Category Archives: reflection

The Church: Walking before the Lord

“This covenant [with Abraham], initiated, established, defined in promises and commands, and even guaranteed to be everlasting, by the sole sovereignty of the Lord God Almighty, is nevertheless a union of God with his people. It is the same union that comes to expression in the New Testament phrase ‘in Christ.’ This is the essence of the covenant concept, the essence of all true religion. The covenant God made with the man from Ur is the union God has established with his own in Christ Jesus, himself the epitome of covenant as the incarnate God-and-man, Immanuel. There is no more glorious concept given to men than this: God with us!” (John J. Mitchell, “Abram’s Understanding of the Lord’s Covenant,” The Westminster Theological Journal, XXXII, No. 1, November 1969, p. 48).

“The ‘walking before Je­hovah’ pictures the con­stant presence of Jeho­vah to his [Abram’s] mind as walking behind him, and supervising him. The thought of the divine approval furnish­es the motive for obedi­ence. Also the force of El-Shaddai must be no­ticed. What shapes his conduct is not the gen­eral thought of God as moral ruler, but specifi­cally the thought of El-Shaddai, who fills his life with miraculous grace.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, pp. 102–103).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

What Simeon Saw

“Simeon’s words give powerful expression to the thought that Simeon, having beheld Christ in fulfilment of the divine word concerning his life, has fully performed his service. His watch is concluded with the arrival of the One for whom he was waiting.” As Simeon addresses Mary, “Here the cross is indeed virtually in view, and Mary is standing before it, sorrowing at what would befall her son.” (Ned B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Luke to Christ, pages 53 & 56).

“Christ was indeed a ‘light to lighten the Gentiles.’ Without him they were sunk in gross darkness and superstition. They knew not the way of life. They worshipped the works of their own hands. Their wisest philosophers were utterly ignorant in spiritual things. ‘Professing themselves to be wise they became fools.’ (Rom. i.22.) The Gospel of Christ was like sun-rise to Greece and Rome, and the whole heathen world. The light which it let in on men’s minds on the subject of religion, was as great as the change from night to day.” (J. C. Ryle, , Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Vol. 2, p. 68).

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

Rejoice with the Shepherds

B11chreveoc“All salvation, all truth in regard to man, has its eternal foundation in the triune God Himself. It is this triune God who here reveals Himself as the everlasting reality, from whom all truth proceeds, whom all truth reflects, be it the little streamlet of Paradise or the broad river of the New Testament losing itself again in the ocean of eternity. After this nothing higher can come. All the separate lines along which through the ages revelation was carried, have converged and met at a single point. The seed of the woman and the Angel of Jehovah are become one in the Incarnate Word.” (Geerhardus Vos, “The Idea of Biblical Theology,” Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, p. 13).

“The shepherds had to return to their flocks but they returned with a song in their hearts and carried the joy of adoration with them. They really felt they could take care of their flock again because the praise of God no longer conflicted with their earthly occupations.” (S. G.. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 3, p. 326).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

 

The Sun of Righteousness

sun_14658cMalachi 4 is the last word of God in the Old Testament before 400 years of silence are broken by the angel Gabriel’s message to Zechariah in the temple, telling him that he would be the father of the one to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.

Malachi 4 contains a warning of coming judgment, both in the near and more distant future:

“Nor, again, have we any right to exclude the whole period from the destruction of Jerusalem till the last judgment, as if in the great book of history only the first and last leaf were written with the finger of God, and the rest left vacant.” (E. W. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, on Malachi 4:1).

Geerhardus Vos notes (The Eschatology of the Old Testament, p. 162) regarding Malachi:

“The judgment aspect of Jehovah’s advent—the coming is condensed into the one ‘day’ par excellence and this one day assumed the character of a veritable dies irae (‘day of wrath’) (3:2; 4:1). . . . Side by side with this retributory aspect, the judgment assumes the form of a process of purification resembling the method whereby silver and gold are extracted from the dross adhering to them.”

“Malachi shows that despite God’s mercy in choosing Israel over Edom (1:1–5), Israel’s response to exhortations to faithfulness has been negative. . . . If Israel will repent of its many sins, God will bless the people again in the future (3:5–18). Judgment is coming, but the faithful will be spared (4:16).” G. K Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 85).

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

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

Alive in Christ!

alive_12301c“[I]n Paul there is no more important conclusion about the Christian life, nothing about its structure that is more basic than this consideration: the Christian life in its entirety is to be subsumed under the category of resurrection. Pointedly, the Christian life is resurrection life. . . . It is in this light that statements like Galatians 2:20 (‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’)—autobiographical, but surely applicable to every Christian—ought to be read.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., By Faith Not By Sight, p. 77).

“This verse is the key verse of the Epistle to the Galatians; it expresses the central thought of the Epistle. The Judaizers attempted to supplement the saving work of Christ by the merit of their own obedience to the law. ‘That,’ says Paul, ‘is impossible; Christ will do everything or nothing: earn your salvation if your obedience to the law is perfect, or else trust wholly to Christ’s completed work; you cannot do both; you cannot combine merit and grace; if justification even in slightest measure is through human merit, then Christ died in vain.’” (Machen’s Notes on Galatians, p. 161).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

Christ Gave Himself for You

C16year27ecPaul’s terse greetings to the churches of Galatia have a reason.

“May God send us men who are not deceived, men who will respond to the forces of unbelief and compromise…. The Epistle to the Galatians is a polemic, a fighting Epistle from beginning to end. What a fire it kindled at the time of the Reformation! May it kindle another fire in our day—not a fire that will destroy any fine or noble or Christian thing, but a fire of Christian love in hearts grown cold!” (J. Gresham Machen, Machen’s Notes on Galatians, p. 8).

“[T]he new creation is that of Christ’s resurrection. For this reason the death of Christ is a turning point in the mode of existence of the old aeon. . . . Not only does Christ’s life in the flesh come to an end, but an all-important and all-embracing Transition takes place, namely, from the existence of the old to that of the new, from the old aeon to the new creation. By dying Christ has snatched his people away from the present aeon (Gal. 1:4).” (Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, p. 66).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church, OPC.