Posts tagged #pca

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

The Ready Children of God

1 John 2:28-29: And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. [1]

 John uses verse 28 to summarize chapter 2 and verse 29 to prepare us for chapter 3. [2] Verse 28 reminds believers that they long to see Jesus Christ’s physical return, and have assurance of salvation when He returns, because He has redeemed them from their sins. [3] True Christians respond to Jesus’ eminent return by obeying God’s Word and proclaiming the resurrected and returning Christ. [4] Verse 29 teaches that if people have been born of God they will “practice righteousness” because their heavenly Father is righteous. [5]

 These verses help us see two truths. As Dr. Lane Tipton teaches, “Saving faith rests [on Christ] and is restless [to serve Christ].” [6] Salvation is exclusively through Christ’s gracious redemptive work and the Holy Spirit producing faith in us. [7] The truth that Christ has earned our salvation is the motivation for biblical living. [8] While our actions do not earn salvation, faith in Christ leads to serving Him. [9] May the Holy Spirit give us grace to rest and be restless for our Lord.


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 287.

[3] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 287-288.

[4] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 288.

[5] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 288-289.

[6] Lane Tipton. “Christ as life giving Spirit, the law gospel distinction, distinction between archetypal and ectypal communion bonds.” (Lecture: Westminster Theological Seminary. Glenside, PA, March 18, 2017).

[7] Ephesians 2:1-10.

[8] Philippians 2:1-11; Colossians 3:1-17; etc.

[9] James 2:14-26.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:22-23: “Truly God and Truly Man” [1]

1 John 2:22-23: Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. [2]

 Throughout church history many people have denied Christ’s deity and/or humanity. [3] Even today, Mormonism claims that Jesus was once a man who became a god and we can become gods ourselves. [4] Other modern examples abound. What happens if we waver on the incarnate Christ’s being truly God and truly man? We worship a god who cannot save because he is powerless and cannot represent us. [5] John also teaches that we cannot know God the Father if we do not understand His revelation to us in His Son. [6] Loose/misguided Christology leads to eternal damnation, misunderstanding God, and creates lies. [7]

 Do you grasp how serious this is? These are not arbitrary opinions founded on subjective desires. This is eternal life or death. [8] This is the Gospel: how the eternal Son of God became man so His elect could be saved, sanctified, restored. [9] If you are a Christian, are you careful in articulating Christ so that you are presenting Him faithfully as much as possible? [10] If you are a non-Christian: do not be deceived by the many antichrists and lies about Jesus. [11] The LORD Jesus is the risen, incarnate, exalted Son of God Who saves sinners. Put your faith in Him, and you will be saved. [12]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] Stephen Nichols. “The Humanity of Jesus: The Ligoner Statement on Christology.” www.Ligoner.org. Accessed 1 August 2019. https://www.ligonier.org/blog/the-humanity-of-jesus-the-ligonier-statement-on-christology/.

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

[3] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. Trans. and ed.: John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 195.

[4] Jeff Durbin. “The Gospel for Mormons.” Youtube.com. Accessed 1 August 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQNObk2qAwo.

[5] Carl Trueman. “Tertullian.” (Lecture: Westminster Theological Seminary, Glenside, PA, October 8, 2015).

[6] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 197.

[7] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 198.

[8] John 14:6; Acts 4:14.

[9] John 1:1, 3:16; Ephesians 1:3-14; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:1-4, 1 John 3:1-10; etc.

[10] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 195.

[11] Matthew 7:15-20; Romans 16:17-18; Ephesians 5:6-13; Galatians 6:1-10; 1 John 4:1-6.

[12] Ephesians 2:1-10.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:16-17: Murderous and Momentary Desires

1 John 2:16-17: For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [1]

 In verse 15 John forbade loving what God hates. [2] John uses verses 16-17 to explain why loving worldly things is lethal to the soul. [3] (For clarity’s sake: when John says, “the world” he is not condemning God’s good creation, but desires, tendencies, and behaviors that come from Satan.) [4] Verse 16 shows us that inward desires that delight in sinful nature and adulterous lust lead to lives obsessed with status. [5] Verse 17a teaches the murderous and momentary nature of giving into ungodly desires. One scholar explains, “If [someone] places his interest in that which is here today and gone tomorrow, he reaps a harvest of instability, stumbles in the darkness of sin and, because he has cast his lot with the world, faces a similar end.” [6] In contrast, verse 17b shows the everlasting security Christians have when they keep Christ’s commandments of believing Jesus is the eternal Son of God Who Redeems sinners and to love other believers. [7] This security is for all who believe exclusively in Christ, and is their hope in all seasons. [8]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. Trans. and ed.: John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 187.

