Category Archives: reflection

Kingdoms in Conflict

Nations jockey for military and economic influence. Matthew 8:28–34 describes a far greater conflict—one that impacts you.

“When Christ appeared on earth, this ‘prince’ [Satan] concentrated his power against him, not only by assaulting him personally and persecuting him relentlessly, but also by surrounding him on all sides with demonic forces in order to thus break down and resist this work. The (demon-)possessed in the New Testament were not ordinary sick folk. . . . The exceptional features of the (demon-)possessed are that out of their mouths speaks a subject other than themselves, that this subject recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, is totally hostile toward him, and leaves the patient only at Jesus’ command (Matt. 8:29, 31; Mark 1:26, 34; 3:11; Luke 4:34, 41; 8:2, 30; Acts 16:17–18; 19:15).” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3, pages 189–190).

“Jesus does not negotiate with the demons. Nor is their entry into the swine their undoing, but rather, the (provisional) self-maintenance of the demons. For their purpose and work is the destruction of God’s creation. Jesus’ compliance with their request is due to the fact, we think, that also in Jesus’ opinion ‘the time’ of the torment of the demons has indeed not yet come.” (Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, p. 112).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC

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.