Posts tagged #sanctification

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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Remain in Christ by the Holy Spirit [1]

1 John 2:26-27: I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. [2]

 Regrettably, some Christian can act as if they do not need instruction or guidance. 1 John 2:26-27 states the opposite. Contextually, John tells true believers to ignore heresy because the Holy Spirit grows true believers (not new and unbiblical teaching). [3] John’s instruction helps us see that the Christ—given gift of the Holy Spirit makes all Christians, congregants and pastors alike, stand on equal footing because they all learn with the Holy Spirit’s aid. [4] The central message is “in the last three words,” calling us to “abide in [Christ].” [5] When we “remain” in Christ’s teaching, found in Scripture, by the Holy Spirit’s power we persevere in the Trinity’s providence, growing in knowledge and godliness. [6]

 Saying one prayer is not enough. Occasional church attendance is insufficient. Rarely reading the Bible is inadequate. Christians need to hear Christ-centered, biblically faithful preaching and teaching. [7] Certainly, life circumstances affect church participation and devotional life. But believers miss opportunities to mature in Christ-likeness and make themselves easy prey for deception when devoutness is absent. [8] Yes, salvation is by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone. [9] But how healthy can faith be when we minimize growth? May the Holy Spirit empower His elect to grow in the Triune God’s ways, as He has promised. [10]


This blog was written by Seth Dunn

[1] Simon J. Kistemaker. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986), 286. Kistemaker uses “remain,” rather than the ESV’s “abide,” hence my citing of him here.

[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] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 285.

[4] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 285-286.

[5] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 286.

[6] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 286.

[7] Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, 285.-286.

[8] 1 Peter 5:8-9.

[9] Galatians 2:11-21.

[10] Philippians 1:6.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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1 John 2:25-25: Abide in Truth and Happiness

1 John 2:24-25: Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. [1]

 Based on the title, you might be cringing in fear that this is about to be a health and wealth devotional. But John’s message does not allow us to go that route. In fact, John’s message is much better than self-confidence, self-approval, and self-sufficiency. These verses remind Christians of the joys they will have from remaining faithful to the Gospel John taught them by the power of the Holy Spirit. [2] By continuing in a biblical understanding of the Gospel, believers have fellowship with the Triune God and enjoy “real happiness.” [3] This “real happiness” is not infatuation with whimsical desires, but rests on the tested, true, and tried Word of God that can weather any storm. [4]

 This is why good doctrine is so important. [5] When we are careless in understanding Scripture and get quickly attached to truths that seem biblical without examining them we rob ourselves of real happiness. [6] Are you struggling to understand the difficulties in your life? Are you itching for doctrines that promote yourself rather than the Gospel? Examine what you believe against the Bible so that lasting happiness can be yours. This happiness may not make you feel the way you think you should feel, but will free you from deception. Will you abide in truth and happiness that comes from God’s Word, pointing to Christ’s redemptive work on every page, or will lies consume you?


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. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2018), Logos Bible Software, 198-199.

[3] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 199.

[4] Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 198-199. See also Timothy Keller’s “Our Identity: The Christian Alternative to Late Modernity's Story” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehw87PqTwKw.

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

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

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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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

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1 John 2:14-15: Undivided Love

1     John 2:14-15: I write to you, fathers,

because you know him who is from the beginning.

       I write to you, young men,

because you are strong,

and the word of God abides in you,

and you have overcome the evil one.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [1]

 If a husband told his wife, “I love you and this person I met online” would you believe him? No! Similarly, you would not believe a Christian who said they loved the Trinity but lived like the world. That is John’s message in verses 14-15. [2] John’s repetition in verse 14 reinforces the importance for spiritual fathers to continuing growing in Christ, and that young Christians only conquer through devotion to God and His Word. [3] Verse 15 clarifies that if we live in the things the LORD hates we cannot please Him. [4]

 Do you view Jesus as so holy and worthy that you want to be more like Him? Everyone could grow in this area, but if it is not a concern to you then you should be worried about your soul. Claiming to love God while walking in darkness is a dangerous lie for your soul. [5] If you are a Christian struggling to love God, pray that He would renew your love and He will gladly send His Holy Spirit to help you. Speaking to your pastor can also help, especially if there are worldly loves pulling you from Christ. If you are not a Christian, know that your love for what God hates results in death. [6] You can have life by confessing your sinful loves and need for Christ’s perfect work. When you embrace Christ, your affections for the things that are killing you will decrease, and your love for the Triune God will increase.


