Archive for April 2012

How He Loves Us

17 April 2012 by Frank Turk

Q. 66. What is that union which the elect have with Christ?
A. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God's grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.

Q. 67. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God's almighty power and grace, whereby (out of his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto) he does, in his accepted time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ, by his Word and Spirit; savingly enlightening their minds, renewing and powerfully determining their wills, so as they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able freely to answer his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein.



A Reasonable Question

10 April 2012 by Frank Turk

Q. 66. What is that union which the elect have with Christ? 
A. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God's grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.

Our faithful friend JIBBS once asked a question which we'll cover here for the sake of the catechism:
Dumb question:

Does God intend to save the non-elect? If so, then why does Paul go to such lengths to teach the doctrine of election? Why did Jesus anger all the folks in the synagogue with his teaching on election recorded in Luke 4?

If not, then in what sense is the "offer/command" distinction to the non-elect germane to this discussion? Is God insincere? Schizophrenic? It can't be both ways.
I think the answer to this question comes in three parts:

[1] the Definition of the doctrine of election and what it means to the Christian.
[2] An examination of Luke 4 (briefly)
[3] A consideration of the “offer/command” to repent.

To answer [1], I would call “da bomb” on the subject of this doctrine, what J.C. Ryle wrote on this subject, linked here for your convenience.

That’s good reading on what election ought to mean and what it ought not to mean – meaning, how much and what kind of influence should the doctrine of election have on the way we think about theology. I’d give the HT for it here, but I can’t remember who steered me to that essay or where they did it.

Given Ryle’s extensive notes on what the doctrine of election is useful for, let’s look at Luke 4 briefly. Here’s what JIBBS is talking about:
    And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
    "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
       because he has anointed me
          to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
       and recovering of sight to the blind,
          to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

    And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

    And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself.' What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well."

    And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."

    When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.
It’s that highlighted part which JIBBS is referencing, and JIBBS’ question is, “why did the Jews get all bent out of shape when Jesus preached to them about the doctrine of election here?”

I think the answer is, “because Jesus is telling them that God’s choice to save is not as small as their picture of what God’s choice looks like, but sadly God’s choice doesn’t include them.” See – in this passage, the people in Jesus’ home town demanded signs to substantiate His claim that He is here to fulfill the prophet Isaiah (sadly, He didn’t get the verse numbers in there), and Jesus’ reply is somewhat harsh. He says, in effect, that God saves those whom He will -- God is not at the beck and call of men.

That’s monergism, amen? God saves whom He will. He doesn’t save because of what family you belong to – Zarephath had no family, no pedigree. And He doesn’t save based on what you do – because Naaman was an enemy of Israel, and a keeper of Israelites as slaves. So the Jews in Nazareth couldn’t demand salvation from God – they had no basis to do so.

So what’s up with [3] then? If Jesus is here saying, “you cannot demand salvation from God,” how can we take the offer to forgive inherent in the command to repent seriously? Does it mean that God is somehow teasing men with His offer?

I think this forgets that the monergistic view is that salvation is God’s work alone. Solo Christo, sola gratia, sola fide. In that order.

If we asked JIBBS, “Hey JIBBSy: since man is T-TULIP Totally depraved, where does God get off handing us the Law? If we will not obey it, isn’t God just teasing us?” And JIBBS, being of a sound mind and body [sic], would say, “God gives us the Law for a two-fold reason: the first is to prove to us we are lawless men, and the second is to prove He is a Holy God.” And if JIBBS had had his coffee that morning, he might add: “And lest we forget, Ps 119 tells us that God’s word is also given to us for our own good as instruction, and Lev 19 underscores that by noting that the basis of lawful treatment of others is love – the way we know how to treat each other is by asking the question, ‘does this action demonstrate love?’”

JIBBS would “get it” about God and the Law – man can’t keep the Law, but that doesn’t mean God is a shyster or a bully for providing it. God is a provider -- El Shaddai, Yahovah Jirah. So why does JIBBS (though not only JIBBS) not get it when it comes to the repent/forgive aspect of what God does?

