Archive for October 2011
31 October 2011 by Matt Gumm
Pause for a moment and consider this: What would it be like for God to be humiliated?
- Become a creature
- Start life as an infant
- Experience growth
- Undertake a ministry where you receive no recognition for your proper place
- Continue in this ministry even though the wild animals have it better than you do
- Be ridiculed and rejected by your own family
- Pour your life into men whom society dismisses
- Entrust your legacy to these men, although you know all of them will turn away, and one of them will betray you unto death
- Experience death, and the wrath of the Father whom you have been one with since forever
No mere human could ever endure with humility the type of debasement Jesus chose for Himself. He volunteered, in order to glorify His Father and save a people for himself.
21 October 2011 by David Regier
Let this mind be among us now
Which was found in Christ Jesus
Who although in very nature God
Did not count equality with God
As a thing to be held, but denied Himself
As a servant He became a man
Being found in the form of man
Jesus bowed in obedience
He lay down His very life for us
Even died on the cross for us
Therefore God raised Him up
And exalted Him
As the name far above all names
That ev’ry knee should bow at His holy name
In the heavens, the earth and the grave
And ev’ry tongue confess that Jesus is Lord
To the glory of our Father’s name
To the glory of our God
So now, as beloved sons
Let us walk in obedience
As we labor forth in reverent fear
Toward salvation, which is drawing near
For our God is at work
Both to will and act
In our lives to His glorious praise
That ev’ry knee should bow at His holy name
In the heavens, the earth and the grave
And ev’ry tongue confess that Jesus is Lord
To the glory of our Father’s name
To the glory of our God
© 2010 by David P. Regier
20 October 2011 by Frank Turk
For in a priest, whose office it is to appease God’s wrath, to help the miserable, to raise up the fallen, to relieve the oppressed, mercy is especially required, and it is what experience produces in us; for it is a rare thing, for those who are always happy to sympathize with the sorrows of others. The following saying of Virgil was no doubt derived from daily examples found among men:
“Not ignorant of evil, I learn to aid the miserable.”
--John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews 2:17
Labels: Calvin as Gadfly
18 October 2011 by David
Christ Jesus, … although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself … —Philippians 2:6–8
From teaching seminary level theology to teaching children in VBS — quite a descent, that was. But the children loved it, particularly when he brought out a dummy and engaged it in elementary-level theological discussions. I imagine that would have been quite a sight, had the Deans of other seminaries, particularly the larger, more prestigious ones, gathered to watch. It certainly wasn’t his most dignified moment. But he wasn’t thinking about them, or even himself. For the sake of those children, he humbled himself.
His descent didn’t end there. There was no fancy hotel for this distinguished guest. He was given a room in house where lived a boy who, I’m afraid, was something of a nuisance. With the boy’s coaxing, the professor found himself in the dirt in the back yard one afternoon, driving trucks and bulldozers, building roads and digging holes. Of course I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think that was his preferred recreation. But he had something else in mind. While driving and digging, he talked to the boy about Jesus. He spoke of sin and the need for a savior. He asked the boy if he knew Jesus, and pressed him to look after the state of his soul. That was the one thing on his mind, and he was willing to bring his diplomas down into the dirt for the sake of the gospel.
It would be blasphemous to try to make a one-to-one correlation between any man and our Lord, but surely you can see the shadow of Christ in his humble service. And since I was that boy, I’ve often thought of it in the decades since when I read, “‘they shall call his name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’” God with us: God in the dirt, God on our level. God on my level.
17 October 2011 by Tom Chantry
In his commentary on John 16:28 Leon Morris spoke of “the great movement of salvation.” He did not mean the movement of sinners toward God, nor even the inexorable movement of God’s plan throughout history. Rather, he meant the movement of Christ through his humiliation and exaltation - His grand journey from heaven to earth to hell and back again.