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), 268.

[4] Calvin, Catholic Epistles, 187.

[5] 1 John 1:5-10.

[6] Romans 6:23.

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart

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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

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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.

Why it is Best to Consider Yourself a Murderer

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Why it is best to consider yourself a murderer.

 

In the end, knowing that you are a murderer at heart opens the door to salvation.

 

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.[1]

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.[2]

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.[3] (RSV)

 

 What do you do when someone hits you, bumps you, insults you, or hurts you in any way? Or, make it simple, what do you think of the person who cuts you off in traffic?

When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount he ushered in a new kingdom that turned the whole world upside down and inside out.[4] In his message he raises the standard of inter-relational ethics to impossible standards; well, at least impossible without God, but that is his point. He exposes the natural tendencies of the human heart and critiques the best that man can do with the help of laws to contain those natural impulses. Finally, he requires new attitudes that can only be found in the heart of a person who knows the love and grace of God and who has been transformed and equipped to live and love as a new creation.

Our normal human tendency, when we are slapped, is to escalate the violence. An accidental bump in the marketplace or an inadvertent word becomes an offense which leads to a grudge and becomes a feud which is passed on to the generations. The response to a slap is to find a baseball bat which leads to a bigger stick, and then a gun and finally, in the end, to murder. Murder leads to murder, family hates family, clan hates clan, and nations go to war long past the point where the original bump in the marketplace has passed into legend.

Understanding this natural tendency, God gave the ancient Israelites a higher standard of justice. In Exodus 21, the chapter right after the presentation of the Ten Commandments, God lays out a system of justice that was often summarized with verses 23 and 24, “But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (ESV) Although the imagery is slightly gory, this simple statement is the starting point for any contemplation of justice. Rather than having an offense escalate, any system of justice should maintain a balanced system where the recompense for an offense is proportional and also satisfies the circumstance so there is no ongoing escalation of uncontrolled “repayments.”[5]
Jesus points to this view of the law as a useful starting point to overturn the self-righteousness of man. If someone hurts us, under the law, we want to pat ourselves on the back and say that we only took back what we deserved. “He slapped me, I slapped him. We’re even.”[6] At one level this is just; but Jesus has something so much greater in mind. In our normal, law-less mode we are slapped and we want to destroy our neighbor. Under the law we are slapped and after a slap back, we walk away hating each other. In the upside-down kingdom, Jesus wants us, when we are slapped, to return utter vulnerability in the hope that our response of grace will lead to a restored and improved relationship.

Jesus wants to set a new standard and a new goal. He wants the standard to be love matching God’s love and the goal to be new-found and restored relationship. In our natural state the goal is destruction and there is no hope of restoration or relationship, in fact, we don’t even seek it. Under the law we are slapped and we want to terminate the relationship on equal terms. The goal is to walk away hating each other but at least not making things worse. The best we can hope for is, “He slapped me, I slapped him, we’re even… the jerk.”

But in the upside-down kingdom Jesus wants us, in the face of an offense, to respond with love and get as compensation … nothing. Moreover, he wants us to offer more than what is expected or required. Instead of justice that is even[7], when someone hits us, he wants us to offer the other cheek also.

