks universally when He said that no one had the power or ability to come to Him. This type of teaching causes an outcry when it is taught, even among those who think of themselves as Reformed. Surely, it is said, we must not tell men that they have no power or ability or this will discourage them. I suppose those modern people should have been around tell that to Jesus as He had not quite arrived at that understanding yet. We must not back away from the clear teachings of Jesus the Christ. When He told a crowd of people that they had no power and ability to come to Him, that did not make Him a hyper-Calvinist or a defeatist of any kind. He was telling men the One that they were to look to in order to come to Him.

In the very words of Jesus we have Him speaking to a crowd about why they would not come to Him and why they could not come to Him. He also set out how people do in reality come to Him. These things must not be played down because of how it does not fit with what we like. In contrast to that, instead of explaining this passage away because we don’t like it perhaps we should deal with what He said and the circumstances in which He said it. Perhaps we should also try to understand why He said these things. What we must not do, however, is to blow this off as an anomaly and not deal with it at all. When Jesus said these things in the context that He did it would be wise for us to bow our heads and hearts and ask the One we call Lord to teach us regardless of how we like it or feel about it. He can change our hearts to love the things He loves.

With a great deal of clarity Jesus is setting out the utter impossibility for any person to come to Him (the Christ) in his or her own strength or by his or her own power. No one has the ability of power to come to Christ. While the vast majority will tell people that it is up to them to go to Christ, that is clearly not what Jesus Himself taught. One could even argue (as Luther did) that until men lost all hope in their own wills and choices that they have not been broken from pride and self and so thoroughly humbled to where they can trust in Christ alone. Until men stop trusting in themselves to go to Christ they will trust in themselves to be saved.

The only way that men can come to Christ is if the Father draws them. The word for “draw” is the idea of dragging, hauling in, and has the idea of coercion. Men do not come willingly of their own will and strength, but the Father must bring them by His power and strength and make them willing in the day of His power. It may be the case that in the modern day this cannot be emphasized too much. Men have no ability to come to Christ, but instead they must be brought to Christ by the Father. The doctrine of free-will is an attack on this teaching of Christ and is at direct odds with it. The glory of free-grace is at odds with the free-will position too. The wonders of free-grace must be preached and indeed that was what the Lord Jesus exalted rather than the power of man to do as he chooses. We must listen to the Christ and follow Him and His teachings with humbled hearts.

Meditations on Various Scriptures 8

January 19, 2016

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” 30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

Once again the Jews cannot seem to keep up with Jesus. The Lord had clearly taught them that faith is the work of God. Instead of grasping that and losing hope in their own strength, they simply asked another question that meant that they wanted Jesus to perform a miracle of giving them more food so that they would believe. Jesus had already performed many signs that they had witnessed, but now they tell Jesus that Moses gave their fathers manna to eat in the wilderness and essentially they were trying to goad Him into giving them more free food.

This is so contemporary. People want miracles performed in their presence so that they can believe as if they had the ability and strength in their own nature to believe if only they could see a miracle. Jesus performed many, many miracles and many people believed as a result of these miracles, but in the Gospel of John we see the majority of those who saw miracles and having a belief of some sort as falling away. It is not enough to see miracles and believe something about Jesus, one must have the work of God in his or her soul to give him or her a new and believing heart. It is not just a matter to see a great miracle that cannot be denied, and we know that the magicians in Egypt could perform magic tricks that did not move them to believe, but God must work His work of faith by giving a new and believing hearts to people.

The Jews at that time wanted Jesus to perform a miracle as Moses did (they thought) and give their fathers free food. Jesus corrected them and told them that it was not Moses who gave them food from heaven, but instead it was His Father in heaven who had given the manna to them. Not only that, but Jesus very clearly told them it was His Father who even now who gives the true bread out of heaven. It was the same Father who sent the manna in the Old Testament to feed His people who now sends the true Bread from heaven and His name was and is Jesus. It is the work of God that works faith in the soul instead of the soul coming up with faith on its own, but now the bread of God is that which gives life to the world. Not only does the bread of God give life to Jews, but it gives life to Gentiles.

