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

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

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 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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John 10:27-28: The Shepherd's Sheep

John 10:27-28: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. [1]

Some claim: “In Calvinism everything just turns out alright in the end!” Such protests misunderstand Calvin and Scripture. Jesus came because everything is not alright. [2] Sin deafens humanity to Christ apart from God’s effectual call. [3] The Holy Spirit’s work is required for righteous living, [4] which causes humble, [5] lifelong, urgent pursuit of Christ. [6] The Trinity’s necessity for salvation and godliness makes relying on personal efforts and fruitlessness ludicrous because the spiritually dead sheep are made alive to follow the Good Shepherd. [7] We err when we assume we are Christ’s if we trust our works or lack them. [8]

Further, Jesus’ promise “no one will snatch them” brings realistic rejoicing because it implies snatches will be tried. [9] Worldly people, some posing as Christians, [10] employ philosophies and persecutions hoping to lead believers from the fold.[11] These attempts will fail because salvation begins and ends with the God Who keeps His sheep. [12] Believers: we have hope when everything is not right that Christ empowers us for the fight, and is victorious over evil. [13] Unbelievers: this same hope is yours if you surrender to the Shepherd. [14]

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

[2] Boice, James Montgomery. The Gospel of John, Volume 3: Those Who Received Him John 9-12. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1999), 778. See also 1 John 3:5 and 8.

[3] Genesis 3, 6:5; Psalm 51:5; John 6:44; Romans 3:9-23, 5:12-21, 8:7-8, 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:1-10, Colossians 2:13, etc.

[4] Ephesians 2:1-10, Calvin, John. Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John. Trans. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 415.

[5] Boice, The Gospel of John, 780.

[6] Matthew 5-7; John 6:27; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:12-21; Hebrews 10:19-25, 12:1-3; James; 1 John 2:3-5, 2:29, 3:4-15; 2 John 8, etc.

[7] Galatians 3:1-14, Calvin, Commentary, 416, and John 10:27, Luke 13:1-9, James 2:14-26, Boice, The Gospel of John, 781.

[8] Boice, The Gospel of John, 781.

[9] Boice, The Gospel of John, 781.

[10] Matthew 7:15.

[11] Ephesians 6:10-19.

[12] Isaiah 66:22; Luke 21:18; John 6:37, 6:38, 10:16, 17:12, 18:9; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:26-39; 2 Corinthians 4:9.

[13] Psalm 34:18, Hebrews 13:5-6, and Ephesians 1.

[14] Hebrews 4:1-15.

Posted on April 4, 2018 .

Trasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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John 6:68-69: To Whom Shall We Go?

John 6:68-69: Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”[1]

After the compassionate Christ graciously offends the crowd, [2] He asks His disciples if they also want to leave. Peter’s response is a rhetorical question that expresses how the twelve ought to act. [3] By saying Jesus has “the words of life” (i.e. Christ’s teaching [4] leads to eternal life [5]), Peter demands the disciples follow Jesus alone or face spiritual death. [6] When Peter says, “believed” he means a faith that is convinced and trusts in Jesus’ existence, “power,” “nearness to help” and truthfulness. [7] “Know” implies that “the Spirit [has] seal[ed]” on Peter’s heart God’s truth in a way unlike human knowledge. [8]

What about you? Do you follow Christ’s life-giving words, or are you drowning in human inventions? Are you certain of Jesus’ might and ability to help in your life? Do you know the Trinity on His own terms and by His sealing, or do you have a list of demands you want God to meet? Certainly we all struggle with these in some ways. But we all must pray for spiritual growth and/or repentance. For there is no one else to whom we should go.

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

[2] Please see blog on John 6:66-67.

[3] 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), 467-68.

[4] Tenney, Expositor’s, 80.

[5] Calvin, Commentary, 278.

[6] Calvin, Commentary, 279.

[7] Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: A translation and adaptation of the fourth revised and augmented edition of Walter Bauer’s Griechish-Deutsches Worterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der ubrigen urchristlichen Literatur, Second Ed. Revised and Augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker. (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), 661.