We often think of Christ’s humiliation in his incarnation as having been a condescension for us, and this is true. He became one of us that He might represent us before the Father. We would do well to remember that in the rest of His humiliation He also came down to our level. In His death and burial Jesus was made like us - like me, like you, and like a multitude of other sinners. For make no mistake, the sufferings, death, and defeat which Jesus experienced were inevitable for us.
The greatness of His movement is in this: having arrived in our neighborhood, Jesus picked us up and took us along for the rest of the trip. If we are united together with Him, we are united together with His death. We underwent His remaining humiliation along with Him - the terror of death, the power of darkness, the wrath of God, and also the reality of being under the power of death - all this we have already experienced in Him!
We call this a wonderful salvation because we were going there anyway - our sins had assured us of death and hell. But of course there is more: having been united together with Him in His death, we are also united in His resurrection. Jesus picked us up on the way down, but because we died in Him rather than ourselves, we are taken back up as well. We follow Jesus in His resurrection, in His ascension, and even in His exaltation to the throne.
Because Jesus eternally possessed all the glory of the Godhead, we might well ask what He gained from this round-trip to perdition. The truth is that the benefit is all for the vagabonds he picked up along the way, sinners who would have undergone death and hell, but who never could have known resurrection and heaven.
14 October 2011 by David Regier
I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living Head.
He lives to bless me with His love,
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed,
He lives to help in time of need.
He lives triumphant from the grave,
He lives eternally to save,
He lives all glorious in the sky,
He lives exalted there on high.
He lives to grant me rich supply,
He lives to guide me with His eye,
He lives to comfort me when faint,
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly Friend,
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while He lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
-- Samuel Medley - 1775
13 October 2011 by Frank Turk
From this let us learn that, however numerous those enemies may be who conspire against the Son of God, and attempt the subversion of his kingdom, all will be unavailing, for they shall never prevail against God’s immutable purpose, but, on the contrary, they shall, by the greatness of his power, be laid prostrate at Christ’s feet. And as this prediction will not be accomplished before the last day, it must be that the kingdom of Christ will be assailed by many enemies from time to time until the end of the world; and thus by-and-bye it is said, rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
-- John Calvin, Commentary of Psalm 110:1-2
Labels: Calvin as Gadfly
12 October 2011 by Brad Williams
We know from Hebrews that "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). The simplest definition of a prophet is found in that very verse: a prophet is someone through whom God speaks. Jesus, then, is not only a prophet but the greatest prophet who ever lived. When Jesus speaks and acts, he is telling us about God.
It is very easy to come to the table with the understanding that a prophet is someone who predicts the future. After all, the prophets did this very thing, and so did Jesus himself. However, they did not do this to be mere fortune tellers, but they did this to tell us something about God. If God told them of impending judgment, it was to teach the people about God's holiness and power. If He told them of good tidings to come, it was to teach the people about His mercy and grace. Prophecy reveals who God is.
If this is true, then who did Jesus say that God is? I have dedicated my life to attempt to teach people all that Jesus teaches us about God, so it is regrettably impossible for me to do that here. I will, instead, pick from one little incident in the life of Jesus that has blown my mind from the first day I read it. In Luke 17:11-19, we learn about ten lepers who were made clean by Jesus. We also learn that only one of them came back to thank Jesus.
What does this teach us about God? It teaches us about His kindness. He healed ten men, knowing that nine of them would never thank Him for it. These nine simply asked to be well, and Jesus said, "Sure, go show yourself to the priest and be well." God does this sort of thing all the time for people who show no gratitude. He feeds the ingrates; He gives them families; He gives them breath. They never say thanks to Him; they only complain. In His mercy, God simply continues to care for them.
Hopefully, that doesn't describe you and me. Instead, we ought to identify with the Samaritan ex-leper who got a clean bill of health from God through the prophet Jesus. It's Jesus' last prophetic words to the thankful man are, "Rise and go your way, your faith has made you well." I hope we both understand that the Samaritan's faith in Christ healed him of more than leprosy. We will spend an eternity giving gratitude for that, as well we should. But look at that first command, "Rise and go your way."