[3] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 271.

[4] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 272.

[5] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 271-272. For the adulterous nature of lust, Kistemaker (on page 272), reminds us of Matthew 5:28.

[6] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 272-273.

[7] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 273.

[8] Romans 8.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:7-8: Living Gospel

1 John 2:7-8: Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. [1]

 These verses may look like contradictions: how can John give an old and new commandment? Before we give up on the Bible, let’s consider what John was thinking when he wrote. When John mentions “the beginning” he is referencing the first time the readers “heard the gospel.” [2] John is reminding the people he loves of the Gospel that saved them from their sins. [3] But how is this commandment also new? Because the author understands that believing the Gospel means following Christ’s commandments, including the “ ‘new commandment’ ” to “ ‘Love one another’ ” from John 13:34. [4] Because John’s audience was living according to Christ’s commands, John is able to affirm that they are living less like the world (the darkness), and more like Christ (the true light). [5]

 This is the life transformation that comes with solely accepting Christ as your Savior. [6] This does not mean that you will be perfect, but that God will mature you and help you live less like the darkness and more like Christ. [7] Believers need to continue clinging to the Gospel to have the strength and hope needed to live this old and new commandment. If you do not believe in Christ, then you do not have the ability to love others. [8] Once you embrace Christ by confessing your sins and acknowledging your need for Christ’s blood bought forgiveness to God in prayer, you will be able to truly love, and will eternally by truly loved. [9]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] Colin G. Kruse The Letters of John. General Editor: D.A. Carson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), 82.

[3] Kruse, The Letters of John, 82.

[4] Kruse, The Letters of John, 82-83.

[5] Kruse, The Letters of John, 82-84.

[6] Philippians 1:6.

[7] 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.

[8] Galatians 6:22; 1 John 3:16, 4:7-11.

[9] John 10:27-30, 17; Romans 5:6-11; 1 John 4:9-11.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

1 John 2:3-4: Calling to Character and Christ

1 John 2:3-4: And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. [1]

 In 1 John 1:1-2 we discussed how 1 John is written to prevent people from being deceived into leaving the church. [2] 1 John 2:3-11 proves that the deceivers do not know God because they lack the character to obey Him. [3] Character in accordance with God’s Word, though it cannot earn salvation, [4] is evidence of salvation—particularly when it leads to believing in Jesus and loving other Christians. [5] Although Christians do not live perfectly, if someone is “characterized by disobedience to [Christ’s] commands” she/he cannot claim to have “an authentic relationship with God.” [6]

 A calling to character this big should drive us to the Christ described in 1 John 2:1-2. Failure to know God in Christ and love His people results in death. [7] The way to avoid death is to confess your lack of character, and your need for Christ as your only righteousness before a holy God. If you have not received Christ, cling to Him today. You will be saved and given the Holy Spirit to start developing Christian character. [8] If you have received Christ, what ways can you believe in His goodness more, and love your siblings in Christ better? Again, such actions do not save, but they should be things you desire as a result of God’s work in your life. [9] Pray that God continues developing your Christian character so you may continue rejoicing in His work in your life. [10]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] Seth Dunn, “For Real.” Proclamationpca.com. Accessed 27 June 2019. http://proclamationpca.com/blog/category/Devotions.

[3] Colin G. Kruse The Letters of John. General Editor: D.A. Carson. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000), 77.

[4] Ephesians 2:8-10.

[5] Kruse, The Letters of John, 78-79.

[6] Kruse, The Letters of John, 79.

[7] Romans 6:23.

[8] 1 John 1:9; Romans 8:13.

[9] Psalm 37:4; The Reformation Study Bible. General Editor R.C. Sproul. (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1832.

[10] Philippians 1:3-6.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 27:13-14: God Is Always Enough

Psalm 27:13-14: I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living!

