The Promise of the Messiah

thorns_17324c“The New Testament makes it clear to us that no man is to partake of the tree of life until he has the right to do so, and there must come the second Adam, who by his obedience (as the first Adam disobeyed) obtains for his people the right to partake of the tree of life. We will eat of that tree when we have the right to partake of it, and that right we receive through Christ.” (Edward J. Young, In the Beginning: Genesis 1–3 and the Authority of Scripture, p. 110).

“The first redemptive revelation after the fall (Gen. 3:15) . . . predicted the final victory over sin, the removal of the curse, and, by implication, the return of the conditions of paradise.” (Geerhardus Vos, The Eschatology of the Old Testament, p. 37).

You probably don’t need reminding that you live in a fallen world, a world under the curse that God pronounced when Adam and Eve sinned. You listen to the news and you are reminded. And when you look honestly at yourself you are reminded again. But, as Genesis 3:15 & 4:25–26 point out, into our broken, hurting world, God promises to send the Seed of the woman. That gives you hope and comfort.

In giving Seth, God is assuring that One will come whose blood will speak better things than that of Abel. Instead of crying out for vengeance, his blood speaks the comfort and joy of forgiveness. The joy and peace sung outside of Bethlehem, the triumph of the resurrection, and the wonder of the new heavens and earth are all encapsulated in what God granted Adam, Eve, and you. And notice where is found that description of blood that speaks of better things than that of Abel. It is in the context of worship. And the scene of worship in Hebrews 12 is not in the future. In Christ you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem.

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

The Swift Will Not Escape

judge_4421cIn Amos 2:6–16 the prophet, having boxed the compass with descriptions of God’s judgment on surrounding nations, turns to the sins of God’s covenant people, Israel. The poor are oppressed by the wealthy, even trampled into the dirt. Immorality is rampant (and even the immorality is oppressive).

“In the final analysis, the Lord God asks us to be merciful not for the sake of the poor but for His own sake. . . . By being merciful, God’s people are to celebrate the virtues of their merciful Father. They are to manifest His image.” (Herman Veldkamp, The Farmer from Tekoa, p. 70).

Israel sins in its relationship with the LORD. The LORD recounts his mercy to his people. He is faithful to his covenant promises. The Amorites, the inhabitants of the land before Israel, are destroyed, despite their gigantic size (echoes of the warnings of 10 of the spies). See Numbers 21:21ff; Joshua 10. Notice among the mercies is the LORD leading his people in the wilderness for 40 years. We think of that time as judgment (and in a sense it was). But it was also a blessing. The LORD was leading them for that time so that they could inherit the promised land. Recognize that God may be leading you through difficult, trying, seemingly punishing times in order to prepare you for receiving additional blessing. But the climax of their sin is simply that command the prophets to be silent. Israel treated those who were set apart to God as profane, as ordinary. The distinctiveness of the prophet is that he speaks God’s Word. But he is silenced. The relationship between God and his people is broken, the voice of the LORD is silenced.

Membership in God’s covenant people does not spare you from judgement if you live in rebellion, whether it is open defiance of God or a quiet pushing him into the background. Take God’s coming judgment seriously. No one is powerful enough (the hero described as warrior), no one is swift enough, to escape God’s judgment. “That day” is the Day of the LORD. Be thankful for the LORD’s vindication. Note that even the crushing cart is groaning with the harvested grain. The harvest will ultimately prove to be abundantly fruitful, Amos 9. “That day” is the Day of the LORD, a day of judgement, but also of salvation.

[The Wednesday evening Bible Study at Trinity Presbyterian Church focuses on Amos 2.]

 

God’s Timing in Giving His Son

sundial_14975ac“[W]e are not looking for a teacher and example. We are looking for a Saviour. And a purely human, a merely natural, as distinguished from a supernatural, Christ can never be our Savior. . . . We have such a Saviour presented to us in the Gospels, a Saviour who is not merely man but God. The really difficult thing is to believe that such a Saviour really entered into this world. It is a very blessed thing, but it is certainly not a trivial thing. It is not one of those trivial things that are so easy to believe because they occur every day. It is certainly not a thing that can be believed without a mighty revolution in all a man’s thinking and all a man’s life.” (J. Gresham Machen, The Christian Faith in the Modern World, p. 190).

