Tuesday, March 25, 2008

GOD’S GLORY — HIS ULTIMATE PURPOSE


Everyone who believes the Gospel, every sinner in whose heart God has been glorified, has been given by God the Holy Spirit a threefold desire:

1) An honest zeal for the glory and honor of God.

2) A sincere concern for the preeminence of Christ.

3) A fervent desire for the salvation of sinners.

God’s foremost design in all things is His own glory. He reigns and disposes of everything in this universe, from the rise and fall of nations to the death of a sparrow, for this purpose. Since God’s glory is the goal of all things, then God’s purpose in the salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ is to glorify Himself. Salvation, therefore, is the gracious and marvelous work of God glorifying Himself in the hearts of sinners. This occurs when God the Holy Spirit, in regeneration and conversion, enlightens a sinner’s mind “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

As stated, this is true salvation!

This is the greatest blessing God can give to sinners. This blessing includes every other blessing because all blessings are aimed towards the goal of God’s glory.

God is glorified in our hearts personally when we see all the infinite perfections of His character actively engaged and honored in our salvation by Jesus Christ our Lord. God the Holy Spirit enables us in the new birth to see that God our Father appointed His Son to be our Mediator and Surety in order to meet and satisfy all of the conditions of our salvation. Christ came to do everything necessary to merit for us all grace here and all glory hereafter. This is when we see God glorified.

This is when we behold the glory of God in the person and accomplished work of Jesus Christ our Lord. The evidence of this is when we are convinced that the perfections of God’s character will not allow Him to save any sinner based on anything other than the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is what keeps us from speaking peace to ourselves and to others when ignorant of or not submitted to the righteousness of Christ as the only ground of eternal salvation and final glory.

In John 17:1-4, we see all of this realized in Christ Himself in His priestly prayer.

John 17:1
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

John 17:2
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

John 17:3
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

John 17:4
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

It was Christ’s work of redemption that glorified His Father by revealing all the infinite perfections of God’s character honored in the salvation of sinners by Christ. Christ’s mediatorial work reveals and honors the true character of God, a just God and a Savior. This clearly teaches us that in order to know the true character of God, we must have honoring views of Christ and His mediatorial offices and work. All of the offices and the duties that those offices demand are entrusted to the Person of Christ in order that God be glorified in the salvation sinners (2 Corinthians 5:19).

We see, then, how every true believer’s threefold desire is inseparably joined. If any sinner is to be saved, God must be glorified, Christ must be exalted, and all ground of boasting for the sinner must be removed. Therefore, we cannot compromise the Person, offices, or redemptive, atoning work of Christ, because this would compromise God’s character, His glory. To do so, even in the name of love and compassion, or so as not to offend, is to promote sinners remaining in idolatry, ignorant of the only true God and Jesus Christ. No sinner will be saved under such compromise, because such compromise destroys the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation.

By Bill Parker

GOD’S GLORY — THE PROVISION OF SALVATION


"God is love" (1 John 4:10), and the greatest evidence of God’s love is His sending His Son to die to honor His character in the salvation of guilty sinners. By nature all men are “dead in trespasses and sins,” guilty, depraved, without spiritual life, incapable of thinking, feeling, choosing, acting, enjoying, or loving communion with a holy and just God. If any are to be saved, God must in love choose and bestow eternal life upon them by the Savior. The Gospel declares that God in everlasting love, according to His own will and good pleasure, chose out of Adam’s fallen race a multitude of undeserving sinners which no man can number, and that He appointed His Son to be their Mediator and Surety. God laid all of the responsibility of their salvation upon Christ. Herein is God’s love.

God’s love is guided by His infinite wisdom and it is accompanied by His infinite power. There can be no obstacle that God’s wisdom has not foreseen or that His power cannot remove in the salvation of all the objects of His love, all whom He purposed to save. The definite nature and scope of the death of Christ lies in His representing the sinners for whom He became Mediator and Surety. They were all those whom the Father had given Him out of Adam’s fallen race before the foundation of the world (John 6:37).

God the Son became incarnate in order to successfully accomplish all the duties of His offices on behalf of His sheep. All of the conditions for their salvation were laid upon Him alone. The main condition of their salvation was that God be glorified. His having met and satisfied the conditions insures that every attribute of God’s holy nature demands the salvation of everyone whom He represented, for whom He lived and died. God’s love and holiness, His truth and faithfulness, His wisdom and mercy, His grace and justice, all being manifested, honored, and satisfied in Christ, demand that all whom Christ represented be made partakers of eternal life (John 17:2).

Another more subtle heresy that is opposed to God’s glory in salvation is the view that many of God’s elect, even the majority, will hate and totally reject God’s Gospel in this life and still be saved. Those who believe this heresy say that may of God’s elect will not come to a saving knowledge of Christ here on earth, but they will find out at the Judgment that they were elect, and, thus, saved. They say that many of God’s elect will never hear the Gospel, never come to saving faith and true repentance. They believe that this honors God’s sovereignty in salvation and that it takes away all the works of man in salvation. It is true that a universal/indefinite atonement and a conditional salvation denies everything that actually honors the character of God and everything that exalts Christ as Mediator. It is also true that to deny that all for whom Christ died will actually experience eternal life is deny God and His Christ. To deny that any of God’s elect will come to faith and repentance is to deny the same, because it denies the certainty of the Holy Spirit’s application of salvation to God’s elect in this life. The Holy Spirit’s work in the elect sinner is the direct fruit and effect of Christ’s work for the elect sinner. It all goes back to the glory of God in Christ.

To deny that any of God’s elect will come to faith and repentance also denies the everlasting covenant of grace. This covenant of grace declares that God the Father has actively engaged all of the infinite perfections of His character to save all the object of His love through Christ. Considering that a sinner is not saved until God is glorified in his heart (mind, affections, and will), it is necessary that the sinner be born again, come to faith in Christ and repentance of former idolatry and dead works, by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel. The glory of God, every attribute of His character, is just as much concerned and engaged to bring His elect to faith and repentance as it was engaged to redeem them. Christ’s mediatorial glory consists in the fact that He is our Priest to redeem us, our Prophet to reveal God’s glory to us, and our King to make sure that nothing keeps us from being made partakers of all grace here and all glory hereafter. Those who deny this think themselves to be wiser than God. God has purposed and provided all things necessary to honor His sovereignty, as well as all His attributes, and to remove all ground of boasting on the part of men, in His purpose to glorify Himself in salvation conditioned on Christ alone. The promise itself, wherein God’s glory is revealed, honors God, exalts Christ, and excludes all grounds of boasting on the part of sinners.

CONCLUSION

Deceived sinners will raise many objections to the truths raised in this article. They will even wrest Scripture to prove their false views. One of the most misused is John 3:16 -

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

They claim that the word “world” here proves that God’s love and Christ’s death are universal. But this Scripture teaches no such God-dishonoring doctrine. It merely shows the magnitude of God’s love, not to every individual, but to mankind, in the salvation of His elect through Christ. It is through God’s elect, based on the righteousness of Christ, that mankind will be preserved forever.

