Author Archives: John Mahaffy

Pegs and Keys

key_11334cThe 101 Bible Study focuses on Isaiah 22.

“Grief came to [Isaiah]. . . because the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who should have acted as a holy priest­hood, had, by their sin and their generally care­less attitude, them­selves been the cause of the city’s downfall. When calamity comes to the Church, every Christian must feel that calamity as though it were his own. The hymn writer has accu­rately stated the mat­ter:

For her my tears shall fall,
     For her my prayers ascend;
To her my cares and toils be giv­en,
     Till toils and cares shall end.”

(E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 2, p. 92).

“When we think of the power of the key, we are reminded immediately of what Christ said to Peter: ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ (Mat. 16:19). Christ is ‘the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens’ (Rev. 3:7). Through the of­fices, Christ allows His church to serve as steward. Isn’t this an awesome policy for a world writhing in pain?” (C. Vanderwaal, Search the Scriptures, Vol. 5, p. 27).

 

 

 

 

 

The LORD’s Roar

amos1cAmos 1:1–10

When the Lord speaks it is a roar and a thunder. Amos is reminding you of the character of God. If you ignore the Old Testament, your theology (in its most basic sense) will be defective, for you will be dealing with a god of your imagination, rather than the God who has revealed himself in the entire Scriptures.

Amos records and proclaims the roar of the Lord. He speaks of threatened judgement, but it is still future. There is still a call to repentance. It is still “today,” when you have time to turn to God and seek forgiveness. As you read the judgments, keep in mind the broader context of the conclusion of the book and of the rest of Scripture. Remember that the roar of the LORD would one day come to expression in the sending of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and that his Word is the expression of God’s saving grace. However, in order for you to appreciate the graciousness of that Word, you need to be aware of your own need of it. And Amos graciously points out your sin, your need. Amos reveals the deadly, infectious power of sin in your life and in the life of the culture around you. As pervasive as sin is, you may miss it. Listen to the roar! You need it.

“The prophecy of Amos is an example of the goodness of God to an unworthy nation. The Israelites of the north had rejected the Da­vidic covenant and hence any claim to the promises of Jehovah. At the same time, they were smug and confident in the belief that, since they were the chosen people, no calamity could come upon them. . . . To such a people came Amos, in order that he might warn them of the impending doom. He does not mention the Assyri­an by name, but clearly predicts the exile. His purpose is to warn, but also to promise deliverance through Christ.” (E. J. Young, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 258).

Wednesday evening Bible study and prayer

A Covenant with My Eyes

Jb3101“I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look lustfully at a young woman.” Job 31:1 (NIV)

If you see the chapter as a series of statements in which Job points self-righteously at himself (see Luke 18:12!), you have missed the point of the chapter. Job insists that, despite appearances, he is one of God’s covenant people. This concept of the covenant is one thing which makes the Book of Job so relevant to your situation, despite the differences of time, culture, and language. You too live in covenant fellowship with God. You too can say that, despite the suffering and problems in your life, you are among God’s covenant people.

Job 31 is a statement of covenantal loyalty. Job says, “In word and deed, I belong to God.” You belong to the Lord who not only died, but rose triumphantly and ascended to the right hand of the Father. That’s where you are! That makes your obedience, not a matter of indifference, but of joyful obligation. Ultimately that is why Job and you can keep calling out to the Lord with the assurance that he does hear and answer you.

The Sunday afternoon Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church focuses on Job 31:1–4.

Abraham, the Man of Faith

gA0308“Christ, accordingly, is the turning point of the times, the cross the focal point of world history. First, everything led in the direction of the cross; subsequently, everything was inferred from the cross. . . . Believers in Israel indeed knew that the Siniatic dispensation was merely temporary and therefore anticipated the the day of the new covenant with longing.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3, p. 223).

“The righteousness of God as virtue or mode of conduct has manifested itself most gloriously when in Christ he granted another righteousness apart from the law, on the basis of which he can justify—that is, absolutely and completely acquit—those who believe in Jesus.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 185).

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

Questions!

vine_12475cJonah 4 not only raises questions in our minds, it reports Jonah questioning God as he argues with him. But above all, it leaves us with the questions God asks. Ending the book with a question is unusual. It takes your eyes off Jonah and forces you to reflect on what God is asking. Does Israel understand the merciful character of her Lord? Does she see herself in the prophet who first flees, and then argues with God over the mercy he displays? Do you understand God’s sovereign right to be merciful as he pleases?

These are among the questions we discuss tonight at our Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church

“It was because of the Christ that Jonah’s preaching in Nineveh could bear so much fruit, despite the fact that Jonah himself had not been cured of his disobedience. . . . In the Christ God restored that tie with His people in the covenant of grace. In His people He is now bound to the world also– including Nineveh, which he guides. He guides the entire world, to open it up to the glory which is in the Christ.” (S. G. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol 2, p. 342).

 

 

Bewitched!

Ayear0815o“In the one context in which he reflects on the psychology involved in this reception, Paul indicates that it takes place ‘by believing what you heard’ by contrast with ‘observing the law’ (Gal. 3:2, 5). The Spirit is received in the context of coming to faith in Christ the Lord.” (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, p. 92).

“[T]he French-born second generation Reformer of Geneva in Switzerland, John Calvin, has been described, as we have noted, as ‘the theologian of the Holy Spirit.’ Of course the new understanding of the nature of justification (imputed, not infused, alien, not self-attained, righteousness) was a central feature of the new teaching. But this was accompanied by a desacramentalizing of the application of redemption, and a corresponding restoration of the role of the Spirit. Not that the sacraments were denuded of their power, so much as subordinated to the joint action of the word and the Spirit. . . . [I]n the Reformation teaching it was emphasized that the Holy Spirit brought the individual directly into fellowship fellowship with Christ, of which fellowship the sacraments were seen as signs and seals. . . . This is in fact a more ancient question than medieval discussions of it, and surfaces already in Scripture, for example, in the controversies over the relationship between grace and law. Paul explicitly indicates that this soteriological issue is also a penumatological one when he writes: ‘Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?’ (Gal. 3:2).” (Ferguson, pp. 96–97).

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC