Category Archives: reflection

Doing the Father’s Will

“[N]ot the thought of man’s welfare, but that of the glory of God was supreme in our Lord’s teaching concerning the kingdom. While emphasizing this, we must not forget, however, that to him this thought was inseparably connected with the idea of the greatest conceivable blessedness for man. That God should reign was in his view so much the only natural, normal state of things, that he could not conceive of any true happiness apart from it, nor of it without a concomitant state of happiness for those who give to God the first and highest place…. That God himself regards the kingdom in this light appears from the fact of his having prepared it for his own from eternity, Matt. 25:24.The preparation from eternity shows, that the kingdom is the supreme embodiment of the divine gracious purpose. Hence also the kingdom is said to be ‘inherited.’ Because the kingdom thus includes all that is truly valuable and precious, our Lord in connection with the kingdom parables pronounces the disciples blessed who see and hear the truth concerning it. In doing this they are brought into immediate contact with the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises. What many prophets and righteous men in vain desired to see and hear, is theirs in actual possession, Matt. 13:16, 17.” (Geerhardus Vos,The Kingdom of God and the Church, pages 70–71).

Jesus has a somber warning near the end of Sermon on the Mount, but he also points you to the new life he offers in his kingdom.

Quote from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church, OPC

Thornbushes and Grapes

“Righteousness must be fruit, the organic product of the life and character, exponential of what is within, Matt. 7:16, 20; 21:43.” (Geerhardus Vos, The Kingdom of God and the Church, p. 62).

“[N]othing is more difficult than to counterfeit virtue.” (John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospels).

“Those who want to enter the kingdom must. . . return to the Father with a confession of sin (Luke 15:18), and go through the narrow gate and walk down the narrow path (Matt. 7:14). Those who really do this are enabled to do so b y God himself. For human beings are by nature evil (7:11). Out of their hearts come nothing but wickedness (15:19). Like a bad tree, they cannot produce good fruit (7:17ff.). Accordingly, if there is to be good fruit, the tree must be made good first, something only God can do (19:26).” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 47).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

Take the Road that Leads to Life

In Matthew 7:13–14 Jesus sets before you two different ways, two paths, two roads. The choice you make has eternal consequences.

“To such an eschatalogical death-apoleia (‘perdition’ [or ‘destruction’]) refer Matt. 7: 12; 10:28; John 17:12. This of course describes far more than a state of alienation from God. It expresses the absolute, eternal ruin awaiting the evil-doers at the end.” (Geerhardus Vos, The Self-Disclosure of Jesus, p. 265).

“The whole of future bliss is concisely summarized in the word ‘life’. . . . By the term ‘life’ Jesus means authentic, imperishable life.” Herman Ridderbos The Coming of the Kingdom, p. 275).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

The Golden Rule

“He [our Lord] once more made the voice of the law the voice of the living God, who is present in every commandment, so absolute in his demands, so personally interested in man’s conduct, so all-observant, that the thought of yielding to him less than the whole inner life, the heart, the soul, the mind, the strength, can no longer be tolerated. Thus quickened by the spirit of God’s personality, the law becomes in our Lord’s hands a living organism, in which soul and body, spirit and letter, the greater and smaller commandments are to be distinguished, and which admits to being reduced to great comprehensive principles in whose light the weight and purport of all single precepts are to be intelligently appreciated.” (Geerhardus Vos, The Kingdom of God and the Church, pages 61–62)

“This is a golden rule indeed! It does not merely forbid all petty malice and revenge, all cheating and over-reaching. It does much more. It settles a hundred difficult points, which in a world like this are continually arising between man and man. It prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases. It sweeps the whole debatable ground with one might principle.” (J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Matthew, p. 66)

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

Your ‘I’ Problem

“Still more seriously, behind the passive verbs lies the judgment of God, who maintains impartial justice. ‘You will be judged’ looks beyond social criticism to God’s ultimate verdict.” (R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 275).

“See, however, 18:15–17… for a proper desire to correct a ‘brother who sins.’ The balancing of such pastorally responsible criticism against the dangers set out in this pericope calls for a rare degree of self-awareness combined with unselfish concern for others.” (R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 274).

“Self is always at the back of it, and it is always a manifestation of self-righteousness, a feeling of superiority, and a feeling that we are all right while others are not. That then leads to censoriousness, and a spirit that is always ready to express itself in a derogatory manner.” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 167).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

Today in Paradise

“One thief was saved that no sinner might despair, but only one, that no sinner might presume.” (J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke, p. 471).

“Not the unconfident word of a crucified malefactor, but the confident statement, the absolutely binding promise, of the Messiah is conclusive evidence for us that this corrupt son of Abraham was the object of the favor of grace. Christ accepts him. . . . He [the thief] surrendered himself. To whom? To Christ. By what means? By the hearing of the preached word. Small bits of the revelation of Christ Jesus had fallen into his ‘heart.’ Was it not a beautiful thing that he joined himself with the very last things which he himself heard and saw in Jesus?” (K. Schilder, Christ Crucified, pages 320–321).

“That which is striking about Jesus’ pronouncement is, in the first place, the absolute power and authority with which he bestows the partaking of the heavenly glory, and in the second place, the expression, ‘with me.’ It is the communion with Jesus, whom the malefactor confessed openly as the Christ, which guarantees salvation to him immediately after death.” (Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, pp. 276-277).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

In the Midst of a Pandemic Your Heavenly Father Cares for You

One of my sisters, Mary Bonner, has reflected in a blog on God’s care as she journeyed (and continues to journey) through cancer (see http://bonnermom.blogspot.com). The artwork on that site was painted by her daughter, Rachel Arlena Heaton, and is reproduced here with permission from both.

“This reliance of faith is not confined to the critical moments of life, it is to be the abiding, characteristic inner disposition of the disciple with reference to every concern. To trust God for food and raiment is as truly the mark of the disciple in the kingdom as to depend on him for eternal salvation.” (Geerhardus Vos, The Kingdom Of God and The Church, p. 97).

“[In this book] I’m going to reinforce a message that may sound counterintuitive in our world: anxiety is a spiritual tool in the hands of a mighty God. . . . [Y]our focus will fall on the status of your soul before an all-powerful, soft-voiced shepherd, leading you moment by moment, calling you to trust, pulling your neck gently with his shepherd’s crook, bringing you back into the fold, fixing your ears on his voice.” (Pierce Taylor Hibbs, Struck Down But Not Destroyed: Living Faithfully with Anxiety, p. 3).

“These [early disciples] were the people for whom the petition ‘Give us today the bread we need for the coming day’ (v. 11) rang true each day, and it was the confident offering of this prayer to a ‘Father in heaven’ that was their essential safeguard against worry.” (R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 266).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC