Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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James 1:15: Desire's Deadliness

James 1:15: Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. [1]

After explaining that God tests rather than tempts people and that sin is rooted in the heart, [2] James helps us see where sin leads: “our own destruction.” [3] James is saying that sin begins in the heart and that it is destructive from the moment it starts. [4] When sin buds, death is harvested. [5]

Total depravity puts us all in the same place. [6] All of us have hated someone or longed for something that has hurt us or someone else. [7] Total depravity would be distressing if the story ended there. Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” People find salvation in Christ alone when they confess their sins and trust in His life, death, and resurrection. Christians need to continue trusting in Jesus in repentance. If you do not believe, your sins are still leading you to destruction, but God’s grace still rescues if you will admit your need of Him.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] James 1:13-14. See also the blog on this passage: Seth Dunn “Tested Not Tempted.” www.proclamationpca.com. Posted 10 August 2018, http://proclamationpca.com/blog/.

[3] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Epistle of James. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 290.

[4] Calvin, James, 290.

[5] Romans 6:23; Galatians 6:6-11.

[6] Romans 3:23.

[7] Matthew 5:21-30, 7:7-12; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

Posted on August 14, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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James 1:13-14: Tested Not Tempted

James 1:13-14: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. [1]

Some falsely assume God’s control leads people into sin. James’ words here place sin on the person who falls into temptation. Undeniably, the LORD tests His people’s faith. [2] However, “If a test becomes a temptation, it is sinful human nature that makes it so.” [3] Our broken hearts turn things that are good in themselves into occasions for sin. [4]

Everyone is in need because we all turn circumstances into sin. We make beautiful things and people into objects of worship, and/or long to take good things from others. [5] These failures bring God’s just wrath on us. [6] We need Jesus Christ, our perfect representative, Whose sinless life redeems all who confess their sins and trust Him solely. [7] All who believe in Him receive God’s Spirit Who helps in weakness, [8] and makes occasions for falling occasions for growth. [9]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Daniel M. Doriani. Reformed Expository Commentary: James Series Eds: Richard D. Philips and Philip Graham Ryken. Testament Eds: Iain M. Duguid and Daniel M. Doriani. (Philipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 2007), 34.

[3] Doriani, James, 35.

[4] John Calvin. Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Mathew, Mark, and Luke, Vol. 1. Trans. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 212.

[5] Doriani, James, 35-36. See also Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Matthew5:27-30; Romans 3:10-24, 7:7; 2 Peter 2:14-18.

[6] Romans 6:23; James 2:10.

[7] Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 4:1-11; John 14:6; 1John 1:7, 3:5-8, etc.

[8] Romans 8:5-27.

[9] Romans 5:1-5; James 1:2-8.

Posted on August 10, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Proverbs 1:10: Taking No Chances

Proverbs 1:10: “My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.” [1]

Proverbs is a book of God’s guidance for His people, [2] which provides general rules on how to navigate life. [3] In Proverbs 1:10-19, Solomon encourages believers to avoid engaging in sinners’ destructive actions. [4] “Sinners” refers to people who live outside Scripture’s standards. [5]

Here is the problem: none of us have kept the Bible’s requirements. [6] Our only solution: Jesus Christ. [7] If you do not follow Christ, do not trust your efforts to live well because your efforts have no chance. [8] Give yourself to Christ by admitting your sin, and trust Him solely. Only then will you be saved. [9] If you claim to follow Christ, live in His ways- not the world’s. [10] Proverbs 1:10 instructs us to not even give approval to sinners’ destructive plans. [11] We are called to take no chances with sin, because sin destroys. [12] In avoiding sin, we will face the world’s ridicule. [13] But remaining in Christ by His Holy Spirit is to remain in truth and salvation. [14] Salvation is in Christ because He has lived the perfect life we cannot. [15] At the same time, His Holy Spirit does enable our righteous living. [16]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Bruce K. Waltke. The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 174.

[3] Iain Duguid. “Wisdom Literature” (Lecture: Westminster Theological Seminar, Glenside, PA, March 28, 2017). See also Proverbs 1:7, and Waltke, Proverbs, 174.

[4] Waltke, Proverbs, 188. Also, Proverbs 1:8-19 and Andrew Styer “The Violence of Foolishness.” ProclamationPca.com. Accessed July 3, 2018. http://proclamationpca.com/proverbs-the-wisdom-of-god/.

[5] Waltke, Proverbs, 189.

[6] Romans 3:10-23, 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-10.

[7] Matthew 5:17-20; John 14:6, Galatians 2:11-5:7; 1 John 3:5-8.

[8] Romans 3:28, 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-10.

[9] Acts 4:12.

[10] Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:1-3:24.

[11] Waltke, Proverbs, 190.

[12] Genesis 3; Psalm 141:10; Proverbs 3:35, 5:22, 12:12-13, 13:5-6, 29:6; Isaiah 57:21; Romans 5:12-21, 6:23; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Ephesians 4:17-19.

[13] John 15:18; 1 John 3:15.

[14] Matthew 10:22; John 8:31-32, 14:6.

[15] Luke 24:44-49; Galatians 5:16-25.

[16] Romans 8:11-13.