Wouldn't you have expected Jesus to say, "Come and follow me." Or, "Now that you believe, come join my crew." He does not say that. He says, "Go your way." This guy who Jesus saved from leprosy and sin; he didn't have to become an apostle. He didn't have to sell his house if he had one. He didn't have to join Jesus' roving band of friends. He got to "go his way." To be sure, the Samaritan took his testimony with him, and God only knows the good things this healed man did because of his faith in the Christ. But he got to go his own way, back to his little village, and back to the quiet life of normalcy. I love that so much.
My beloved, cleaned-up, child of God and fellow companion, isn't it marvelous that Jesus has made us well simply for us to be thankful? And that a life of gratitude, lived in the way God has made us to go, is sufficient to please His prophetic majesty? What does that teach you about God, I wonder?
11 October 2011 by Matt Gumm
In his book Vintage Jesus, Mark Driscoll 1 lays out the roles prophet, priest, and king against the backdrop of our modern society in a way that helps me get my arms around what is being said.
Driscoll makes an effective argument that to magnify some of these roles to the neglect of others throws the mission of Jesus out of balance. He uses three examples:
- Prophet + King - Priest = Jesus of Shallow Fundamentalism
The strength of fundamentalism is its keen awareness of Jesus’ prophetic role as bold truth-teller and commander of repentance, along with his role as king who rules and reigns in all authority. However, they are also prone not to appreciate fully the priestly role of Jesus. As a result, God seems primarily cold, distant, stern, harsh, and even cruel.
- Prophet + Priest - King = Jesus of Fluffy Evangelicalism
In this form of religion, people know that Jesus speaks the truth as their prophet and loves them as their priest. So when they sin, they know that Jesus will forgive them and still love them. But they still rule over their own life. When they need help, they read the Bible or ask Jesus to serve them. Practically, they don’t see Jesus ruling over them, but rather coming alongside them to help them to achieve their objectives.
- Priest + King - Prophet = Jesus of Social Liberalism
Prone to understand Jesus as our priest, who is filled with grace, love, mercy, and tolerant patience, as well as our king, who rules over all peoples and seeks to extend to them grace, love, and mercy. However, the weakness of typical liberal Christianity is that it fails to fully appreciate the hard-edged role of Jesus as prophet. The sad result is that Jesus is seen as someone who would never offend us, raise his voice, hurt our feelings, speak harshly, or command individuals to repent with a sense of urgency because he is only infinitely patient, tolerant, and understanding.I think Driscoll’s modern examples hammer home the point that the Catechism wants us to see: it isn’t just about believing in a Jesus, it is about believing in the Jesus—the one from the Bible; the one who takes care of all the things that are needed by us for life and godliness; the one who can save to the uttermost.
- Live with it. He wrote a book that said something useful. That's why the comments are open - leave your comments there. ↩
10 October 2011 by Daniel
When Samuel came to anoint David king over Israel, he looked at Eliab, David's older brother and thought that surely the LORD’S anointed was standing before Him (c.f. 1 Samuel 16:6). I want you to notice how, in that passage we see Samuel coming to physically anoint with oil the person whom God had already "anointed" as king. That is, David did not become God's anointed when Samuel poured the oil on him, he was already God's anointed, the pouring of the oil was symbolic of what was already a reality.
We understand the descending of the Holy Spirit upon our Lord in the Jordan in the same way. Jesus did not become God's anointed (The Christ) when the Holy Spirit anointed Him (i.e. descended upon Him and remained), rather when the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, it testified to John the Baptist - the prophet the Lord had chosen to announce the Christ - that this man, Jesus, was the promised Messiah (the Christ).
Didn't God command Moses to anoint Aaron and his sons as priests, and again did He not command Samuel to anoint first Saul, and then David as king over Israel? We should see in this a common thread - God anoints those whom He intends to lead Israel - these two offices come together in the Christ, our High Priest and King.