Let’s ponder why Jesus uses the image of a slap. Being slapped in the face is more than just painful, it is a challenge or an insult. It is an intimate gesture and a personal affront. Jesus raises the bar, using an image of a destruction of fellowship that is face to face, deliberate and coldly unavoidable. We know who struck us and we know the slap was delivered with a purpose. In return, the Godly response is not only that we don’t return the slap, which would be “just” under the law, but we don’t even try to defend ourselves against the indignity. We don’t seek to defend ourselves, because we have a new goal – restoration.

When someone strikes us, or insults us, or shuns us, or hurts us in any way, we are immediately placed at a relational crossroads. Our response will either end the relationship (or start down that road) or restore the relationship. Instead of being satisfied with the end of relationship, turning the other cheek means that we chase down the person who struck us and offer them a chance to try again and to not strike the other cheek. Our driving passion is to restore the relationship through the love of God with no immediate consideration given to what has been done to us or whether we have been hurt. There may be consequences or reparations or issues to resolve, but that is a later part of the process to be worked out later.

Even the most superficial evaluation of this upside-down way of living should stun us. Not only would this attitude transform all human relationships, but through careful assessment of our own selfish hearts, we immediately realize that this attitude is impossible to cultivate without a profound transformation, first, of our whole lives. We need a new understanding, a new perspective, one that overturns our natural way of thinking. We need our hearts totally transformed from self-centeredness to utter selflessness. Even our best actions and habits need to be re-directed as new fruit of a transformed concept of the goal of restoration. The action of turning the other cheek can only be the result of a revolutionized way of thinking and a heart that has been transformed by God.

Jesus knew this and made it clear as he ushered in the upside-down kingdom. He discusses murder as a way to reveal our hearts in a penetrating and inescapable way. We all know that murder is at the extreme end of relational destruction. Jesus uses murder because it is such an absolute that we all understand. He traps us because He he doesn’t want us to be able to somehow claim self-righteously, “I’m okay because I haven’t murdered anyone.” His new kingdom trap works like this; “If you even call someone a fool, that is the same a murder.”[8] This challenge does three things. First of all, we must realize that we are all guilty of murder – nobody can make the claim, “I’m okay.” To identify a murderer, we no longer need a dead body, the proof starts in our innermost thoughts.

Secondly, he pushes the ethical requirement off the scales (just like turning the other cheek). It isn’t good enough to not murder someone, you can’t even think ill of a person. This forces upon us a crushing implication – if we are not to think ill of a person, that means that we must think well of everyone. Jesus makes this clear when he talks about how to treat our enemies. Imagine someone who is deliberately pursuing your destruction. Not just careless, not merely thoughtless, not simply inconsiderate; the person wants to hurt you, destroy your reputation, take away your wealth and he is doing everything possible to carry out his harmful intentions against you. Jesus says, “Love that person.” <<Insert animated GIF of a jaw dropping here.>> And here is the shocker, to your enemy, to love your enemy, you can’t be careless, or thoughtless, or inconsiderate. It isn’t enough to merely not be offended – you can’t be indifferent. Your love needs to be thoughtful, purposeful, and deliberate. You need to do everything possible to carry out your loving plans to that enemy as he seeks to destroy you. Jesus wants you to pray for that person, give him your things, and invite him into your home. You don’t merely avoid your enemy, you chase after him to present your other cheek for slapping.

Thirdly, and this is true any time we see the standard of God, we are faced with our absolute helplessness and our desperate need for God’s grace to be in us and filling us. On our own we are the murderers, we are the enemy to those around us. Under the Law, the best that we can hope for is to produce a legalistic response where we restrain physical murder. But mere restraint will never free us from being murderers in our hearts nor will it free us to love anyone else no matter who they are. C.S. Lewis wrote a poem that brings this to life, As the Ruin Falls. In it he says,

 

“All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.[9]

 

This is why Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. The only love that we can produce on our own is a self-centered, self-seeking, greedy love of Me. That is our natural state. Under the law we can (maybe) rise high enough to keep our external actions from revealing the inner selfishness. To love our neighbors and enemies, to turn the other cheek, to free ourselves from murder, we need to be transformed into people who are filled with the grace of God and live by it.