Wait for the Lord;

be strong, and let your heart take courage;

wait for the Lord! [1]

 When we watch movies, we might want clear, complete, and comforting conclusions. Just as every film does not have a happy finish, neither does every Psalm. [2] Psalm 27 ends on “naked faith,” trust when suffering seems to have no certain culmination insight —something that believers “may have to” exercise. [3] But Psalm 27 does not end with blind fatalism. David wraps up his Holy Spirit inspired poem resting on “the assurance that God is worth waiting for.” [4] David’s faith, like the Old Testament saint’s faith, led to rest on Christ even in uncertainty, [5] and Christians should do the same.

 Is God always enough for us even when the future is questionable? Is the life, death, and resurrection of the incarnate Christ all we need when anxieties are aggravated and fear infests fickle hearts? When there are bills to pay, difficulties in the office, or bullying at school do we have a theology that believes the Triune God can resolve our trials when we do not know how? If you are like me, then the honest answer is no. We might confess our faith, but when the explosion erupts we can react faithlessly. At the root of this sin, and all others, is unbelief. [6] We need to cry out to the Holy Spirit, asking that He would help us put to death unbelief, so that in every season we can believe God is always enough.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] Derek Kidner. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72, An Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms. General Ed: D.J. Wiseman. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 122.

[3] Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 122.

[4] Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 122.

[5] Hebrews 11.

[6] John Colquhoun. Repentance. (London, England: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), 118.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 27:9-10: In Case of Emergency: Pray

Psalm 27:9-10: Hide not your face from me.

                        Turn not your servant away in anger,

O you who have been my help.

                        Cast me not off; forsake me not,

O God of my salvation!

            For my father and my mother have forsaken me,

but the Lord will take me in.  [1]

 

In these verses, David gives those of us facing difficulty two principles for praying during trials. First, David teaches us to pray urgently: he knows that if God is not with him there is no hope. [2] Second, in his urgent prayer, David leans on God’s promises, trusting that the Trinity will keep His Word. [3]

 

No one lived these principles better than Christ Jesus. The Lord Jesus prayed earnestly before going to the cross, to the point He sweat as if He were bleeding. [4] But before entering the garden He also prayed resting on what He knew to be true. [5] Though Christ was abandoned far worse than David, His trails in life and on the cross made real hope possible for those of us facing trials. [6]

 

Prayer may not remove our trials, but when we pray to Christ we communicate with someone Who has suffered as we have, and Whose death gives us hope. [7] A hope that our present sufferings are not worth thinking about with Christ’s coming restoration. [8] A hope that the Holy Spirit meets us in our struggles and helps us in them. [9] A hope that there is a good God orchestrating His children’s suffering for their benefit because nothing is greater than Christ’s finished work. [10] This hope is for all who embrace Christ. If you desire this hope, confess the false hopes you have held to and cling to Christ as your exclusive hope for forgiveness before a just God. If you believe but wrestle, you are not alone. I encourage you to memorize Romans 8 and to urgently pray and believe it in your trials.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] William S. Plumer. Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), 361.

[3] Plumer, Psalms, 361, Joshua 1:5; Psalm 27:10;

[4] Luke 22:44.

[5] John 17.

[6] Plumer, Psalms, 361.

[7] Hebrews 4:14-16.

[8] Romans 8:17-25.

[9] Romans 8:26-27.

[10] Romans 8:28-39.

Purposeful Praise: Making Sense of Congregational Singing

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The God of Abraham Praise: Our March Doxology

Fittingly, our hymn “The God of Abraham Praise” was inspired by a Jewish doxology. Tradition holds that Methodist preacher Thomas Olivers attended a service at the Great Synagogue of London at some point in 1770, where he heard the celebrated singer Meyer Lyon leading the congregation in the Yigdal prayer. Lyon generously shared his music with Olivers, who composed a hymn to it. (Here’s a video of a modern version of the Jewish hymn.)

The text of “The God of Abraham Praise” may also be loosely based on the Yigdal. Yigdal literally means “may he be magnified,” and—as you may have guessed—it’s the first word of the prayer in Hebrew. The entire prayer is a 14th century adaptation of a creed written by the philosopher Maimonides, the most significant medieval Jewish thinker.

