Wednesday, February 27, 2008

AN ODE TO SOVEREIGN GRACE


May not the Sovereign LORD on high,
Dispense His favours as He will,
Choose some to life while others die,
And yet be just and gracious still?
Shall man reply against the LORD,
And call His Maker's ways unjust,
The thunder of whose dreadful word
Can crush a thousand worlds to dust?
But, O my soul, if truths so bright
Should dazzle and confound thy sight,
Yet still His written will obey,
And wait the great decisive day!

God's ways are just, His counsels wise,
No darkness can prevent His eyes;
No thought can fly, nor thing can move,
Unknown to Him that sits above.
He in the thickest darkness dwells,
Performs His work, the cause conceals,
But though His methods are unknown,
Judgement and Truth support His Throne.
In Heaven and earth and air and seas,
He executes His firm decrees;
And by His saints it stands confessed,
That what He does is ever best.
Wait then, my soul, submissive wait,
Prostrate thyself before His awful seat,
And midst the terrors of His rod,
Trust in a wise and gracious God.


Not all the outward forms on earth,
Nor rites that God hath given,
Nor will of man, nor blood, nor birth,
Can raise a soul to Heaven.
The Sovereign will of God alone
Creates us heirs of grace
Both in the image of His Son,
A new peculiar race.



Thus quickened souls awake and rise
From the long sleep of death;
On heavenly things they fix their eyes,
And praise employs their breath.


How oft have sin and Satan strove,
To rend my soul from Thee, my God,
But everlasting is Thy love,
And Jesus seals it with His blood.

The Gospel bears my spirit up,
A faithful and unchanging God,
Lays the foundation of my hope,
In oaths and promises and blood.

Not as the world, the Saviour gives:
He is no fickle friend;
Whom once He loves, He never leaves,
But loves him to the end.
Though thousand snares enclose his feet,
Not one shall hold him fast;
Whatever dangers he may meet,
He shall get safe at last.

The spirit that would this truth withstand,
Would pull God's temple down,
Wrest Jesus' sceptre from His hand,
And spoil Him of His crown.
Satan might then full victory boast,
The church might wholly fall;
If one believer may be lost,
It follows, so may all.
But Christ in every age has proved,
His purchase firm and true;
If this foundation be removed,
What shall the righteous do?

By Christopher Ness

OUR ONLY COMFORT


What is your comfort in life? In death?


Comfort is something that everyone wants to have in life. To have peace of mind, to be relieved from misery, to possess contentment and inner calm -- certainly everyone desires that!

But comfort is something few people possess. For some, comfort is when things go well in life, when I have all that I want, good health and few problems. Others would say that comfort is the ability to brush away the bad, to have a strong will, to take the bitter with the sweet. Still others say that comfort is to escape the realities of life, whether that be done by vacations, pills, or liquor.

Comfort is something we need. Take, for instance, if someone is in the hospital suffering from the pain of cancer. If you were to ask such a person, "What is your comfort?" then he might answer that his friends have overwhelmed him with gifts and visits, or that he has the best doctors money can buy. What would you say to comfort this person:

"Things could always be worse?"


"Cheer up, there will be better days ahead"?

Take another example: a funeral home.


What words of comfort would you speak there?

Some say that comfort is looking at all the good the person did in his life. Others might say that death is natural, and what matters is only that we enjoy life and use it while we have it. And still others, weighed down with sorrow, would frankly admit to you that there is no comfort to be found in this life, no place where men do not weep.

What consolation would you give to someone who said that?

In opposition to all worldly ideas of comfort and man's attempts of consoling a person in grief, the Christian, no matter what his life may be, has the only comfort in both life and death. His comfort rests upon the Bible, the Word of God. One could even say that the Bible is God's word of comfort to His people. Isaiah the prophet is commanded to proclaim God's word in Isaiah 40:1 and 2, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."


There the comforting word is that Jerusalem's iniquity is pardoned, her warfare is over, for she has received from God the forgiveness of her sins. Isaiah voices that same soothing word in chapter 52:9, "Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem."

There, again, the Scripture identifies comfort with redemption, that is, with the forgiveness of sins by the grace of God. The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 gives us the same message of comfort, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."

There God is identified as the "God of all comfort," that is, all comfort proceeds from Him and is to be found only in fellowship with Him. He is the one able to comfort us in all our tribulation. And the purpose for which God comforts us is that we might be able to comfort them which are in any trouble.

If we were to summarize what the Bible teaches about comfort, we could give the following definition: Comfort is knowing that I am not my own but belong in body and soul to Jesus Christ, Who has purchased me with His blood so that my sins are forgiven and I am given eternal life.

That is comfort! How wonderful! That I, in life or in death, belong to Jesus, or as Romans 14:8 puts it, "For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or whether we die, we are the Lord's."

That comfort which proceeds from God consists of two parts. First, Christian comfort is the knowledge that I am not my own. I am neither independent nor self-reliant. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19, "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost that is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"


That means that the child of God does not rely upon himself or any product of man's wisdom for his comfort. This is, of course, contrary to what we would like to think. In pride we can think at times that our own mind or strength will be able to see us through our troubles. But Christian comfort is the confession, "I am not my own." For you see, if I were my own, then I would be personally responsible for an enormous debt of sin which I could never wipe out but only increase daily.

Secondly, true comfort is the knowledge that I do belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. This is true because Jesus purchased me with His blood shed on Calvary where He redeemed me from my sins and made me His possession. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says this so beautifully: "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." Because Jesus by grace purchased me with His blood upon the cross, I belong to Him.

What does it mean to belong to Jesus?

Belonging to Christ means that I am united inseparably to Him by faith. It means that I am His property, that He owns me and is also accountable for me, both body and soul, in life and in death, in time and eternity. It implies that He is responsible for every part of me, and He must keep me and lead me to the eternal glory of His kingdom. More, it means that He rules me by His Spirit and grace, and as my Lord He gives me all that I need for body and soul. I may, therefore, rely upon Him, casting all my cares upon Him, knowing that He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). Belonging to Jesus means that I may say with the inspired Paul in Galatians 2:20, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."


All things are now controlled by Christ Who is at God's right hand, and all the events of my life are used by Christ for my good and spiritual profit. All the problems and pains of this present life cannot crush me or sever the blessed union that Christ by grace has established with me. It was in the full consciousness of belonging to Jesus Christ that caused Paul to utter the beautiful words in Romans 8, "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord."

Notice two things in conclusion. First of all, this is an exclusive comfort. There is nothing else in the whole world that can comfort you. It is not the highest comfort, or the best comfort, or the chief comfort. But it is the only comfort. Comfort is not that I belong to Jesus and that I am healthy, wealthy, or strong. Comfort is not that I belong to Jesus and have a good insurance policy. To have anything along side this exclusive comfort is to forfeit this comfort. The only comfort is to belong completely to Jesus in life and in death.

In the second place, this is also an all-sufficient comfort. It is sufficient for every circumstance of life and for all the horrors of death. No matter what evil may enter my life, belonging to Jesus means that He comforts me and sends it for my profit. Comfort is knowing that I am never out of the hands of Jesus and that all things serve, in one way or another, my good. No, we don't always know how that is, nor can we always explain how the evil is for our good. Comfort is to believe it!


When evil things befall us, comfort is knowing that God sent it for our good, and, in Christ, also gives us grace to bear it in thanksgiving.

This is what the Holy Spirit means in Romans 8:28. "For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose."

Is your only comfort found in this, that you belong not to yourself but to the faithful Savior Jesus Christ?