Jesus is called the Christ because God has anointed Him, and no one else, to be the High Priest of His people - reconciling them to God through His finished, sacrificial work on Calvary. He now rules over God's people as their King. He was anointed by God to fulfill these offices, and came into the world to do (and has done!) just that.
07 October 2011 by Tom Chantry
"Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?"
With those words of invocation, Elisha opened a window into his own squeamishness at being rather suddenly thrust into the role of the head prophet. Anyone who has been asked to fill the shoes of a legend can relate to his discomfort; Elisha fully expected every Israelite to look him up and down skeptically and say, “You’re not Elijah!”
Elijah's departure illustrates what is, ultimately, the failing of every leader; no matter how effective, their time eventually comes. It was the failing of Israel’s leaders also - and not only of the prophets. The faithful of Israel must have watched with growing unease the onset of Eli’s old age, knowing as they did the wretchedness of his sons. And who envies the young man who had to follow in King David’s footsteps, with his melancholy plea: “And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in.”
The greats of the earth have this in common with the rest of us: they die - each and every one. Except…
…our Mediator is “fully furnished with all authority and ability, to execute the offices of prophet, priest, and king of his church, in the estate both of his humiliation and exaltation.” We understand what that means, right? Christ also died, but having died, he rose. He also left, but having left, he sat down at the Father’s right hand - to do what? Simply to continue being our Mediator. He is the everlasting Prophet, the immortal Priest, and the eternal King. We will never need to say goodbye and sadly turn our attention to His less suitable replacement.
As the Psalmist wrote:
Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
06 October 2011 by Neil
Quick now. What are the names of the twelve spies that Moses sent into the land of Canaan?
How many did you get? Only two, right? Caleb and Joshua.
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them.” 3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the people of Israel. 4 And these were their names: From the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur; 5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori; 6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; 7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph; 8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun; 9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu; 10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi; 11 from the tribe of Joseph (that is, from the tribe of Manasseh), Gaddi the son of Susi; 12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli; 13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael; 14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi; 15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi. 16 These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. --- Numbers 13:1-16aThere aren’t any fellows by the name of Joshua in this list. But there is a guy named Hoshea the son of Nun.
In the Hebrew language, Hoshea carried several flavours of meaning: avenger, the one who saves, protector, liberator, deliverer, helper, preserver, rescuer… you get the picture: Hoshea was your essential self-reliant human action hero.
Hoshea’s parents apparently had high hopes for him. And they may not have given him this name as a baby either. It may have been a name that was given to a strapping teenager, as a descriptor of his physical strength or character. It's almost comical when you consider that Hoshea was born in the land of Egypt, born as a slave to slaves. His one and only destiny was to carry bricks until his back gave out and he was no more use. His life could only be short and brutish.
But that name… Hoshea was the very spirit of defiance and hope for those who couldn’t dare to hope. He was the definitive strongman. Even if he wasn't strong, there would have been irresistible pressure to grow into the role that the name promised.
Moses didn’t like it.
These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua. --- Numbers 13:16You were right after all, but you knew that.
Moses said "no way! you don't save. Only God saves."
Hoshea was no longer. Joshua took his place. In the Hebrew, all the meaning of Hoshea is preserved in Joshua, but something has been added. Joshua has these flavours of meaning: God saves, God avenges, God protects, God liberates, God delivers, God helps, God preserves, God rescues… you get the picture again. A somewhat different focus than Hoshea, eh? The slave-wannabe-strongman disappears, and is replaced by a living and walking reminder that man's strength is insufficient, and that salvation and rescue come only from God.
And what is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Joshua? Ἰησοῦς. Jesus. That's quite a coincidence, except God doesn't do coincidence.
05 October 2011 by Frank Turk
We should not overlook them.
The title “Prophet” is explicitly mentioned by Isaiah when he says this: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," (Is 6:1-2) We see that the Spirit anoints him to be the one who comes and calls out to people and give them a personal, genuine account of his Father’s grace – and not in the usual way. He is different than others who have been made prophets. He was anointed not just for the sake of his own teaching, but for the sake of his whole Body, the Church, so that the Spirit might work through all of it at all times in order that the Gospel might be preached with divine effectiveness.