Whether or not Olivers intended to paraphrase the Yigdal text, the lyrics of verse 6 constitute an explicitly Christian doxology. Where the Yigdal stresses only God’s unity—his “inscrutable and infinite … Oneness”—Olivers’s hymn takes care to praise our one God in three persons: “Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”

Verse 6 also reflects the Revelation imagery of all the saints eternally praising God before his throne in heaven. Remember “Holy, Holy, Holy,” in which we join this congregation, echoing the words of the cherubim of Revelation 4:8. Verse 5 of “The God of Abraham Praise” sets up this same scene for us: “On Zion’s sacred height his kingdom [God] maintains, and glorious with his saints in light forever reigns.” So when verse 6 refers to “the whole triumphant host,” it means all believers—past, present, and future—singing together in heaven.

The second half of the verse makes this personal: “Hail, Abraham’s God and mine! I join the heavenly lays [songs] …” The same God who called Abraham out of his city to the promised land has called us to participate in his kingdom today.

This blog was written by Corrie Schwab

Purposeful Praise: Making Sense of Congregational Singing

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Holy, Holy, Holy-Our January Doxology

When I was a child, if you had asked me to sing a doxology I would have used the following words: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise him all creatures here below; praise him above, ye heavenly host; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Thousands of English-speaking congregations around the world treasure this poem and sing it regularly. Yet the term doxology does not refer to these specific words; it simply means a brief expression of praise. The word is derived from the Greek doxa, meaning glory, and logos, meaning word or speaking.

Verse 4 from “Holy, Holy, Holy!” makes an excellent doxology. Note how the traditional words cited above urge God’s earthly and heavenly creatures to praise him: “praise him all creatures here below; praise him above, ye heavenly host.” When we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy!” we join the chorus of creaturely voices already singing God’s praise on earth and in heaven.

“Holy, holy, holy” echoes the refrain of the cherubim John saw in his vision of heaven, endlessly praising God from before his throne: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4:1). Isaiah similarly saw a vision of seraphim before God’s throne crying “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Is. 6:3). These passages lend even more of their imagery to verse 2 of the hymn, which not only pictures the cherubim and seraphim worshipping God, but also refers to “all the saints … casting down their golden crowns before the glassy sea”—the calm-as-crystal sea John describes in front of God’s throne (Rev. 4:6).

John’s “twenty-four elders” who “cast their crowns before the throne” (Rev. 4:10) represent all the saints—that is, the complete church past and present, two-times-twelve suggesting the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles. As Andy Styer explained in week 5 of his Revelation class, Revelation 4 reminds us that God is receiving the worship he is due right now, in heaven, by the whole gathered church and all the angels. So when we sing our doxology to God, this is the congregation we are joining.

And what do we join all God’s works in calling him? “Merciful and mighty,” and—most emphatically—“holy, holy, holy.” We tend to think of holiness as synonymous with righteousness, but it more properly refers to being set apart: a holy object is set apart from common use, and a holy person is set apart from common existence (including sin). To call God “holy” is to acknowledge his transcendence and his absolute superiority to his creation.

Finally, who is the God we are praising? Our God has graciously identified himself to us in his three persons, and so we take care to address our praise to the Trinity explicitly.

This blog was written by Corrie Schwab

Posted on January 11, 2019 and filed under About Proclamation.

Purposeful Praise: Making Sense of Congregational Singing

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What Child Is This: All Hail the … Baby?

It’s easy to forget just how incongruous Christ’s birth must have seemed at the time. The long-awaited Messiah, the son of David, the king with angel heralds—introduced as a helpless infant sleeping in a feeding trough! And of course that incongruity pales in comparison to the paradox that this human child was God himself.

The question-and-answer format used in “What Child Is This” serves to revive our sense of awe and wonder at Jesus’s identity. Each verse juxtaposes signs of Christ’s majesty with signs of his humble position. I’d like to focus on the carol’s second verse, which is packed with meaning.

Why lies he in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding?

Mean estate means a humble, lowly, or impoverished condition. This phrase brings to mind Mary’s hymn of praise (the Magnificat), in which she glorifies God for singling her out for blessing: “he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (Luke 1:48). It also brings to mind Paul’s meditation on Christ’s humility: Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6–7). (More on this later.)

Good Christian, fear; for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.