Then sincerely live unto Him in thanksgiving all the days of your life!

By Carl Haak

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

THE JUST FOR THE UNJUST


God caused the (sinless) Christ to become sin. He caused Him to become what He was not, NOT by imparting sin to Him, or infusing sin in Him, BUT by imputation. Christ bore the imputed sins of His elect as the sacrificial lamb bore the sins of Israel under the Old Covenant. He died "the JUST for the unjust". (1 Peter 3:18).

He "through the eternal spirit offered himself WITHOUT SPOT to God". (Hebrews 9:14).

By Mark Pannell

BY THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE


MY soul, no obedience of thine, before faith in Christ, can make thee righteous!

Obedience after faith doth not make thee righteous; so then thou art made righteous by the one obedience of Christ.

Settle this matter well in thy conscience.

The glory of thy God and the comfort of thy soul spring from it, for:

(1) it is positively asserted, “By the obedience of One, or the One obedience of Christ, shall many be made righteous.” The faith of God’s elect takes the comfort of this, and will love Christ, live upon His righteousness, and give Him the glory of it.

But, (2) who are made righteous by Christ’s one obedience?

“Many,” the many sons whom Christ shall bring to glory, Hebrews 2:10. Even all who see themselves miserable sinners, and believe in Christ as their righteousness. What a glorious way is this of making sinners righteous! It secures all the glory to Christ. It keeps the sinner humble before Him, dependent on Him; and prevents all self-righteous boasting. It gives a poor sinner the greatest boldness, with access of confidence to God. It inspires warm love to Christ, and cheerful obedience of faith.

NOT OF US


“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us,”
(2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

The work of the Spirit of God, by the mercies of God is to call His elect sinners out of darkness into the marvelous light of the knowledge of Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:4.


So why would we preach anything else but Christ and Him crucified?

Christ is the light. We preach that the Spirit of God reveals Christ to the heart through the Gospel and is the only truth there is. Therefore, this light that God gives to believers is our great treasure, 2 Corinthians 4:7.

However, the excellence of the knowledge of Christ is of God and not of us. It is this treasure, the light of the knowledge of Christ, that God puts within His elect that the power might be of God.

The power of God unto salvation is from the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not of any part of us, and so we preach NOT OURSELVES. There’s nothing good in us. Our Lord said that we cannot add one cubit to our stature. MUCH LESS can we do anything about our spiritual condition, about spiritual light, about seeing the truth, understanding the truth, or having a knowledge of it in ourselves. We cannot do it. It is all by the mercies of God, and OF CHRIST.


By Jim Pennywell

REST IN CHRIST AND HIS FINISHED WORK ALONE


When sinners become convinced by the Spirit in Regeneration that Christ “put away sin”, “abolished death”, and Eternally Justified EVERY sinner He lived and died for, they WILL HEED the Spirit’s exhortation to REST in the work of Christ ALONE.

They will heed the Spirit’s command to stop looking WITHIN for any part of their standing before God,
“Let not sin reign, but yield yourselves to God,”

“Let not sin therefore REIGN..”

“Neither YIELD ye your members…”

These are present imperatives (on-going commands). Do not CONTINUE to let sin keep you trying to work out your own Righteousness before God.

Example: Romans 10:1-3. Hear the Righteousness of God REVEALED in the Gospel. Submit to it. And, repent of ever thinking you could make ANY contribution to your standing before God.

By Mark Pannell

GOD’S MERCY AND GRACE


“Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life…”
Genesis 19:19

The religious leaders in Christ’s day on earth, falsely assumed that because they were blessed with riches, religious esteem, and were prospering in this life, that they were therefore objects of God’s grace.


Our Lord in Matthew 23 used very condemning language to show them that anything outward is purely temporal and is NO indication of being God’s children. One might well be rich and condemned, just as one may well be poor and saved, Luke 16:18-20.

The distinction between "grace" and "mercy" is necessary to make.


In grace there is always mercy...particular and distinct, based on the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Lot’s own confession is that of all who are taught by the Lord’s Spirit.

There is mercy to be had, and they cry for it, but only on the basis of God’s saving sovereign grace toward them because of the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus.

On the other hand, there are many mercies of God manifest toward even the non-elect (breath, food, comfort, health and prosperity) that are not necessarily evidences of grace.

In truth, anything this side of hell is a mercy, but just because God has not yet cast a soul into hell, in no way means that they are objects of His saving grace. Mercy may be described as God withholding what we deserve as elect ones (Lamentations 3:22), even as it may be described as God withholding hell for a time from reprobates (Nehemiah 9:27).


However, mercy alone is not salvation. God causes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust without distinction, Matthew 5:45.

God may withhold eternal judgment from many for awhile, all the while prospering their temporal lives. Because of this many are puffed up in pride by such mercies, assuming themselves to be ‘blessed,’ when in reality, it is just God hardening them further against the day of wrath - Romans 2:25

Nonetheless, mercy given with grace is unique, particular, and determinate on behalf of sinners that God has chosen, redeemed and justified in Christ - Ephesians 2:8,9. In due time, God does reveal Christ in them, and they do therefore rejoice in the grace of God, more so even than the temporal mercies.


Do you know the gift of Christ and grace AND mercy in Him because of His righteousness imputed, and thankful for them, as much as the daily gifts of life He gives to sustain you in your earthly pilgrimage?

By Ken Wimer

THE SOLE OBJECT OF FAITH


“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ"
Galatians 3:16

That no one is declared just before God by any personal obedience is clear from Scripture. The law requires perfect and sinless obedience, and condemns as guilty even the slightest disobedience, James 2:10.


The sole ground of justification before God is declared to be BY THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST.

Notice it does not say ‘by faith IN Jesus Christ,’ but by ‘THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST.’

It is THE FAITH once delivered unto the saints (all whom God has justified through the death of His Son), Jude 3.

It is THE FAITH which the Spirit of God causes sinners to believe and rest in, not looking to their believing as the ground of their justification, but TO THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST (The Gospel of His obedience unto death as God’s righteousness, Romans 5:19).

It is to this righteousness established by the Lord Jesus in His death, and approved and imputed to the account of every one of God’s elect by the Father, Romans 8:32-34, that the Spirit taught sinner looks for salvation. We who believe look outside ourselves to the Lord Jesus as the sole object of faith.

By Ken Wimer

SAVING KNOWLEDGE OR KNOWLEDGE OF SALVATION?


“To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,”
Luke 1:77

How much of our vocabulary is based on what we have learned from others, versus what is truly Scriptural?


Recently the question was raised as to the use of the term ‘saving knowledge.’ In searching the Scriptures, you will find that such terminology is not found there, even as with the term ‘saving faith’. However, it is prevalent in most theological writings, with various interpretations. The problem with the term, ‘saving knowledge,’ or ‘saving faith’ is that it implies that knowledge or faith is the ‘savior,’ and thereby puts the light on the graces of salvation, rather than on the Savior of salvation.

Can we be too careful especially where error is rampant based on such terms?

God given knowledge, faith, hope, or love, do not attract attention to them, but rather look to the Savior ALONE. The terms ‘knowledge,’ ‘faith,’ and ‘hope,’ ARE Bible terms, but we must be careful to define them as God’s Word defines them.


Is not ‘knowledge of salvation the more Scriptural term?’

What’s the difference?

1. It emphasizes the object of salvation which is the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus. Salvation is not in knowledge, but in the Savior who is revealed by the Spirit, through the Gospel - Ephesians 1:17 - “the revelation of the knowledge of Him.”

2. Christ himself is the object, subject, author, and finisher of salvation, and where the Spirit has given such knowledge, it is not merely notional or speculative, but sure, certain, and resting in HIM, submitted to His righteousness imputed alone, and looking to Him exclusively as the One who put away sin, established righteousness, and upon which God has once for all justified those for whom He died. It is the gift of God! Sins are debts and the forgiveness of them is the remitting of those debts, fully and completely.


Since this was done when Christ died, through His shed blood, is not then the knowledge of salvation God revealing THAT TRUTH to the elect, redeemed, justified sinner’s heart as all His salvation?

Has the Lord so taught you?


Philippians 1:9 - “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment (discernment).”

By Ken Wimer

THE POOR IN SPIRIT


“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,”
Matthew 5:13

So who are the “poor in spirit?”


They are those who have been brought, by the life giving power of God the Holy Spirit, to know of their spiritual poverty – to know that they have nothing to pay, nothing to merit or earn them anything before God. They have been convinced of sin by the Holy Spirit, including the sin that would deceive us all – what the scriptures call the "deceivableness of unrighteousness" – of thinking anything other than the imputed righteousness of Christ (the merit of His obedience unto death) charged to our account, -- of thinking anything else would satisfy a Holy God so as to gain or even contribute to our acceptance by Him.

By Randy Wages

MAINTAINING GOOD WORKS


“This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works,”
Titus 3:8

Context is so vital in understanding the scriptures. If you simply take and cut out the above verse, by itself, and put it under the microscope, you might come away with the idea that our salvation is somehow gained or maintained by what we do or don’t do. However, broaden the scope of verse to what comes before and after, and what you will find is that good works is not the faithful saying that preachers are to affirm constantly, but rather this "faithful saying," refers back to verse 7...


‘That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.’
Titus 3:7


We do not become heirs of eternal life by what we do, but by being justified by the grace of God, exclusively in, through, and by the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work at Calvary.

This is the faithful saying that every true preacher of God affirms constantly. Jesus Christ did not come into the world to save the righteous ("there are none" - Romans 3:10).

‘This is a faithful saying and worthy of ALL acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save SINNERS,’
1 Timothy 1:15.

Sinners by definition are nothing but sin in their persons and works, and therefore, unable to do anything, contribute anything, or plead anything except that it brings them into condemnation - Romans 3:23.

Therefore, there is the necessary work of the Lord Jesus Christ for their justification, as their Substitute. He did not come to attempt to save sinners, but He saved them Matthew 1:21.

He did not render them savable, on condition that they do something.

HE SAVED THEM by His blood applied to their spiritual account for forgiveness, and His righteous obedience imputed to them for their righteousness, entirely accomplished once for all in His cross death - 2 Corinthians 5:21.

It is just such a message, when revealed in the heart of those whom the Spirit of God has regenerated, that causes them to believe God and be careful to maintain good works. Having been justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, sanctified by His blood and righteousness alone, and made alive by the Spirit of God, it causes us to live, move, and labor for His glory and honor in all things, and the advancement of His Gospel in a lost and ungodly world. The good works are not in order to earn our salvation, but rather are the fruit of that salvation that the Lord earned for His own - 1 Thessalonians 1:3.


By Ken Wimer

THE PROMISED SEED


“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ,” Galatians 3:16

Everything about Abraham and his life was, in God’s sovereign decree and purpose, forward looking to THE SEED (Christ) who should come - Genesis 12:7.


Those today who interpret the seed as being national Israel have missed Christ as clearly as the religious leaders did when our Lord came in the first century in fulfillment of God’s promise. ALL of the promises of God for SALVATION (election, redemption, justification, sanctification, regeneration, conversion, faith/repentance, and final glorification) are in HIM, ‘yea and amen!’ 2 Corinthians 1:20.

Abraham himself in believing THE PROMISE, did not look to his immediate natural seed, but to Christ, and rested in God’s promise to redeem and justify him, and hoped in that imputed righteousness alone, which God promised him upon completion of Christ’s work at the cross - John 8:56, Galatians 3:18 Those who are heirs according to the same promise are taught in time to look to the same Person and Work of Christ exclusively, Galatians 3:29.

By Ken Wimer

CHRIST DID NOT DIE IN VAIN


“And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day,”
John 6:39.

Although many in hearing the message of the cross pass by in unbelief, yet we have this confidence, that the Lord will have every sinner for whom He shed His blood. The fact is that He did not die for every single sinner. He said, “Of all which He (the Father) hath given me I should lose nothing.”


There is a number, which no man can number, who shall, by His Almighty grace, be brought to look to Him as the blessed Redeemer and cling to Him as the hope of their souls, because He purchased them, putting away their sin and justifying them.

Isaiah declared, “He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). He will, in the day of His power, make them willing to believe the Lord Jesus in truth as ALL their salvation, Psalm 110:3. They may now be hardened in sin, but He will break their hearts, bend their knees, and make them run to Christ according to HIS good pleasure! Salvation is of our Lord in the planning, procuring, and performing of it - Philippians 1:6.


By Ken Wimer

GOD’S JUSTICE SATISFIED IN THE DEATH OF CHRIST

Many see the cross of Jesus Christ (His sacrificial death) as a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened, if only the Jewish nation had believed on Him. Such a view is contrary to the Bible teaching as to why the Lord Jesus came into the world and suffered and died.

The scripture is clear that it was God Himself who crucified His Son Acts 2:23.

Why did He do it?

The answer is that God had from all eternity chosen a great number of sinners that He purposed to save, Ephesians 1:4.

However, that He might be just in saving them, He purposed that His Eternal Son should come as a man, be born under the same law that condemned sinners, and suffer and die in their place, Galatians 4:4.

God set forth His Son to be a propitiation [a satisfaction through death], that He might justly forgive the sin of every one of His elect from Adam to the end of the world, and justify them by Christ’s death.

The Lord Jesus so completely satisfied God’s justice by His death that God now declares just every one for whom Christ died. This is the good news of the Gospel!

By Ken Wimer

REDEMPTION


“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…” Ephesians 1:7

The elect were not self-redeemed, nor were we redeemed by will/works, nor by truth itself but by blood itself. As Israel was redeemed from Egypt, as Hosea redeemed Gomer, as a slave was redeemed out of the slave market, God redeemed His elect by the price of Christ’s blood.

All redemption has these characteristics:

1. The object can do nothing to redeem himself.

2. When the redemption is paid, the object is redeemed.

3. When Christ paid the redemption price of His own blood, the elect were redeemed.

By David Simpson

HOW WE PARTAKE OF THE LORD’S TABLE


“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you…”
1 Corinthians 11:23

In mid-eastern culture, sharing a meal together with someone is a symbol of friendship, fellowship, and oneness, and is never to be treated lightly. How different in our culture where our meals are hurried, and typically have an agenda of meeting to talk about business, or negotiating deals.

As we consider the Scriptural teaching regarding coming together for the Lord’s table, it is truly to be unhurried and unencumbered with any other distractions than the worship of, and fellowship with the Lord, our Redeemer. How we need to get back to the basics in remembering with what simplicity our Lord instituted it with his own disciples on the eve of His sacrificial death. It was at the end of the old Passover meal that had other elements such as bitter herbs and the lamb. And yet, in instituting the Lord’s supper, all other elements were removed except for the bread and the wine (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

The bread is to be unleavened and baked, symbolizing the sinless perfection of our Lord, the Substitute, even unto death. Christ remained sinless to the end, even as the Sin-bearer of His people. Their sin in no way affected his nature, any more than darkness can in anyway affect light. It is just the opposite. It is that sinlessness that was required, all the while having been put to death for the sin of His people, that we celebrate in partaking of the bread. The notion that somehow Christ had to become a sinner in order for God to justly put Him to death is such an abhorrent doctrine, that it is unfathomable that any who know anything of Christ in truth today, could even introduce, entertain, or promote such a doctrine. ‘Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?’