[8] Calvin, Commentary, 279.

Posted on March 28, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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John 6:66-67: Life Giving Offense:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” [1]

The last blog discussed Christ compassion for an oppressed crowd. [2] But in this passage, many of Jesus’ followers, who were miraculously fed by him, [3] are offended by His teaching and leave. Is the problem with the Son of God or the people? If we say Jesus is the issue we commit blasphemy. [4] The problem must rest on the so called “disciples.” But why were the people offended? Because Christ communicate that He is the only way to salvation since they cannot save themselves. [5]

Truthfully, Jesus’ message should have made the people glad [6] because God’s promised means of deliverance from sin was standing before them. [7] But for people unchanged by the Holy Spirit, Christ’s words bore the “fragrance” of death. [8] Sinful ears take no pleasure in words that destroy self-reliance and affirm human insufficiency. [9] While the Gospel should be articulated carefully to avoid unnecessary offence, the Gospel will always offend because it portrays people as we really are. [10] If we are offended by Christ’s words, we need to repent. Whether you are repenting for the first time in a cry for salvation, or as a believer who has returned to trying to save yourself, please repent with me rather than trusting in any other thing. Things that cause us to be offended by Jesus lead to our death.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Logos Bible Software 6.

[2] Please see blog on Matthew 9:36-38.

[3] Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39, Mark 6:32-44; 8:1-30, Luke 9:10-17, and Tenney, Merrill C. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version of the Holy Bible in Twelve Volumes, Volume 9 (John-Acts). General Editor Frank E. Gaebelein. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 71.

[4] 1 John 2:22-25; 3:5, Acts 4:12, Matthew 1:21, John 14:6.

[5] See John 6:22-65 and Tenney, Expositor’s, 80.

[6] Calvin, John. Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John. Trans. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), 276.

[7] John 6:35; 48; 51, 8:12, 9:5, 10:7; 9, 10:11; 14, 11:25, 14:6, 15:1, Luke 24:44-49, Matthew 1:21, Hebrews 8-10.

[8] 2 Corinthians 2:14-16.

[9] Romans 8:7-8, 5:6-11.

[10] Calvin, Commentary, 277. See also Matthew 5:10-12, 10:22, and Luke 21:17.

Posted on March 22, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Matthew 9:36-38: Compassion Driven Calling:

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.' ” [1]

What condition were these crowds in that they would have sparked a compassionate reaction from Christ, the Good Shepherd? [2] They were “oppressed” by “the burdens which the Pharisees place upon them (Matt. 11:28; 15:14; 23:4).” [3] These individuals were lied to by their religious leaders and those lies were causing suffering in their lives. (Perhaps you can relate.) But how does Jesus’ response communicate compassion? Because He sees their real need. Christ did heal sicknesses, [4] provide food, [5] and out of compassion raises the dead. [6] But Jesus’ compassion is more than humanitarian because He cares for and redeems souls. [7] Christ’s care is seen in that He wants God to send out workers so that the elect may be drawn into fellowship with the Father. [8]

How does this passage apply to us? All of us will be gathered, for salvation or condemnation. [9] In grace, God is still harvesting and will harvest you if you surrender yourself to Him as your exclusive means of salvation. [10] If you are a believer, you have been promised that you will be harvested for salvation, [11] and now are called to work in Christ’s fields for His glory. [12] May the Lord of the harvest continue to empower His laborers.

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

[2] John 10:11.

[3] Hendriksen, William. Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1987), 439, and Calvin, John. Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke Vol. 1. Trams. William Pringle. )Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984), 420.

[4] For example, Mark 1:41, Matthew 14:14, and 20:34.

[5] See Matthew 14:13-21, 15:32-39, Mark 8:1-10, etc.

[6] Luke 7:11-17, John 11 (particularly verses 41-42).

[7] Matthew 1:21, Mark 2:17; 6:34, 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Peter 5:7, 1 John 3:1-5.