Posted on August 3, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Colossians 1:13-14: Salvation Snapshot

Colossians 1:13-14: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [1]

As Paul brings his prayer to a close, he focuses on Christ’s redemptive work. Notice that what God’s people are saved from is darkness. [2] The darkness here is in us, in the world, and from Satan. [3] This darkness leaves God eternally displeased apart from Jesus’ saving intervention through the Holy Spirit. [4]

In these verses, Paul communicates our deepest need: having our sin removed—and sin is only removed by Christ. [5] If you are not in Christ, you are in displeasing darkness. If you face the fact that you are a sinner who needs Jesus, you will be redeemed when you confess and accept Him as your only Savior. [6] If you are in Christ, what are the ways you live like you are still in darkness? Which of Christ’s commandments do you struggle to keep? [7] How are you loving your family in Christ? [8] Are you learning your Christian beliefs so that you can live and share them? [9] Rest in knowing that God continues working in us, [10] that we are accepted because of Jesus, and that He empowers our kingdom work. [11]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentary on the Epistle to the Colossians. Trans. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Co., 1981), 147.

[3] Matthew 3:2-17; John 1:1-5, 3:16; Acts 26:18; Romans 3:9-24; Ephesians 1:6-7, 2:1-10; 1 John 2:1-14, 3:4-10.

[4] Calvin, Colossians, 147-148.

[5] Mark 1:15; John 3:16, 14:6; Romans 6:20, 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 3:4-11; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 John 3.

[6] Matthew 10:32-34; Romans 10:9-10.

[7] Matthew 5-7; John 15:10; 1 John 2:1-6.

[8] 1 John 3:14-24.

[9] Acts 20:25, 20:28, 1 Thessalonians 2:12.

[10] Philippians 1:6.

[11] Calvin, Colossians, 148.

Posted on July 24, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heary

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Colossians 1:11-12: Inheritance in the Light

Colossians 1:11-12: Being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. [1]

Paul’s ceaseless prayer for the Colossians includes praying that they would have God’s knowledge and power, the same power that raised Christ from the dead. [2] Paul also asks the Almighty to give them joy and patience in suffering. [3] If anyone had reason to be joyless, it was the imprisoned, beaten, flogged, shipwrecked, and sick Paul. [4] Yet, Paul overflowed with joy and had learned contentment “in any and every circumstance” because of his identity in Christ. [5]

If Jesus Christ is your exclusive Savior, part of the riches and inheritance of being in Him is that the Holy Spirit grows you and enables you to have Paul’s joyful patience. [6] Your suffering is purposeful, and you can set your hope on the eternal inheritance Christ purchased for you. [7] Pray that you might live in accordance with your inheritance, because Christ’s work enables your works. [8] If you do not believe, would you like to have joy in your suffering and dwell in paradise forever? These blessings are yours when you confess the ways that your sin has angered God, embrace Jesus Christ as your only Savior, and follow Him by His Holy Spirit. [9]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] F.F. Bruce. Commentary on the Epistle to the Colossians, The English Text with Introduction, Exposition, and Notes. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1982), 186-87. See also Romans 8:11.

[3] Bruce, Colossians, 187.

[4] Acts 13:44-14:23, 16:16-24, 27:39-44; 1 Corinthians 1:10-31; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Col. 4:18.

[5] Philippians 4:11-13. See also Bruce, Colossians, 188.

[6] Psalm 36:9; John 12:46, Acts 20:32, 26:18; 2 Corinthians 3:6, 3:8, Ephesians 1:11, 2:18, 3:16, 4:2, 5:20.

[7] Matthew 5:12, 25:34; John 17:24; Acts 5:41, 20:32; 2 Corinthians 8:2, 13:4; Hebrews 10:34.

[8] 1 Corinthians 16:13; Colossians 3:1-23; 2 Peter 3:18.

[9] The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism. (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 2011), Shorter Catechism Q&A 86-87.

Posted on July 19, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Colossians 1:9-10: Prayer for Growth

Colossians 1:9-10: And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. [1]

What are things you pray for? If you do not pray, what would you pray for if you were to start? Paul prays that the Colossian saints would love God and walk in a manner worthy of Him. Paul’s earnest prayer is a sign that the Colossians still need to grow in their faith. [2] In order to grow in Christ and “the knowledge of his will,” the Colossians must study Scripture, which is “the only rule of right knowledge.” [3]

What are the implications of this passage for daily life? If you are a non-Christian, you are living without God’s Word, which is the only true knowledge. [4] While you are able to do beneficial things, [5] the Bible is clear that you are not living in true wisdom. This leads to your destruction. [6] Confessing your sins to God and trusting in Christ exclusively as Savior gives you true wisdom and salvation. Why wait? If you are a Christian, ceaselessly search the Scriptures to grow in godliness. [7] The Bible will lead you to God-glorifying works which are your calling. [8]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 142.

[3] Calvin, Colossians, 143.

[4] Proverbs 1:7; 2:6, 1 John 4:8.

[5] Exodus 18:1-27, Ezra 1.

[6] Proverbs 1:8-33. See also Bruce K. Waltke The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 200-213.

[7] 1 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:3-15.

[8] Calvin, Colossians, 144. See also Ephesians 2:10 and James 2:14-26.