I think it is because JIBBS is concerned that God giving us things which we cannot do for ourselves is somehow stingy. If God makes an offer we cannot take up, isn’t that a tease?

Here’s the problem with that question: while it is ultimately true that we cannot take up the offer, it is not because we cannot see the choice or recognize its value: it is because we are not willing to take it up, and that’s a whole other ball of wax.

Let’s imagine me for a second – a guy of average height who is overweight. My choices to eat, because I live in America, are pretty wide open – I could eat a healthy diet which includes only 6 ounces of meat each day and less than 1800 calories (to maintain a decent weight; it’ll take less than 1200 to get down to 170 – that and a miracle) and like 50 servings of vegetables, but what I choose to do is eat Cheeseburgers, and Italian subs, and french-fries with extra salt, and KFC, and that wicked gravy on the biscuits, and sausage, and eggs, and … well, you get the idea: left to my own devices, eventually I’ll look like the Kingpin or (more likely) Homer Simpson.

So my doctor intervenes – he tells me, “cent: dude, if you don’t lose this weight, you’re going to die young and leave your family fatherless and husbandless. And dude – your kids are great and your wife [if you’ll forgive me] is hot. Don’t die young – eat right and lose the weight. Here’s a diet you could follow – and you just have to ballpark your calorie count each day. Do this because it is good for you.”

So I read the diet, and he’s right – I’ll bet that would be better for me. But after trying it for one day, I am insanely hungry. Just one McD 99-cent cheeseburger isn’t going to break the bank. But two weeks later, I’m up 2 lbs.

Now, listen: we have to ask ourselves: is it the Doctor’s fault that I will not follow the diet? His diet is good, and for those who follow it, it achieves the right end. But he gave it to me, and while I can agree that if the really, really fat guy over there followed it he wouldn’t have to wear a size “Goodyear” with a digital sign on the posterior, I think I’m not that fat and what’s a pound a week every week until I die at 53 and they have to cut a garage door into the living room to lift me out with a Bobcat?

It’s not the Doctor’s fault I will not follow the diet. I will not follow the diet – I choose based on what I like and who I really am. I may look like a slightly overweight middle-aged guy, but I am really a giant house of flubber in a 7-X sweat suit just waiting to arrive.

Man’s inability is not a prohibition: it is a choice. Man eats cheeseburgers rather than spinach salads because man likes cheeseburgers and doesn’t like spinach salads. That’s who man is.

And in exactly the same way, God’s offer to save men – that is, to forgive them, to accept repentance and return forgiveness for repentance – is a choice. But it is not man’s choice. It is God’s choice to give man something he lacks.

And that’s not the offer: That’s the salvation for men who refuse the offer. It’s the consequences of what God will do in spite of man’s bad, um, taste.

The consequences of the offer – that is, someone is actually and finally saved – is not the same as the act of offering. The reason is that all men, instinctively, refuse the offer at face value. And if God was only concerned about Justice and Holiness and Wrath, He could commence with the fireworks. But God is also concerned with Mercy and Love – and that means He’s not only concerned with offering forgiveness, but He is also committed to making salvation and actually forgiving. He is going to save – even those who, when they first hear about this salvation, would rather kill the messenger. You know: like Paul.

The offer is one thing: the actual saving is another. God is merciful and kind to offer forgiveness for repentance; God is loving and generous to save those who even refuse the offer because God seems like spinach salad to these cheeseburger eaters. And for those who are curious, I’m glad that God changed me from a guy who loves moral cheeseburgers to a guy who loves moral spinach salads instead. Because I recognize what I used to be as compared to what I am now.

Thanks for asking a reasonable question. I hope that’s a reasonable answer.

J.C Ryle on Election

09 April 2012 by Frank Turk

Q. 66. What is that union which the elect have with Christ? 
A. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God's grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.

Election according to the Bible is a very different thing from what [some] suppose it to be. It is most intimately connected with other truths of equal importance with itself, and from these truths it ought never to be separated. Truths which God has joined together no man should ever dare to put asunder.