This is such a profound passage which puts the glory of God on display in Christ. The purpose of the manna in the Old Testament is to show how Christ is the very bread of life sent from the Father. As the Israelites of old had one way and one way only of food to keep them living, so now both Jew and Gentile must see and recognize that there is only one way of obtaining life and that is if God gives it to them by free-grace and He only gives it in Christ who is the bread of life. However, once again the Jews did not really understand what Jesus was saying and they wanted this bread, but of course they thought of it as physical bread. But behold the glory of Christ in that He alone is the bread of life. There is no free-will that can reach into heaven and pull the bread of life out. There is no free-will that can eat this bread by faith which is the only way it can be eaten. People can believe many things about Christ and they can be deceived into believing many things about Him and so think that they are saved by Him, but true faith can only come as the work of God. The will is not free to obtain spiritual bread and drink on its own, but spiritual bread comes by the free-grace of God and in no other way. Spiritual bread comes down from heaven and is not the act of the will of man. It is the act of the will of God.

Meditations on Various Scriptures 7

January 18, 2016

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” 30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

After misunderstanding to a degree what Jesus was saying, they asked Him what they were to do in order to do the works of God. It is an interesting way to put it, but John is quite clear that these Jews were looking for works to do in order to obtain eternal life. Jesus just told them that He had to give eternal life to them but they missed that part and focused on the works they were to do in order to work the works of God. This is just like the natural man. He understands that he must do something and perhaps that he must be changed, but he cannot understand that this is quite apart from his works and it must be given to him. The natural man is a Pelagian by nature and unless God opens his eyes he will always understand things in accordance with works and what he can do. Jesus was clear, but the sinful heart of man gives darkened eyes and a darkened understanding.

We live in a world today where the professing Church is like the Jews in many ways. They do not understand the clear teachings of Jesus and twist His words in order that they can actually do works to please God and perhaps even to obtain merit. The natural man does not really understand grace at all, but the little he understands he will hate. Man wants to do the work or at least enough so he can remain in control (he thinks). This is why the natural man hates the sovereignty of God and necessarily the sovereignty of grace (the only kind of grace that there is). The natural man is full of self and blinded by that self as to his own power as well as being at enmity to God. The selfish heart will hate the true God because God is opposed to that sinful heart and all that it loves and desires.

The words of Jesus in response to their question about what works is a profound statement that should impact the way the Church reaches out with the good news of the glory of Christ, but it seems as if the vast majority of the professing Church evangelizes in accordance with the works mentality of the Jews. The modern Church stresses the need for men to believe and to exercise their will in order to believe. The modern Church things and so acts as if men had the power to have faith within them. Though Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus is the author and finisher (perfecter) of faith; the professing Church wants man to be the author of his own faith. In John 6:29 Jesus has settled the question forever: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” It is not the works that men do, and it is not the work of faith that man must come up with in his own strength. The real issue is that faith is the work of God. We must never get away from that profound teaching. Faith is the work of God. Faith does not come because man works it up in his own strength, but faith is the work of God.

In our preaching and teaching of the Gospel of free-grace we must stress that for the Gospel to be all of grace and nothing but grace then faith itself is the gift of God. All spiritual blessings are in Christ and come to us on behalf of Christ, so faith is a great spiritual blessing. Sinners must be taught to look to God in order to obtain true faith rather than look to themselves for it. Faith is the work of God and Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith. The Gospel of grace alone tells us that we must have faith in order to please God, but it also informs us that this faith comes to us by grace alone too. If faith is necessary to receive grace, then if faith comes by our own work and strength then grace comes because we have worked up faith in our own work and strength. This turns the Gospel of grace alone on its head. We must stand firmly for the fact that faith is the work of God and for man to be saved by grace alone man cannot work up a natural faith from his own dead heart and enmity toward God and expect God to respond with salvation. Oh no, man is to look to God alone who by grace alone gives man a new heart which has true faith.