Posted on July 10, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Colossians 1:7-8: Epaphras: An Example of the Gospel

Colossians 1:7-8: Just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. [1]

As Paul opens his epistle, he begins describing the Trinity’s regenerating work which leads to true love. [2] Paul also discusses how the Holy Spirit enables faith, love, and hope which produce Christian fruit(s). [3] Now, Paul points to someone who lives the Gospel: Epaphras. Interestingly, we know very little about Epaphras. [4] What little we know indicates that Epaphras was likely the first person who shared the Gospel with the Colossians and was “a faithful minister.” [5]

While we know a tiny bit about Epaphras, what we know about him has real value. Epaphras was marked by sharing and living the Gospel. Christians: our life goal should be to be like Epaphras, to know Christ and make His name great. [6] Surround yourselves with believers like Epaphras that they may help you grow in godliness and spread the good news. [7] If you are an unbeliever, two thousand years from now, who will the legacy of your life point to? The good things that last forever are God’s. [8] When you confess your sin and come to Jesus as your only Savior, you will start a journey in what is eternally good and true. [9]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture references will be ESV unless stated otherwise.

[2] Colossians 1:3-4. See also the blog titled “God’s Work: Reason for Rejoicing” which is on these verses.

[3] Colossians 1:5-6. See also the blog titled “Faith, Love, Hope, and their Fruits” which is on these verses.

[4] F.F. Bruce. Commentary on the Epistle to the Colossians, The English Text with Introduction, Exposition, and Notes. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1982), 182.

[5] Bruce, Colossians, 181-82. See also Colossians 1:7-8.

[6] 1 Corinthians 2:1-2; Philippians 2:9-11; Matthew 28:18-19; Acts 1:8.

[7] Proverbs 27:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Hebrews 10:25; 2 Corinthians 8:23, etc.

[8] Isaiah 40:8; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:25.

[9] Proverbs 1:1-33; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16.

Posted on July 6, 2018 .

Treasuring God's in Your Heart

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Colossians 1:5-6: Faith, Love, Hope, and Their Fruits

Colossians 1:5-6: Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. [1]

In the blog on Colossians 1:3-4 we saw that faith, which is a result of God’s regenerating work, creates and feeds true love. [2] In verses 5-6 Paul connects Gospel centered hope to faith and love and shows their relation to each other. [3] Pastor William Hendriksen explains, “Christian mental and moral attitudes and activity such as believing, hoping, and loving, always react to each other. This holds too with respect to hope. It reacts mightily and beneficially on faith and love. Christian hope is not mere wishing. It is a fervent yearning, confidence, expectation, and patient waiting for the fulfilment of God’s promises, a full Christ-centered (cf. Col. 1:27) assurance that these promises will indeed be realized.” [4] Faith in and love for Christ gives believers assured hope which enables their daily living and outreach. [5]

Because faith, love, and hope founded on Christ lead to life and assurance amidst trials, the reverse is also true: non-Christians lack these God-given gifts necessary for handling trials. Everyone believes something, the question is if that something is worth believing in? [6] If the Trinity’s radically transforming grace is worth rejoicing (v. 3-4), why settle for less? If you do believe, you have a call to continue in and proclaim your faith. [7] Since the rest of the world lacks hope, you must not abandon yours, but try to bring others to it so that they may know the faith, love, and hope God has given you.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6. All Scripture References will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Seth Dunn, “God’s Work: Reason For Rejoicing,” Proclamation Presbyterian Church (Mount Joy), accesses 6/29/18, http://proclamationpca.com/blog/2018/6/29/treasuring-gods-truth-in-your-heart-1.

[3] William Hendriksen. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Colossians and Philemon. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1987), 49.

[4] Hendriksen, Colossians and Philemon, 49.

[5] Hendriksen, Colossians and Philemon, 49.

[6] Timothy Keller. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. (New York, NY: Dutton, published by Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2008), 3-21.

[7] Hendriksen, Colossians and Philemon, 50-51.

Posted on June 29, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Colossians 1:3-4: God's Work: Reason for Rejoicing

Colossians 1:3-4: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints. [1]

Perhaps Paul’s thanking God for the Colossians’ faith and love seems odd initially. Paul begins with God because without the Trinity’s work, no one would be saved, have faith, and/or love. [2] In verse four, faith operates solely in Christ and His teaching. [3] Faith cannot come to people apart from the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work. [4] “Love is the fruit of faith and the proof of its genuineness.” [5] True love is rooted in Christ, and leads to loving others as He did. [6]

If you are not a Christian, should God call you to Himself, you will have great reason for thanksgiving. Faith in Christ equips people for facing challenges, doing good works, and persevering through hardest times. [7] The Lord’s heavenly resources are yours when you confess Him as your exclusive salvation from your sins. [8] If you are already Christ’s pray for continued growth and strength, so that by your faith and love, others will see God’s work and have true reason for rejoicing. [9]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 20016). All Scripture References from here forward will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Romans 3:9-23, 5:6-11, and Curtis Vaughan. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version of the Holy Bible, Vol. 11: Ephesians-Philemon. General Ed: Frank E. Gaebelein. Assoc. Ed. J. D. Douglas. Consulting New Testament Eds.: James Montgomery Boice and Merrill C. Tenney. Manuscript Ed: Richard P. Polcyn. (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, an imprint of Zondervan Publishing House, 1978), 174. See also Leon Morris. The Gospel According to Matthew. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1992), 68 and Daniel B. Wallace. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament with Scripture, Subject, and Greek Word Indexes. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 98.

[3] Vaughan, Colossians, 174.

[4] Louis Berkhof. Systematic Theology: With a Complete Textual Index. Fourth Revised and Enlarged Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 465.

[5] Vaughan, Colossians, 174.

[6] 1 John 4:7-11.

[7] Romans 8; Ephesians 2:8-10; 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, etc.

[8] Matthew 7:7-11; 2 Corinthians 9:10-15.