What Jesus said in these verses is hard to take. Most of us see ourselves as “really a pretty good person.” Human culture shoves this concept down our throats. We are endlessly pummeled with the message that we are “basically good” from psychologists, politicians and celebrities.[10]  It is pleasant and comforting and nice when people say this to us, because it is what we want to believe anyway. However, in our more private and introspective moments we sometimes admit that we have “made mistakes.” This statement is normally linked most logically to some kind of statement like, “but everybody makes mistakes,” which is supposed to justify our littler less significant mistakes. Or if someone presses us into a corner, we admit that we “might have done something wrong,” but in the perfect extreme defense we add, “well, maybe, but I haven’t killed anyone.” And at long last, we are finally trapped by the words of Jesus.

Physical murder is not the standard anymore. It is easy for most of us to keep from actual murder. But, if you murder someone in your heart, if you look down on someone, if you dismiss or disregard someone, ignore or show indifference, you are a murderer. And ironically our primary defense reveals that this is what we do all the time. We explain away our sins by comparing ourselves to someone else. In the end, we exalt ourselves in the condemnation of others. We see that we are a little bit wrong, but that other person is the real fool. Raca! If only those people were like me! Raca! That jerk cut me off! Raca! We condemn everyone as a fool every time they don’t meet up to our standards. And when we do that, we become murderers.

Jesus wants us to see ourselves as murderers because that strips away all of our self-confidence and self-sufficiency. If you see yourself as a murderer, you realize that you are worse off than your worst fears.[11] This gives us a desperate humility. We gain a new perspective of ourselves, a new perspective of others, a new perspective on our situation, and a new appreciation of our need for the grace of God.

Your new self-perspective, crushing as it is, puts you at the utter bottom of the moral stack, where you can finally be free and stop thinking so highly of yourself. You certainly can’t look at anyone else and claim that you are somehow better. From this point of view, when someone slaps you, the indignation is gone, because you know that you are a slapper, too. Still though, it is hard being slapped. How do we overcome?

The only deliverance from our state of desperate humility is through faith in Jesus Christ. He received the Ultimate Slap, the rejection of his own heavenly Father and the punishment of all the sins of mankind. He bore every insult, bump, anger, murder, hatred, and indignation, so that we don’t have to. When we look at Jesus and seize desperately upon his nail-scarred hand, we can finally find what we need to overlook the bump, terminate the feud, and chase down our enemies to offer them another swing at our cheek.

This blog was written by Charles Fox

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (Mt 5:21–22). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Blomberg, C. (1992). Vol. 22: Matthew. The New American Commentary (113). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (Mt 5:43–45). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] It is important to note that all of these principles were already revealed in the Old Testament, the difference is that the nature of the kingdom changes when the King arrives.

[5] Please note that there is NO sense of punishment in this system. Compensation and restoration is the assumed purpose of justice. The goal is never to “make him pay for what he did.” Jesus, of course, pushes that to the limit in the Sermon on the Mount. It is valuable to note that as a culture moves further and further from God, this sense of proportion is increasingly lost.

[6] Which misses the point anyway. Even this view of law should awaken us to an “Aha!” moment. How does hitting someone back accomplish anything of value? Any opportunity for reconciliation, or to show the other person their fault through our grace and forgiveness is lost.

[7] At home, the natural tendency is that everyone gets the exact same amount of cake. The proper response is that if someone takes ALL of the cake and I don’t get ANY, that is ok. As Christians, our goal is not “what is fair in my eyes,” but sacrifice for the delight of others.