Meditations on Various Scriptures 6

January 18, 2016

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” 30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

Jesus, after blessing a small amount of food and then feeding thousands with that small amount of food, taught the Jews about manna and that they should seek Him for eternal life rather than seek for earthly food. He told the people that they were seeking Him for mercenary reasons and not for spiritual or eternal things. He was very clear and to the point with these Jews. He plainly told them that they sought Him because they wanted food rather than because they saw the signs which pointed to Him as an authentic Prophet and the Messiah. These men were driven by selfish hearts that were expressed in their appetite.

Jesus told these people that they were to work for the food which endures to eternal life. These are chilling words that if there were no context one would come to the immediate conclusion that they were to work for eternal life. However, Jesus did not tell them to work for the reward of eternal life. In fact, He told them to work for eternal life with the “Son of Man will give to you.” But we must be careful and not leap to conclusions. Jesus is clearly saying that they were to work for that which would be given to them by the Son of Man. How can you work for that which will be given to you?

The word “work” is not a word for works and it also does not tell us to work for that which you can earn or merit in any way. Instead, He told the Jews and His disciples that they were to give their efforts, do, or work for that which will be given to them. This should be a tremendous passage for evangelism if we could flush our minds of modern ways of evangelism. What a person does is not to do works in order to be saved, but instead his or her efforts should be toward a salvation that would be given to them if it was go be given to them. This is precisely what the Puritans (most) and men like Jonathan Edwards taught that men were to do. They were to give themselves to strive for that which Christ alone could give them.

Our striving and our efforts must not be thought of as a way to earn a thing from God as that is not possible. God saves sinners by grace alone, which is to say that He saves by grace alone apart from any merit or good works done by sinners. They are to do what they do in their exertions and doing to seek that which will be given to those who receive eternal life. It should be obvious that the exertions of sinners are not efforts to get God to change His mind, but instead it is to seek Him to humble their hearts and grant them true repentance and faith. Sinners should seek the Lord and ask Him to show them their sin and for Him to work a true repentance and humility in them.

Underneath this passage is a firm foundation of sound theology. God saves sinners by free-grace alone. There are not works and there is no exertion that a sinner can do to earn, merit, or even obtain that which He alone can give to them. The Gospel is all about the glory of God manifested in and through Christ in saving sinners by free-grace alone. While there is nothing that a sinner can do to earn or merit the slightest bit of good from God, this is not contradictory to sinners exerting themselves in studying to know their own hearts and God. If it is true (and it is) that God saves sinners as they listen to the Scriptures being preached and taught, then it is true that sinners should give themselves to hearing the Scriptures taught. If it is true that God gives grace to the humble, then it is true that sinners should exert themselves in seeking the Lord for humility. If it is true that the heart of men must be turned and become like a child or they will not be saved, then men should make exertions toward that knowing that if it is to happen to them it will be by grace alone. The only way to seek Christ is to seek Him in the way of free-grace because this alone is consistent with giving ourselves to exertions knowing that this salvation comes to sinner by free-grace and that alone.

Meditations on Various Scriptures 5

January 15, 2016

John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 “What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Without taking the time to look closely at this passage, there are many wonderful and even glorious teachings in it. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of Man, which coming from Daniel chapter 7 we see that His times are from eternity and all things would be given to Him. The Lord Jesus came down from heaven, so we can see His Divinity as His body was born on the earth of a real and very human woman. The body of Christ was in fact the very tabernacle of God on earth (John 1:14) and we can see the glory of His grace and truth as we behold Christ. This very body which was the very tabernacle of God is also the sacrifice that is the Lamb of God.

This passage of Scripture seems to be the basis for how people interpret the Lord’s Supper, but perhaps it should not be. The Supper is not mentioned in this at all. Jesus speaks of Himself as bread coming down from heaven and giving eternal life to others. The physical flesh cannot give life in and of itself, but instead Jesus said that the living Father sent Him and that He lived because of the Father, so only those who have Christ will live. It is this life that we must have and indeed Jesus gave up His flesh and blood in the place of sinners, but it was the unity of the human body with the Divine Person that gave it an infinite value. We cannot eat and drink the infinite second Person of the Trinity, but instead we feast upon His glory as it is displayed at the cross in the human body and sufferings of Christ.