[9] Luke 15:10; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 2:21.

Posted on June 29, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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John 14:26: The Christian's Helper

John 14:26: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. [1]

If your death was near, how would you comfort those in your care? Jesus comforts His disciples by assuring them God the Holy Spirit will be with them. Christ can promise the Holy Spirit only because Jesus is God, and is equal with God. [2] The Spirit will teach everything believers need for salvation, and remind us of Christ’s Words. [3] Remembering Christ’s Word is significant because when God the Father removes the Bible from memory, or prevents Scripture from being known He is leveling punishment against unbelievers. [4] Further, if remembering Christ’s Word is emphasized, logically there would be no new revelation(s) after Christ and His apostles. [5]

The Holy Spirit’s presence is crucially important for Christians. The Holy Spirit’s abiding in believer evidences God the Father’s forgiveness, on Christ’s account, in His elect. [6] The Spirit further proves that Christians will be sanctified, meaning that they will grow in Christ-likeness. [7] The Holy Spirit also makes preaching and evangelism effective, regardless of how much time they take. [8] The Holy Spirit also unites unbelievers to Christ. [9] If the Spirit is convicting you of your sin and inability to be saved apart from Christ, know that if you own your sin and need for salvation and trust in Christ, you will be delivered, and receive a Helper for the rest of your days. [10]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6. All Scripture references from here on out will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] William Hendriksen. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to John, Two Volumes Complete in One. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1953), 275. See also The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism. (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 2011), Short Catechism Questions and Answers 4-6.

[3] Hendriksen, John, 286.

[4] John Calvin. Commentary on the Gospel According to John Vol. 2. Trans. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 100.

[5] Calvin, John, 101, and Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, 338, and 363. See also O. Palmer Robertson The Final Word: A Biblical Response to the Case for Tongues and Prophecy Today. (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2004), 1-21.

[6] Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, 205.

[7] Hendriksen, John, 286.

[8] Calvin, John, 100-101.

[9] Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 2:10, 13; Ephesians 1:13-14, and Lane Tipton, “Fundamental Character of Union with Christ, and Nature of Union with Christ.” (Lecture: Westminster Theological Seminary, Glenside, PA, March 29, 2017).

[10] 1 John 1:5-10; John 14:16, 16:7, 16:13-15; Romans 8:9-11; 1 John 2:20, 2:27; Revelation 3:22.

Posted on June 29, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in YourHeart

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John 6:63: No Other Help

John 6:63: It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. [1]

Jesus shows human inability apart from the Spirit’s work. [2] In John 6:44, Jesus teaches that no one comes to God unless the Father draws her/him, and in verse 37 those God has chosen will come and “will never [be] cast out.” [3] Verse 63 beautifully captures the Holy Spirit’s life-giving work that has been true throughout biblical history. [4] The relation between the Spirit’s and Christ’s work shows the power and importance of Jesus’ words as the only means to salvation. [5] Also, Christ’s words here are attached to the “full and abundant” life from the Spirit. [6] Because of Jesus’s work, the Spirit’s presence is more abiding than in the Old Testament. [7]

The application here is huge: while God elects and moves, human responsibility is not void, as evidenced by the words “to you.” [8] If you are an unbeliever, because Christ’s words are life, you must read them so that you may have life and have it abundantly. [9] If you are a Christian, you have life and should live in step with it, [10] which includes sharing Jesus’ life-giving Word with the lost and those who are hurting. [11] We do this, not to earn favor, but from love and gratitude for the life given to us. [12]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6. All Scripture References from here on out will by ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Andreas J. Kostenberger. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2004), 219.

[3] James Montgomery Boice. The Gospel of John, Vol. 2: Christ and Judaism John 5-8. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Co., 1999), 531.

[4] See Kostenberger, John, 219-220 for a good summary of the Holy Ghost’s creative and redemptive work.

[5] John 6:53, 68; 14:6, 24, 1 Corinthians 15:45; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Titus 3:5.

[6] George Smeaton. The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1997), 63

[7] Smeaton, Holy Spirit, 63.

[8] Boice, The Gospel of John, 534.

[9] Boice, The Gospel of John, 534, and John 10:10.

[10] Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8; Act 26:20.

[11] Boice, The Gospel of John, 534.

[12] Romans 8:9; Galatians 5:25; Hebrews 10:24; James 2:14-26; Revelation 3:22.

Posted on June 20, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Hearts

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Philippians 2:12-13: True Humility's Fruit

Philippians 2:12-13: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. [1]

This passage follows the beautiful description of Christ’s humble sacrifice, [2] which is the ground and example for Christian obedience. [3] Humility should be the chief characteristic of believers who “work out their salvation,” because looking to the Trinity brings humility. [4] Humility is the aim when Paul references “fear and trembling.” [5] Justification, humility, and Christian living come from God’s salvific work because even after salvation believers still need the Holy Spirit. [6] One glorious truth from Philippians is that because the LORD has begun a work in His elect, He will bring it to completion. [7]

When Paul encourages the Philippians to follow Christ in His absence, he does so because he knows how people can lose zeal. [8] The same encouragement applies to believers today: our passion for the Gospel should extend beyond weekend retreats, emotional highs, etc. We should humbly grow in sanctification in private and public. [9] If you are reading this as a non-Christian, you may wonder: where are the “humble” Christians? Truly, some believers poorly represent their beliefs. But, whose definition of “humble” are you working with? If you disagree with Christianity, you will disagree with our definition of humility, because Christian humility is founded on the One Who became a servant of all. Should you become His servant, you will grow in true humility and experience a love that inspires the rest of your life. [10]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6. All Scripture references from here on out will be ESV, unless noted otherwise.

