Faith Working Through Love

“The gospel removes an abso­lute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the believer. How so? Briefly, apart form the gospel and outside of Christ, the law is my enemy and condemns me. Why? Because God is my enemy and condemns me. But with the gospel and in Christ, united to him by faith, the law is no longer my enemy but my friend. Why Because now God is no longer my enemy but my friend, and the law, his will—the law in its moral core, as reflective of his character and of concerns eternally inherent in his own person and so of what pleases him—is now my friendly guide for life in fellowship with God.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. By Faith, Not by Sight, pages 117–118).

Galatians 5:1–15 is the passage we are looking at in the Sunday afternoon Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church.

The Church of the Risen Savior

What is the significance of the resurrection for Jesus, himself? What does it matter to the church and to those who believe in him? When is your resurrection? This week’s reflection deals with those questions.

“The resurrection of Jesus is just as thoroughly messianic and adamic as are his sufferings and death. His resurrection is as equally representative and vicarious as his death. Believers no longer live to themselves but to the Christ, ‘who for their sake died and was raised’ II Cor. 5:15.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., The Centrality of the Resurrection, p. 66).

“The death of Christ is not an end in itself. It is subordinate to a great purpose that can be achieved only through resurrection. . . . To be a Saviour, Christ had to pass through resurrection. It was an integral part of the experience and task assigned to him in the economy of redemption. The resurrection power exercised by the Father in the raising of Jesus, and the resurrection power with which, in virtue of that fact, Jesus is endowed are necessary facts in the plan of salvation. But if so, there needed to be death. For without death resurrection has neither existence nor meaning.” (Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 4, p. 88).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The Church of the Donkey-Riding King

“He knew that the time had come when He was to die for sinners on the cross. His work as the great Prophet, so far as His earthly ministry was concerned, was almost finished and completed. His work as the sacrifice for sin and substitute for sinners, remained to be accomplished. Before giving Himself up as a sacrifice, He desired to draw the attention of the whole Jewish nation to Himself. The Lamb of God was about to be slain. The great sin-offering was about to be killed. It was meet that the eyes of all Israel should be fixed on Him.” (J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke, pages 309–310).

“Whether men praise Christ or no he will, and shall, and must be praised (v. 40): If these should hold their peace, and not speak the praises of the Messiah’s kingdom, the stones would immediately cry out, rather than that Christ should not be praised. This was, in effect, literally fulfilled, when, upon men’s reviling Christ upon the cross, instead of praising him, and his own disciples’ sinking into a profound silence, the earth did quake and the rocks rent.” (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, at Matthew 19:40).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The Spirit Poured upon Us

“This Spirit is poured out from the height of heaven (cf. 24:21), and in a prover­bial manner similar to that employed in 29:17 Isaiah represents the change that is wrought. Just as God had poured out a spirit of deep sleep ‘upon you’ so now He pours out His Spirit ‘upon us,’ and we therefore receive the blessings that he brings.” (E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 2, page 399).

“In contrast to the land’s unfruitful con­dition (Isa. 32:10–14), in the future the Spirit will come upon Israel and create abundant fertility (v. 15). However, this fertility appears to go beyond mere material abundance to include spiritual fecundity. Not only will the Spirit cre­ate literal plants, crops, and trees in the field, but also the Spirit will pro­duce spiritual fruits in the fields: ‘Jus­tice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness will abide in the fertile field’ (v. 16).” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical The­ology, p. 575).

The next 101 Bible Study, meeting Friday, April 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the Astoria area, focuses on Isaiah 32–33. Call 971/238-6101 for location.

The Church: A Confessing People

“As Paul wrote from prison to his protégé, Timothy, his mind was focused on how the church was to manage once he and the other apostles had passed from the scene. His answer had two components: a structure in which the governance of the church was put in the hands of ordinary but faithful men, and a form of sound words. Both were necessary. Without structure, the church would have no leadership; without a form of sound words, she would drift from her theological moorings, losing touch with her past and with other congregations in the present. A form of sound words, a confession, was crucial for maintaining both continuity with the apostles and unity among Christians in the present. And that is what our confessional documents do today: they bind us to faithful brothers and sisters in the past and with the same in the present.” (Carl Trueman, “Why Christians Need Confessions,” New Horizons, February 2013).

“God has grounded his church in revelation. He does not content himself with sending his Spirit into the world to turn men to him. He sends his Word into the world as well. Because, it is from knowledge of the truth, and only from the knowledge of the truth, that under the quickening influence of the Spirit true religion can be born.” (“Is the Shorter Catechism Worthwhile?”, Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield–I, p. 382)

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Your Life Is Hid with God in Christ

“Christ is not only the object of faith and his glorious appearing the pole star of hope but he is also united to believers now in the bonds of mystic union. And they are united to him. Because Christ is united to believ­ers, he is in them in the life they now live upon earth — he is formed in them the hope of glory. And be­cause believers are now united to Christ, they are in him in the glory of his exalted state — their life is hid with Christ in God. Christ is with them where they are; they are with him where he is. A great mystery, beyond doubt. But this is what is true of Christ and his church.” (John Murray, “Structural Strands in New Testament Eschatology.” Unpub­lished manuscript, Westminster Theological Seminary Library, Phila­delphia).

From a handout for the adult Sunday School class at Trinity Presbyterian Church

The Church: A Believing People

What does it mean to have faith or to believe? How important is it?

“Far from being an incidental statement in Habakkuk, this passage declares the profound truth of the believer’s new mode of life in Christ. He or she lives by faith. . . . Jesus Christ is the object of saving faith, for he has been faithful to establish a new covenant in his own blood, having died for the sins of his people and having been raised for their salvation.” (Camden Bucey, Lamentations, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, p. 55).

“No matter how it is said, the point is that faith does not simply look to promises. Nor does faith look to the blessings that Christ brings to Christians, such as the forgiveness of sins or the gift of righteousness. No, faith looks to Jesus Christ himself.” (Chad Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, p. 191).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.