Many refuse to believe the truths of election and definite atonement because they think it means God refuses salvation to sinners who desire to be saved. But election, definite atonement, and the Gospel, wherein God’s glory is revealed, shuts no sinner out of heaven. The Gospel is God’s promise of eternal salvation and final glory conditioned on Christ alone. From this revealed truth, God commands all without exception to believe His promise of salvation and seek justification and eternal life based on the imputed righteousness of Christ alone.

God is faithful to fulfill this specific promise to everyone, whosoever believes

The reason sinners refuse to believe this is due to self-righteousness that causes them to insists on a conditional salvation, giving the sinner room to boast. Men by nature do not really care whether or not God is glorified in salvation. They may desire salvation, and they may seek it diligently and continually in their own way. But until their way is rejected and God’s way is received, there will be no salvation. Sinners by nature think too highly of themselves and too little of God. The command of the Gospel is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and repent from ever thinking that any part of salvation was conditioned on the sinner. This is the message that sinners by nature hate, but it is the only message can, if God be pleased, be the power of God unto their salvation. This is the message that true love to God and a true concern for His glory will not compromise. This is the message that the world labels uncompassionate.

Read the following quote from William Rushton’s “Defence of Particular Redemption.”

“There is a kind of charity prevalent among us, a spurious charity which rejoiceth not in the truth. It is now though an evidence of a bigoted spirit, to contend earnestly for the peculiar doctrines of grace; and it is considered the mark of a candid disposition to bear with doctrines opposed to truth, and to cover such opposition with the mantle of charity and forbearance. But how often does it occur that those amiable persons who can easily forbear, when only the honor of God and the glory of Christ are concerned; have very little forbearance, when their own dignity is wounded or their pride mortified. O how indignant are they when personally offended! How wroth, how implacable! Who would think that these amiable creatures, who are so charitable when the honor of Christ is wounded, could exercise so little forbearance when their own selves are injured.”

God’s testimony is not given to drive sinners away from Christ!

It is given for the recovery of sinners, that sinners would see their need of God’s grace and believe God’s promise of salvation conditioned on Christ! These things are revealed so that sinners would come to repent from idolatry and dead works. We beseech sinners to be reconciled to God. All sinners who hear the Gospel have every reason to ask God to glorify Himself in their hearts. The command of the Gospel is a command to desire the honor of God’s character above all things and be loyal to God’s glory in Christ against all opposition!

Bill Parker

Monday, March 24, 2008

GOD’S REDEMPTIVE CHARACTER


God’s redemptive character, how God reveals Himself in salvation, is His chief glory. We cannot properly identify the God of redemption, and, therefore, call on sinners to believe unto salvation, until we preach the particulars revealing how He justifies the ungodly based on the righteousness of Christ. Everything we preach by way of encouragement, warning, exhortation, and instruction, whether it be to lost sinners to believe and be saved, or whether it be to saved sinners to persevere, to grow in knowledge and obedience, is to be preached in this light.

Many preach truths about God without identifying the particulars that show Him to be both a just God and a Savior. They may preach God as Creator, and we must respect Him as such. They may preach God as totally and absolutely sovereign, and we must bow to Him as such. Many say that salvation is bowing to the sovereignty of God and the Lordship of Christ, and this is true.

But what does that mean?

They may preach God as immutable, and we must acknowledge this great truth. We could name everyone of God’s attributes individually, and we could properly claim that this is the only true and living God with which all men have to do. Sinners will bow to this God or they will perish. But bowing to God in such a way as to avoid perishing has to do with seeing God as the one who justifies the ungodly based on the merits of the obedience and death of Christ.

A person may have some understanding of certain aspects of God’s character, and they may even preach the truth about these particular aspects. But until they have preached the particulars revealing how God justifies the ungodly based on the righteousness of Christ, they have not properly identified the God of salvation, a just God and a Savior. In these particulars we see every attribute of God’s holy character revealed, honored, and magnified in the salvation of sinners conditioned on Christ alone. This is God’s redemptive character and redemptive glory. It is God’s highest glory, the greatest revelation of Himself.

In the Scripture, all of God’s attributes are revealed to lead sinners to this great truth. Keep in mind, as we preach the character of God, that...

John 20:31
These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

1 John 5:13
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Everything God reveals in His Word is revealed ultimately to glorify Him as both a just God and a Savior, and to lead sinners to believe on Him as the God who justifies the ungodly based upon the righteousness of Christ. Remember, the Gospel is God’s promise of eternal salvation and final glory conditioned on Christ alone.

The Gospel reveals how every attribute of God’s character is revealed, honored and magnified in that salvation based on the righteousness of Christ. The Gospel begins with God who is the Source and Originator of salvation. It concerns His Son who is the only Mediator between God and men, and by whose obedience and death God is enabled to justify the ungodly. The first thing revealed in God’s Word, after the Fall of man, was the promise of salvation conditioned on Christ (Genesis 3:15).

Everything revealed about God from then on is revealed to encourage sinners (fallen, depraved, active idolaters) to believe this promise and repent from idolatry and dead works. None of it is revealed to discourage sinners, to frighten sinners away, or to promote legal fears or legal repentance.

By Bill Parker

GOD’S GLORY — THE DEFEAT OF SATAN


Satan’s attacks are always aimed against God’s glory in salvation. It is in this context that we understand the wiles of Satan. Satan’s goal is to keep sinners in a state of condemnation, and his main weapon is deceit concerning the glory of God and the ground of salvation. Satan’s attacks are always aimed against God being glorified in the hearts of sinners.

2 Corinthians 4:3
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

The sad fact is that the vast majority of people in this religious generation who claim to be saved, who even claim that their salvation was by Christ alone and by grace alone, believe and support a system of doctrine that dishonors the Father and the Son. This is not to question the sincerity and morality of such people. Most of them sincerely believe that their doctrine gives glory to God. But, as we will see, they are deceived by Satan. This religious generation believes, for example, that men and women already know God and that all they need is to accept Christ as their “personal savior” for salvation. This kind of thinking is opposed to God’s Word, opposed to God’s glory, and opposed to the Gospel.

When a sinner believes in Christ, he must of necessity be convinced that he was formerly an idolater. It is impossible to know the true and living God apart from knowing the only true Christ and what He accomplished in the redemption of sinners. Until we see how God, the true and living God, the God of redemption, can be just to justify the ungodly based on the merits of Christ’s righteousness imputed alone, we worship and serve a god who cannot save, a god who is no god at all. Until we see God as just to justify us based on the righteousness of Christ, to the praise of His glory, we cannot know God as our Father.

Salvation is a change of gods. It is a change from being a servant of sin, worshipping a god of our own imagination, to being a servant of righteousness, worshipping and serving the true and living God (Romans 6:17-18). Salvation involves a change of doctrine, but unless this change of doctrine involves true repentance where we change our minds concerning God, then there is no salvation at all. Many have changed doctrines who have never changed gods. For example, many have come from being “free-will Arminians” to being “five-point Calvinists,” but who still insist they were saved under that system of doctrine that dishonors every attribute of God’s redemptive character, casts shame and reproach upon the Person and work of Christ, and leaves room for the sinner to boast. They have never truly believed the Gospel, and they have never truly repented.

Being lost is directly related to not knowing the true character of God in redemption. Being converted is directly related to knowing the true character of God in redemption (Jeremiah 9:24). To be lost is to be without an acceptable approach to God. Many, in the name of morality and religion, attempt to approach God without a proper mediator, i.e., without God appointed Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, based on His righteousness alone. Most who claim that Christ is their savior have never even heard of an imputed righteousness. When such a sinner attempts to approach a holy God, without regard to the imputed righteousness of Christ, this gives evidence of ignorance of God Himself. Apart from Christ and His righteousness God is a consuming fire full of wrath (Hebrews 12:28-29). If we are truly saved we continually behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We see the true nature of God’s holiness and love which we could not see apart from Christ’s Person and His atoning work. This is the only proper ground for any sinner to approach a holy and just God and find acceptance. By nature we do not know the God of salvation and the only true way of salvation (Romans 3:10-12).

How can we know the only way of salvation apart from knowing the true character of God and Christ Jesus whom God sent?

As stated before, many who have changed doctrines but who have not repented contend that they were saved while they preached, believed, and/or supported a system of doctrine that dishonors every attribute of God’s character and which casts shame and reproach upon Christ’s Person and whole mediatorial work, His atonement. Satan’s goal is to keep them from seeing this awesome reality in light of the glory of God. Satan uses many false doctrines that appeal to men by nature and which make salvation, or some part of it, conditioned on the sinner. For example, one such false doctrine is universal or indefinite atonement. Consider the following:

1. Universal or indefinite atonement states that Christ died for all without exception conditionally. It states that His death was a sincere attempt to save everyone, but that it secured the salvation of no one, except those who meet certain conditions, usually faith, repentance, and/or perseverance. This false notion teaches that Christ’s death did not actually save anyone, but it merely makes sinners savable.

2. There is a more subtle heresy derived from universal atonement. Many say that Christ’s death was sufficient for all without exception but effectual only for God’s elect based upon their meeting the conditions of faith and repentance. They are quick to say that God gives His elect faith and repentance, but it is still a subtle heresy in that it diminishes the value of the death of Christ, His righteousness, and exalts the value of the work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner. This is more subtle than universal atonement, there is no real difference since both ultimately make salvation conditioned upon the sinner.

Satan is a clever, subtle devil, and the natural heart is:

Jeremiah 17:9
...deceitful above all things and desperately wicked...

This means that it is opposed to God’s glory. Satan has his goal to blind the hearts of sinners from having honoring views of God’s redemptive character. The carnal mind, being at enmity against God, will always take sides with Satan in this matter. It may seem to honor the Father and the Son to say that God loves everyone and that Christ died for everyone. But this actually dishonors the Father and the Son, because it means that God’s love does not actually secure the salvation of anyone and the death of Christ did not actually merit any spiritual life or blessings for anyone. It would be like saying that Christ redeemed everyone but that He actually redeemed no one.

Universal and indefinite atonement may seem to put much value upon the precious blood of Christ, when, in fact, it puts no real value at all upon Christ’s blood, in and of itself. It teaches that notwithstanding Christ’s all of Christ’s efforts in His humiliation, sufferings, and death, He did not actually earn salvation for any one sinner. It teaches that Christ’s atonement, His death, His righteousness, in and of itself, does no more for those in heaven than it does for those in hell. In fact, it teaches, as one false preacher has stated, that hell is really a monument to the failure of the Father and the Son to do what they set out to do.

How dishonoring to the sovereignty, faithfulness, justice, love, and mercy of God!

If sinners fail to meet the conditions, they will perish regardless of God’s love and regardless of Christ’s whole mediatorial work of redemption. In this kind of system, it not God’s love nor Christ’s death that makes the difference between heaven and hell. It is the sinner’s faith, repentance, and/or perseverance. In this kind of system, God’s love and Christ’s death are merely, as Augustus Toplady stated, “pedestals upon which a sinner can boast of his free will.” A sinner would have to be deceived to believe such error.

Can such a faith that denies the infinite value of the precious blood of Christ be the gift of God?

It is worse than useless. It is an abomination unto God. No one would preach, believe, or support such a system of doctrine if they could see the God-dishonoring, Christ-denying implications. Such doctrine denies that which the Scriptures set forth as the only ground of salvation, the imputed righteousness of Christ (Romans 8:31-34), and it denies the foundation of the security of the believer, God’s infinite love (Romans 8:35-39). Sinners by nature do not know and understand such implications. We who believe the Gospel must have enough love and compassion for sinners to raise these issues and clearly state the implications, even at the expense of being persecuted. This is why Christ would not compromise the Father’s glory with the religionists of His day (John 5:41-44). This is one of those areas in which true believers are to seek to be conformed to His image.

By Bill Parker

GOD’S GLORY — THE STANDARD OF ALL JUDGMENT


We who believe the Gospel must judge all things by the standard of God’s glory, and we must seek to be motivated in all our desires by that same glory. It is our love and compassion, therefore, for lost sinners and our desire to see them saved that keeps us from compromising the truth concerning God’s glory and Christ’s Person and work. This is what motivates us to preach the Gospel to the lost and tell them the truth about their lost condition and the wickedness of their best efforts aimed at the ground of salvation. We see an example of this in the Apostle Paul who refused to compromise the Gospel. He loved His countrymen so much, but he refused to dishonor God or deny Christ to win their approval and friendship by counting them saved.

Romans 10:1
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

Romans 10:2
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Romans 10:3
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Romans 10:4
For Christ the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

It was this refusal to compromise God’s glory that brought great persecution and reproach upon Christ, as well as the prophets of old, the apostles, and all who truly believe the Gospel. This persecution comes mainly from the religious world, even our loved ones and neighbors. We are accused of not showing a gracious spirit, of being too narrow and dogmatic, of being uncharitable and offensive, of being heresy-hunters, all of which are not true. We desire to be liked, respected, and well thought of, but not at the expense of God’s glory and Christ’s preeminence.

The Apostle Paul spoke of “the offense of the cross” (Galatians 5:11). The offense of the cross is the fact that God can only be glorified in salvation conditioned upon the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. The offense comes when we tell sinners that all who are either ignorant of or not submitted to Christ’s righteousness are lost and their deeds are evil (John 3:18-20; John 7:7). Their deeds are evil, not because of immorality which is evil, but because their deeds are opposed to God’s glory. When a person believes that he can do something to earn, merit, or qualify himself for salvation, he is denying the redemptive glory of God in salvation conditioned on Christ alone. This is an abomination to God (Luke 16:15). This is why their deeds are evil, and this is offensive to self-righteous, religiously proud sinners. The only way to escape the offense of the cross is to compromise God’s glory by speaking peace to such sinners when there is no peace.

God is jealous of His character, His glory (Exodus 34:13-14). He never encourages His people to compromise His glory in order to win friends, influence people, or gain and keep an audience. When we are tempted, as we many times are, to avoid controversy and to avoid the offense of the cross, in the name of love or to get someone to listen to us, we should always remember God’s honor and God’s love. God’s love subjected His Son to the greatest depths of humiliation, suffering, and even death in order to maintain the honor of God’s character in salvation. Christ on the cross proves that God could not and would not compromise His glory to save even one sinner.

We who believe the Gospel cannot avoid controversy and persecution in this world because all of the foundational truths of genuine Christianity are controversial and offensive to the natural, religious world. Christ promised suffering and persecution to all his disciples because of this (Matthew 5:10-11; John 15:18-22; John 16:1-3). The Apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews 12 that any who are not chastised are “bastards” and not sons, children of God (Hebrews 12:6-8).