[2] Philippians 2:6-11.

[3] Dennis E. Johnson. Philippians. Series Ed. Richard D. Phillips and Philip Graham Ryken. Testament Ed. Iain M. Duguid and Daniel M. Doriani. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co, 2013), 153.

[4] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. Ed and Trans. John Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 64.

[5] Calvin, Commentaries, 64. See also 1 Corinthians 15:10.

[6] Johnson, Philippians, 154-155 and Calvin, Commentaries, 67.

[7] Philippians 1:6.

[8] Johnson, Philippians, 154-155.

[9] 2 Peter 1:10.

[10] 1 John 4:10.

Posted on June 19, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Romans 12:1-2: Yeah I'm A Christian . . . So What?

Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [1]

You can probably name people who claim Christianity, but their lifestyles fail to reflect their values. In Romans 12-16, Paul explains how the truths of Romans 1-11 transform daily life. [2] We need to understand that the realities in the first eleven chapters of Romans lead into the last four because “union with Christ” enables our new obedience. [3] Just as the Trinity converts people, [4] God also enables Christ-like living. [5] This Christ-like living is, “by the mercies of God,” a joyful worship that holistically engages the body, mind, and soul in rational, actual, and emotional opposition to sins in pursuit of the LORD. [6]

Why would you not want to live this way? Yes, Christ-likeness requires the humbling process of confession, and living in a manner contrary to our pre-converted nature, but those things are God’s grace. [7] Imagine the joy of not living for this corrupt, [8] transient, [9] fading [10] world, but something eternal, true, and worthwhile. Embracing Christ exclusively, whether for the first time in conversion, or in repentance, brings that joy. [11] Freedom from enchaining human and personal expectations rests in converting to and living by God’s covenant expectations. [12]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Bible references will be ESV from here on out, unless noted otherwise.

[2] James Montgomery Boice. Romans: Volume 4, The New Humanity Romans 12-16. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books a division of Baker Book House Company, 1995), 1484.

[3] John Murray. The Epistle to the Romans: The English Text With Introduction, Exposition And Notes Vol. II. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co. 1965), 109. See also The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism. (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 2011), Shorter Catechism Questions and Answers 86-87.

[4] Romans 3, 5:1-2, 8:12-39, 9, 11, Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 2:1-10; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 2:6-15, etc.

[5] Psalm 57:2; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 5:24.

[6] Murray, Romans, 111-114.

[7] Paul David Tripp. What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 73-80.

[8] Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-23, 8:7-8, 8:18-23.

[9] Murray, Romans, 113-114.

[10] 1 John 2:18.

[11] 1 Peter 1.

[12] Galatians 2:4, 5:1, 5;13; Romans 6:15-23, etc.

Posted on May 25, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Isaiah 26:3-4: Despite What You Tell Yourself

Isaiah 26:3-4: You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. [1]

Have you heard the expression: “I am my own worst enemy?” At times are you bothered by your own thoughts? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, do you wrestle with assurance of salvation? If you can say, “yes” to any of these questions, you need these verses for yourself and/or your friend(s). Isaiah teaches that God’s faithfulness sustains and enables Christian faith. [2] Because the LORD is changeless (regardless of people) and faithful, [3] He generates, [4] guides, [5] and energizes faith. [6] By God-given and enduring faith Christians can wrestle with their doubts, the lies Satan and the world whisper in their ears, and live a thriving life for their Savior Jesus. [7] Regardless of what we tell ourselves.

Isaiah is also clear that the Trinity’s peace is exclusively for those who exclusively follow Christ. [8] If you desire help with the sorrow in your heart, work’s crushing weight, family woes, etc. you have that if you admit your guilt to the Triune God and strive to be His by His Holy Spirit. [9] These promises are true, attested, and good despite what you have heard and tell yourself. [10] Come to Him, and Jesus Christ will be your rock. [11]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6. All Scripture references will be ESV from this point forward, unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Trans. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Co., 1981), 213-215.

[3] Geerhardus Vos. Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments. (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2000), 119.

[4] Ephesians 1:3-2:1-10; see also The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism. (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 2011), Shorter Catechism Questions and Answers 29-35.

[5] John 14:15-17, 16:12-15; Romans 8:26; Galatians 5:13-25.

[6] Romans 15:13; James 2:14-26, see also Calvin, Commentary: Isaiah, 215.

[7] 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:17-32.

[8] The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version, Containing the Old and New Testaments. General Edition R.C. Sproul, Associate Editor Keith Mathison. (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 985.

[9] The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism. (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 2011), Shorter Catechism Questions and Answers 86-87.

[10] 1 Corinthians 15:3-9; Hebrews 11:1-12:3; 1 John 3:19-20.

[11] Deuteronomy 32:4; Matthew 7:24-27; 1 Corinthians 10:1-22.