“When this moment, determined by the counsel of God had come, God sent His Son. The word translated sent forth comprises two thoughts: the going forth of the Son from a place at which He was before; and His being invested with divine authority. By this the profound and glorious significance of Christ’s coming in the wold is indicated.” (Herman Ridderbos, The Epistle of Paul to the Churches of Galatia, p. 155).

From the Reflection on Galatians 4:4-–5 for Trinity Presbyterian Church/

Clothed with Christ

What does your baptism mean?Ga0327

“[B]aptism signifies union with Christ in the virtue of his death and the power of his resurrection, purification from the defilement of sin by the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit, and purification from the guilt of sin by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ. The emphasis must be placed, however, upon union with Christ. It is this that is central, and it is this notion that appears more explicitly and pervasively than any other. Hence our view of baptism must be governed by this concept.” (John Murray, Christian Baptism, p. 8).

“Paul will argue that in this Son, the sons of God are neither male nor female, all are one in the one Son. The selection of ‘son’ (huios) or ‘sons’ (huioi) serves Paul’s purpose to expose the inviolable, indissoluble filial solidarity of the redeemed with the Redeemer. Just as the Pauline label of the church as the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:21–32) does not exclude males, the choice of huios does not eliminate or alienate believing females,who are also the sons of God.” (David B. Gardner, Sons in the Son: The Riches and Reach of Adoption in Christ, p. 53).

“For as many as were baptized into Christ, into fellowship with him, have put on Christ, appropriating Christ, so that now they are in Christ and belong to him (Gal. 3:27–29),walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4, 6ff.; Eph. 5:26), live to God (Rom. 6:11, 13), and indeed carry the life of Christ within themselves (Gal. 2:20). And just as by baptism they entered into communion with Christ, so they also entered into fellowship with his church, which is his body.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 505).

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Give Thanks for God’s Name

Ps07401Trinity Presbyterian Church is giving thanks on Thursday at 10:00 a.m.

“Joy in God’s great reversals, His ‘putting down one and lifting up another’ (7), is a note which this Psalm shares especially with the Magnificat and the Song of Hannah.” (Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150, p. 270).

“God is at hand to answer and do wonders — adore we then the present Deity. We sing not of a hidden God, who sleeps and leaves the church to her fate, but of one who ever in our darkest days is most near, a very present help in trouble. ‘Near is his name.’ Baal is on a journey, but Jehovah dwells in his church. Glory be unto the Lord, whose perpetual deeds of grace and majesty are the sure tokens of his being with us always, even unto the ends of the world.” (Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, on Psalm 75:1).

 

To Lead You to Christ

Ga0324“In the old age, Torah was the epitome of divine revelation, but now its high position has been surpassed in the ‘new creation,’ which expresses the zenith of God’s revelation in Christ, a revelation only pointed to in the former age of Torah (see, e.g., Gal. 3:23–25). The ‘new creation’ is the other side of the coin of the crucifixion; Jesus’ crucifixion was inextricably linked to his resurrection, since the former was necessary for and led to the latter, which Paul understands elsewhere to be the new creation.” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 309).

“It was fitting that, before the sun of righteousness had arisen, there should be no great and shinning revelation, no clear understanding. The Lord, therefore, so meted out the light of his Word to them that they still saw it afar off and darkly. . . . What did the Law and the Prophets teach to the men of their own time? They gave a foretaste of that wisdom which was one day to be clearly disclosed, and pointed to it twinkling afar off. But when Christ could be pointed to with the finger, the Kingdom of God was opened.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book II, XI, 5).

“[T]he beauty of Jesus is without a flaw. That beauty cannot be appreciated without a knowledge of the holiness upon which it is based; and the holiness is unknown except to those who have been convicted of their own sin through leaning the lesson of the law.” (J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith?, p.137).

Quotes used in the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Law or Promise?

Ayear0831oc“[I]t is the law which the heretical minds Paul is opposing in this letter are putting into competition with the promise — at bottom, in fact, they are placing it above the promise. It is by this opposition, this contrast, that the character of Paul’s conception of the covenant and the promise, yes, and of the law also, is entirely governed and determined. Law means demand, conditions; the promise, on the contrary, means free grant, guarantee, unconditionality.” (Herman N. Ridderbos, The Epistle of Paul to the Churches of Galatia, p. 135).

“Obedience as the appropriate and necessary expression of devotion to Christ does not find its place in a covenant of works or of merit but in a covenant that has its inception and end in pure grace.” (John Murray, Principles of Conduct, p. 200).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.