But this is also certain: Jesus did this so completely, so perfectly, that an end was put to all prophecies – and those who are not contented with the Gospel are therefore tacking on something unnecessary for it, and run down the real Gospel’s authority, when they do so.
Remember that the Voice which shook Heaven when it said, "This is my beloved Son, hear him" gave him a special privilege above all other teachers. But then this special privilege is passed down fom the head to all its members, as Joel foretold: "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28). Paul said, he was "made unto us wisdom," (1 Cor. 1:30) and again, that in him "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," (Col. 2:3) meaning that there is nothing not worth knowing about him or from him, and that when you have faith in him, you may know his true character and all the blessing which that brings to us. That’s why Paul says, "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified," (1 Cor. 2:2).
And most importantly: it is a violation of God’s order to go beyond the simplicity of the Gospel. The purpose of dignity in the title “prophet” in Christ is to teach us that in the doctrine which he delivered is a wisdom which, in substance, is perfect in all its parts.
-- John Calvin, Institutes, Vol II, 15.2
04 October 2011 by Neil
My daddy has a will. He also had a Saint Bernard dog whom he loved with a great love, but alas, the dog passed away a couple years ago. I am therefore 80% certain that I and the rest of daddy's descendants have since been put back in his will. A will is prepared by a living person (well, duh), specifying how the particulars of the net assets and benefits associated with him will be distributed after his death. I say net, because any debts against the estate must first be cleared up. The will writer is called the testator.
Every will should name an Executor, and the choice is important. The Executor is someone whom the testator trusts, who hopefully thinks like the testator, in charge of proving that the outstanding bills have been paid, and then ensuring that the estate is distributed in accordance with the deceased testator's wishes. If there is no Executor, or a poorly chosen one, then the last will and testament won't be carried out as the dearly departed would have wished
Although there is a completely valid sense in which the new covenant is an agreement between the Father and the Son, there is another sense, just as valid, in which the new covenant (or at least part of it) is a soliloquy. When we listen in, we hear something like, “This is my last will and testament...”.
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. -- Hebrews 8:15-17 - ESVFor good measure, let's also read it in the version that Paul and Moses used:
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. -- Hebrews 8:15-17 - KJVThe writer of Hebrews is telling us very plainly that the new covenant (aka new testament) is a will. Repeating, the new covenant is the last will and testament of a living person, a person who expected to die, and in fact did die. Which person? There can be only one answer: Jesus Christ.
Well you know the next question. Who could Christ select as his trusted Executor, someone who would follow the specifications of the new covenant exactly, who had the power to distribute the benefits of Jesus' flawless life and sacrificial death, and who would prove that all outstanding debts had been paid? Rephrased, who could ensure that no sheep were snatched from Christ's hand? (John 10:27-30)
Very cool answer... Christ selected himself. After he died, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, ascended to heaven and took on the job of Executor (or, Mediator) of his own will, the new covenant. No one else could do it. Jesus Christ the Son of God ensured that the benefits of his life and death (i.e. imputed righteousness and an eternal inheritance) are given to all his sheep. None are lost.
What mere human ever had the power to live after dying in order to dispense eternal benefits as the Executor of his own will? The Mediator had to be God.
03 October 2011 by David Regier
I love how the Catechism gives this question a simple, exact answer with a single, exact Scripture reference. It is written so economically, it's easy to miss how much is packed into it.
Of course, there's a who: Jesus (He). He what? Saves. Saves whom? His people. From what?
And here, I want to stop for just a moment. Just so you (and I) grasp onto the truth. Jesus saves His people from their sins. If you are one of His people, He saves you from your sins. Your sins. Not somebody else's sins, but your sins. Not your wife's, not your husband's, not your boss's, not your dad's, not your mom's, not your kid's, and not your dog's.
Feel free to deal with Him on that level for a day or two until you look at why our Mediator is called Christ.
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