Author Archives: John Mahaffy

Salt and Light

“Starting from Matthew 5:13, the whole Sermon on the Mount is one impressive exhortation to do ‘good works’ (Matt. 5:13), to do ‘justice’ (5:20; 6:1; 6:33), to fulfill ‘the law and the prophets’ (5:17–48; 7:15), to go through ‘the narrow gate’ and upon the ‘narrow path’ (7:13,14), to bear ‘fruit’ (7:16–20), to do the Father’s will (7:21), and to ‘hear and do’ Jesus’ words (7:24–27; cf. also Luke 6L17–49).” (Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, p. 241).

“The subject of this discourse, and the aim of the discipleship which it promotes, is not so much the betterment of life on earth as the implementation of the reign of God. The goal of disciples witness is not that others emulate their way of life, or applaud their probity, but that they recognize the source of their distinctive lifestyle in ‘your Father in heaven.’” (R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 177).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

Are You Blessed?

When is the last time you thought of suffering as a blessing?

“The kingdom neutralizes the effects of sin, but it does far more than this. It carries man to the highest level of knowledge and love and service and enjoyment of God of which he is capable, and nothing less than the attainment of this our Lord associates with the term ‘sonship.’” (Geerhardus Vos, The Kingdom and the Church, pp. 73–74).

“In them [the Beatitudes] Jesus describes the bliss of the kingdom of heaven as the inheritance of the [new] earth, as being filled with with the divine righteousness, as the seeing of God, as the manifestation of the children of God, all of these expressions pointing beyond the order of this world to the state of bliss and perfection that shall be revealed in the future world.” “Though the full realization of the of the salvation promised to the poor in spirit may be something of the future according to the rest of the Beatitudes, this nevertheless does not mean that the blessing must be conceived as something that cannot be given and received in the present.” (Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, pp. 37, 78).

“When Jesus began to talk about the Kingdom, He first wanted to tell who its citizens were. . . . Grace, His favor that that forgives sin, reigns supreme in the Kingdom. The citizens of this Kingdom are those who submit in faith to His grace, who do not trust in their own wisdom or rely on their own virtues but are wholly dependent on the grace of God, accepting that grace and making no excuses for unbelief. People who live by God’s grace in such a way show that they take after their Father in heaven and resemble Him.” (S. G. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 3, p. 50).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

When God Is with You

“The debt man’s transgres­sions incur is written down in God’s book, and must be punished. God, however, blots out or wipes out what is written down, so that it can no longer be seen and no longer is present to ac­cuse the transgressor. . . . The debt those transgres­sions incurred has been fully paid, and God’s blotting out is an act of justice and mer­cy.” (Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol 3, p. 162).

“The prophecy of new cre­ation in Isa. 43 begins with, ‘Behold, I will do something new’ (v. 19) and concludes with, ‘The people I have formed for Myself will de­clare My praise’ (v. 21). The immediate contexts of the prophecies in Isa. 43 and Isa. 65 imply a notion of res­urrection (cf. 43:21).” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 231).

The 101 Bible Study meets on Friday, October 4, 2019, in a home in the Astoria area. Call 971/238-6101 for details.

The Light of the Kingdom

“In 4:17 Matthew sets forth in the broadest possible terms the the message of the public ministry as the proclamation of the coming of the kingdom and the necessity of a radical adjustment on the part of the hearers if they are to participate in it.” (Ned. B. Stonehouuse, The Witness of Matthew and Mark to Christ, page 130).

“Jesus’ preaching of the kingdom and his miracles are repeatedly mentioned in the same breath (cf., e.g. Matt. 4:23; 9:35). Jesus preached the kingdom with words and deeds. . . . Jesus’ miracles occupy a place that is in every respect organic and ‘natural’ in the idea of the coming of the kingdom, insofar as it renders visible the restoration of the creation, and so the all-embracing and redemptive significance of the kingdom.” (Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, page 65).

“[W]e are not to look at Jesus’ miracles as mere philanthropic acts. Rather, they speak (very loudly) to the inauguration of a great redemptive moment in history when God acted definitively in his Son. The kingdom arrived with Christ, hence the miracles. In these miracles God’s graciousness, compassion, love, but also judgment, shone forth in the person of his Son.” (Mark Jones, Knowing Christ, page 138).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Tempted in the Wilderness

“The immediate duress of the desert events of Matthew 4:1–11 sets the tone for subsequent course of Jesus’ entire ministry. The testing of his messianic faithfulness that culminates in his death and resurrection secures eschatalogical deliverance from sin and its consequences.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., in Biblical Hermeneutics: Five Views, p. 108).

“Jesus Christ, however, knew the word and, by obeying it, established himself as God’s true last Adam and true Israel. Recall, in Matt. 4:1–11, when the devil sought to tempt Jesus. With each temptation Jesus responded to Satan by quoting from the OT, from passages in Deuteronomy where Moses rebuked Israel for failing in its task. In contrast to Adam and Eve, Jesus overcame the temptations by knowing and trusting in God’s word.” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 222).

“In the wilderness temptation, we may say that it was actually Jesus who confronted Satan, rather than the other way around. From the devil’s perspective, he wanted to prevent Christ from depending upon the Holy Spirit, and thus cause him to fail to maintain an attitude of service in his state of humiliation. Jesus’ desire for his messianic glory to be revealed – Jesus as the Son of God – could only be attained through suffering. (Mark Jones, Knowing Christ, p. 111).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

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).