[8] A spoken word is more than just noise that comes out of our mouths. What we say reflects the profoundest beliefs and commitments of our hearts. When we call a person “Fool!” we are making a pronouncement of purpose and commitment. When we denigrate another, we are saying what we think they are worth, and what they deserve, and what we would do to them if we had the means. In the context of our discussion, it makes us the enemy who wants to destroy the person, that is, we are the murderer. Jesus nails us and our narcissistic world further when he uses the word “Raca.” Raca means empty, that is, you are “Raca,” you are nothing. This passive indifference that treats someone as if they are nothing is perhaps even worse than murder. Every human is of infinite consequence, and for us to dismiss anyone as meaningless is as far from love as you can get.

[9] C.S.Lewis, Poems, “As the Ruin Falls” (1st pub. 1964), pp. 109-110.

[10] The irony is that what they are really saying is, “I am a good person,” with no basis for such a preposterous claim. Since there is no way to prove this, the only remaining logic left is to make a claim that all people are good, and it is just the rare other person who has somehow gone wrong. Five minutes in the real world dispels the fantasy that bad people are “rare.”

[11] Jack Miller would tell us in church over and over – “Cheer up! You’re a worse sinner than you dared imagine, and you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.”

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Hearts

Treasuring God's Truth in Your Heart.png

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.

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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

Psalm 1:1-2: Guard Your Mind

Psalm 1:1-2: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. [1]

If you wanted to protect your house, one measure you might take is to hire a guard to stand outside your door. Psalm 1 functions as a guard at the front door of the Psalms, warning that we must embrace God’s truth or face “ultimate judgement.” [2] The three negatives in verse one warn against departing God’s ways, and verse two reflects the importance of absorbing “Scripture as a whole” to stay on the LORD’s path, off the way to destruction. [3]

Because Psalm 1 is God’s truth, ignoring its instructions leads to condemnation. [4] Minds that reject Scripture are doomed. [5] The “law” in verse two is the whole system of God’s teaching and faithful living. [6] The consequences for disregarding the Bible’s covenantal law by the power of the Holy Spirit are catastrophic for believer and unbeliever alike, though true Christians are spared from eternal damnation. [7] Therein is the issue: we all fail! Our only hope is to cling to the one who faithfully lived out Psalm 1: Jesus Christ. If we trust in Him as our only means of forgiveness from the Father’s just wrath, then we can grow in His counsel, maturing in His way, as we await the day when we will sit with Him in glory. [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] 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.

[3] Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 48.

[4] Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 21:8, etc.

[5] Proverbs 1:1-7; John 14:6.

[6] J.E. Hartley. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Vol. 2. Eds: R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), Logos Bible Software, 403-405.

[7] Matthew 7:21-23; Proverbs 3:12 and Hebrews 12:5-8; Matthew 12:33-37; Hebrews 3:12-19, etc.

[8] Philippians 1:6; Revelation 22:1-5.

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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.

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Romans 13:14: Transformed

Romans 13:14: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.[1]

John Murray teaches that to properly understand Romans 13:13-14, we must understand Romans 6:1-10, because Christian conversion leads to change. [2] When people become believers, they are transformed by God’s glory. [3] The Trinity’s transformational work equips Christians to move from evil and become more like Christ. [4]

Further, Romans 13:13-14 “is what the Bible urges upon everyone.” [5] These verses call Christians to continually grow to be like Christ. [6] They also plead with those who do not believe to be dressed in Christ’s righteousness by trusting that His life, work, and resurrection purchased forgiveness for His children. [7]

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] 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), 170.

[3] Romans 6:4.

[4] James Montgomery Boice. Romans: The New Humanity, Romans 12-16, Vol. 4. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books a division of Baker Book House Co, 1995), 1719.

[5] Boice, Romans, Vol. 4, 1719.

[6] Murray, Romans, Vol. II, 170.

