Category Archives: reflection

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.

The Garden-City

Rv2201“The difference between day and night, between the Sabbath and the workdays, has been suspended. Time is charged with the eternity of God. Space is full of his presence. Eternal becoming is wedded to immutable being. Even the contrast between heaven and earth is gone. For all things that are in heaven and on earth have been gathered up in Christ as head (Eph. 1:10). All creatures will then live and move and have their being in God [Acts 17:28], who is all in all [1 Cor. 15:28], who reflects all his attributes in the mirror of his works and glorifies himself in them.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, pp. 729–730).

“In that life [in the new heavens and earth], religion—fellowship with God—is primary and central. But that fellowship will be richer, deeper, and more blessed than it ever was or could be on earth, since it will not be disturbed by any sin, or interrupted by any distance, or mediated by either Scripture or nature.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 722).

“Revelation is designed not only to assure us of God’s final purposes, but also to increase our longing for him and the realization of his purpose. The sureness of that final bliss comforts the saints during times of temptation and persecution. It purifies our desires by directing them to God and his glory. And then the tawdry counterfeits of this world are seen to be what they are. We have eyes to see the beauties and joys of this creation as pointers to God and his goodness (Acts 14:17), rather than foolishly perverting created things into idols (Rom. 1:18–23).” (Vern S. Poythress, The Returning King, p. 192).

The blessings John portrays are not only future, they are truly, though not yet completely, ours now. We already have benefits from the new heavens and earth, though we do not yet possess its fullness. As you trust the One who hung on a tree, you can taste of the tree of life. As you respond to the one calls you to come to him, you drink of the living water, and in turn, as part of the church which is connected to its heavenly head, you become a source of living water by the power of the Spirit whom he has poured out. As you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father! You will serve him in the new Jerusalem. Worship and serve him today.

Come to the garden-city. Eat from the tree of life. Drink the living water. See the very face of God in Christ and live!

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.

Don’t Refuse to Repent!

repent_16175c“Neither the backwash of sin’s bitter aftertaste nor the firstfruits of its lethal harvest can soften hearts of stone. Only God’s Spirit, applying the gospel of grace, can turn stony hearts into hearts of tender flesh, but the bowls show us a moment in time when the Spirit’s gentle and irresistible wooing is complete, the Son’s sheep have been gathered, and the Father’s patience has waited long enough.” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p. 239).

“It is not just Rome or some later great capital of evil that is decimated but all the world’s cultural, political, economic, and sociological centers. They fall because they are part of the Babylonian world system.” (G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, p. 843).

Quotes use in the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.

Why?

hb_19.73.209“We infer that God’s secret plan for history lies hidden in the sealed scroll; so when the Lamb takes the scroll from his hand and begins to break its seals, we look though John’s eyes for answers to our questions, When? and What? and How long? Instead of answering our questions, the prolonged process of preparing to unroll the scroll presents a series of portraits that answer the question, Why, if the Lion-Lamb has conquered, does the world continue to be a place of evil, violence, and misery?” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, page 117).

A quote used in the Reflection on Revelation 6 for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.

Things Are Not What They Seem

clouds_13852ac“Paradox is vivid in the letter to Smyrna, one of Jesus’ two blameless churches. The Smyrnan Christians are poor, yet they are rich. Their opponents claim to be Jews but are Satan’s synagogue. The victor who is faithful to the extremity of death is promised a crown of life and safety from the second death. This promise is secured by the One who is Israel’s eternal refuge (‘first and last,’ echoing Isa. 44:6; 48:12) and yet is also the suffering savior who ‘was dead and has come to life’ (Rev. 2:8).” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p. 73).

“[T]he churches are to read and reread the book in their assembly so that they may continually be reminded of God’s real, new world, which stands in opposition to the old, fallen system in which they presently live. Such a continual reminder will cause them to realize that their home is not in this old world but in the new world portrayed parabolically in the heavenly visions.” (Gregory Beale, The Book of Revelation, NIGTC, p. 175).

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