Archive for May, 2013

A new creature in Christ

Posted: May 31, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Puritan Faith

If I am a new creature in Christ, then I stand before God, not in myself—but in Christ. He sees no longer me—but only him in whom I am—him who represents me, Christ Jesus, my substitute and surety. In believing, I have become so identified with the Son of his love, that the favor with which he regards him passes over to me, and rests, like the sunshine of the new heavens, upon me.

In Christ, and through Christ, I have acquired a new standing before the Father. I am ‘accepted in the beloved.’

My old standing, that is, that of distance, and disfavor, and condemnation, is wholly removed, and I am brought into one of nearness, and acceptance, and pardon—I am made to occupy a new footing, just as if my old one had never been. Old guilt, heavy as the mountain, vanishes; old dread, gloomy as midnight, passes off; old fear, dark as hell, gives place to the joyful confidence arising from forgiveness and reconciliation, and the complete blotting out of sin.

All things are made new. I have changed my standing before God; and that simply in consequence of that oneness between me and Christ, which has been established, through my believing the record given concerning him. I come to him on a new footing, for I am “in Christ,” and in me there has been a new creation.

— Horatius Bonar“Christ and the New Creation”

 

HT:OFI

Psalm 72; D.A. Carson

Posted: May 28, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

ONE OF THE FEATURES OF THE PSALMS that describe the enthronement of a Davidic king, or the reign of a Davidic king, is how often the language goes “over the top.” This feature combines with the built-in Davidic typology to give these psalms a twin focus. On the one hand, they can be read as somewhat extravagant descriptions of one of the Davidic kings (in this case Solomon, according to the superscription); on the other, they invite the reader to anticipate something more than a David or a Solomon or a Josiah.

So it is in Psalm 72. On the one hand, the Davidic monarch was to rule in justice, and it is entirely appropriate that so much of the psalm is devoted to this theme. In particular, he is to take the part of the afflicted, “the children of the needy” (Ps. 72:4), those “who have no one to help” (72:12). He is to oppose the oppressor and the victimizer, establishing justice and stability, and rescuing those who would otherwise suffer oppression and violence (72:14). His reign is to be characterized by prosperity, which is itself “the fruit of righteousness” (72:3 — a point the West is rapidly forgetting). Gold will flow into the country, the people will pray for their monarch; grain will abound throughout the land (72:15-16).

On the other hand, some of the language is wonderfully extravagant. Some of this is in line with the way other ancient Near Eastern kings were extolled. Nevertheless, combined with the Davidic typology and the rising messianic expectation, it is difficult not to overhear something more specific. “He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations” (72:5) — which may be true of the dynasty, or may be an extravagant wish for some purely human Davidic king, but is literally true of only one Davidic king. “He will rule from sea to sea and from the River (i.e., the Euphrates) to the ends of the earth” (72:8) — which contains a lovely ambiguity. Are the “seas” no more than the Mediterranean and Galilee? Should the Hebrew be translated (as it might be) more conservatively to read “the end of the land”? But surely not. For not only will “the desert tribes” (i.e., from adjacent lands) bow before him, but the kings of Tarshish — Spain! — and of other distant lands will bring tribute to him (72:9-10). Moreover: “All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him” (72:11). “All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed” (72:17) — as clear an echo of the Abrahamic covenant as one can imagine (Gen. 12:2-3).

One greater than Solomon has come (Matt. 12:42).

 

 

from D.A. Carson blog

Christ our renovator

Posted: May 28, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right, and stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably, and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in itHimself.

— C. S. LewisMere Christianity(London: William Collins, 1970), 172

 

 

HT:Ofi

“[I]f a king be reigning somewhere,but stays in his own house and does not let himself be seen, it often happens that some insubordinate fellows, taking advantage of his retirement, will have themselves proclaimed in his stead; and each of them, being invested with the semblance of kingship, misleads the simple who, because they cannot enter the palace and see the real king, are led astray by just hearing a king named. When the real king emerges, however, and appears to view, things stand differently. The insubordinate impostors are shown up by his presence, and men, seeing the real king, forsake those who previously misled them. In the same way the demons used formerly to impose on men, investing themselves with the honor due to God. But since the Word of God has been manifested in a body, and has made known to us His own Father, the fraud of the demons is stopped and made to disappear; and men, turning their eyes to the true God, Word of the Father, forsake the idols and come to know the true God.