(a) For one thing, the doctrine of Election was never meant to destroy man’s responsibility for the state of his own soul. The Bible everywhere addresses men as free-agents, as beings accountable to God, and not as mere logs, and bricks, and stones. It is false to say that it is useless to tell men to cease to do evil, to learn to do well, to repent, to believe, to turn to God, to pray. Everywhere in Scripture it is a leading principle that man can lose his own soul, that if he is lost at last it will be his own fault, and his blood will be on his own head. The same inspired Bible which reveals this doctrine of Election is the Bible which contains the words, “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” — “Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life.” — “This is the condemnation, that light is come into tire world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (Ezek. xviii. 31; John v. 40; iii. 19.) The Bible never says that sinners miss heaven because they are not Elect, but because they “neglect the great salvation,” and because they will not repent and believe. The last judgment will abundantly prove that it is not the want of God’s Election, so much as laziness, the love of sin, unbelief, and unwillingness to come to Christ, which ruins the souls that are lost.

(b) For another thing, the doctrine of Election was never meant to prevent the fullest, freest offer of salvation to every sinner. In preaching and trying to do good we are warranted and commanded to set an open door before every man, woman, and child, and to invite every one to come in. We know not who are God’s Elect, and whom he means to call and convert. Our duty is to invite all. To every unconverted soul without exception we ought to say, “God loves you, and Christ has died for you.” To everyone we ought to say, “Awake, — repent, — believe, — come to Christ, — be converted, — turn, — call upon God, — strive to enter in, — come, for all things are ready.” To tell us that none will hear and be saved except God’s Elect, is quite needless. We know it very well. But to tell us that on that account it is useless to offer salvation to any at all, is simply absurd. Who are we that we should pretend to know who will be found God’s Elect at last? No! indeed. Those who now seem first may prove last, and those who seem last may prove first in the judgment day. We will invite all, in the firm belief that the invitation will do good to some. We will prophesy to the dry bones, if God commands us. We will offer life to all, though many reject the offer. In so doing we believe that we walk in the steps of our Master and His Apostles.

(c) For another thing, Election can only be known by its fruits. The Elect of God can only be discerned from those who are not Elect by their faith and, life. We cannot climb up into the secret of God’s eternal counsels. We cannot read the book of life. The fruits of the Spirit, seen and manifested in a man’s conversation, are the only grounds on which we can ascertain that lie is one of God’s Elect. Where the marks of God’s Elect can be seen, there, and there only, have we any warrant for saying “this is one of the Elect.” — How do I know that yon distant ship on the horizon of the sea has any pilot or steersman `on board? I cannot with the best telescope discern anything but her masts and sails. Yet I see her steadily moving in one direction. That is enough for me. I know by this that there is a guiding hand on board, though I cannot see it. Just so it is with God’s Election. The eternal decree we cannot possibly see. But the result of that decree cannot be hid. It was when St. Paul remembered the faith and hope and love of the Thessalonians, that he cried, I “know your Election of God.” (1 Thess. i. 4.) For ever let us hold fast this principle in considering the subject before us. To talk of any one being Elect when he is living in sin, is nothing better than blasphemous folly. The Bible knows of no Election except through “sanctification,” — no eternal choosing except that we should be “holy,” — no predestination except to be “conformed to the image of God’s Son.” When these things are lacking, it is mere waste of time to talk of Election. (1 Pet. i. 2; Ephes. i. 4; Rom. viii. 29.)

(d) Last, but not least, Election was never intended to prevent men making a diligent use of all means of grace. On the contrary, the neglect of means is a most suspicious symptom, and should make us very doubtful about the state of a man’s soul. Those whom the Holy Ghost draws He always draws to the written Word of God and to prayer. When there is the real grace of God in a heart, there will always be love to the means of grace. What saith the Scripture? The very Christians at Rome to whom St. Paul wrote about foreknowledge and predestination, are the same to whom Ire says, “Continue instant in prayer.” (Rom. xii. 12.) The very Ephesians who were “chosen before the foundation of the world:’ are the same to whom it is said, “Put on the whole armour of God — take the sword of the Spirit — pray always with all prayer.” (Ephes. vi. 18.) The very Thessalonians whose Election Paul said he “knew,” are the Christians to whom he cries in the same Epistle, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. v. 17.) The very Christians whom Peter calls “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” are the same to whom lie says, “Desire the sincere milk of the Word — watch unto prayer.” (1 Pet. ii. 2; iv. 7.) The evidence of texts like these is simply unanswerable and overwhelming. I shall not waste time by making any comment on them. An Election to salvation which teaches men to dispense with the use of all means of grace, may please ignorant people, fanatics, and Antinomians. But I take leave to say that it is an Election of which I can find no mention in God’s Word.