In normal syntax, this sentence might run something like this: “Fear, Good Christian, because the silent Word is pleading for sinners!” The Word refers to Christ, identified as the “ultimate truth” sought by Greek philosophers—though they conceived of the Word as an impersonal force. In his very personal role as the mediator between God and his people, Christ pleads our case before God’s judgment seat (Rom. 8:34). And what does Jesus plead? He pleads for God to show us mercy because he (Jesus) has satisfied God’s law on our behalf. This is why, even as a speechless baby, the then-silent Word was pleading for sinners by his righteous life.

Christ’s accomplishment should inspire fear, in the sense of reverential awe of God.

Nails, spear, shall pierce him through; the cross be borne for me, for you …

Going back to Philippians 2, “And being found in human form, [Christ] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (v. 8). Becoming human wasn’t enough, becoming a helpless baby wasn’t enough, even becoming a poverty-stricken, homeless baby wasn’t enough. Jesus came to endure the most shameful death imaginable.

And now we come to the answer to the question posed in the first line of this verse: the reason for Christ’s “mean estate,” the explanation for the incongruity of God the Word as a human baby destined to be crucified, is that he bore all these things out of love “for me, for you.”

Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the babe, the son of Mary.

Our response is decreed by Philippians 2: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (v. 9–11). In the last line of the carol’s second verse, as in the last lines of the other two verses, we urge creation to join this chorus.

This blog was written by Corrie Schwab

Purposeful Praise: Making Sense of Congregational Singing

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Of the Father’s Love Begotten: Praising God for the Mystery of the Incarnation

Near the close of the fourth century, a distinguished Roman official named Aurelius Prudentius chose to leave public life and spend his time writing poetry on Christian themes. The hymn we know as “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” is derived from one of these poems.

In this poem Prudentius meditates on the mystery of the incarnation and calls all creation to join in praise of Christ as eternal God, creator, prophesied savior, healer and miracle-worker, effectual sacrifice, victor over death, judge, and king. The hymn as we sing it today dwells on the same theme, though it has been heavily edited (not to mention abridged) over the centuries.

The first verse of our hymn emphasizes Christ’s nature as eternal God. “Of the Father’s love begotten ere [before] the worlds [planets—the universe] began to be” identifies Christ as the eternally begotten Son of God. The hymn goes on to call Christ Alpha and Omega, echoing Revelation 22:13: “I [Jesus] am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” By associating himself with the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Jesus is asserting his deity—the history of the world is his story. By alluding to this passage and to Christ’s work as creator and sustainer of all things, Prudentius was explicitly rejecting the beliefs of the Arians, who held that Christ is not himself God but was rather God’s first creation.

The second verse, fittingly, focuses on Christ’s human nature through the miracle and mystery of his birth. (In a religious context, a mystery is something that we can’t fully understand, at least not yet.) The reference to Jesus revealing his sacred face is reminiscent of 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God … has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” This, in turn, makes me think of God’s self-revelation to Moses, after Moses begged to be allowed to see God’s glory. Do you remember what God said? “You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live. … Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen” (Ex. 33:20–23). Through the incarnation we can now experience the glory of God in Christ’s face.

The third verse draws together these two truths, Christ’s divinity and his humanity, by emphasizing that we’re talking about one person—“this is he”—who was anticipated by the angels and the prophets and merits praise by all creation now and “evermore.”

The fourth verse expands on this call to worship. Note all the entities that we are calling upon to praise Christ: “heights of heaven,” “angel hosts,” “all dominions,” “every voice.” And note what we are urging them to do: adore him, sing his praises, bow to him, extol him—loudly and “in concert” (all together)! When we sing this as a congregation, we’re getting a foretaste of the eternal heavenly worship we are destined to be part of forever: “I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ ” (Rev. 5:13).

Finally, the hymn ends with a doxology to the Trinity, reaffirming Christ’s equality with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

This blog was written by Corrie Schwab

Posted on December 13, 2018 and filed under Devotions.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Numbers 23:19: The Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Numbers 23:19:

God is not man, that he should lie,

or a son of man, that he should change his mind.

Has he said, and will he not do it?

Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? [1]

If you have been following the past couple blogs you may have noticed a theme: God’s dependability. We are focusing on the Trinity’s trustworthiness because that truth has profound implications for life. If the Lord speaks the truth and sticks to that trust (as Numbers 23:19 teaches) then His children will receive His blessings, can trust His help, will dwell in eternal paradise with Him, and nothing can ever change that. [2]

How can we be sure about these promises? Because God has secured them with “his blood.” [3] Jesus was crucified so Hell-bound sinners (like me and you) can receive forgiveness for the sins we committed against the Holy God. [4] Romans 8:31-39 summaries the hope the Trinity’s trustworthiness gives us. May these truths lead us into praise and submission to our Savior: [5]

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

            “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] Iain Duguid. Preaching the Word: Numbers: God’s Presences in the Wilderness. General Editor R. Kent Hughes. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 279-280.

[3] Duguid, Numbers, 279.

[4] Romans 5:8.

[5] Duguid, Numbers, 280.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Isaiah 41:10: Why Should I Trust God?

Isaiah 41:10:

Fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.[1]

Trusting God can be difficult. We do not physically see Him. When we pray we do not get audible responses. Why should we trust the Trinity? Isaiah 41:10 explains why. [2] The promise “I am with you” is the foundation we need to endure all of life and battle every temptation. [3] This foundation is trustworthy because the Lord Who spoke the world into being [4] promises “I will help you” in trials and tests. The reminder that the Triune God’s righteous right hand upholds us is a reminder of His “equity” and “fidelity . . . in persevering his people.” [5] Believers in Christ are to trust God because He is the faithful, true, and sure foundation for every situation.

But there is more: God is with us in the person of Christ. [6] When we embrace Jesus by faith as He is presented in the Gospel, we are promised that the Trinity “will never leave [us] nor forsake [us.]” [7] Why should we trust God? Because He is the just and faithful foundation Who has paved the way of salvation for us in Christ. [8]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] John Calvin. Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, Vol. 3. Trans. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Co, 1981), 258.

[3] Calvin, Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, Vol. 3, 258.

[4] Genesis 1-2.

[5] Calvin, Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, Vol. 3, 259.

[6] Matthew 1:21-21.

[7] Joshua 1:5-9; Romans 8:28-39; Hebrews 13:5-6.

[8] John 3:16, 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 1:3-2:14.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 13:5-6: Faith’s Focus

Psalm 13:5-6:

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,

because he has dealt bountifully with me. [1]

When you are troubled, where do your thoughts go? Does your mind focus on the situation? In the first four verses, King David repeatedly questions and cries out for God’s help. He sees his situation and asks how long the LORD “will hide [his] face from [him]” while his enemies overpower him. [2]

But David chooses to take his thoughts off his situation. [3] Bible scholar Derek Kidner teaches, “So the psalmist entrusts himself to this pledged love, and turns his attention not to the quality of his faith but to its object and its outcome, which he has every intention of enjoying.” [4] Christians do not hope in their ability to endure suffering, but in the One has been forsaken that His children may never be completely. [5]

Let’s go back the opening question: where do your thoughts go when you are in pain? Without the Triune God of the Bible, our best attempts to swallow pain are optimistic hopes for improvement. [6] Only in trusting in Christ’s perfect work for our salvation and forgiveness can we begin to have real hope in trouble. [7]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] Psalm 13:1-4.

[3] Derek Kidner. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72, An Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms. General Ed: D.J. Wiseman. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 78.

[4] Kidner, Psalms 1-72, Vol. 1, 78.

[5] Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46; Romans 8.

[6] Psalm 16:4; Proverbs 1:8-19; Ephesians 2:11-14.

[7] Hebrews 11:1; Romans 8:18-39, 15:13; 1 Peter 1:3

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Hearts

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Lamentations 3:24-26: Stability

Lamentations 3:24-26

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

            The Lord is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul who seeks him.

            It is good that one should wait quietly

for the salvation of the Lord. [1]

As we continue studying Lamentations, we continue seeing how to have true stability. Lamentations 3:24-26 teaches that when God is the object of our hope, we have a sure foundation for life. [2] When the Lord remains the focus and security for our lives, we have abiding hope. [3]

But setting our hope on God is an incredibly difficult thing. [4] I do not know about you, but red lights can be frustrating for me: I do not like waiting for something I did not plan on. How can I, or you, expect to put my hope in God when something so small can so easily derail our focus?