“Now this is proof that Christ is God, the Word and Power of God. For whereas human things cease and the fact of Christ remains, it is clear to all that the things which cease are temporary, but that He Who remains is God and very Son of God, the sole-begotten Word.”

– Athanasius, On the Incarnation

 

 

from Jared Wilson’s blog

only God could pay it

Posted: May 24, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

It could not have been done unless man paid what was owing to God for sin. But the debt was so great that while man alone owed it, only God could pay it, so that the same person must be both man and God. Thus it was necessary for God to take manhood into the unity of his person, so that he who in his own nature ought to pay and could not should be in a person who could.

— Anselm of Canterbury, quoted by Richard D. Phillips inHebrews: Reformed Expository Commentary(Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2006), 79

 

Ht:OFI

Psalms71;

Posted: May 24, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

MOST CHRISTIANS HAVE listened to testimonies that relate how some man or woman lived a life of fruitlessness and open degradation, or at least of quiet desperation, before becoming a Christian. Genuine faith in the Lord Christ brought about a personal revolution: old habits destroyed, new friends and commitments established, a new direction to give meaning and orientation. Where there was despair, there is now joy; where there was turmoil, there is now peace; where there was anxiety, there is now some measure of serenity. And some of us who were reared in Christian homes have secretly wondered if perhaps it might have been better if we had been converted out of some rotten background.

That is not the psalmist’s view. “For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb” (Ps. 71:5-6). “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds” (71:17). Indeed, because of this background, the psalmist calmly looks over the intervening years and petitions God for persevering grace into old age: “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone” (71:9). “But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more” (71:14). “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” (71:18).

Doubtless particular circumstances were used by God to elicit these words from the psalmist’s pen. Nevertheless, the stance itself is invaluable. The most thoughtful of those who are converted later in life wish they had not wasted so many of their early years. Now that they have found the pearl of great price, their only regret is that they did not find it sooner. More importantly, those who are reared in godly Christian homes are steeped in Scripture from their youth. There is plenty in Scripture and in personal experience to disclose to them the perversity of their own hearts; they do not have to be sociopaths to discover what depravity means. They will be sufficiently ashamed of the sins they have committed, despite their backgrounds, that instead of wishing they could have had a worse background (!), they sometimes hang their head in shame that they have done so little with their advantages, and frankly recognize that apart from the grace of God, there is no crime and sin to which they could not sink.

It is best, by far, to be grateful for a godly heritage and to petition God himself for grace that will see you through old age.

 

from D.A. Carson Blog

Psalm 69; D.A. Carson

Posted: May 23, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

AT ONE LEVEL, Psalm 69 finds David pouring his heart out to God, begging for help as he faces extraordinary pressures and opponents. We may not be able to reconstruct all the circumstances that are presented here in poetic form, but David has been betrayed by people close to him, and his anguish is palpable.

At another level, this psalm is a rich repository of texts quoted or paraphrased by New Testament writers: “Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head” (69:4; see John 15:25); “I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother’s sons” (69:8; cf. John 7:5); “for zeal for your house consumes me” (69:9; see John 2:17); “and the insults of those who insult you fall on me” (69:9; see Rom. 15:3); “but I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation” (69:13; cf. Isa. 49:8); 2 Cor. 6:2); “they put gall in my food and gave me vinegar” (69:21; see Matt. 27:48Mark 15:36Luke 23:36); “they . . . gave me vinegar for my thirst” (69:21; see Matt. 27:34Mark 15:23John 19:28-30); “may their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents” (69:25; see Matt. 23:38Acts 1:20); “may they be blotted out of the book of life” (69:28; cf. Luke 10:20).

For the sheer concentration of such citations and allusions in one chapter, this psalm is remarkable. Of course, they are not all of the same sort, and this brief meditation cannot possibly probe them all. But several of them fall into one important pattern. This is a psalm written by David. (There is no good reason to doubt this attribution from the superscription.) David is not only the head of the dynasty that issues in “great David’s greater Son” (as the hymn writer puts it), but in many ways he becomes a model for the king who is to come, a pattern for him — a type, if you will.