Thinking like God (2 of 2)

08 April 2012 by Frank Turk

At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn't find the body of the Master Jesus.

They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said,

"Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."

Then they remembered Jesus' words. "The nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life."  Jesus had explained clearly what he meant.

They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn't believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up.

But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that's all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head.

That same day two of the discples were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.

He asked, "What's this you're discussing so intently as you walk along?"

They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, "Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn't heard what's happened during the last few days?"

He said, "What has happened?"

They said, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn't find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn't see Jesus."

Then he said to them, "So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?" Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.

They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: "Stay and have supper with us. It's nearly evening; the day is done." So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.

Back and forth they talked. "Didn't we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?"

So they didn't waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: "It's really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!"

Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.

A Dangerous Man

06 April 2012 by Frank Turk

The people and their leaders all took Jesus to Pilate and began to bring up charges against him. They said, "We found this man undermining our law and order, forbidding taxes to be paid to Caesar, setting himself up as Messiah-King."

Pilate asked him, "Is this true that you're 'King of the Jews'?"

"Those are your words, not mine," Jesus replied.

Pilate told the high priests and the accompanying crowd, "I find nothing wrong here. He seems harmless enough to me."

But they were vehement. "He's stirring up unrest among the people with his teaching, disturbing the peace everywhere, starting in Galilee and now all through Judea. He's a dangerous man, endangering the peace."

When Pilate heard that, he asked, "So, he's a Galilean?" Realizing that he properly came under Herod's jurisdiction, he passed the buck to Herod, who just happened to be in Jerusalem for a few days.

Herod was delighted when Jesus showed up. He had wanted for a long time to see him, he'd heard so much about him. He hoped to see him do something spectacular. He peppered him with questions. Jesus didn't answer--not one word. But the high priests and religion scholars were right there, saying their piece, strident and shrill in their accusations.

Mightily offended, Herod turned on Jesus. His soldiers joined in, taunting and jeering. Then they dressed him up in an elaborate king costume and sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became thick as thieves. Always before they had kept their distance.

Then Pilate called in the high priests, rulers, and the others and said, "You brought this man to me as a disturber of the peace. I examined him in front of all of you and found there was nothing to your charge. And neither did Herod, for he has sent him back here with a clean bill of health. It's clear that he's done nothing wrong, let alone anything deserving death. I'm going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."

At that, the crowd went wild: "Kill him! Give us Barabbas!" (Barabbas had been thrown in prison for starting a riot in the city and for murder.) Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go, and so spoke out again.

But they kept shouting back, "Crucify! Crucify him!"

He tried a third time. "But for what crime? I've found nothing in him deserving death. I'm going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."

But they kept at it, a shouting mob, demanding that he be crucified. And finally they shouted him down. Pilate caved in and gave them what they wanted. He released the man thrown in prison for rioting and murder, and gave them Jesus to do whatever they wanted.

As they led him off, they made Simon, a man from Cyrene who happened to be coming in from the countryside, carry the cross behind Jesus. A huge crowd of people followed, along with women weeping and carrying on. At one point Jesus turned to the women and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, don't cry for me. Cry for yourselves and for your children. The time is coming when they'll say, "Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!' Then they'll start calling to the mountains, "Fall down on us!' calling to the hills, "Cover us up!' If people do these things to a live, green tree, can you imagine what they'll do with deadwood?"

Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.

When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.

Jesus prayed,

"Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing."

Dividing up his clothes, they threw dice for them. The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, "He saved others. Let's see him save himself! The Messiah of God--ha! The Chosen--ha!"

The soldiers also came up and poked fun at him, making a game of it. They toasted him with sour wine: "So you're King of the Jews! Save yourself!"