Sincerely thank God that in Christ we have the perfect sacrificial Lamb. [5] Jesus never misplaced His hope, even when facing the cross. [6] Because Jesus endured, we also have hope for enduring trials and growing to make God our hope. [7] As we mature in faithfulness to God, we will see more of how He gives us stability. [8] Refusing Christianity is to refuse the Almighty’s stability that produces endurance in all kinds of trials. [9] Christians: in your pursuit of faithfulness to grow in hope, do not take the world’s counterfeit hopes that lead away from true hope. [10] Non-Christians: please consider what you hold on to for stability—if it does not have the backing of the Triune God Who created you, how long will it keep you stable?

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software 7. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5. Trans. John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1981), 408-409.

[3] Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5, 409.

[4] Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5, 409.

[5] Hebrews 8-10.

[6] Luke 22:42.

[7] Hebrews 4:14-17.

[8] Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5, 410.

[9] James 1:2-5.

[10] Ephesians 2:11-13.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Hearts

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Lamentations 3:21-23: When Grief Strikes

Lamentations 3:21-23:

But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

            The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

            they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness. [1]

You may know, or even be, someone who strikes at God when grief strikes. After all, God could have prevented your pain, right? Lamentations gives us a window into the Lord’s view of suffering. This poem is written with the destruction of Jerusalem in mind. [2] If you have ever lost everything you could empathize with Lamentation’s author. But when grief strikes the author, he healthily acknowledges it while bringing to memory the hope he has in God. [3] If the lamenter focuses on his situation, he will slip into despair and rage against his only hope: the Triune Lord. [4] The Father’s “incomprehensible and wonderful kindness” in ordaining our weaknesses and circumstances to develop love for Him is our hope in “despair.” [5]

 But there is more. Do you know that God laments over the world’s brokenness? [6] He lamented enough that He went to the cross to deal with it. Christ’s sufferings ensure that His children will not eternally suffer. [7] The Son’s sufferings rescue us from despair so that we can grieve realistically and healthily. Embracing the Trinity found in the Bible is embracing hope for all circumstances.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Logos Bible Software 7. All Scripture references will be ESV unless noted otherwise.

[2] The Reformation Study Bible. General Editor R.C. Sproul. (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1131-1132.

[3] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5. Trans. John Owen. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1981),

[4] Calvin, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5., 406.

[5] Calvin, The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, Vol. 5., 407.

[6] Ezekiel 18; 23 and 32; Psalm 34:18; John 11:35.

[7] Romans 8.

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Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Psalm 1:3-4: Faithfulness

Psalm 1:3-4: He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

       that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

       In all that he does, he prospers.

       The wicked are not so,

but are like chaff that the wind drives away. [1]

Psalm 1 serves as a guardian Psalm, with verses 1-2 calling people to walk on God’s path and guard their minds. [2] Verses 3-4 picture people on Christ’s path as “a luxuriant tree, ever blooming.” [3] The fact that this tree is “planted” shows God’s intentionallity and care of the tree. [4]

But the defining character and difference between the tree and the chaff is fruit. Charles Spurgeon teaches, “fruitfulness is an essential quality of a gracious man.” [5] If we claim to follow Christ, we must persevere in His way, not merely assent to His teaching. [6] May we who serve Jesus drink from His streams of grace, and be faithful where we are planted.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] Derek Kidner. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72, An Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms. General Ed: D.J. Wiseman. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 47 and 48.

[3] The Reformation Study Bible. General Editor R.C. Sproul. (Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 739.

[4] C.H. Spurgeon. The Treasury of David, Containing An Original Exposition Of The Book Of Psalms; A Collection Of Illustrative Extracts From the Whole Ranger Of Literature; A Series Of Homiletical Hints Upon Almost every Verse; And Lists Of Writers Upon Each Psalm In Three Volumes, Vol., 1: Psalm I To LVII. (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Pub, 1876), 7.

[5] Spurgeon, The Treasure of David, 7.

[6] Bruce K. Waltke. The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 286-287. See also James 2:14-26.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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James 1:22: Please Verify

James 1:22: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. [1]

 Good security guards require people to verify that they are who they claim to be. A major way to know that someone is a Christian is that he or she lives according to Scripture. [2] If we identify with Christianity but fail to obey God’s Word, we lie to ourselves and deny ourselves the opportunity to grow in Christ. [3]

 While works do not save,[4] their enduring absence in people’s lives is condemning. [5] James 1:22 specifically warns that “[t]heology must lead to practice; faith must lead to deeds (2:24).” [6] You cannot claim to follow Jesus or truly know Him if your life is not submitted to His Scripture. [7] All of us struggle and fall. [8] The Trinity helps us repent and grow in His likeness. [9] Do not hesitate to come to Christ, as a struggling but growing saint, or for the first time in conversion.