1 Corinthians 5:6

The wine is also just as important, because had Christ lived a perfect life to satisfy the precepts of the Law, without actually laying down His life in satisfaction of its penalty for the disobedience of His people, salvation would not be accomplished.


It took the doing AND dying of Christ as the Substitute, and it is because He finished the work that salvation was accomplished for His own. Wine is a symbol of health, strength, joy, and cleansing. More importantly, it is the symbol that Christ instituted to represent His shed blood, in which is ALL the satisfaction of God, by which He has ONCE FOR ALL put away the sin of His elect, and forever justified them, the law being satisfied, and therefore no more condemnation, because Christ removed it by fulfilling it for them - Colossians 2:14.

It is a simple celebration, but a significant one for the Lord’s people, with Christ alone as our sole object of worship. “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:” 1 Corinthians 5:7.

By Ken Wimer

MOTIVE IS EVERYTHING


When it comes to the true obedience of a justified sinner, motive is everything. Think about Saul of Tarsus.

What religious activities did he perform while in a state of lostness?

Philippians 3:5
Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Philippians 3:6
Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

After God regenerated and converted him, what did he say of these things that he once thought so important?

He referred to them as “LOSS” and “DUNG.” Read Philippians 3:7-10.

Before Paul’s conversion, don’t you think he prayed, gave, studied, and sought converts?

Yet all of it was an evidence of his natural ignorance of how God could be
“a just God and a Saviour”.

After his regeneration, you can be assured that he still prayed, gave, studied, evangelized, and eventually died for the God of His salvation.

What made the difference?

It was his motive. He no longer did any of these things to save himself, keep himself saved, or to even recommend himself to God. His motive for all obedience was gratitude to God for all that He had already given him through the Lord Jesus Christ’s obedience unto death. John wrote: “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Those whom God has forgiven, whose sins were completely put away at Calvary, do indeed love Him, and seek to obey Him in every area of their lives.

What’s your motive?

By Richard Warmack

THE SALVATION OF THE TRIUNE GOD


Titus 3:4-7

Each glorious person in the Godhead has a glorious part in our salvation.

GOD THE FATHER chose, sanctified, and set us apart in Christ before the world was;

GOD THE SON took our humanity into union to His personal Godhead, was made flesh, lived a perfect life, suffered and died a solemn death, rose again from the dead, and is now exalted at the right hand of the Father, ever living to make intercession for us;

GOD THE SPIRIT awakened the dead and "called us with a holy calling."

This call is the solemn, soul-quickening, heart-rending call of the Holy God from death to life, from darkness to light, from the power of sin and Satan to the kingdom of the Son of His love.

So that, BEFORE THE WORLD WAS, the church was saved purposely by God the Father; IN TIME meritoriously by, the God-man, Christ Jesus, who now lives above, their mediator, High Priest, and advocate; and IN THE DAY OF GOD'S POWER they are saved manifestly and vitally by the
"washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit."

By William Gadsby


HOW IS GOD GLORIFIED IN THE SINNER’S HEART?


In clinging to the religion of works (salvation conditioned on the sinner) they demonstrate the reality that they in fact esteem themselves far better than others - for they imagine that some distinction produced by or in them (but not produced by others) makes them accepted and blessed by God.

To remain so deceived is to cling to a false gospel which strikes directly at the glory of God by attempting to rival that which Christ alone accomplished in establishing a perfect righteousness for the elect whose sins He bore.

One may strive for humility and lowliness of mind in many areas, but apart from God-given faith and repentance that looks to Christ and His finished work alone for all of salvation, God is not glorified in that sinner's heart.

Rather, when any comfort or assurance is derived from the natural, self-righteous notion that salvation is ultimately conditioned on what I do (my belief, my profession, a righteousness nature put within me, etc.), it is mere presumption and vain glory indeed! "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Galatians 6:14).

By Randy Wages

Friday, February 22, 2008

THE BLOOD OF THE EVERLASTING COVENANT


Hebrews 13:20

The everlasting covenant of grace is the covenant, of which Christ is the Surety and Mediator (Hebrews 7:22 8:6).


This is an "everlasting one." It commenced from everlasting, as appears from the everlasting love of God, which is the rise and foundation of it; from the counsels of God of old, which issued in it; from Christ's being set up from everlasting, as the Mediator of it; from the promises of it which were made before the world began; and from the spiritual blessings of grace in it, which were given to God's elect in Christ before the foundation of it. Moreover, it will endure for ever; nor will it be succeeded by any other covenant.

And the blood of Christ may be called the blood of it, because the shedding of it is a principal article in it. By it the covenant is ratified and confirmed, and all the blessings of it come through it, as redemption, peace, pardon, justification, and even admission into heaven itself. Christ, through it, was brought again from the dead, because by it He fulfilled His covenant engagements, satisfied divine justice, and abolished sin, yea, death itself.

By John Gill

DO YOU LOVE CHRIST AND HIS WORD?


Many who profess to believe in and love Christ and His Word are like the little girl who was invited to dinner at her friend’s home. The vegetable was buttered broccoli. The mother asked the little girl if she liked it. The little girl replied politely, “Oh, yes, I LOVE it!” But when the broccoli was passed she declined to take any. The hostess said, “I thought you said you loved buttered broccoli.” The little girl replied sweetly, “Oh, yes ma’am, I DO, but not enough to eat it!”

Those who TRULY believe in and love Christ and His Word will also feed upon Him and His Word. Christ spoke of this when He said, “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54).

This is a metaphor for believing in and trusting Christ crucified for all righteousness, salvation, and eternal life. We who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, LOVE Christ REST in Him completely for our salvation. We rest in the truth that Christ alone paid for our sins by His death on the cross for us and that God has justified us based on His righteousness imputed to us.

Christ told Peter and the disciples three times to feed His sheep (John 21:15-17).

Paul told the elders of the church at Ephesus to feed the church (Acts 20:28).

With what do we feed God’s people?

We feed them with the Word of God. Those who are truly God’s people are hungry for that Word, and they are nourished and grow by that Word – “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” (1 Peter 2:2). Make no mistake about it, if you truly love Christ and His Word you will rest in Him alone and feed upon His Word.

By Bill Parker

OUR PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE IN CHRIST


What is the best way to describe a believer’s past, present, and future?

Let me present the following for your serious thought and consideration –

1) OUR PAST – We live our lives out of and based upon what Christ our Lord and Savior has already accomplished for us in the past -- “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).

2) OUR PRESENT – We live our daily lives laying “aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,” running the race of grace “set before us,” “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

3) OUR FUTURE – We live in this world seeking to “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” in anticipation as we look “for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13).

By Bill Parker

WHAT IS THE WAY OF DEATH?


“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25)

What is this way of death?


It is ANY way but Christ and Him crucified!

"THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST HIS SON CLEANSETH US FROM ALL SIN"


“… the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."
(1 John 1:7)

A highly respected and very influential preacher stated in one of his sermons, "The forgiveness of sin always comes at the cost of repentance." This may sound right to most people, but it is a very deadly and serious error that is opposed to the Gospel of God’s grace and mercy in Christ Jesus.