Chastisement in Hebrews 12 has to do with those who suffer for the Gospel. The point is that any who seek to avoid the persecution of the cross in order to gain the approval of the world are not children of God. Sinners by nature hate the Gospel because they are led by another spirit to believe in a counterfeit christ and worship and serve a false god. As long as this is the case, and as long as we seek their salvation, we will encounter controversy and persecution.

The issue is not a mere point of non-vital doctrine, as some would say. It is not simply that sinners are saved without this knowledge and only need teaching. The issue has to do with eternal life or eternal death, true worship or idolatry. Their can be no eternal life apart from a revealed knowledge of the true and living God, a just God and a Savior. The first saving view of God a sinner has is of the God who justifies the ungodly based solely upon the merits of Christ’s blood and righteousness. There can be no true worship apart from attributing unto God those qualities of character that belong to Him as a just God and a Savior. God delights in that which most glorifies Him. That which most glorifies Him, which reveals all the perfections of His character, is the full, free, eternal salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ. Sinners are fully warranted and commanded to trust in that which glorifies God.

By Bill Parker

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A STORY OF REDEMPTION


In Ruth chapters 1-4 we read about the story of:
Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 1:1-7)

Ruth 1:1
Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. (He had sold his property in Bethlehem and he went to live there in Moab.)

Ruth 1:2

And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem Judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

Ruth 1:3

And Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons.

Ruth 1:4

And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

Ruth 1:5

And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband. (Now there are left three widows: Naomi, Ruth and Orpah.)

In time of famine it is not a sin to go where there is food. But the real issue is:


Where did they go?

They went to the land of the cursed Moabites and stayed there 10 years. That was wrong. They knew that God had pronounced a curse on the Ammonites and Moabites. God said:

Deuteronomy 23:3-4
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever: Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt, and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.

They harassed the people of God, instead of meeting them with bread and water. God did not write that just to give us some historical details about the Moabites. God's Word is for today. And today we are living in a world where there is a spiritual famine. But most Churches today have become like Moabite congregations. They do not meet the people of God with spiritual bread and water. Instead they are paying hirelings who harass the people of God and they are starving them.

What the family of Elimelech did was absolutely wrong. Moreover, they married Moabite women. But God was able to turn their sin around, so that His plans are accomplished in spite of their rebellion. God made Naomi see the error of her way, and God set His grace on Ruth the Moabitess.

Ruth 1:6-7

Then she (Naomi) arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread. Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.

Now you can see another land purchase approaching, because Naomi would want her land back.

The Third Land Purchase (Ruth 3:12, 4:1-2)

Here in the prophecy of Ruth a beautiful love story is developing between Ruth and a rich man named Boaz, and Boaz is going to buy the land from Ruth, which she inherited from Mahlon.

The three widows Naomi, Ruth and Orpah started on their way from Moab to the land of Judah.

To make a long story short, Orpah decided to return to her people the Moabites, but Ruth stayed with Naomi and they went back to Bethlehem in Judah. There in the fields of Bethlehem Ruth the Moabitess meets the rich man Boaz. In the providence of God, Boaz was attracted to Ruth the Moabitess. And to Ruth's surprise, she hears from Naomi that Boaz is a near kinsman to them.

Now it was written in the Law of Moses that if a man had a wife and the man died without leaving any child, then her husband's brother, or the next of kin shall marry her and raise up seed for his brother, in order that his name may not be put out of Israel. This was one of the Ceremonial Laws in Israel, and God established the Ceremonial Laws as signs and shadows of Christ and of Salvation.

At an opportune time at the end of the summer, in accordance with the Mosaic Law, Ruth proposed to Boaz to marry her and to buy the land that Naomi left behind 10 years earlier. Legally the land now belongs to Naomi and Ruth. Boaz was delighted, but Boaz said to Ruth in chapter 3:12,

Ruth 3:12

And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.

Then Boaz promised to marry Ruth if the nearer kinsman would not marry her. Turn to Ruth 4:1-3,

Ruth 4:1

Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! Turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.

Ruth 4:2

And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.

Is this not a strange greeting: "Ho, such a one! Turn aside, sit down here"?


Why did God write it that way?

Very often, when God leaves out the name of someone, spiritually God intends to apply that situation to each one of us. Keep that in mind for the spiritual application of this story.

Then Boaz asked ten of the Elders of the city to sit down with them. Boaz did not ask ten old men to sit there and be a witness to this transaction. That would make no sense. Soon these old men would die, and then there would be no witnesses. NO! Boaz asked ten of the ruling Elders of the city of Bethlehem to sit with them so that the ruling body of the city would witness this legal land purchase. The point that Boaz makes to the near kinsman is this:

Buy it before the elders of my people; buy it in the presence of these witnesses (Ruth 4:3-4)


Ruth 4:3
And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth (lit: has sold) a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech's:

During the famine of ten years ago Elimelech sold his land for food. Now Elimelech's family has

come back, and someone needs to help them to redeem the land, i.e. to buy back the land. Verse 4,

Ruth 4:4
And I thought to advertise thee, saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee. And he said, I will redeem it.

Do you notice that Boaz wants to make it a totally legal transaction?

He was not going to bypass this near kinsman. He was going to do everything absolutely legally and righteously.

What does it mean to redeem the land for one of the family?

When a piece of land, through economic distress was lost, the Law of Moses says that it could be bought back for the person who lost it, by a near kinsman, who would simply give the land back to his poor family member for free.

Is that not a fabulous way of showing brotherly love. Just think of it. Suppose you are a farmer, but through bad circumstances you had to sell your farm for $50,000 to pay your debts. But you have a brother who has pity on you, and he redeems the farm for you and buys it back, perhaps for $55,000 and donates the farm back to you.

Would you not be eternally grateful to that brother?

This was written in the Law of Moses, but it would be a splendid example of brotherly love at any time in history. Where do you find this kind of brotherly love? You find it in the Bible.

In the Bible we find two types of redeeming. The first one is that of redeeming a person or a group of persons. When a Hebrew has become a slave, either by his own fault, or through circumstances beyond his control, then someone next of kin could buy him out, and set him free. If there was no one to redeem him, them he would remain a slave until the year of Jubilee, and then he was free.

The second one is that of redeeming land, and here almost the same rules apply. If a piece of land was lost, for example through economic hardship, then someone next of kin could buy the land back, or redeem the land, and give it to his relative who lost the land. If there was no one to redeem it, then the property would automatically return to its original owner in the year of Jubilee.

This land had to be redeemed for Naomi and Ruth. It had to be bought back from the present owner and given to Naomi and Ruth. This was not a year of Jubilee, which occurred every 50 years. If it was a year of Jubilee, then the land would automatically have been returned to Naomi and Ruth.

But now Boaz puts the other kinsman to the test. He says, "You must also:

Buy it off Naomi and buy it off Ruth the Moabitess"
(Ruth 4:5-8, Romans 15:4)

Ruth 4:5
Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

Paraphrased, Boaz put it to the kinsman this way:
Elimelech owned the land; his eldest son Mahlon inherited two thirds of it, therefore both Naomi and Ruth the Moabitess have inherited the rights to the land from their respective husbands. Moreover, Mahlon needs a continual heir to his name and to his property, and therefore you need to marry Ruth the Moabitess to raise up a successor to Mahlon, and this child will become the legal owner of this property.