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[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), 51.

[3] Doriani, James, 51. See also 1 John 1:5-10

[4] Romans Galatians 2:11-21, Ephesians 2:8-10.

[5] Luke 6:46-49; Romans 2:13, 3:21-28; and James 2:14-20. For some individuals that may qualify as exceptions please see Luke 23:39-43 and The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism. (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 2011), The Confession, Chapter X, section 1.

[6] Doriani, James, 51.

[7] 1 John 2:1-17.

[8] Romans 3:9-23; 7:21-25.

[9] The Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism, chapter XIII.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Hear

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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]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[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.

Communion with God Chapters 23&24

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Here we are in the last two chapters of "Communion with God". I hope you enjoyed reading along this summer through both the book and this blog. It's always a privilege to read and blog on these books!
Chapter 23 continues Owen's discussion on communion with the Holy Spirit. The title of the chapter is "The Behaviour of the Saints towards the Holy Spirit", but really, the chapter is about what we strive to not do towards the Holy Spirit. Owen lists three things.

1-We strive to not grieve the Holy Spirit. Now, Owen is careful here. We have to speak of grieving the Holy Spirit carefully, lest we come away with the impression that the Spirit is manipulated emotionally. This is not true. The Westminster Confession states this clearly by saying that God is without passion. That does not mean God is without emotion or passions, but it means that he is not controlled emotionally by external forces. And yet, there is a very real sense where the Spirit does indeed grieve when we, as the blood-bought people of God, do not pursue holiness in our life. Owen offers up a meditation on this topic:


The Holy Spirit is infinite love and kindness to me. He has wonderfully chosen to be my Comforter. He does this work willingly, freely and powerfully. What great things I have received from him! How often has he comforted my soul! Can I live one day without him? Shall I not care what he wants to do in me? Shall I grieve him by my negligence, sin, and foolishness? Shall not his love constrain me to walk before him in such a way that brings him great pleasure?

2-We strive to not quench the Spirit. Drawing off of Old Testament imagery where the Holy Spirit was typified by the fire that was always burning on the altar in the tabernacle and temple, Owen here is speaking specifically about not suppressing the works of the Spirit. If we resist the Spirit's work, it would be as if we're throwing wet wood on a fire to smother it. 

Now when we want to resist fire, we quench it. So the opposition made to the Holy Spirit working in us is called 'quenching the Spirit', as wet wood will do when it is cast into the fire. So we are said by the same picture to 'stir up with new fire' the gifts that are in us. The Holy Spirit is striving with us, working in us, encouraging growth in grace and the production of his holy fruit in us. 'Take heed,' says Paul, 'lest by the power of your lusts and temptations, you do not pay attention to him, but quench his works of good will in you.'

3-We do not resist the Holy Spirit. Owen's point is so good here. Stephen accused the Jews of "resisting the Spirit" by rejecting and killing the prophets of God. How might we resist the Spirit? By holding the preaching of the Word of God up with contempt. 

When the Word of God is preached, the authority, wisdom and goodness of the Holy Spirit in setting up this ordinance is to be recognized and respected. For this reason, obedience is to be given to the Word when it is preached, because the Holy Spirit and he alone gives gifts fro the Word to be preached. When this truth keeps us humble and dependent on the Holy Spirit, then we have holy fellowship with him in this ordinance.

Chapter 24, the last chapter of the book, really focuses in on worshiping the Holy Spirit as God. We'll close this blog with these words:

Our fellowship or communion with the Holy Spirit should stir us to give him praise, thanks glory, honour and blessing for the mercies and privileges we receive from him, as we do the Son for his work of Redemption (Rev. 1:5-6). Are not the same praises and blessings due to him who makes Christ's work of redemption effectual to us? The Holy Spirit undertook to be our Comforter with no less infinite love than the Son who took it on himself to be our Redeemer. When we feel our hearts warmed with joy, strengthened in peace and established in obedience, let us give him the praise that is due to him. Let us bless his name and rejoice in him.

This blog was written by Andy Styer