The forgiveness of sins set forth in the Gospel is clearly forgiveness based solely upon the blood of Christ. Today's false Christianity preaches the forgiveness of sins based on faith, repentance, or a combination of the two. The forgiveness of sins comes at the cost of the blood of Christ, so that we see in His blood, His death, His cross, a perfect satisfaction to God's law and justice, whereby God can be both merciful and just, gracious and holy, compassionate and righteous, all based on the imputed righteousness of Christ.

DO GRACE AND WORKS EVER MIX?


Many people cannot reconcile the reality of God's grace in salvation with the responsibility of believers to obey God's Word, be careful and zealous in good works, and to strive diligently to be conformed to Christ in our character, thoughts and conduct. Some see grace as canceling out works altogether. Others see works as canceling out grace altogether. Most try to mix or confuse grace and works in salvation, but that will never do.

"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." (Romans 11:6)

The fact is that in salvation and in God's Word grace and works are never mixed or confused. In God's Word grace is always the GROUND of salvation, and works are always the FRUIT of grace.

The reality of grace is that ALL of salvation was conditioned on Christ, and He met ALL the conditions by His obedience unto death, leaving NO conditions to be met by the saved sinner as to attaining or maintaining salvation. The reality of grace is the sinners' best efforts to believe, obey, and persevere, do not and cannot save him, keep him saved, and cannot make him holy and righteous before God. The reality of grace is that Christ is our holiness and righteousness, not our works. The reality of grace is that God by His Spirit sets within our hearts and consciences the desire to please and obey Him, not to be saved, but because He has saved us by His grace through Christ. All efforts at obedience and to Christ are to be the motivations of Grace, gratitude, and love to God. This is Paul's subject in the next verses - to motivate God's children who have been saved and who are preserved by His grace to be obedient and holy.

By Bill Parker

WHO ARE THE GODLY?


"But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for Himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto Him."
(Psalm 4:3)

Who are the godly, and who are the ungodly?

A "godly" person is not one who is sinlessly perfect within himself. The godly person sees himself as a sinner and that his only perfection is in Christ. The godly person is a sinner saved by the grace of God. The godly person is one who has been born again by the Spirit of God. He is a person of faith in Christ and repentance of dead works. The godly person is one who has been "set apart" by God in sovereign, electing grace before the foundation of the world, in effectual, redeeming grace by Christ on Calvary, and by invincible, regenerating grace by the Holy Spirit in the new birth.

By Bill Parker

GOD WILL YET CHOOSE ISRAEL


"For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob." (Isaiah 14:1)

God's continual mercy upon the nation Israel throughout the time of the Old Covenant, even in the midst of their sinfulness and disobedience, is a great picture and illustration of His continual mercy upon spiritual Israel (His elect out of every tribe and nation.) Thank God for His continual mercy for His people ("Jacob" -- sinners saved by His grace in Christ). He chose us before the foundation of the world, justified and redeemed us by Christ. And even though we are still sinners, He will YET choose us. This does not mean that God has to continually choose us over and over again. It means that once He made His choice, He will not go back on it and forsake us. The Lord Jesus will not cast away His people because of shortcomings and infirmities. He said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake the." (Hebrews 13:5)

As one writer put it, "The good husband does not put away his wife because he finds failings in her. The loving mother does not forsake her infant because it is weak, feeble and ignorant. And the Lord Christ does not cast off poor sinners who have committed their souls into His hands, because He sees in them blemishes and imperfections. Oh, no, it is His glory to pass over the faults of his people, and heal their backslidings, to make much of their weak graces and to pardon their many faults."

JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF


There are many warnings in scripture against taking unto ourselves any glory due to Christ alone. The most deadly, soul damning teaching in religion today is that which exalts man, his will, his works, his righteousness. Salvation is all of Jesus Christ Himself. He saves by His will, His work, and His righteousness alone (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Without question, the scriptures point to Christ alone as the author, finisher and the one who sustains our salvation.

1. Jesus Christ Himself is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).

2. Jesus Christ Himself is the atonement whereby God has reconciled His own to Himself (Hebrews 1:3).

3. Jesus Christ Himself is the only ransom for all who by God's Spirit, come to Him as guilty, lost, condemned sinners (1 Timothy 2:6).

There are some who are only taken up with the doctrines of the Gospel, but truth isolated from the person of Jesus Christ grows hard and cold. The doctrine is good and necessary. However, apart from Christ, it is like a throne without the King, a wedding without the Bridegroom, a well manicured garden without the flowers, a perfume bottle without the perfume, a poem without the rhyme.

Do we come to the doctrine through Christ or Christ through the doctrine?


The answer is 'Yes' to both. No one will know Christ without true and proper doctrine. Yet in coming to Christ, by the doctrine, we learn of Him, not just about Him. Faithful preaching of the doctrine of Christ is necessary to know Him (John 6:45). Where there is a true knowledge of Christ, it will produce a true love for Him and His doctrine (John 14:23,24).

By Pastor Ken Wimer, Shreveport, LA

WHAT IS REQUIRED?


Those who imagine they can keep the law of God well enough to attain or maintain salvation are sadly deceived and deluded by their own self-righteousness and pride. God’s Word is plain on this subject -- “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20).

How well must one keep the law to be righteous and accepted before God?

Consider the following -- “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)

A California driver’s license examiner told about a teenager who had just driven an almost perfect test. “He made his only mistake,” said the examiner, “when he stopped to let me out of the car. After breathing a sigh of relief, the boy exclaimed, ‘I’m sure glad I don’t have to drive like that all the time!’” The young driver let the examiner know that he had no intentions of driving lawfully and carefully all the time. He revealed his heart and desire to the examiner and therefore failed the test. The law of God is spiritual and reaches to the thoughts, motives, and intents of the heart. The law of God is so strict that it requires PERFECT obedience all the time.

Let me make it plain then -- you cannot get to heaven by striving to keep the law, for we are all sinners. We have no good works of ourselves, but if we did, good works cannot pay the penalty for our sins. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can satisfy the justice of God. We must put our trust in Him and His righteousness alone, not in our good works.

"PEACE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS"


Colossians 1:20
"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven."

Christ established peace between God and sinners when He died on the cross to put away the sins of His people. This is why He is called the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).

He accomplished this peace as He was “made sin for us” and as we were made the “righteousness of God in HIM” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God the Father imputed our sins to Christ who became legally and truly responsible for them. Our sins became His sins, not by any infusion, impartation, or contamination of either of His natures (Divine and human), but by imputation alone. This is why Christ suffered in His very soul under wrath of His Holy Father. When He paid the debt of our sins in full and established righteousness for us, the ground of peace was established. Our peace with God is by the redemptive work of Christ, His shed blood and imputed righteousness alone.

God the Holy Spirit establishes THIS peace within our hearts in the new birth as He points us to Christ and Him crucified as the only ground of our peace with God. This brings peace of conscience whereby we who are sinners find relief, forgiveness, and peace with God, and by which we draw near unto God with confidence in Christ (Hebrews 10:19-22). Any notions or feelings of peace outside of Christ and Him crucified are false and deadly.

By Bill Parker

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

THE GOSPEL


For one who is acquainted with Scripture the importance of the subject of this pamphlet, the Gospel, will be self-evident. The subject is of the greatest import in itself, and not merely in the light of the consideration that there always was and still is a good deal of misunderstanding with regard to the question what is the gospel and how it ought to be preached.

Just a few references from the Bible will prove this statement. Very frequently Scripture speaks of the gospel, either directly or indirectly. It defines it as "the gospel of God" (Romans 1:1; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 4:17). It is God's gospel, not ours. He conceived of it; He realized it; He proclaims it. Consequently, if we would preach the gospel it may be regarded as of prime importance that we learn from Him what it is, what are its contents, and how it ought to be proclaimed.