Now this has put a new twist to this land purchase.

Was this kinsman willing to take on another wife, who moreover is a Moabitess?

And he knew what the Law of Moses says about the Moabites.

So what was his answer?

We read it in verse 6,

Ruth 4:6
And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.

Whatever the reason was, this nearest kinsman would not take Ruth the Moabitess to be his wife. This means that Boaz was the next in line to redeem the land and perform the duty of the kinsman. Then we read in verses 7 and 8,

Ruth 4:7
Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.

Ruth 4:8
Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

It is written in verses 7 and 8 as if this was a custom of the culture in those days, as if this action of drawing off one's shoe would be the ratification of a contract.

But is this really so?

Was this only a tradition in that culture?

If we compare Scripture with Scripture we find that this so called "custom" originated from the Ceremonial Law. And since the Ceremonial Law represents signs and shadows of Christ and Salvation we are now being drawn into the spiritual meanings of all these historical events.

And is that not really the purpose of the Old Testament?

Don't we read in Romans 15:4,

Romans 15:4
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Does this not mean that we must find the Gospel on every page of the Old Testament?

So what is the meaning of: Redeeming His Brother's House? (Deuteronomy 25:5-10)

Here in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 God is stating a Ceremonial Law that has a direct bearing to the story that we read in Ruth chapter 4. We know this for sure, because after Moses had penned down this Law that he received directly from God, the only place in the Old Testament where this Ceremonial Law was applied was in Ruth chapter 4. We read in Deuteronomy 25:5-6,

Deuteronomy 25:5
If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.

Deuteronomy 25:6
And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

Here is the key principle: "that his name be not put out of Israel".

What does it mean if his name is put out of Israel?

It is a picture that his name is blotted out of the Book of Life. That is terrible. That is a picture of dying unsaved and going to Hell.

Therefore, what does it mean "that his name be not put out of Israel"?

It is a picture of salvation. It signifies that his name remains forever in the Book of Life. You know that the only Person who really determines whether our name will be blotted out of the Book of Life, or whether it will remain there, is the Lord Jesus Christ. Can we answer the question:

Who is the Brother who will perform the act of the Kinsman for us, and who will guarantee that our name will not be put out of Israel?

It is the Lord Jesus Christ. What we have here and in the 4th chapter of Ruth is a dramatic picture of how Christ has provided for our salvation.

Thus far I have used the word "kinsman" many times, but did you know that the word "kinsman" and the word "Redeemer" are the same Hebrew word. In fact it is the word that has the Strong's Concordance number <1350>, and it is actually a verb, which depending on the Hebrew tenses is translated as a verb: to redeem, or it is translated as a noun: Kinsman, or Redeemer, or Avenger.

Who else is a next of kin to us?

Well, it is our own brother, our fellow human being.

And is he willing to take up the role of being our Redeemer?

NO! That is why we read in Deuteronomy 25:7,

Deuteronomy 25:7
And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.

Deuteronomy 25:8
Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;

Deuteronomy 25:9
Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house.

Deuteronomy 25:10
And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.

Who is the Redeemer?

His brother's wife shall spit in his face. From other places in the Bible we know that to be spit in his face means to be under the curse of God. The Lord Jesus was spit in His face because He was under the curse of God when He was laden with our sins, and was suffering the wrath of God for our sins.

This brother in Deuteronomy 25:7,8,9 who does not want to perform the function of Redeemer is a picture of all mankind who are under the curse of God. Adam should have taken up this task of being the Redeemer of Eve. But instead he ate of the forbidden fruit, and then he passed the blame to Eve. God expects us to love our fellow man and to provide spiritual seed for them. Of course mankind does not want to do it, because mankind is not able to do it. This is one way we disobey God and that is why we are all under the curse of God. All that we can provide is more rebellious seed against God, because we are like Adam. Therefore, Christ came from Heaven and took our place, and provided redemption, and provided the Godly seed.

It involved the brother's wife; she is the Woman of Genesis 3:15. But it also involved the land that was owned. If the land was sold, then someone had to come and redeem that, so that it would remain in the family. In the Garden of Eden, when we were in Adam, we owned the land. God took Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Adam and Eve were commanded by God to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. They were to rule over this world. But then they obeyed Satan rather than God, and that implied that they sold their land to Satan. The inheritance was lost, and when we die we leave everything behind.

Is that such a tragedy?

Not any more!

When the Lord Jesus Christ came to save us, He also came to redeem the land.

Now we can begin to see the spiritual picture in the story of Ruth. God did not put that story in the Bible just as a nice love story. It is a historical parable. It truly happened historically, but from all the words that could have been written down God chose those words that would make the Gospel of salvation shine through all these events.

It is a historical parable (Ruth 4:7-8)

Boaz was the rich kinsman, which means Boaz is a picture of Christ, the Redeemer. Ruth is the one who is being redeemed. Therefore Ruth is a picture of the Remnant chosen by grace, especially those on the New Testament side. Ruth was adopted into the family of Naomi, but was not a blood relative of Naomi. Naomi was instrumental in bringing Ruth with her. Therefore Naomi is a picture of that part of Old Testament Israel which became saved, like the Apostle Paul preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Boaz purchased the land for Naomi and for Ruth only, but for nobody else. The parcel of land that Boaz bought was just a token of the world that the Lord Jesus Christ bought for US, to provide an inheritance for His spiritual Ruth and Naomi. And on the Last Day He is going to remake it into a New Heaven and a New Earth where only righteousness dwells.

Now we can understand the actions of the nearest kinsman at the gate of Bethlehem.

We now return to Ruth, chapter 4, verses 7 and 8,

Ruth 4:7
Now this (was the manner) in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.

Ruth 4:8
Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

Now we know why the three words in the beginning of verse 7 are in italics. These are the suggestions of the translators. But now we know that this episode was not a custom of the culture of those days. It was the application of the Law given in Deuteronomy 25:5-10.

The nearest kinsman represents any human being whatsoever. We are all kinsmen, and we do not want to be our fellow man's Redeemer. We do not want it, and we are not qualified, because we are not sinless. We cannot do it. The price is too great!

The nearest kinsman took off his shoe. He knew that if Ruth were there she would have spit in his face. He was accursed.

Boaz took ten of the ruling elders of the city to be witnesses. The number 10 indicates completeness. They represented the completeness of all who witnessed the purchase by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross: The purchase of His Bride, and the purchase of the land. God displayed before the whole world that Christ came to redeem us and to redeem the world.

Then Boaz said: I Have Purchased Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 4:9-10, Hebrews 10:5)

Ruth 4:9
And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.

Ruth 4:10
Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.

Boaz needed to marry Ruth the Moabitess to raise up seed which was able to inherit the land.

Is this not a wonderful picture of how the Lord Jesus Christ provided for our salvation?

In order to become our Savior, Christ had to become our kinsman in the flesh. Only then could He be our Redeemer. The Lord Jesus had to take on a human body. The Lord Jesus said in Hebrews 10:5,

Hebrews 10:5
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

Jesus received a body that was like ours in all aspects, except sin. His body was not inclined to sin.