As the tabernacle of God was on the cross, the glory of God broke forth and shone with great power to all those who behold the glory of God in the face of Christ. This beauty and majesty is not seen and tasted with the physical senses, but instead it is seen and tasted by faith. It is faith, according to Hebrews 11:1, that is the conviction of things not seen (with the physical eyes). It is, then, those with true faith and spiritual eyes who see the glory of God in the sacrifice and sufferings of Christ and then the resurrection, ascension, and the Mediatorship of Christ. It is not a physical eating and drinking that does this, but instead as Jesus said “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” The words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood were spirit and they were life. It was not eating His physical flesh that gave life, but instead it was His words that were spirit and life that give life. When asked if he wanted to leave to, Peter shows that he understood this. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

It is Christ Himself who is life and it is Christ Himself that we must have. We must not be content to drink from a cup and eat a wafer, we must have the living Son of God unite Himself to our souls and we must feed upon Him and His glory. It is Christ in all He is that we should desire and want. It is Christ as the Divine-man, the glory man, the sacrificial man that we must behold and feed our souls upon His glory and truth. In that is life and nothing else.

Meditations on Various Scriptures 4

January 1, 2016

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Paul was made or appointed a minister by God for the benefit of His saints, yet the greatest benefit to any believer is to have God made known in Christ. He was appointed as an apostle and a minister so that he could fully carry out the word of God, and he did that by preaching, teaching, and by the way he lived. The context, however, is more focused on the fact that Paul was preaching and teaching the word of God. In particular, the word Paul preached had to do with the mystery that was hidden from the past ages and generations. This is a fantastic truth of God. The New Covenant has truths that were not seen, but also hidden from the past ages and generations. Whatever covenant theology a person holds, this text tells us without shame that there is a great truth here that was hidden in the past and that only in Paul’s time (and perhaps by Paul as an apostle) this great truth was opened up and set out. This great truth was opened up, set out, and plainly revealed.

This is not just a simple truth that Paul is building up to and setting out, but he speaks of it as the riches of the glory of this mystery and how God now wills for it to be made known. This should teach us how utterly dependent we are upon God to understand the real intent and meaning of the Scriptures. That which was hidden in the past, and when God hides no one can find it, has now (in Paul’s time and by Paul) been manifested. This appears to have been a main point in the teaching and preaching of Paul, though it also appears to be hidden in the modern day as people no longer focus on these things. This mystery is said to be a mystery so great that it is the riches of the glory of this mystery. I can only say that I have never heard anyone even come close to preaching this great mystery much less actually preach it.

If this is such a great mystery, one would think it would be expounded from the pulpits in our land on a frequent basis. This great mystery seems to encompass the great teachings of the Old Testament and actually explain what they really meant. This great mystery is that of Christ in the believer and He Himself is the hope of glory. Modern versions (or perversions) of Christianity seem to view it as either intellectual or moral or both, but the riches of this great mystery is that the indwelling of Christ in the souls of His people is glorious and the heart of Christianity. The teachings of both the Tabernacle and the Temple where the glory came and met with the High Priest was a picture that pointed to Christ and His people. All the sacrifices that were in the Tabernacle and the Temple pictured the cleansing needed in the soul for Christ to dwell there. The bread of fellowship pointed to how Christ would have fellowship with His people.

When the soul is united to Christ and Christ dwells in that soul, then the glory of God dwells in that soul to some degree and yet Christ is the hope of that soul to behold the glory of God. The Lord Jesus is the hope of glory in the soul both in this life and for eternity. God displays and manifests His glory in Christ and as such Christ is the hope of the soul to behold the glory of God. The whole nation of Israel revolved around worship in the Tabernacle and then the Temple, so Christianity should revolve around Christ dwelling in His Temple which is the Church. The Church, which is the body of Christ, must learn to recognize what She is and who it is that dwells in Her. The Church must learn to pursue holiness that Christ may dwell more and more in Her. The Church must learn to love free-grace as this is the only way He gives Himself to His people. In one sense Christ Himself is grace to the Church and Christ gives Himself to His people as the long for more grace. As the glory of God tabernacled among men in the body of Christ, so the glory of God tabernacles among men in the Church.