As to its contents, it is called the gospel concerning the Son of God (Romans 1:3, 9; Mark 1:1). In the gospel, therefore, God declares something about His only begotten Son, and we must be anxious that by our presentation we do not distort the image of the Son presented by it. It is, accordingly, also called the gospel of Christ, or of Jesus Christ, the anointed Savior (Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 9:12; 2 Corinthians 2:12, 9:13, 10:14; Galatians 1:17). It is further defined as the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, and our presentation of it may not tend to mar or bedim that glory (1 Timothy 1:1); and the glory of Christ shines forth from it and must be declared by it (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is also the gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14), and this Kingdom, as to its idea, origin, realization, and future, must be correctly set forth, whenever the gospel is preached. And such further definitions as: the gospel of the grace of God, the gospel of your salvation, the gospel of peace (Acts 20:24; Ephesians 1:13, 6:15), further serve to impress on our minds the fact, that he who deals with the gospel has to do with something divine, very precious, exalted in origin and contents, which may easily be marred and corrupted by the handling. And, considering that it is incumbent upon the church of Jesus Christ to preach the gospel, this gospel of God, of His Son, of Christ, of the Kingdom, of grace, of salvation, of peace, of the glory of God and of Christ, to all creatures, according to the command left her by her Lord; considering that at all times and especially in our own, there are many would-be preachers of the gospel, that present it as if it were the cheapest article on the public market, you will readily admit, that our subject is an important one.

Hence, I propose to set forth before you:

The Gospel

I. In Its Idea

II. In Its Contents

III. In Its Historical Fulfillment

IV. In Its Proper Proclamation




In Its Idea

Scripture frequently employs two terms that are as closely related in their significance as they are, in the original Greek, similar in sound. They are the words espangelia, and euangelion, the first meaning "promise," the second being the word we translate by our "gospel." That they are closely related in our thought is evident from the rather common expression that is frequently used and is employed, too, by our confessions, viz., "the promise of the gospel." It emphasizes that the gospel contains a promise.

But this close relation between promise and gospel will become still more evident and will be seen in a somewhat different light if we turn to Scripture and discover that according to it the gospel is essentially the gospel of the promise. Directly this is expressed in Galatians 3:8 and Acts 13:32. In the former text we read: "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen by faith, preached the gospel before unto Abraham, saying: In thee shall all nations be blessed." Notice, that in the last expression you have the promise.

Now, according to the text, when this promise was given to Abraham the gospel was preached unto him. The gospel and the promise are, therefore, identified in such a way, that the giving of the promise by God through Scripture to Abraham is the preaching of the gospel. And in Acts 13:32 we read: "And we declare unto you glad tidings, or preach the gospel unto you (euangelidzometha), how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled unto us, their children, in that he raised up Jesus again." It will be evident that the promise made unto the fathers and realized unto us their children is the same as that mentioned in Galatians 3. And it is also evident that here, as in the former passage, the apostle speaks of declaring that promise as being the preaching of the gospel or proclaiming glad tidings. The gospel, then, is essentially, according to its idea, the gospel of the promise, and to this promise we shall have to call your attention in order to explain the gospel according to the very presentation of Scripture.

Very frequently the Bible speaks of the promise. Sometimes it refers to it in the plural to express the riches of its implications; more often in the singular to denote its unity and identity, but always it is the same promise. It is the promise that is given to Abel, Enoch, and Noah, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For, having mentioned these saints of the old dispensation and having spoken of their life and death or translation by faith, the eleventh chapter of Hebrews tells us: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13).

And having reviewed the life and battle by faith of many more of the great cloud of witnesses, and including them all in his view, the author of the Hebrews finally states: "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise" (Hebrews 11:39).

It is evident from these passages that all through the old dispensation there was a promise, given unto the saints, which they embraced and believed, by which they lived and died, for the which they were willing to be strangers and pilgrims in the earth, suffer hunger and exile and imprisonment, and endure cruelty and mockeries and scourgings. They were slain with the sword and sawn asunder, wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, afflicted, destitute, and tormented. And in the greatness of their faith and endurance and the severity of their sufferings we may see reflected the beauty and riches of the promise they possessed and saw afar off. Galatians 3 is a classic chapter on this subject of the promise. It emphasizes that the promises were made to Abraham and his seed, and that this seed of Abraham is centrally and essentially Christ (Galatians 3:16). It is plain that Christ, the Seed, who is the fulfillment of the promise, is at the same time also the chief recipient of the promise. It states that the law which came four hundred and thirty years later than the promise to Abraham could not possibly make the latter of none effect (Genesis 3:17); and that God gave the inheritance to Abraham by promise (Genesis 3:18). It reaches the conclusion that if we are Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise (Genesis 3:29).

As to the contents of this promise, Scripture speaks of it as the promise of the Holy Spirit, who is given to Christ (Acts 2:23) and to them that are of Him by faith (Galatians 3:14); the promise of life (1 Timothy 4:8; 2 Timothy 1:1); the promise of eternal life (1 John 2:25); the promise of Christ's coming (2 Peter 3:4); the promise of entering into His rest (Hebrews 4:1); the promise of becoming heir of the world (Romans 4:13); the promise of raising up a Savior from the seed of David (Acts 13:23). Hence, it also speaks of the Spirit as the Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13); of children of the promise, that is, of children that are born in the line of the promise, by the power of the promise and according to the promise and upon whom the promise rests (Romans 9:8). It points out the heirs of the promise, and the co-heirs of the promise, for not all men have received the promise (Hebrews 6:17, 11:9, etc.). And at the beginning of the new dispensation it announces: "For, unto you is the promise and to your children and to all that are afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts. 2:39).

Now, it is important, that we clearly understand the nature of a promise. It is by no means the same as an offer. Also in the latter the person that makes the offer declares his willingness to do something for or bestow something upon the person to whom the offer is made, but for its realization the offer is contingent upon the willingness of the second party, upon his consent to the offer. But a promise is different. It is a declaration, written or verbal, which binds the person that makes it to do or forbear to do the very thing promised. It is an engagement regardless of any corresponding duty or obligation on the part of the person to whom the thing is promised. A promise, therefore, implies the declaration of a certain good, together with the positive assurance that this good shall be bestowed upon or performed in behalf of the person to whom the promise is made.

This certainty of the promise is, as regards the promise in Scripture, emphasized by the fact, that it is God who makes the promise. God conceived of the promise; He it is who realizes the thing promised; He declares the promise. All of this implies, in the first place, that the promise cannot be contingent, for God is God, and His work certainly cannot be contingent upon the will of the creature. And, secondly, this signifies that the promise is as faithful and true as God is unchangeable. He will surely realize the promise. When He binds Himself to do or to bestow anything, He is bound by Himself and all His divine attributes to realize the promise unto them to whom it is made, for He cannot deny Himself.

And this idea of the promise necessarily implies that it is made to a definite party. An offer that is contingent upon the acceptance and consent of the second party may be general; a promise that binds the promising party and that is certain of realization requires a definite second party. And thus it is in Scripture. For, the promise is centrally made to Christ, and through Him to the seed of Abraham, to the children of the promise, to those who are called heirs and co-heirs of the promise. That this is certainly the idea of the promise is clearly expressed in Scripture. For, we read in Hebrews 6:13, 14, 17: "For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself, saying: Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.... Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath!" To the heirs of the promise the promise is certain, because it is rooted in the immutable counsel of the Most High!