We cannot imagine what that is, because our bodies are constantly drawn to sin. God said: "The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth". We are born like that, in body and soul. And when God makes us Born Again and gives us a new soul, we still continue to live in that body that is inclined to evil. That is why God typified us with Ruth the Moabitess. That is where we started. We were born like the Moabites who were a cursed people, a wicked nation, and enemies of God by nature. There was nothing good in the Moabites.

But God had mercy on one of these Moabite women, Ruth, and God sent an Israelite family her way. They were not good witnesses at all, but they understood that they were to fear Jehovah, and they communicated some of their beliefs to Ruth the Moabitess. But God was at work in the heart of Ruth the Moabitess, and when the day of decision came, she chose to go with Naomi to the land where she could hear more about Jehovah, because that was what was drawing her. And now, the day had come that Boaz was going to marry her. This was not only an important day for Ruth. This was also an important day for Boaz, because Boaz said: "I have purchased Ruth the Moabitess to be my wife". This means that a price had to be paid.

What was that price?

To whom was it paid?

The story of Ruth does not provide answers to these questions. But God has set up Boaz in the role of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of sinful Ruth the Moabitess. What must the Lord Jesus do in order to purchase Ruth, and what must the Lord Jesus do to purchase all those on whom God will have mercy, like He had mercy on Ruth the Moabitess. What is to be done with their sin problem? Each one of Ruth's sins was sufficient to bring down the wrath of God on her for an eternity.

To be our Redeemer, the Bible says, the Lord Jesus must first identify Himself with us so intensely that He is able to take our sins upon Himself, and pay for those sins the price that had to be paid if we would have to pay for them. That price is the equivalent of an eternity in Hell. The Lord Jesus paid that price when He hung on the cross, even though we did not exist yet, and even though our sins were not committed yet. At the same time He purchased the land on which we stand. Because Christ was God He could pay that price in less than 20 hours for my sins, and for the sins of all those whom God chose to become saved, including Ruth the Moabitess.

That is why Boaz could say: "I have purchased Ruth the Moabitess to be my wife".

Boaz had mercy on Ruth and Naomi and he wanted to be their Redeemer. This was the picture of God in His great mercy who chose to save a much larger group of individuals by providing a Redeemer for them.

Boaz was demonstrating the purchase of the household of God. And all the people in the gate Said: "Let your household be like that of Rachel and like that of Leah" (Ruth 4:11-12)

Ruth 4:11
And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:

Rachel is mentioned before Leah, because Rachel was buried near Bethlehem-Ephratah.

But why are Rachel and Leah mentioned here?

Is it not because they were in the same category as Ruth the Moabitess?

Rachel and Leah also came out of an idolatrous household and both Rachel and Leah were drawn into the family of God by God's providence through marriage, just like Ruth the Moabitess

If it were not for God's irresistible grace through her marriage with Mahlon and then with Boaz, Ruth the Moabitess would still be on the dunghill of the Moabites. But when God saves us His grace knows no bounds. God says of Himself:

1 Samuel 2:8
He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them.

What a merciful God we have, that He would stoop down to pay attention to us, His creatures, who are spiritually poor and spiritually beggars. But thanks be to God that He is willing to hear these beggars who are pleading for mercy for themselves and for their next of kin.

"And she bare a son" (Ruth 4:13-14)

Ruth 4:13
So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

What an incredible grace of God that He would give Ruth the Moabitess the honor of becoming the great grandmother of David the King, and that she would be in the line of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 1:1
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew 1:2
Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

Matthew 1:3
And Judas begat Phares and Zera of Tamar; and Phares begat HEsrom; and HEsrom begat Aram;

Matthew 1:4
And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

Matthew 1:5
And Salmon begat Booz of Rahab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

Matthew 1:6
And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

Four women of ill repute: Tamar who played the harlot, Rahab the harlot, Ruth the Moabitess and Bathsheba the adulteress.

But what about the men?

They too did not lead such a clean life after all.

None of us can claim a clean life.

When God has mercy on whom He will have mercy, God does not choose the cleanest of us.

But He makes us clean, and makes us repent.

By Alfred Chompff

SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS


The Wisdom of Our Redeemer (2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Romans 9:21-23)

In the Bible what does it mean, "to redeem" a person?

It means to rescue from death, and most often it means to rescue from the Second Death, which is Hell.

Did the Lord Jesus Christ suffer and die on a cruel cross to redeem every human being on the face of the earth?

Absolutely not!

The Lord Jesus said that there are more people going to Hell than there are going to Heaven. And Christ did not go to the cross for those of whom He knew that they themselves would go to Hell.

Then whom did Christ redeem out of the hands of Satan when He suffered on the cross?

We read here in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4:

2 Corinthians 4:3
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

This passage says that those for whom the Gospel of Christ crucified remains hidden they are lost, which means they are still unsaved and on the way to Hell.

Why does the Gospel remain hidden to them?

Verse 4 says that the god of this world, Satan, has blinded them. No, he has not blinded their eyes, but he has blinded their minds, so that they will not believe the Gospel. Their minds remain in spiritual darkness. Their carnal minds remain in the grip of sin and of Satan.

What then is "the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ"?

That light is the righteousness of Christ, and that righteousness is imputed to everyone whose mind has been opened by God the Holy Spirit. This righteousness is imputed to all those for whom the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross at Golgotha.

How many ways are there to forgive sins?

There is only one way, and that is through the Atonement of Christ on the cross. There was only one time in the history of the world that sins were paid to the satisfaction of the righteousness of God when Christ suffered and died on the cross. Either your sins were paid there at the cross, or they were not paid at all.

Those who were chosen to have their sins paid were not chosen for any good quality they might have, or for anything they might do, but they were chosen entirely according the good pleasure of the will of God the Father, and He gave them to His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

But God did not arbitrarily choose some and not choose others. We do not have a God who does things at random. God has a definite plan and a definite purpose in mind. Herein is the wisdom of Christ that He chose some to be saved from Hell, whereas others He passed by, according to the plan and to the will of God. And God decided on that plan before the foundation of the world. When Christ died on that cross, the destiny of this chosen number of people was sealed: They are going to receive a "Born Again" soul at sometime in this life on earth, and their destiny is going to be the New Heaven & New Earth.

But is God aware of all the other people in the world who are going to Hell on account of their own sins?

Of course God is aware of them. He is going to create them. But God did not plan to save them, since that does not fit the plan of God for His elect people. God says in Romans 9:21-23,

Romans 9:21
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Romans 9:22
What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

Romans 9:23
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

God made "vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory" and God made "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction". And thus Christ sealed the destiny of the vessels of mercy at the cross when He paid for their sins, and Christ sealed the destiny of the vessels of wrath at the cross when He did not pay for their sins. It was Judgment Day for Christ, because He was a stand in for all those vessels of mercy, and it was Judgment Day for all the vessels of wrath, because they were appointed to pay for all their own sins in Hell. And the history of the world from the cross forward till the end of time is only an outworking of this Judgment Day at the cross.

Can you see that the event of the cross in AD 33 is both a cleansing of the elect and a Judgment on the reprobate?

This is the language we find in many places in the Bible.

