“All the benefits that believers enjoy or will obtain are gifts of the grace of God (Rom. 6:23; 2 Cor. 8:9; Eph. 2:8; etc.), yet everyone is rewarded according to his works (Rom. 2:6-11; 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:5; Rev. 2:23; 20:12). Godliness holds promise for this life and also for the life to come (I Tim. 4:8). The thought of future glory spurs them on to patience and perseverance (Rom. 8:18; 1 Cor. 15:19; 2 Cor. 4:10, 17; Rev. 2:7; 10-11, 17; etc.).” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 236).
This is taken from a chapter on “Sanctification and Perseverance,” a passage I ran across in preparing a message on Revelation 2:1-7. I commend the quote to you, not because I value the author, whom I deeply respect, but because of his use of Scripture here. Read not only what Bavinck writes, but please read the passages (in context) which he references. Systematic theology is crucially important for the life of the church. But we end up in serious trouble if we try to strain Scripture through the screen of our theological system, rather than letting our theology flow from Scripture. There is no substitute for serious study of the Word of God.
“It is a ‘God-righteousness’. Because it is such, God is its author; it is a righteousness that must elicit the divine approval; it is a righteousness that meets all the demands of his justice and therefore avails before God. . . . This is the glory of the gospel; as it is God’s power operative unto salvation so is it God’s righteousness supervening upon our sin and ruin.” (John Murray, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, NICNT, Vol. 1, p. 31).
From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church, OPC
Who or what you worship leaves its mark on you. Isaiah 6; 32:17-18 and 44:9 and 17-18, make the point, not only that idol worship is foolish, but that idolaters come to resemble what they worship. To worship an unseeing, unspeaking image is the work of someone who is spiritually blind and mute. Hosea 4:16-17, prophesying against the stubborn idolatry of Israel (which had calves set up at Dan and Bethel for worship), compares Israel to a stubborn heifer. Moses does not say so explicitly, but, as, not only the leader of Israel here, but also the writer who recorded this incident, he seems to pick language that makes a similar point. The people were “running wild” and “out of control.,” (Exodus 32:25). They turned away, making an idol in the sampe of a calf, and were “stiff-necked” (Exodus 32:8-9).
“How is Israel’s sin portrayed in Exodus 32? The description can be seen as using cattle metaphors. Sinful Israel seems to be depicted metaphorically as rebellious cows running wild and needing to be regathered.” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 367). Pursue an idol today, and you and your life run a real danger of being characterized by that idol.
1 Corinthians 13 is a call to remember and to change how you live your life.
From the Reflection on Sunday morning’s message at Trinity Presbyterian Church, OPC.
In preparing for a sermon on Exodus 32, an event of terrible idolatry, but one that proved to be the occasion for God to display his grace, I ran across the following quote:
“At the very outset, then, the covenant had been broken [by worshiping the golden calf]. The bond now had to be restored. . . . Although Moses served as a mediator, he could not die for his people. Only the other Mediator, Jesus Christ, could do that. Moses could do more than plead for his people. . . . This prayer was also heard. The Lord Himself would be with them. With that the relationship was restored from the Lord’s side. “At the very outset, then, the covenant had been broken [by worshiping the golden calf]. The bond now had to be restored. . . . Although Moses served as a mediator, he could not die for his people. Only the other Mediator, Jesus Christ, could do that. Moses could do more than plead for his people. . . . This prayer was also heard. The Lord Himself would be with them. With that the relationship was restored from the Lord’s side. Continue reading
“. . . this gift of God, even our justification and sanctification, brings us to the happiness of eternal life. Or, if you prefer, it may be thus stated,–’As the cause of death is sin, so righteousness, which we obtain through Christ, restores to us eternal life.’” (John Calvin, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, at Romans 6:23).
“The demands or duties of grace are co-extensive with the divine work of grace. The pattern of regeneration-faith, in which the Spirit inaugurates us into union with Christ, is continued throughout the whole of life. God is sanctifying the whole person, body, soul, and spirit (1 Thes. 5:23); the believer must therefore sanctify the whole person, body, soul, and spirit. God is working in believers both to will and to do of his good pleasure; believers are, therefore, to work out the significance of their union with Christian death to sin and life to God, in lives of universal obedience obedience and consecration (cf. Phil. 2:12-13).” (Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit , p. 151).
Looking at 1 Thessalonians 5 in Sunday afternoon’s Bible Study at Trinity Presbyterian Church.
As the New England Primer indicated (reflecting Paul’s teaching in Romans 5), the sin of the one man, Adam, brought death into the world. The sin of the one man, Adam, is placed on our account. We are all guilty and we are all sinners. The law of God serves like a projector, showing us our sin. But in Romans 5:16-17 the pattern of sin-condemnation-death is balanced by the pattern of righteousness-justification-life.
Sin increased, but God grace has increased even more. Paul adds a prefix (from which we get our term hyper–as in hyper-drive) to the verb increase. God’s grace is super increasing, or super-abounding. The act of righteousness of the God-man, Jesus Christ, declares us just, and gives us life. Parallel to Adam, but in contrast to him, the righteousness of Christ is placed on your account as you trust in him. Continue reading