[8] Matthew 9:38, on the harvest referring to gathering souls please see Isaiah 27:12, Matthew 3:12, Luke 3:17; 10:2, John 4:35, Revelation 14:15, The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version Containing the Old and New Testaments. General Editor R.C. Sproul, Associate Editor Keith Mathison. (Orlando, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1863, note on Revelation 14:14-20, and Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke Vol. 1, 421.

[9] Matthew 13:24-30.

[10] Hebrew 3:15-4:1-13.

[11] Jeremiah 31:14-33, Romans 8:31-39, Philippians 1:6, 2 Peter 1:10.

[12] Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8; 14:21-23, Romans 15:19-24, 2 Timothy 2:1-2

Posted on March 16, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 Peter 2:11-12: Why Sojourners Act:

"Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."

After Peter explains who believers are, [1] he instructs them on how to act. When Christians or non-Christians read these verses they might be tempted to think this is just another “to do list.” Why does Peter require believers to act like people who do not belong to the world, i.e. act “as sojourners and exiles”? Scripture provides several reasons for Christian character which include: witnessing to the unsaved and saved, [2] following God’s ways combat the sin trying to take believers, [3] and because Christ-like behavior glorifies God. [4]

While there are other reasons, perhaps the most important is because Jesus Christ lived a God glorifying life. [5] The Son lived righteously even when people wronged him, [6] and his righteous life insures salvation and the ability to grow in holiness for those who follow him. [7] So for those of us who are sojourners, we strive for godliness because of Jesus Christ. Living in Christ-likeness is possible for all who trust in Him exclusively. The gift for following Him and living by His Spirit as we grow in holiness is eternal joy in heaven. [8] May we all begin to sojourn better in Him.

[1] 1 Peter 2:9-10 (see also blog on the passage).

[2] 1 Peter 3:16; Titus 2:8; Philippians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 9:13.

[3] Romans 7:23, 8:13, Galatians 5:16-17 and 24.

[4] Matthew 5:16, 2 Corinthians 8:21, Colossians 3:17, etc.

[5] Matthew 9:8, John 13:31, the book of Hebrews.

[6] John 18:30, Luke 23:34, Matthew 26-27.

[7] Luke 24:44-49; Hebrews 8-10, John 14:26, etc.

[8] 1 John 2:1-25.

Posted on March 16, 2018 .

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Hearts

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1 Peter 2:9-10: Christian Identity:

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you have not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

Peter tells Christians who they are in this passage. In fact there are five elements Peter highlights about Christians which are: “(1) a chosen race, (2) a royal priesthood, (3) a holy nation, (4) God’s special possession, (5) those who have been constituted the people of God by God’s remarkable mercy.” [1]

Because blogs are supposed to be short, we will focus on being “chosen.” Some people do not like the idea of being chosen because they feel God’s choosing implies a loveless forcing on everyone’s will. [2] Nothing could be further from the truth. The Father’s love and grace rescues His elect who were dead in their sin. [3] The LORD’s choosing is the only way to salvation because our wills lead us away from God. [4] Further, the Trinity’s choosing promises an abiding with us for all life’s struggles, [5] help in combating our sins and growing in holiness, [6] and will be with us always, no matter what. [7] Being chosen is an eternal gift for all those called by the Holy Spirit.

[1] Carson, D.A. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Edited by G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 1030.

[2] [The following author does not hold this view, but summarizes it] Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, Vol. 2. General Ed. John Bolt, Trans. John Vriend. Grand Rapids, MI: the Dutch Reformed Translation Society/Baker Academic, 2004), 339.

[3] Psalm 130:7-8, John 3:16; 6:32-40; 10:7-18, 17:1-23, Ephesians 1:3-6, 2:1-10, etc. Also, see blog on Matthew 22:36-40 for discussions on what love is.

[4] Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:9-20; 5:12-14; 8:7-8.

[5] Psalm 34:18; Joshua 1: 5 & 9, Hebrews 13:5-6.

[6] Romans 8:12-14, 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:11; 15:45; Galatians 5:16-17.

[7] Jeremiah 31 (especially vv33), Romans 8:31-39.

Posted on March 6, 2018 .