Posted on May 22, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Hearts

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Psalm 84:11-12: Two Sides to Shield and Light

Psalm 84:11-12: For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
                        No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
            12          O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you! [1]

These sweet verses, [2] resemble the glorious truth of Romans 8:28. [3] Both verses “picture vividly all that is outgoing and positive (light, joy, heat, energy . . .) and all that is protective; the answer to fear and defeat – but a soldier’s answer.” [4] When God shields believers, He is also their “reward,” “refuge,” “glory,” “strength,” “help,” “blessing” and more in life’s trying, confused, and terrifying moments. [5] This Psalm points to what is fulfilled in Christ, [6] Who will be the eternal light to His followers in a land free from evil. [7]

But verses 11 and 12 also teach these good things are only for those who believe in Jesus Christ as their exclusive means of salvation. [8] Know that if you lock shields with the Trinity, either in opposition to Him, His people, or His Word, you will be destroyed and eternally punished. [9] You may think there is no God, no help for Christians, and no life after death, but that is because sin has blinded you. [10] If you currently oppose the Light, may God in His mercy open your eyes to your need of Him, and cause you to repent of your sins. Then Christ will shower His benefits on you, as He has done to me and all who are saved from their wickedness too. [11]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Scripture passages from here forward will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Derek Kidner. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Vol. 16: Psalms 73-150 An Introduction and Commentary. General Ed. Donald J. Wiseman. (London, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975), 338.

[3] James Montgomery Boice. Psalms, Vol. 2: Psalms 42-106. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books a division of Baker Book House Company, 2000), 693.

[4] Kidner, TOTC: Psalms, 338.

[5] Genesis 15:1; Psalm 2:12, 3:3, 5:12, 18:2, 27:1, 28:7, 59:11, 84:9, 115:9-11, 119:114, Proverbs 2:7, and 30:5.

[6] Kidner, TOTC: Psalms, 337 (footnote 74), and 338.

[7] Isaiah 60:19-20, Malachi 4:2, Revelation 21:23, and Revelation 22.

[8] Genesis 12:1-3; Numbers 9:24; Galatians 3:4, 3:14, 3:16, see also John 14:6, and G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2011), 723.

[9] Psalm 68:21, 143:12; Isaiah 63:1-6; Matthew 25:41-46; Revelation 19:11-21, 20:7-21:8. See also The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism. (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 2011), Shorter Catechism question and answer 26.

[10] John 1:1-13; Romans 1:18-32; 8:7-8; Ephesians 2:1; 1 John 2:11, etc.

[11] Colossians 1:15-23, Romans 5:6-11.

Posted on May 11, 2018 .

The Book of Revelation: Closing Remarks

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This past Sunday, I concluded at 14 week adult Sunday School class (Listen Here) on the book of Revelation. Prior to teaching this class, I did 13 weeks on the book of Revelation in the Sr High Sunday School class. That means that for the past 6 months (give or take a few weeks), I have been swimming head deep in the Apocalypse.  In all actuality, 14 weeks to teach Revelation is simply not enough time. I found myself thinking “I wish I had more time to go back and touch on this passage” more than once. I pray that in the future, the Lord will grant me another opportunity to teach and/or preach through this book, and if that happens, I’ll get the chance to touch on many things that got breezed over for the sake of time.  For now, however, I do want to offer up some “closing thoughts” about the book of Revelation; some reflections and final remarks. 

Teaching Revelation to the Youth vs teaching Revelation to the Adults:
I expect that teaching youth is a very different experience than teaching adults. But what I did not expect with Revelation was just how dramatically different this experience would be. First, in teaching the youth, it became very clear to me that we are in a post-dispensationalist era of the Church. The first week of both the youth and adult classes I asked, “What comes to mind when you think of the book of Revelation?” The adults were more than eager to offer up their thoughts. I would say an overwhelming amount of our adults were raised in Dispensationalism, knew that the Reformed Tradition is drastically different in that regard, and were eager to hear a Reformed/Historical perspective on the book.

The youth on the other hand? Nothing. They had no thoughts on the book at all other than some comments about how it seems very confusing with all the symbolism. In fact, when I brought up what were once “common thought” in Evangelicalism, ideas such as the rapture, a 7 year tribulation, even the entire “Left Behind” series, most students looked at me with puzzled looks. No one is truly a blank slate of course, but these kids were working with as close to a “tabula rasa” as one could get. On the one hand, this made my job very easy! The students simply accepted the things I was saying (for better or worse…) and the class ended up having a lot more discussion around application of the texts than interpretation. On the other hand, this left me very unprepared for what was ahead of me in teaching the adults. Sure, the first few weeks with the adults went off pretty easily. Then we got to Revelation 7 and the sealing of the 144,000. The next thing I knew, we were spending 3 weeks examining and discussing this passage. I learned after this that if I were to get through the material in the time I was given, I was going to have to do a better job at anticipating questions from folks who not only have been taught Dispensationalism their whole lives, but folks who were taught it very well! 

Dispensationalism takes the Scriptures seriously:
I always knew that Dispensationalists were an ally in the “battle for the Bible”, but this class really helped give me a new appreciation for this reality. Whatever else I might say about Dispensationalism as an interpretive approach to the Bible, I will say that I find its proponents to be very serious about the Bible, and for that, I give thanks. As Dispensationalism slowly begins to fall out of favor in the West, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll be losing a powerful ally. I may disagree strongly with men like Charles Ryrie, but he believed that the Bible was the very Word of God, saw the doctrine of inspiration as a “close handed” issue, and was willing to die on that hill. We need men and women like that in the Church today, maybe now more than ever. 