That is the reasoning of the New Testament authors. It is easy enough to demonstrate that the reasoning is well grounded. Here it is enough to glimpse something of the result. If King David could endure scorn for God’s sake (69:7), how much more the ultimate King — who certainly also suffers rejection by his brothers for God’s sake (69:8). If David is zealous for the house of the Lord, how could Jesus’ disciples possibly fail to see in his cleansing of the temple and related utterances something of his own zeal (John 2:17)? Indeed, in the minds of the New Testament authors, such passages link with the “Suffering Servant” theme that surfaces in Isaiah 53 — and is here tied to King David and his ultimate heir and Lord.

 

 

from D.A. Carson blog

The gospel spirit

Posted: May 23, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

“The gospel spirit is a catholic spirit, a noble and unconfined benevolence, like unto that of our Creator, not confined to any particular part of mankind exclusive of others. . . . To make the wickedness of men the cause of contention and strife in us is to make one sin the cause of another.  We cannot please the devil better than by hating men’s persons under pretense of duty.”

Jonathan Edwards, quoted in George M. Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven, 2003), page 97.

 

 

from Ray Ortlund’s blog

Psalms 66 , D.A. Carson

Posted: May 22, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

IN AN AGE OF MANY “PRAISE CHORUSES,” people are tempted to think that our generation is especially rich in praise. Surely we know more about praise that our stuffy parents and grandparents in their somber suits and staid services, busily singing their old-fashioned hymns.

It does not help clarity of thought on these matters to evaluate in stereotypes. Despite the suspicions of some older people, not all contemporary expressions of praise are frivolous and shallow; despite the suspicions of some young people, not all forms of praise from an earlier generation are to be abandoned in favor of the immediate and the contemporary.

But there are two elements expressed in the praise of Psalm 66 that are almost never heard today, and that badly need to be reincorporated both into our praise and into our thinking.

The first is found in 66:8-12. There the psalmist begins by inviting the peoples of the world to listen in on the people of God as they praise him because “he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.” Then the psalmist directly addresses God, and mentions the context in which the Lord God preserved them: “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance” (66:10 -12).

This is stunning. The psalmist thanks God for testing his covenant people, for refining them under the pressure of some extraordinarily difficult circumstances and for sustaining them through that experience. This is the response of perceptive, godly faith. It is not heard on the lips of those who thank God only when they escape trial or are feeling happy.

The second connects the psalmist’s desperate cry with righteousness: “I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer” (66:17-19, emphasis added). this is not to say that the Lord answers us because we have merited his favor by our righteous endeavor. Rather, because we have entered into a personal and covenantal relationship with God, we owe him our allegiance, our faith, our obedience. If instead we nurture sin in our inmost being, and then turn to God for help, why should he not respond with the judgment and chastisement that we urgently deserve? He may turn away, and sovereignly let sin take its ugly course.

Our generation desperately needs to connect praise with righteousness, worship with obedience, and the Lord’s response with a clean heart.

 

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

“To the rescue!”

Posted: May 22, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship, Spurgeon

I give my sheep eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  John 10:28

“Some will tell us that a man may receive spiritual life, and yet may die eternally.  That is to say, a man may be forgiven, and yet be punished afterwards.  He may be justified from all sin, and yet after that his transgression can be laid on his shoulders again.  A man may be born of God, and yet die.  A man may be loved of God, and yet God may hate him tomorrow. . . . As for me, I so deeply believe in the immutable love of Jesus that I suppose that if one believer were to be in hell, Christ himself would not long stay in heaven but would cry, ‘To the rescue!’”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Two Effects of the Gospel,” 27 May 1855.

 

 

from Ray Ortlunds blog

Psalms 56 , D.A. Carson

Posted: May 21, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

AMERICAN COINS have the words “In God we trust.” In our pluralistic age, it is not unreasonable to respond, “Which God?” Even if the answer to that were unambiguously the God of the Bible, most people, I suspect, would think of this trust in God in fairly privatized of mystical ways. It is distressingly easy to think of trust in God as a kind of religious intuition, a pious sensibility, with only the vaguest perception of what this trust entails.