"Behold, the Day Cometh" (Malachi 4:1,5, 3:17-18, Joel 2:31, Acts 2:16,20, Matthew 24:29)

In Malachi 4:1 God speaks about a terrifying Day, which in the context is called, "The Day of the Lord". This expression "The Day of the Lord" occurs 29 times in the Bible, plus many times where other expressions are used. We read in Malachi 4:1,

Malachi 4:1
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

This sounds like it is the end of time.

But is it really referring to the end of time?

Within the same context we read in Malachi 4:5, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD".

From the New Testament we know that this verse finds its fulfillment in the coming of John the Baptist, and the great and dreadful day of the Lord refers to the time of the cross of Christ

Moreover, Malachi 4:1 begins with the word "For". It means that we have to go back at least two verses to see this context.

Malachi 3:17
And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

Verse 17 speaks about, "in that day", which is an expression that occurs 112 times in the Bible, mostly referring to the Last Day, but often referring to the time of the cross.

What is the meaning of "in that day" here in Malachi 3:17?

The context of verse 16 refers to those whose names have been written in the Book of Life. Then in verse 17 God says, "And They shall be mine, in that day when I make up my jewels".

You see, the jewels represent people.

What day is this that the Lord Jesus Christ makes up His jewels?

It is the day when He suffered and died on the cross. This was the day when He made up the jewels for His crown. This was the day when He paid for the robe of righteousness with which He was going to clothe His Bride, the church, consisting of all the Old Testament and New Testament saints which God is pleased to save. Therefore, "in that day" in Malachi 3:17 refers to the time of the cross. But look at Verse 18,

Malachi 3:18
Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

When will we know for sure who the righteous and who the wicked are?

We will not know it in this life, but we will know it on the Last Day, when God has raised up from the grave the bodies of all people, either for rapture or for judgment. Here in Malachi 3:17-18 we see the time of the cross and the judgment of the Last Day next to each other, side by side. And thus we realize that Malachi 4:1 applies both to the time of the cross and to the Judgment on the Last Day.

God writes this way more often, and we will see it if we keep our eyes open to it. For example, in Malachi 4:5, "the great and dreadful (or fearful) day of the Lord" refers to the time of the cross of Christ.

I know that the day the Lord Jesus began to atone for our sins was a dreadful day for Him, but why was it also a fearful day for human beings?

Another example: In Joel, God prophesied here of the coming day of Pentecost in AD 33, and God also mentioned the time of the cross in verse 31. There we read,

Joel 2:31
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

When was the fulfillment of this prophecy?

God indicated in Acts 2:16 that Pentecost in AD 33 was the fulfillment of this prophesy. God says, through the mouth of the Apostle Peter,

Acts 2:16
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

Acts 2:20
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

Indeed there was a darkness of about 3 hours when Christ hung on the cross. And indeed there was a moon eclipse on the evening of the Passover, in the year AD 33, where the moon turned to a reddish color, because the blue from the sunrays have been scattered by the earth's atmosphere.

But why did God use such ominous language?

This is language that points to the end of the world, when "the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light" (Matthew 24:29).

Why would God use such ominous language?

God does that to make it absolutely clear to us that He is a sovereign God who is sovereign in all things, and that means all things!

God's providence is at work in all things, in all of history, in all earthquakes, hurricanes, wars, and even whether my car will start this morning. There are only two things God cannot do, and God will not do. God cannot sin, and God will not tempt anyone to sin.

"Those that Fear My Name" (Malachi 3:16, 4:2, Romans 3:11,18, Revelation 19:13, 22:18, John 8:12, Romans 8:6-7, James 4:6)

Who are those that fear God and that fear His Name?

Those that believe on Christ do not fear Satan any more, and they do not fear Hell any more, because they believe that Christ will be on their side.

But do they fear God?

Yes, they do fear God; but they do not fear Him as someone who will hurt them, but they respect Him as Almighty God who has all the powers of the universe, and who will protect them from Satan and al the wicked powers in high places. It is interesting to see the connection between Malachi 3:16 and Malachi 4:2. God speaks about those who fear Him in Malachi 3:16,

Malachi 3:16
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name.

Do you think that God listened and learned about those who fear Him, and as a result God wrote their names in a Book of Remembrance, which is the Book of Life?

That is an absolutely impossible idea, because it implies that God would grow wiser as time goes on.

Does God learn from events that are happening in history?

Of course not!

That is not the God whom we worship. The God of the Bible says that "He knows the end from the beginning". This does not just mean that God is omniscient, that He is, but it means that God creates the circumstances so that things come to pass as He designed them, and not because He foresaw them. We must harmonize the Bible. Speaking of the entire human race God says in Romans 3:11, "There is none that seeketh after God", and God says of them in Romans 3:18, "There is no fear of God before their eyes".

Therefore, when we read in Malachi 3:16, "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another", we realize that something special has happened to these people.

They have gotten a different nature than the nature they were born with. In fact, they have become "Born Again", or else they would not behave in such a manner.

And why have they been "Born Again"?

They were chosen by God to inherit eternal life as the Bride of Christ, which means that the Lord Jesus Christ would suffer and die for their sins also. That is why they feared God and feared His Name.

And what is His name?

You might say His name is Jehovah, or His name is Jesus, or His name is Everlasting Father, and we can make a list of over one hundred names of God or of Christ.

But what is the all-inclusive Name of Christ?

For this we have to go to Revelation 19:13, where God writes about Christ in His final battle against Satan and all the followers of Satan. God says in Revelation 19:13, "And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God".

That is the all-inclusive Name of Christ: It is The Word of God.

If anyone says that he or she believes on the Name of Christ, ask them if they believe the entire Word of God, including Romans 9 and John 6 and other chapters that are not so popular these days. The Name of Christ is the entire Word of God, from cover to cover, and nothing may be added from dreams or visions or tongues or angel visitations.

Revelation 22:18
"If anyone adds to the words of the prophecy of this Book, then God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this Book".

Now God says in Malachi 4:2,

Malachi 4:2
But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

Here is another name of Christ: The Sun of Righteousness.

When Christ says that He is like the Sun, we remember that He said, "I am the Light of the world: He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12).

But in Malachi 4:2 God says quite a bit more. A characteristic of the Sun is that it has its own light. The sun is a source of light in itself. So Christ is the Sun of Righteousness. Like the sun He too is a light center, and the light that radiates from Him is Righteousness. In Him there is Righteousness, and from Him Righteousness issues forth unto all, for all, and into all the hearts of those that fear His Name. And this light of Righteousness will continue to radiate from Him into all the world and into the hearts of His elect people until all the darkness of sin shall be completely chased away, and righteousness shall fill all the new creation of the New Heaven & New Earth.

Righteousness is the state of being right with God, in agreement with the will of God. Therefore, Righteousness is in Christ only and can be obtained from Him only. It also means that there is by nature no righteousness in us, and that with us is the darkness of sin and death. We are conceived and born in sin. We are corrupt in our very nature. We are haters of God and of the Law of God, and we have sinned all our life.

Romans 8:6-7
"We are carnally minded and are not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be".

Such was the material that Christ had to mold into the shape of the Bride of Christ. That was quite an undertaking.

And do I hear anyone claim that he has made a contribution to this fabulous metamorphosis?

Can anyone claim that his contribution was that he has made a decision to follow Jesus, and that this decision came out of his own good heart?

