Gifts of grace and reward according to works

“All the benefits that believers enjoy or will obtain are gifts of the grace of God (Rom. 6:23; 2 Cor. 8:9; Eph. 2:8; etc.), yet everyone is rewarded according to his works (Rom. 2:6-11; 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:5; Rev. 2:23; 20:12). Godliness holds promise for this life and also for the life to come (I Tim. 4:8). The thought of future glory spurs them on to patience and perseverance (Rom. 8:18; 1 Cor. 15:19; 2 Cor. 4:10, 17; Rev. 2:7; 10-11, 17; etc.).” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 236).

This is taken from a chapter on “Sanctification and Perseverance,” a passage I ran across in preparing a message on Revelation 2:1-7. I commend the quote to you, not because I value the author, whom I deeply respect, but because of his use of Scripture here. Read not only what Bavinck writes, but please read the passages (in context) which he references. Systematic theology is crucially important for the life of the church. But we end up in serious trouble if we try to strain Scripture through the screen of our theological system, rather than letting our theology flow from Scripture. There is no substitute for serious study of the Word of God.

Eat from the Tree of Life!

tree_7242cp“The tree of life stands in the midst of the garden. The garden is the ‘garden of God,’ not in the first place an abode for man as such, but specifically a place of reception of man into fellowship with God in God’s own dwelling place. . . . The correctness of this is verified by the recurrence of this piece of symbolism in eschatalogical form at the end of history, where theere can be no doubt concerning the principle of paradise being the habitation of God, where He dwells in order to make man dwell with Himself. . . . The tree was associated with the higher, the unchangeable, the eternal life to be secured through the probation.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, pp. 37-38).

“Paul also had emphasized the balance of truth and love that makes the church grow (e.g., ‘speaking the truth in love,’ Eph. 4:15). Having heeded the apostles’ emphasis on truth, this church had slipped off the balance by neglecting love. Unless corrected, the loss would prove lethal to the church’s light-bearing mission in its city.” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p. 72).

(Quotes used in the Reflection for next Sunday morning’s sermon based on Revelation 1-7 at Trinity Presbyterian Church)

One Like a Son of Man

keys_2942“Jesus, the holy One of God, is present among them [the churches, represented by lampstands] and knows their situation more truly than they do. The appearance of the churches as golden lampstands also signals their calling to reflect the light of God’s heavenly court into the present darkness on earth.” (Dennis E. Johnson, The Triumph of the Lamb, p. 61).

“Possessing a key means having power and authority. But no one on the face of this earth is able to claim power over Death and Hades. Jesus, who triumphed over death and the grave, possesses the keys to unlock them.” (Simon Kistemaker, Revel­ation, NTC, p. 100).

Quotes used in the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.

I was dead, and behold, I am alive

Rv0118Geerhardus Vos on Matthew 16:18-20: “The underlying idea would be that Jesus through His resurrection will so fill His Church with unconquerable life infusing it into Her by the Spirit, that death will be wholly conquered by the Church (Rev. 1:18).” (Biblical Theology, pp. 427-428).

The Sunday morning message at Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC focuses on the mighty Son of Man who reveals himself in Revelation 1:9-20.

A Remnant and Grafting

Rm1123“If grace is conditioned in any way by human performance or by the will of man impelling to action, then grace ceases to be grace.”

“[T]here is no security in the bond of the gospel apart from perseverance. There is no such thing as continuance in the favor of God in spite of apostasy; God’s saving embrace and endurance are correlative.”

(John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, Vol. 2, pages 70 & 88).

Friday evening’s 101 Bible Study in Astoria focuses on the first half of Romans 11.

A Broken Heart

psalm517c“. . . the prayer open thou my lips is no mere formula but the cry of one whose conscience has shamed him into silence. He longs to worship freely, gratefully again; and he believes that by the grace of God he will. Seen in its true setting, this heartfelt, humble plea leads the worshipper in one step from confession to the brink of praise.” (Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72, p. 193).

The Bible study this evening at Trinity Presbyterian Church focuses on Psalm 51, David’s great prayer of repentance.