[7] Isaiah 61:10, 2 Corinthians 5:21

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Ephesians 4:29: Well Worded

Ephesians 4:29: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. [1]

 We easily see the “do not” in this verse, but there is much more than a negative. Paul commands believers to “edify” each other, which is “to carry [each other] forward” using words of “grace, comfort, advice, and everything that aids the salvation of the soul.” [2]

 Imagine how different life would be if words were aimed at benefitting souls. No generic well-wishing or simplistic sympathies, but genuine, timely communication pointing people to Christ. How do we know Paul wants people to see Christ? The best way to give grace and build someone up is to be used by God to help make Christ the centerpiece of their life. [3] Further, Christ alone had perfect speech, [4] the speech we should emulate. [5] Accordingly, if we want eternally meaningful interactions, we must speak in ways that highlight and “imitate” Christ. [6] Christians: are our words life giving or life taking? Christ-less hearts (in people who have not trusted Christ to forgive their sins) communicate corruption rather than grace. [7]

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] John Calvin. Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians. Trans. William Pringle. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Co, 1981), 300.

[3] John 3:16-17; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 1:3-6, 2:1-10; 1 John 4:7-21.

[4] 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5, 3:8.

[5] Ephesians 5:4; Colossians 3:8; 3:16; 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

[6] 1 Corinthians 11:1.

[7] Matthew 12:34.

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Ephesians 4:26-27: Now I’m Mad!

Ephesians 4:26-27: Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. [1]

Are these verses forbidding road rage? Perhaps: Paul’s main concern is not allowing expressions of anger to give Satan advantage over us. [2] Anger can be good and righteous when expressed in godly ways and aimed at evil. [3] Anger that festers, consumes, and/or unnecessarily explodes exposes immaturity and gives the devil a pressure point. [4] In order that Christ may keep us out of the evil one’s clutches, Paul lovingly shows us that the adversary rules when anger reigns. [5] Paul is not calling for immediate resolutions in every situation, but he is warning against rage. [6]

Why care? Do you drink poison? No, that would be foolish! Then why continue allowing anger and the devil to poison your soul? Turning to Jesus is the only means to escape the “corrosive” effects from fury and Satan. [7]

This blog was written by Seth Dunn

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

[2] Bryan Chapell. Reformed Expository Commentary: Ephesians. Series Eds. Richard D. Phillips and Philip Graham Ryken. Testament Eds. Iain M. Duguid and Daniel M. Doriani. (Philipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2009), 224.

[3] Chapell, Ephesians, 222.

[4] Chapell, Ephesians, 223-24.

[5] Chapell, Ephesians, 224.

[6] Chapell, Ephesians, 223.

[7] Chapell, Ephesians, 224. See also

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2 Timothy 2:22: Running From and To

2 Timothy 2:22: So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. [1]

As Paul continues mentoring Timothy on being a minister, he warns Timothy what to run from and what to run to in order to be a worthy servant for Christ. [2] As a pastor, Timothy must escape the “youthful passions” of “impatience,” “contentiousness,” and “harshness”—all things that shipwreck churches. [3] Yet, good ministers also live positive commands. Part of Timothy glorifying God and serving his church includes living righteously, faithfully, lovingly, peacefully, and purely. [4]

Unfortunately, we are more familiar with ministers who run to sin and from righteousness. Even those claiming to be Christians hurt anyone. These truly painful failures are not grounds for sin or rejecting Christianity. Believers: we must all strive to escape sin and imitate Christ. Others’ failures do not excuse ours. Sinful people should not keep us out of church. Unbelievers: you are right to call sin sin. But throwing out Christianity because of others keeps you from experiencing the love and peace this passage encourages in Christ. Please, do not let broken people keep you from “your only hope in life and in death.” [5]

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] R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chapell. Preaching the Word: 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: To Guard the Deposit. General Editor R. Kent Hughes. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, a division of Good News Publishers, 2000), 218 and 216.

[3] Hughes, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, 218.

[4] Hughes, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, 218-219.

[5] The Heidelberg Catechism – Christian Reformed Church. Bing Search Engine. Accessed June 15, 2018. https://www.crcna.org/sites/default/files/HeidelbergCatechism.pdf.