Meditations on Various Scriptures 3

December 30, 2015

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Paul rejoiced in his sufferings, which is not the usual approach in the modern day. He rejoiced in his sufferings because they were for the sake of the church (the people that the body consisted of) of the Colossians, but he also rejoiced in suffering for the sake of the body of Christ which is the church. This is quite a profound teaching on the nature of the Church. The Church is not what it is because of a fancy building, or because it is a particular denomination, or because it is of a particular form of organization. The Church is the Church because it is the body of Christ. A church is not a church because it is Presbyterian or Baptist or whatever, but because it is united to Christ, dwelt in by Christ, and dwells in Christ.

The Church is what it is because of its being the body of Christ and nothing else. This is the essential definition of the Church which we must not lose sight of or the essential definition will be swallowed up by things that men have come up with or which are not essential. It is not necessarily wrong to be part of a local church that is part of a denomination in and of itself, but that local church must not lose sight of what it truly means to be part of the Church. This has enormous ramifications for what it means to be part of the Church and what it means to be a Christian. All Christians are united to Christ, but not all members of a local church are united to Christ. When the two are confused, as it often is, many people can be deceived.

It is a huge deception to people to tell them or invite them to pray a prayer or walk an aisle to become a Christian, but it is at least as deceiving to confuse being a member of a local church with being part of the true Church. No one can come to the Christ unless the Father draws him or her, but hordes of people can walk to the fronts of the local church buildings or answer simplistic questions from pastors and elders. This basic definition of the Church (be a part of the body of Christ, joined to Christ) must be kept in mind or the institutions and denominations will be thought of as the Church rather than churches and people will think that if they join the one they are part of the true Church. A person must really and truly be united to Christ, be indwelt by Christ, and be in Christ to be a member of the Body of Christ, which is the true Church.

Paul was given the primary duty and privilege of preaching to the Gentiles, though clearly he preached to the Jews as well. He also said he wanted to make the Jews jealous by his preaching. He suffered and preached for the body of Christ, that is, the true Church and not just for one congregation here and there. He preached and he sent letters to local churches, or the local church gathered in one town. But his ministry was from Christ to the body of Christ. He was an apostle of Christ (sent one from Christ) who was guided by Christ where to go and his letters were breathed forth by the Spirit. But again, he did not do these things just for a local congregation, but for the Church at large. This is a vital distinction to hold as people think of local churches and the best way to function and operate in them. This does not detract from the local church, though indeed it may keep some from rising to the position of dictator or pope in the local congregation, but instead it should inform the local church that it is but one aspect of the Body of Christ. It is to preach and teach so that sinners would become members of Christ and not just get people to join the local congregation. It is free-grace that makes people members of the Church, but any sinner can join a group that calls itself a “church” as s/he wishes.

Meditations on Various Scriptures 2

December 29, 2015

Hebrews 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say, “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”? And again, “I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME”? 6 And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.”

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Prophet, but is not a mere prophet. He is far greater than all the prophets. All that the prophets did, Jesus did greater things. All that the prophets said, Jesus said with far greater insight and far better wisdom. We should expect this, for after all the prophets came into being through Him and were sustained by the word of His power. It is the Son who is the very radiance/effulgence/brightness or shining forth of His glory. In other words, we must not think of the Divine Son in terms of having a body only, but also in terms of who He was by nature and He was that from all eternity.

The picture we have of the triune God is that He exists in and of Himself in perfect glory and that is an internal glory within Himself. Only He can shine that glory out of Himself at His good pleasure. The eternal Logos (Word) is how God shines His internal glory out of Himself. Christ is, then, as to His Divine nature the very shining forth of the glory of God. As the very shining forth of the glory of God we behold God Himself in the sense that we see the exact representation of His nature. Jesus said to Philip, “he who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Christ is such an exact representation of the Father that we behold all of the Father that we can take in when we behold Christ in His glory.