Now, the idea of the gospel is that it is glad news about this promise of God. Glad news of glad tidings is the meaning of the word euangelion. Glad news it is for two reasons. In the first place, because of the present misery of the heirs of the promise. They are in the world, and in that world they are subject to sin and corruption, to suffering and death. Their present experience is one of sorrow and grief, of affliction and torment, of misery and groaning. And the promise holds before them the deliverance from their present state of misery and destitution. And secondly the gospel is glad news because of the unspeakably great riches of the inheritance that is promised. For, the promise holds before the heirs not such a deliverance from sin and death as will restore them to a former state and condition, but fills their hearts with a hope of glory such as never was conceived in the heart of man.

It stands to reason that this glad news concerning the promise could only be imparted by Him that conceived of the promise, that is God. God proclaims the promise. He preaches the gospel. The gospel that speaks of things which eye hath not seen and ear hath not heard and which have never been conceived in the heart of man can only come through revelation. But this revelation of God, this divine proclamation of the gospel, always took place through the agency of men. Hence, he who preaches the gospel can with authority declare, in the name of God, glad news about the promise, about its certainty of fulfillment, about its riches of blessings, about its progress in the realization of it in history. All through the history of the world there are in the world the heirs of the promise. They know the promise. They are anxious about it and long for its realization. They inquire about its contents and the nearness of its fulfillment. And he that could answer this anxious inquiry and bring some glad news about the promise was preaching the gospel.



In Its Contents

This must also determine, as will be self-evident, the contents of the gospel of God. If the gospel is glad news about the promise, that is, about a positive assurance of God to the seed of Abraham, the heirs of the promise, that He will bestow a great good upon them and realize for them a glorious inheritance, it follows that the contents of the gospel must always be such with respect to the contents of the promise; and he that declares anything else than the riches of the promise is not preaching the gospel but vain philosophy of men. It must be such with respect to the certainty of the promise; and he that changes the sure promise into an uncertain and contingent offer is corrupting the promise of God and the gospel of the promise. And it must be such, finally, with respect to the promise; and he that presents the matter as if the promise of God were made to all men, or to an uncertain number of men, is not preaching the gospel, and he makes God a liar. For, God does not realize the promise except unto those to whom He promised, that is, the seed of Abraham, the heirs according to the election of grace.

Now, the contents of the promise, according to Scripture, is Christ and all His riches of salvation and blessing. For, it is the promise that God will raise up a Saviour out of the seed of David; that this Seed of David shall bear the sins of His people; and that God shall raise Him from the death and give Him glory, exalt Him on the throne of His father David, and give Him the ends of the earth for His possession. He is the promised Seed. The promise, therefore, according to Scripture, implies the assurance of righteousness and peace, of forgiveness and sonship, of deliverance and sanctification, of eternal life and glory, of the incorruptible, undefilable inheritance that fadeth not away. It implies for Christ, and all that are in Him, that they shall be heirs of the world, inherit the new and heavenly kingdom, and dwell in God's heavenly tabernacle forever.

And, therefore, the promise also implies the gift of the Holy Spirit, first to Christ, then also to them that are of Him, that by this Spirit all the blessings of Christ may be realized upon the church. For, it is a mistake to present the matter as if God merely promised the objective blessings of salvation to the seed of Abraham, or even to men in general, so that it depends upon their consent whether or not the promise shall be realized unto them. Very definitely the gift of the Holy Spirit is included in the promise. It is God's promise, it is the promise that God will pour His Spirit upon all flesh. And through this Spirit He effectually works the salvation in Christ in the hearts of all His people, in the way of regeneration, calling, faith, justification, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification. Through that Spirit they are translated from darkness into light, and are kept in the power of God unto the salvation that is to be revealed in the last time. All this is included in the promise, that is, in the positive declaration on the part of God that He will surely bestow these blessings and benefits of salvation upon all His people.

This promise is, at the same time, the contents of the gospel. It is the gospel of God, that is, the gospel of which He alone is the Author and which He proclaims. He alone is able to declare it, even though it is revealed and preached through the agency of men. And as to its contents it is the gospel concerning His Son, the gospel of Christ, so that Christ alone may be preached in the proclamation of the gospel. For that reason it is also the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, for in and through Christ the glory of that blessedness is revealed; and the gospel of the glory of Christ, for God gave Christ and all that are His, His own glory.

That glory of the blessed God, through the glory of Christ and through the glory of the church of which He is the head, must be realized in the gospel. It is the gospel of the Kingdom, for the Kingdom of heaven in its spiritual and final realization is the end of the promise that must be proclaimed in the gospel. It is the gospel of the grace of God, for all the work of God in behalf of the realization of the promise is a manifestation of His sovereign grace, sovereign in its conception, sovereign in its objective realization in Christ, sovereign in its application to His people. It is the gospel of peace, for in it the Lord of heaven publishes peace and bringeth good tidings. And so, finally, it is the gospel of your salvation, for it declares the fullness of your salvation from sin and death into the glorious liberty of the children of God!

We come, therefore, to the conclusion, on the basis of the Word of God, which alone can be our light, that the gospel is glad news about the promise of our salvation, about the sure promise of God, that He will surely deliver us from all sin and guilt, corruption and death, and translate us into the highest conceivable, or rather humanly inconceivable bliss of His heavenly Kingdom and covenant. And the gospel declares:

(1) that God objectively realized all the fullness of His salvation in and through Christ Jesus, His humiliation and exaltation;

(2) that God subjectively realizes and applies all the blessings of salvation through the Spirit of promise;

(3) that He realizes this work of salvation in whomsoever He wills, that is, His people, the elect, they that believe in Christ, the humble and brokenhearted, the weary and heavy laden, all they that mourn in Zion.



In Its Historical Fulfillment

As to the historical realization of this gospel of the promise, we must first of all notice that two factors are concomitant. In the first place, God realizes the contents of the promise, the promised inheritance, historically, step by step. And, secondly, as the realization of the promise advances and approximates its consummation, He also declares the promise, proclaims the gospel, reveals to His people the work of His salvation. That is, He explains to His people the work of salvation step by step; and at the same time He points them forward, in ever clearer terms of revelation to the final inheritance that is to be realized in the day when the promise shall be fulfilled.

Bearing this in mind, we call your attention first of all to the gospel in the old dispensation. In the first Paradise there was undoubtedly an image of the promise, an earthly picture of the heavenly things God would prepare for His people in Christ Jesus. For, there the tabernacle of God was with men. The first man is of the earth earthy, but is nevertheless an image of the second; Paradise is an image of the heavenly tabernacle of God, and the tree of life is a picture of the eternal tree of life in the new creation. The sun shone brightly, but with earthly splendour in that early morn of creation. But the sun went down, the first things passed away, and the night of sin and death settled upon the world. The first man Adam did not remain faithful to the covenant of God; he fell into the dark abyss of sin and guilt from which he could nevermore save himself.

And in his loins were the elect. These elect, the church of Christ, he dragged with him in his fall. But God had provided some better thing for His people, a better thing that could not otherwise be realized than through this night of sin and death. For, He put enmity between man and the seed of the serpent. He realized His everlasting Covenant. And as He realized it, He also immediately proclaimed it to His people in that mother of all promises: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed, it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise its heel!"

Henceforth, the children of the promise would have to walk in the night. But in that night they walked in the light of the promise, and, walking in that light, they lived in hope and stretched themselves to the realization of that promise. In the light of the promise and in that hope they brought forth children, always looking forward to the promised Seed. In the light of that promise and in the strength of that hope which is the substance of all their life, they struggled and fought the battle, they condemned the world, they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth and were looking for the city that hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.