Printed over him was a sign: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: "Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!"

But the other one made him shut up: "Have you no fear of God? You're getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him--he did nothing to deserve this."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom."

He said, "Don't worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise."

By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours-- a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly,

"Father, I place my life in your hands!"

Then he breathed his last. When the centurion there saw what happened, he honored God: "This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!"

All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil.

There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used. It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.

The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus' body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes.

They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded.

Thinking like God (1 of 2)

05 April 2012 by Frank Turk

Jesus and his disciples went to the villages near the town of Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, "What do people say about me?"

The disciples answered, "Some say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah. Others say you are one of the prophets."

Then Jesus asked them, "But who do you say I am?"

"You are the Messiah!" Peter replied.

Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone about him, and began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, "The nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life." Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.

Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, "Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God."

So when the time came, the chief priests and leaders took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

Not Greater

04 April 2012 by Frank Turk

Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus. Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, he got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself. He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself.

Then he came to Simon Peter. Peter said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

Jesus replied, "You do not understand what I am doing now, but you will understand after these things."

Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet!"

Jesus replied, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me."

Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head!"

Jesus replied, "The one who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not every one of you." (For Jesus knew the one who was going to betray him. For this reason he said, "Not every one of you is clean.")

So when Jesus had washed their feet and put his outer clothing back on, he took his place at the table again and said to them, "Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and do so correctly, for that is what I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you too ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example – you should do just as I have done for you. I tell you the solemn truth, the slave is not greater than his master, nor is the one who is sent as a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

Forever

03 April 2012 by Matt Gumm

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

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.


Hebrews 9:11-15 (ESV)


Jesus knew that Friday was coming; he knew what he would endure on the Cross. Scripture says that he "despised the shame" of it.

He knew that he, the sinless lamb, would be making a sacrifice, and bringing forth the substance of thousands of years of types and shadows. His offering was made once for all time, and through it, the new covenant was ushered in, and eternal redemption was secured.

Jesus not only saw past Friday to Sunday—past the Cross to the Resurrection—but all the way to the end, when the redemption he secured would finally and fully be realized, his death providing our inheritance forever.

He Will Die

02 April 2012 by Neil



Some days ago in Galilee, a man knew that it was time to finish it. He stood up, turned towards the south, and started walking. He was not to be dissuaded. His friends followed morosely, because they thought he was marching to his death. They were right.

The trip was eventful. He taught wisdom. He taught of the kingdom of heaven. He gave sight to the blind. He devastated the rhetorical plots of enemies. He listened to fair-weather friends trumpeting their own sacrifice and loyalty. He tolerated friends seeking vice-regency. He played with children. He taught servant-hood over ascendancy.

He ran headlong to his grave.

Yesterday, he arrived in Jerusalem. He approached like a king, riding over cloaks and palm fronds. With no idea what they were talking about, the adoring crowds sang Psalm 118:26 to him. But he knew exactly what he was doing. He had come in the name of the Lord. He had come to die.

He was inexorable. He went straight to the house of God and turned it upside down. He once again lit up the eyes of the sightless. He locomoted the lame. When those who should have known him did not, he told them to listen to the children singing Hosanna. He acted as if he were the very Son of David.

Today, he entered the house of God again. The chief priests and elders challenged his authority. In fact they had already soundly rejected him, but he unveiled their bankruptcy and called them the builders. He claimed for himself the great title of Psalm 118:22: the Cornerstone that the builders rejected. And he told them that they would trip over him and that he would crush them. He should have feared them if he had hoped to survive, but his task did not include survival.

In a few days, the crowds will have turned; he isn't what they expected. The priests will get their way; he doesn't fit their formula. The gentiles will kill the Jew; he is ridiculous to them.

He will die. But then, something marvelous will happen (Psalm 118:23). He will live. By rising, he will prove all his claims, he will kill death and he will make a church.  And as for this church, he will be both its foundation and its builder.  In absolute awe, we will be able to say:
“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” -- Psalm 118:24

And he will save! With sure hope and confidence, all his friends old and young will sing the song of the redeemed:
“Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.” -- Psalm 118:19-21