When we think and meditate on Christ and who He is we should be amazed to think on the absolute reality that it was Christ who went to the cross and suffered for the sins of sinners. It was the eternal Son of God who alone could suffer the full weight of the wrath of God for each sin of each sinner that would ever be saved. If all the angels and all the human beings who ever lived came together to suffer for one sin they could not do it. But because Christ is the shining forth of the glory of God and the exact representation of His nature, He could suffer in a way that fully satisfied the justice of God in its demands on sinners. Because of who Christ was He could glorify the Father fully for all that sinners should have done in glorifying the Father.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, is such a glorious and excellent being that He was able to satisfy the full character of God. All of the attributes of God were fully exalted and satisfied in the place of all the sinners He was sent to redeem. This glorious Lord also purchased the Holy Spirit for His people and the Spirit regenerated them and in that regeneration they were washed and renewed (Titus 3:5). This Lord of glory who was the very shining forth of the glory of God could do no other than be the glory of God and glorify God perfectly in all He did. In this He glorified the Father perfectly and earned a perfect righteousness for His people. He did not fall short of the glory of God at any point and at any way.

As we think of the gloriousness of His sacrifice, it should be noted and then noted again that after He made purification for sins, He sat down. In other words, it was a perfect work and a completed work. The work of Christ was so perfect that it lacked nothing and so it left nothing for sinners to work for salvation. The Gospel of grace alone teaches us that Christ has left nothing to do for salvation and so the Gospel is the glory of Christ and the glory of God. It is all to their glory and the glory of their free-grace and nothing is left for sinners to accomplish in terms of earning salvation. There is not one work that is left to be done. There is not one prayer that is left to be done. Christ was and is fully sufficient. Sinners need Christ and His work by free-grace and not one work at all.

Meditations on the Scriptures

December 29, 2015

Hebrews 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say, “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”? And again, “I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME”? 6 And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.”

The living God speaks in this world in His Son even today and will do so forever. It is Christ Himself that is the proclamation of God and His glory in this world and will do so to the end of the world and for eternity. It is through Christ that God made the world, thus it is said that He spoke and what He spoke happened. He created through His Word, that is, Christ. It was in and through Christ that He spoke and things came into being. Colossians 1:16-17 tells us that it was through Christ that all things were created, but also that all things were created for Him. John 1:3 tells us that all things came into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. There are aspects of who Christ is and of His glory that cannot be separated from the creation of the world and the reason that it was created.

It is Christ who is the heir or all things, which is to say all created things. All things came into being through Him and for Him and as such He is the heir of all those things. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who is also the One who upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3). This is not what the Pharisees expected nor anyone else as far as that goes, but it is written in the Scriptures and that settles the issue. The Lord Jesus Christ reigns over all the earth and He upholds anything and all things that are upheld. He upholds the life of men and the very breath of men. He upholds what we think of as “natural laws” and He is the One that keeps all things hanging together. He is the One that not only was all things brought into being for but He is the One that keeps them in being according to His good pleasure.

When we consider who this Jesus really is, all talk of Arminianism and Pelagianism should cease immediately. If it was through this One that we were brought into being and it is this One who upholds all things by the word of His power, then any talk about the freedom of the will is nonsense. For a will to be free it must have the power and ability to carry out what it desires. But if Christ is upholding us each moment and upholding all things each moment by His power, then nothing can happen that He does not will to happen. When we think of John 15:5 and the words of Jesus that “apart from Me you can do nothing”, we should remember that we are upheld by Him in all ways at all times. We are in the hands of Christ both physically and spiritually. He is the author and the sustainer of our faith as well. He sustains us by free-grace and not because we earn His sustaining us or any part of His wonderful mercy and love toward His people.

How this should humble our proud hearts that want to look to self for something. How this should break our hearts from pride and self and move us to look to Christ for faith and all things based on grace and nothing else. As the King of old could not lower his arm after raising it until God permitted it, so we can do nothing unless He permits it. Our battle is not with flesh and blood as such, but we do fight with our own sinful hearts as they long to be free enough to do as they please. We should seek the Lord for Him to give us hearts that bow in humble submission and love it the lower the heart is in His presence.