Frequently it looked dark, very dark for the realization of the promise and for the heirs of the kingdom in the world. Dark it was in that predeluvian world, where the church was persecuted till but a few, that is eight souls, were left. But they held on to the promise and received the victory, and in Noah the church became heir of the world in righteousness. Henceforth the earth would no more be cursed. Grace pierced with its blessed light through the darkness of God's wrath and drew the beautiful rainbow across the firmament, the promise of final victory for Noah and his seed.

Dark it appeared when the world united around the contemplated tower of Babel, and later when God separated Abraham His friend to go to a land which He would shew him. But Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Though he and Isaac and Jacob never possessed a foot of ground in the promised land, yet they lived in hope and died in the faith that the land of Canaan they would possess. And they shall possess it. We must not say that Abraham and his seed shall not possess the land of Canaan, for God's promises are yea and amen in Christ. Only, the Jews are not the seed of Abraham, but Christ is and His people are; and that earthly land on the Mediterranean is not the Promised Land, for they all looked for a better, that is, a heavenly country.

Dark it looked when the heirs of the promise were threatened with extinction in the land of Egypt. But they had the promise, and God revealed that He would advance toward the realization of it. And He did realize the gospel as He preached it unto them. He delivered them with a mighty hand, received them into His covenant, gave them the land of promise, and in the land of promise He showed them the promise everywhere in a figure. In prophet and priest and king, in the land and its bounties, in altar and sacrifice and the service of the sanctuary in general, in all they saw and did and received, they had the glorious gospel of the promise preached unto them.

In that promise they lived in hope, when gradually the shadows disappeared, the holy city was destroyed, the temple was burnt and the heirs of the promise groaned and lamented in a strange land. Dark was the period of the Babylonian captivity, for it seemed as if God had forgotten the promise. But the light of the gospel shone more brightly as the night grew darker. In hope against hope they looked forward. They would ask:

Watchman, what of the night?

Do you have any news of the promise? When shall the morning come?

When shall the dawn of the promise break through our sad night?

And all through the dark night, growing darker even after the return from Babylon, they were saved by hope.

It is undoubtedly, upon that dark background that we must picture to ourselves the joy of the shepherds in the field of Bethlehem, keeping watch over their flock by night. Dark it was in respect to the promise. And these shepherds lived in hope of the promise. Perhaps, in that very hour they were bemoaning Israel's misery and wondering about the time of the realization of the promise. What a joy, then, when no human prophet, but an angel was the agent of God to preach the gospel unto them. God had spoken to Zion: "Up! Be enlightened!" Immanuel, the promised and long expected Seed, had been born of a virgin, from the seed of David, according to the promise. And His people must know! Therefore, God preaches unto them, through His angel, and brings them glad tidings of great joy concerning the promise, namely, that it was now fulfilled! Unto you He is born!

And once more it grows dark, amazingly dark, when He, of whom they had hoped that He would deliver Israel, yet did not understand the nature and the way of His deliverance, passed away, under the wrath of His enemies in the darkness of the bloody tree! But God realized the promise. He raised Jesus from the dead for our justification, exalted Him in the highest heavens, and gave Him a place at His right hand. And He gave Him the Spirit of promise, and this Spirit of promise He poured out into the church. And by this Spirit of promise He realizes all the blessings of the promise unto all the elect! Always God explains to His people the work of His grace, declaring unto them the blessed gospel, glad news about the promise, that now it is fulfilled and that the Kingdom of heaven is come indeed!

Even now the promise has not reached its final con-summation. Still the heirs of the promise are in the world. Still they are walking as pilgrims of the night. Still they are strangers in the world and they seek the things that are above. Still they are killed all the day long, and God might indeed be ashamed to be called their God, were it not for the fact that He has prepared them a city. And the coming, the final realization of that city and the beauty of its glory He declares unto the heirs of the promise while they are in the midst of the darkness of this present night, in order that even now they might walk in hope and lift up their head in the expectation of the fullness of glory promised unto them with an oath of the God of their salvation! The gospel is glad news about the promise and reaches into the heavenly city that shall descend out of heaven from God!



In Its Proper Proclamation

Even from the foregoing it will be perfectly evident that, as far as the proclamation of the gospel is concerned, it can never be an offer of salvation. The gospel is the glad news God gives us of His promise. It must therefore be preached, proclaimed. It can never be offered. But thus it is also constantly presented in the Scriptures. Jesus preaches the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14). Paul preached the gospel among the Gentiles, (Galatians 2:2); he preached the gospel of God among the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:8-9). Or, he spake unto them the gospel of God with much contention (1 Thessalonians 2:2). Or, again, he testified of the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). And frequently also the word "evangelize" or "to declare glad tidings," is used to denote the preaching of the gospel of God in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1; 2 Corinthians 11:7; Galatians 1:11; Revelations 14:6). But never do we find in all the Word of God that the gospel is offered, or that it presents the promise of God as a well-meaning offer of salvation to all that hear the preaching of the gospel. This surely is an invention of men.

And as we remarked before, this stands to reason. A promise cannot be offered. An offer is a conditional proposition. It depends and is contingent on its consent by man. But a promise is binding on Him that promised. And this is especially and emphatically true of the promise of the gospel. In the first place this is so because it is God that promised and He cannot lie. He is faithful and true and will surely realize His every word. Secondly, this is so because the things promised cannot possibly be realized, or even partly realized, by men. If the gospel were the preaching of a conditional offer there is nothing in the condition man can possibly fulfill. He cannot of himself believe the promise; he cannot even will of himself to believe in Christ. He cannot repent and turn unless God first realizes the promise unto him. In other words, the promise of God is either unconditional, or it is impossible of realization. And in the third place, the promise is given, not to all, but to a certain party, to the seed of Abraham, to those that are of Christ, to them that are in sovereign grace elected unto salvation from before the foundation of the world.

And this leads me to my final remark, namely, that the preaching of the gospel must needs be such, that it points very definitely to those for whom the promise is intended. A gospel for all is a gospel for none. It may soothe the conscience of the wicked and send him to hell with an imagined hope, but it will not comfort the elect, for the simple reason that such preaching does not mention them as heirs of the promise. The gospel must be so preached that it very definitely declares to the heirs of the promise that it is for them.

Indeed, do not misunderstand me, the particular gospel must be proclaimed within the hearing of all. Partly, because we do not know the elect; partly because it is the will of God that even the reprobate shall hear the gospel of salvation by way of faith and repentance, that sin may appear to be sin indeed, the gospel in its preaching must be general. But in this general preaching of the gospel the heirs of the promise must be called by name, in order that they may know that the sure mercies of David are for them. Not as if they can be mentioned by their natural name. But under and through the preaching of the gospel God gives them a new name, a spiritual name, by which they may know that He intends the promise for them. Objectively they are the elect. But according to their spiritual name, wrought by the Holy Spirit of promise in their hearts, they are the weary and heavy-laden, those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, the poor in spirit, they that mourn, the contrite and broken-hearted, they that have learned to place all their hope and expectation only in the blood of Jesus Christ their Lord, who loved them and died for them and was raised for their justification! To them the promise of God is yea and amen. They shall never be ashamed. They shall be kept in the power of God unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.

The preaching of the gospel must surely comfort them that mourn, in order that they may have light in darkness and the joy of hope in the midst of the suffering of this present weary night!

By Herman Hoeksema

Sunday, February 17, 2008

CHRIST'S VICTORY OVER LUCIFER


To watch this video sermon by brother Bill, please click on the blue camera.