Psalm 83: A Psalm of Asaph
O God, do not keep silence;
do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
For behold, your enemies make an uproar;
those who hate you have raised their heads.
They lay crafty plans against your people;
they consult together against your treasured ones.
Continue reading “The Prayer Book of the Messiah”
Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them? Therefore speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him as he comes with the multitude of his idols, that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols. “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the Lord will answer him myself. And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 14:1-8)
Continue reading “Tearing Down Idols of the Heart”
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
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He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching. (Mark 6:1-6)
There were only two instances in Scripture when Jesus wondered or marveled at the reactions of men. The first was in this instance when he wondered at the unbelief of the people of his own town. The second was at the faith of the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13).
Continue reading “A Prophet without Honor”
In Part 1, we examined the very nature of union with Christ and how it was defined in the life of a believer. Now we will look at how union is applied or obtained, the benefits of communion, and finally some practical applications.
This new identity in Christ is not something we achieve by converting ourselves or trying to enter into it. It is given to us graciously by God, apart from and outside of ourselves. It is the monergistic, supernatural work of God. We are released from the condemnation of the law, and given the privilege of serving a new Master. Before, righteousness made no claims on us to which we could respond favorably. Now, because we are united to Christ, new affections and new loyalties produce new service and new acts of righteousness. Only God can give us a new heart and make us a new creation. In other words, Christ did no come to “improve” the old self, but rather to kills us, in order to raise us to newness of life. In doctrinal terms, this is what is called “regeneration.”
Continue reading “United with Christ, Our Hope of Glory (Part 2)”
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:1–11, ESV)
A favorite film of all, both young and old, is “A Christmas Carol” from the original book by Charles Dickens. One memorable scene has Ebenezer Scrooge awakening to find in the next room, the Ghost of Christmas Present sitting high above a stack of gifts with bright lights and decorations adoring the previously drab room. Ebenezer is invited into the room with the boisterous words, “Come in, and know me better man!” This brief analogy is a reminder that Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, invites us to come into relationship with him that we might “know him better.” Yet, Christ does more than this by uniting himself with us through the Spirit.
Continue reading “United with Christ, Our Hope of Glory (Part 1)”
Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord. (Exodus 6:7-8)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “ Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:15-17)
Adoption is one of the greatest privileges of believers. By faith, we are brought into the family of God. It is an important doctrine to understand and perceive as it is tied with all of salvation, including justification and regeneration. The biblical understanding of adoption is the authoritative translation of a believer, by Jesus Christ, from the family of the world and Satan into the family of God, with his investiture into all the privileges and advantages of that family.
God sovereignly elects to place us into communion with his own family through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.
Continue reading “Adoption as Sons of God”