We don’t need to figure it all out:
As my teaching time with adults progressed, I found that I was being asked questions about portions of Revelation for which I simply didn’t have answers. To be fair, I did warn the class this would happen! But many of these questions arose from people being taught one thing about these portions of the text from a Dispensationalist perspective, wondering how they fit into a Reformed/Covenantal interpretation. Many times I could find answers. G.K. Beale’s 1500 page commentary on Revelation is extremely thorough! But, I did come to a point where I realized that if I didn’t have an exact answer concerning a certain portion of Revelation, that’s okay! It doesn’t uproot or shatter the interpretive approach to the book that I was teaching. Our understanding of Revelation is contingent upon how we read the whole of Scripture. We don’t interpret the Bible in light of Revelation, we interpret Revelation in light of the Bible. And there are certain things that we’d have to abandon to make a premillennial/Dispensational interpretation to Revelation work. Namely, our entire understanding of the history of redemption, the nature of covenants in the Scriptures, and the identity of the people of God.  The only way a dispensationalist interpretation of Revelation works is by believing that the Church and Israel are not one, that they’re two separate peoples with their own sets of promises and covenants, and that ultimately, its all about the Jews. This is an idea that is not only foreign to the Reformed tradition, it’s foreign to the entire history of the Church until J Nelson Darby arrives on the scene in the 1800s. And this is why I say, “We don’t need to have it all figured out!” If a portion of Revelation perplexes us or confuses us, it doesn’t shatter our overall understanding of the book because our understanding of the book is built upon the sure foundation of the entire biblical narrative of Redemption. 

The Bible is remarkably unified:
It was no mistake-although it was not planned by human minds-that as I began teaching Revelation to the youth, we began a new sermon series on the book of Genesis. And I can honestly say that almost every week throughout both the youth and adult class, whatever we were talking about in Revelation somehow connected with the sermon series. It was uncanny, to be honest! One of our elders commented to me after one class, “I appreciate how you and Pastor Troy are coordinating your Revelation class and the Sunday sermons”. I just had to laugh and admit that Troy and I weren’t coordinating at all! All this overlap was due 100% to the providential work of God. And for myself and many, it was an amazing testimony to the fact that the Scriptures truly are one great and grand story of redemption. How can we explain the idea that two books of the Bible that were written by two men, living thousands of years apart, one wandering in a desert outside of modern day Israel, the other imprisoned on a Greek Island in the Aegan sea, some 1300 miles away (as a man walks), are so connected with one another, so interwoven, so consistent with each other? No human mind could pull this off. The Scriptures truly are “breathed out by God”! 

The main point is the same:
Whether you hold to Covenant theology, to Dispensationalism, whether you’re Pre-mil, Post-mil, Amil, whether you’re a Futurist, a Preterits, whatever your interpretive approach is, ultimately we all end up with the same conclusion to the book of Revelation: Christ wins. And that’s really the great hope for us all, isn’t it? Christ wins. All the enemies of Christ, all the enemies of God’s people-the beast, the false prophet, those who follow the beast, the harlot of Babylon, and ultimately, the Great Dragon are all defeated. Their fate is the same. Meanwhile, whether you believe that Israel and the Church are one people, or two separate brides, either way our fate is also the same-eternity with Christ in the New Creation, enjoying perfect, full and true communion with Christ and with one another, where God himself will wipe every tear from our eyes, death shall be more more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things will have passed away. And that leads us all to join in the Apostolic proclamation, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

Posted on May 8, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 84:10: A Heart for Church

Psalm 84:10: For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. [1]

Growing up, I remember dreading going to church, longing for the service’s conclusion, and looking forward to leaving. But this Psalmist sings that “one day” with God is better than “a long time passed” with worldly people. [2] The Psalmist adores God because “the Lord is foremost in” His “heart,” [3] which is a result of the Trinity’s work in the Psalmist. [4]

But why do so many of us feel like my childhood self, rather than the Psalmist when it comes to church? Possibly because we lack “devotion,” “piety” and/or “religious affection.” [5] Works and emotions do not ultimately determine our standing before God. [6] But if we lack love for the LORD’s house, we might want to question our relationship with Christ because “love is its own evidence” of what we value. [7] If God has saved you, and you desire a heart like the Psalmist, pray to Him and He will forgive your lacking worship and grow you. [8] For unbelievers, know that if you are not loving and worshipping the Triune God you serve something that will ultimately disappoint and destroy you. [9] Should you confess your sins, and devote yourself to God, you will have a love and object of worship worth living for, and it will sustain you for all of life. [10]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Bible references will be ESV from here on out, unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms Vol. 2, Psalms 36-92. Trans. James Anderson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1981), 364.

[3] Willem A. VanGemeren, et. al. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms-Song of Songs, Vol. 5. Ed Frank. E. Gaebelein. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 542.

[4] Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19, 36:25-27; Hebrews 8:8-10.

[5] William S. Plumer. Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), 797.

[6] Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:3-5.

[7] Plumer, Psalms, 789-99.

[8] Plumer, Psalms, 797.

[9] Psalm 16:4. See also Paul Tripp. Sex and Money. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 35 142, 164.

[10] Calvin, Commentary, 351-52.

Posted on May 2, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 Peter 3:18: Victory

1 Peter 3:18: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. [1]

Peter so concisely depicts Christ as “Victor” [2] that we might miss Jesus’ magnitude. Peter teaches that Christ’s “unique” suffering as the sinless Savior satisfies divine “justice” which “enables us to enter God’s presence.” [3] When our sin, evil, and corruption separated us from God, [4] the Trinity worked redemption for the elect through Christ. [5]

In addition to justification for sins, when Christians suffer for righteousness [6] they have hope and power to face their trials with Christ-like “meekness” and “boldness.” [7] Believers are called to suffer for God’s glory, their good, and because Christ is our example. [8] When people rest in Jesus, their sins are forgiven and they have hope in hardship. If you are not in Christ, know that He can become yours when you see your unrighteousness, and confess your need of His. If you are a believer, continue facing your suffering in the One Who has “suffered once for sins” and gained the victory. [9]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software. All Bible references will be ESV from here on out, unless noted otherwise.

