Baptism—And Heaven Opened

“For the Spirit-and-fire baptism, eventually realized at Pentecost, to be one of blessing rather than destruction for the messianic people, the Messiah himself must first become identified with them as their representative sin-bearer (the point of Jesus being baptized by John, from which John recoils, cf. Matt. 3:14) and be endowed with the Spirit, in order to bear away the wrath and condemnation of God their sins deserve. If they are to receive the Spirit as a gift and blessing, then he must receive the Spirit for the task of removing the curse on them.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Perspectives on Pentecost, pp. 15–16).

“Just as Israel was led by Moses and had to go through the Red Sea at the exodus, and just as second-generation Israel had to do the same thing at the Jordan River under Joshua’s leadership, as a replayed second exodus, so again, now that Israel’s restoration is immanent through Jesus, true Israelites must identify with the water and the Jordan and their prophetic leader in order to begin true restoration. . . . Thus the blessing/cursing sign of the Red Sea likely carries over to Jesus’s baptism by John (where the Spirit descended on Jesus). . . .” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 814).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC

What do you plant?

How important are good works in the life of a Christian? The Sunday evening Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church looks at Galatians 6:6–10 for Paul’s answer.

“Though eternal life is a re­ward, it does not follow ei­ther that we are justified by works, or that works are meritorious of salvation. The undeserved kindness of God appears in the very act of honouring the works which his grace has en­abled us to perform, by promising to them a reward to which they are not enti­tled.” (John Calvin, Com­mentary on Galatians, at Gal. 6:8).

The Voice in the Wilderness

“John’s role is provisional and preparatory, his call to repentance is anticipatory (cf. v. 4; 7:27f.); therefore his ministry in its entirety is set under the sign of water baptism. In contrast, Jesus is the fulfillment; therefore his ministry taken as a whole consists in the reality of baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Perspectives on Pentecost, p. 15).

“John the Baptist appears here as the herald of the King. He preaches the baptism of repentance unto the forgiveness of sins. Repentance is always a turning away from sin–especially the sin of trusting in oneself–in order to surrender to God’s grace. Hence repentance is by faith and unto faith.” (S. G. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 3, p. 181).

“True repentance is not a matter of words and ritual, but of a real change of life.” (R. t. France, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 111).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

Kingdoms in Conflict

“It is the tension set up by the entrance of the new Son of David into a land where a king of the Jews already ruled that forms the background of, and provides the continuity in, Matthew’s birth narrative.” (Ned B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Matthew and Mark to Christ, p. 127).

“The final episode relates the return from Egypt to ‘the land of Israel,’ and explains why, instead of settling in the region of his birth in Judea, he came to dwell in Nazareth of Galilee. That Jesus was a Galilean is of course not without great meaning for the understanding of the rest of the life and ministry of Christ.” (Ned B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Matthew and Mark to Christ, p. 126).

“[T]he connotations of the derogatory term ‘Nazorean’ . . . captured just what some of the prophets had predicted — a Messiah who came from the wrong place, and and who did not conform to the expectations of Jewish tradition, and who as a result would not be accepted by his people.” (R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, NICNT, p. 95).“[T]he connotations of the derogatory term ‘Nazorean’ . . . captured just what some of the prophets had predicted — a Messiah who came from the wrong place, and and who did not conform to the expectations of Jewish tradition, and who as a result would not be accepted by his people.” (R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, NICNT, p. 95).

Quotes from this week”s Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian church.

“I Am He”

How does God identify himself, and why is that important? The 101 Bible Study meeting on August 23 looks to Isaiah 41 for answers.

“The emphasis on water and trees had also been found in the account of Eden in Gene­sis 3. Through the en­trance of sin into the world, however, the garden was forfeited, and man entered a world where thorns and this­tles would grow and he would labor by the sweat of his brow. In picturing the fu­ture age of blessing, the es­chatalogical period when restoration will occur, Isaiah uses the combined figures of water and trees. It is as though a bit of heaven had come down to earth; and, in­deed, those who one day will be blessed of these rivers and these trees are in the heavenlies in Christ Je­sus.” (E. J. Young, Com­mentary on Isaiah, Vol. 3, p.95).

“This verse [Isaiah 41:22] il­lustrates the true nature of Christian apologetics. False­hood is here placed upon the defensive; it is com­manded in the name of the God of Israel to defend its cause and to out its justifica­tion for existence. There are difficulties in the acceptance of Christianity, but the Chris­tian need not be expected to answer every difficulty. Rather, he must challenge the very right of unbelief to a hearing. The cause of God is best defended by means of a challenging offensive such as is here offered.” (E. J. Young, Com­mentary on Isaiah, Vol. 3, p.98).

Exodus–Part 2

“Jesus goes to Egypt, the primeval place of God’s people’s enslavement and perennial sign of the need for deliverance caused by human sin, so that he may be called out from there to an exodus ordeal of wilderness testing, leading to salvation for sinners, not only in Israel but also in all nations.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., in Biblical Hermeneutics: Five Views, p. 108).

“The beginning of the Decalogue (‘I am the Lord, your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery’) comes to stand on a firm foundation when God the Father led our King Jesus out of Egypt” (Jakob van Bruggen, Matteüs: Het evangelie voor Israël, p. 54, quoted by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., in Biblical Hermeneutics: Five Views, p. 108).

“Then also there is no doubt, but that God in his wonderful providence intended that his Son should come forth from Egypt, that he might be a redeemer to the faithful; and thus he shows that a true, real, and perfect deliverance was at length effected, when the promised Redeemer appeared. It was then the full nativity of the Church, when Christ came forth from Egypt to redeem his Church.” (John Calvin, Commentary on Hosea 11:1).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

Where Is Your King?

“[W]hat really led the magi to the feet of Jesus was not astrological calculation, but the prophecies of God’s Word—the prophecies which spread abroad throughout the East the expectation of a Messianic king.” (J. Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ, pp. 227–228).

“The story of the homage of the magi is thus not only a demonstration of the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy of Mic 5:2 but also a multilayered study of the fulfillment of scriptural models in the coming of Jesus, with royal, messianic motifs at the heart of these models.” (R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 64).

“The scribes had more and better information than the Magi did, but the Magi acted on what they knew. They traveled to see the baby king…. They brought the most expensive gifts they could find. When they arrived, they worshiped, then gave gifts. They knew little, but they acted on what little they knew.” (Daniel M. Doriani, Matthew, Vol. 1, p. 34).

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.