David is under no such delusions. Twice in Psalm 56 his description of the God in whom he trusts implicitly gives some substance to the nature of trust. David writes, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (56:3-4, emphasis added). Again: “In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise — in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (56:10-11, emphasis added).

In both passages, David grasps that trust in God is the only solution to his fear: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you . . . in God I trust; I will not be afraid . . . in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” The superscription of the psalm shows that David wrote it shortly after his horrible experience in Gath (1 Sam. 21:10-15). While fleeing Saul, David hid out in Philistine territory and came within a whisker of being killed. He escaped by feigning madness. Doubtless he had been very afraid, and in his fear he trusted God, and found the strength to pull off a remarkable act that saved his life.

But for our purposes, the striking element in David’s confession of his trust is his repetition of one clause. Three times he mentions the Lord God whose word I praise. In this context, the specific word that calls forth this description probably has something to do with why David could trust him so fully under these circumstances. The most likely candidate for what this “word” is that David praises is God’s promise to give him the kingdom and to establish him as the head of a dynasty. His current circumstances are so dire that unbelief might seem more obviously warranted. But David trusts the Lord whose word I praise.

What we need is faith in the speaking God, faith in God that is firmly grounded in what this speaking God has said. Then, in the midst of even appalling circumstances, we can find deep rest in the God who does not go back on his word. Transparently, such faith is grounded in God’s revelatory words.

 

from D.A. Carson’s blog

 

A much better approach is to see Proverbs as a divine book of moral generalities, of rules of thumb, rather than a book of pointed prophecies, physical laws, or contractual obligations. That’s just what proverbs or aphorisms are meant to be, whether we’re talking about such secular versions as “a stitch in time saves nine” and “absence makes the heart grow fonder” or the inspired, biblical counterparts, “A gracious woman gains honor” (12:16) or “Wealth obtained by fraud will dwindle” (13:11). Though we can think of exceptions to these rules, there is deep and life-important truth in them.

 

read the rest here

Psalm 51; D.A. Carson

Posted: May 16, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Discipleship

GUILT. What a horrendous burden.

Sometimes people carry a tremendous weight of subjective guilt — i.e., of felt guilt — when they are not really guilty. Far worse is the situation where they carry a tremendous weight of objective guilt — i.e., they really are guilty of some odious sin in the eyes of the living God — and are so hardened that they do not know it.

The superscription of Psalm 51 discloses that as David writes he consciously carries both objective and subjective guilt. Objectively, he has committed adultery with Bathsheba and has arranged the murder of her husband Uriah; subjectively, Nathan’s parable (2 Sam. 12) has driven home to David’s conscience something of the proportion of his own sin, and he writes in shame.

(1) David confesses his sin and cries for mercy (51:1-2). There is no echo of the cries for vindication that mark some of the earlier psalms. When we are guilty, and know we are guilty, no other course is possible, and only this course is helpful.

(2) David frankly recognizes that his offense is primarily against God (51:4), not against Uriah, Bathsheba, the child that was conceived, or even the covenant people who bear some of the judgment. God sets the standards. When we break them, we are defying him. Further, David knows that he sits on the throne out of God’s sheer elective grace. To betray the covenant from a position of God-appointed trust is doubly appalling.

(3) David is honest enough to recognize that this sequence of sins, though particularly vile, does not stand alone. It is a display of what is in the heart, of the sin nature that we inherit from our parents. Nothing avails if we are not finally cleansed inwardly, if we are not granted a pure heart and a steadfast spirit (51:5-6. 10).

(4) For David this is not some merely cerebral or cool theological process. Objective guilt and subjective recognition of it so merge that David feels oppressed: his bones are crushed (51:8), he cannot escape the specter of his own sin (51:3), and the joy of his salvation has dissolved (51:12). The transparent honesty and passion of David’s prayer disclose that he seeks no blasé or formulaic cleansing.

(5) David recognizes the testimonial value of being forgiven, and uses it as an argument before God as to why he should be forgiven (51:12-15). Implicitly, of course, this is an appeal for God’s glory.

(6) Steeped as he is in the sacrificial system of the Mosaic covenant, David nevertheless adopts more fundamental priorities. The prescribed sacrifices mean nothing apart from the sacrifice of a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart (51:16-19).

from D.A. Carson’s blog