[2] Edmund Clowney. The Message of 1 Peter: The Way of the Cross. Ed. John R.W. Stott. (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 154.

[3] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Co., 1987), 138-39.

[4] Isaiah 59:2, Romans 1:18-32, Revelation 21:27, etc.

[5] Psalm 130:4-8; John 1:29, 1:36; Acts 4:10, 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 2:8-10, 1 Peter 2:24. See also: Daniel B. Wallace Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament with Scripture, Subject, and Greek Word Indexes. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 98, and John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray: The Claims of Truth, Vol. 1. (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), 52.

[6] 1 Peter 2:18-25, 3:17, 4:1-13.

[7] Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, 155.

[8] John 10:7-18; Acts 4:1-22; Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 1:12-30, 3:12-21; Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Peter 2:18-25, 3:17, 4:1-13.

[9] 1 Corinthians 15:57-58.

Posted on April 26, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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John 3:36: Not A Smorgasbord

John 3:36: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. [1]

You may know, or perhaps are, someone who treats religious believes like a buffet: “Buddhist meditation relaxes me, I like the Christian heaven, and Unitarianism is welcoming.” But John 3:36 teaches only those exclusively believing in Christ, and continue believing by God’s grace [2] have eternal life. Along with John, Jesus and Scripture are clear that God enabled heart change alone produces saving faith in the Son which leads to everlasting life. [3] Further, wrath and judgment waits for those outside Jesus. [4]

How is this fair? When we ask this, we ask the wrong question. The real question: why has God given escape from just wrath? We sinned, rebelled, and made ourselves God’s enemies. [5] Who do you know Who loves their enemies so much He would kill and raise His Son so that His chosen enemies could enter His glory with all the welcome and acceptance of a child? [6] Only the triune LORD of Scripture is that loving. He is yours when you confess your sins and submit your life to Him, as is His heaven. [7] May you grow in love and knowledge of this loving God.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament with Scripture, Subject, and Greek Word Indexes. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 621 footnote 22.

[3] Habakkuk 2:4; John 1:12, 3:3, 3:15-18, 5:24, 6:40, 6:47, 6:54, 11:25-26, 14:6, 20:31, Romans 3:23-26, 4:13-25; Ephesians 2:1-10, etc. See also John Calvin. Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John. Trans. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 141-142, Andreas J. Kostenberger. John: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2004), 139-140, and The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism. (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 2011), chapters VI-XIV.

[4] Romans 1:17-18, 2:9; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6; Hebrews 3:18; 1 John 5:10-13, and Kostenberger, John, 139-140.

[5] Genesis 3:1-14; Romans 3:9-23, 5:6-11, 8:7-8; Ephesians 2:1-3, 2:11-12.

[6] Romans 8:14-19; Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 3:1-2.

[7] 1 John 2:1-2, 2:25-29.

Posted on April 18, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Hearts

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John 10:29-30: The Shepherd's Repeated Promise

John 10:29-30: My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” [1]

After describing His sheep, [2] Jesus reiterates salvation’s permanence in believers. [3] Christ’s teaching on the saints’ perseverance [4] is reinforced by His and the Father’s graciously choosing the sheep. [5] Because God has predestined His people to saving faith, not on the basis of their free will or works, [6] He will complete the work. [7] Yes, Christians are responsible for their actions, [8] but their efforts do not earn salvation or qualify them for heaven. [9]

Jesus makes this promise because He is one with God the Father. Only God could promise John 10:29, [10] and God has in Christ. No sin, sinner, circumstance, etc. can “snatch” us when we embrace Jesus Christ as our exclusive means of salvation. [11] Even if your worst nightmare comes true, and comes with all Hell’s power, it could not shake the Son’s and Father’s double clenched fists around you. [12] These hands greet the elect into heaven, and all who repent of their sins.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016). Logos Bible Software.

[2] Please see John 10:27-28 and corresponding blog titled “The Shepherd’s Sheep.”

[3] Andreas J. Kostenberger. John: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2004).

[4] For a thorough definition please see The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter XVII. For now, it will suffice to say “perseverance of the saints” means God’s true elect will be eternally saved despite life’s struggles.

[5] James Montgomery Boice. The Gospel of John, Volume 3: Those Who Received Him John 9-12. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1999), 780.

[6] Calvin, John. Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John. Trans. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 416. See also Ephesians 1:3-10, 2:1-10.

[7] Philippians 1:6; Psalm 57:2, 138:8; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Galatians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:24.

[8] John 6:29; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 3:10; Philippians 1:10, 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, etc.

[9] Judges 7:2; Romans 3:27-28, 4:1-10, 9:11, 11:6; Ephesians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 1:28-31; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:4-7.

[10] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2008), II.viii.26, page 248.

[11] Romans 8:31-39, and Calvin, Institutes, III.xxii.11, page 623.

[12] Boice, The Gospel of John, 783-784 and Calvin, Institutes, III.xxii.11, page 623.

Posted on April 13, 2018 .