Let him remember, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

Can anyone be so proud as to ignore that "there is NONE that seeketh after God"?

How is it possible that some forget that a load of sin oppressed us for which we can never atone?

An immense power of corruption had dominion over us and held us in bondage, from which we were incapable of delivering ourselves. We dwelt in the darkness of the shadow of death. And into this darkness came the shining light from Christ, the Sun of Righteousness. We now realize that we do not have any righteousness of our own. Christ is our Righteousness. For this purpose He was ordained from before the foundation of the world, in order that He might be the head of the church forever. And for this purpose He came in the fullness of time, and He came into the flesh. He came with the same flesh and blood and sinews and bones as we all do, except for sin. Therefore He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, but He was not infected with Adam's sin, therefore He was not infected by sinful flesh. He was the Second Adam. Just like the first Adam initially was created without sin, so Christ came without any sin. If He ever had committed one tiny sin, He would no longer qualify for the role of the spotless Lamb of God. He would not qualify to be our Redeemer. But thanks be to God that The Lord Jesus Christ never committed any sin. Indeed, Jesus Christ, the Son of God who has come into the flesh, born of a virgin, made under the Law, was made sin for us though He knew no sin, was crucified and endured the wrath of God in our place, and who arose from the dead on the third day, He is the Sun of Righteousness,

With Healing in His Wings (Malachi 4:2, 1 Corinthians 13:10)

Malachi 4:2
But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up frisk as calves of the stall.

Is there healing in His wings?

Absolutely Yes!

Righteousness is the very basis and the essence of our healing. As long as we are not righteous before God we have no right even to be healed. It is our sin and our guilt that make us worthy of God's damnation and the Second death. It is the wrath of God that makes us unspeakably miserable. But in His favor there is life. And therefore we can be healed only through the favor of God, which is the grace of God. But His favor is only upon the righteous. Therefore, we must be righteous, justified before God before we can even have the right to be healed. It is the very essence of our healing that we are delivered from the corruption of our carnal nature, in order that we may enjoy the light of life. And so, only the Sun of Righteousness can possibly have healing in His wings.

What are His wings?

His wings are the rays that issue forth from the sun, and in those rays there is a healing power. Through the grace of God, by faith, we must expose our souls to the rays of this glorious Sun of Righteousness so that we may be healed. He can heal us from our stubborn sins, which plague us in this life. Not only will this Sun of Righteousness make us justified before God, but He will also sanctify us in this life by giving us more and more work to do, which qualifies as work that is pleasing to God. Here in this life it is true, only in principle. But in the Day of the Lord, on the Last Day, all shall be perfected. The rays of the Sun of Righteousness shall penetrate into our graves, and change our bodies so that they become glorified bodies like unto the glorious body of our Lord. It is in this way that we shall be complete "sons of God", and we shall be complete as the "Bride of Christ". And then we read here in Malachi 4:2, "and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall".

That is not a translation that fits the context. The context is that of Judgment Day. There is no more growing to do after Judgment Day, because "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away" (1 Corinthians 13:10).

Therefore a better translation would be: "and ye shall go forth, and frisk as calves of the stall".

When Christ comes again we will be so delighted that we could jump for joy, like calves that are just let out of the stall. Of course, this is just an earthly way of expressing our joy. On that Day of the Lord we will have entered a totally new world, with new bodies that do not resemble our old bodies. How we will express our joy then cannot be described in terms of this world. But we will be grateful, for sure, and we will have the mind of the Lord. In such a state of mind we will tread down the wicked. God says in Malachi 4:3,

"Ye Shall Tread Down the Wicked" (Malachi 4:3, Revelation 14:11, Psalm 137:8-9, 1 Corinthians 6:2-3)

Malachi 4:3
And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.

Who are the wicked?

The wicked are all the unsaved at the time of Christ's return. They are the enemies of Christ, and we will consider them to be our enemies as well.

Will we enjoy doing this?

In this life we do not relish such a thought. It is true that our nature is to seek revenge, but we do not seek revenge to this extent. But when we have entered our life in the presence of God we will also have the mind of God. It is only then that we will understand that an eternity in Hell is a just penalty for all the unsaved of mankind. What we read here in Malachi 4:3 is only an earthly description of our participation in the Judgment process.

For example, why does God write that the wicked "shall be ashes under the soles of your feet"?


It is to indicate that the unsaved shall endure the fires of Hell. But the fires of Hell shall not annihilate them so that they become ashes. No! The Bible is very clear that "the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever" (Revelation 14:11). A second example is given in Psalm 137.

As we approach the end of time this world will move into the church, and the church will be responsible for destroying the last vestiges of the true Gospel, much like what happened when the nation of Babylon overran the nation of Judah. That is why near the end of time the church is called Babylon in Revelation 17 and Revelation 18.
But when God brings judgment on the church He writes in Psalm 137:8-9,

Psalm 137:8
O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.

Psalm 137:9
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Here again is an earthly description of God's wrath. What God is teaching herewith is that even little children can be subject to the wrath of God. They are not great sinners, but little sinners, and as such they are enemies of God and haters of God. Our role will not be that of children bashers, but that our role will be as judges, judging with Christ is very clear from 1 Corinthians 6:2-3.

1 Corinthians 6:2
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

1 Corinthians 6:3
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?

The saints shall judge the unsaved of this world, and the saints shall judge the fallen angels.


In what way will we participate in this activity if Christ is also their judge?

We do not know. All we know is that we will be grateful for our salvation when we are with Christ in the New Heaven & New Earth.

How great is our Gratitude? (Matthew 7:13-14, Malachi 3:16)

With Thanksgiving Day just three days ago, I wonder what we as a congregation have been giving thanks for.

Do we realize how close we were to being condemned to Hell?

The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7:13, "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat". Many, means the majority of mankind, because He said in the next verse, Matthew 7:14, "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it".

It means that the probability that we would be grouped with all those who go to Hell is far greater than the probability that we belong to the few elect.

Do we appreciate this?

If we have faith in the Word of God, and if we find in ourselves an urgent desire to work for the Lord in gratitude for what He has done for us, then we can count ourselves happy that Christ saved us.

Are we grateful for such great salvation?

And does this gratitude show in our actions?

If you have been just barely rescued from a burning house, would you be grateful to your rescuer?

How does our gratitude show?

God says in Malachi 3:16,
"they that feared the LORD spake often one to another".

Can we say that of everyone reading this?

I would like you to meditate on this question:
"Am I grateful for my salvation? And if I am, how does it show?"

AMEN.

By Alfred Chompff


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

PERFECT IN CHRIST JESUS

PERFECT IN CHRIST JESUS

"If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." --Galatians 5:18

He who looks at his own character and position from a legal point of view, will not only despair when he comes to the end of his reckoning, but if he be a wise man he will despair at the beginning; for if we are to be judged on the footing of the law, there shall no flesh living be justified. How blessed to know that we dwell in the domains of grace and not of law! When thinking of my state before God the question is not, "Am I perfect in myself before the law?" but, "Am I perfect in Christ Jesus?" That is a very different matter. We need not enquire, "Am I without sin naturally?" but, "Have I been washed in the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness?" It is not "Am I in myself well pleasing to God?" but it is "Am I accepted in the Beloved?"