Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

Doubt – The Killer of Trust

Posted: Tuesday, May 1, 2018 in Counseling, Pastoral, Scripture

And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” [Mark 9:14-24, ESV]

I can identify with this story, as a sheep and as a shepherd. It describes what I find in many believers, mature and immature alike. I find it at times in my own heart. In my years of shepherding, I have noticed that one of the greatest enemies the believer has is doubt, the ‘if you can’ mentality of the father in this story. Doubt leads to despair, and despair to hopelessness, hopelessness to unbelief. Ultimately, doubt robs faith and destroys trust.

However, this does not need to be the case, especially in light of what the believer has in the promises of God, in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit living within. If you struggle with doubt (or even if you don’t) consider these words from John Newton, who himself struggled with this enemy called doubt.

His name is Love. He looks upon us with compassion; He knows our frame, and remembers that we are but dust; and when our sins prevail, He does not bid us to despond—but reminds us that we have an Advocate with the Father, who is able to pity, to pardon, and to save to the uttermost. Think of the names and relations he bears. Does he not call himself a Savior, a Shepherd, a Friend, and a Husband? Has he not made known unto us his love, his blood, his righteousness, his promises, his power, and his grace—and all for our encouragement? Away then with all doubting, unbelieving thoughts; they will not only distress your heart—but weaken your hands.

Take it for granted upon the warrant of his Word, that you are his, and he is yours; that he has loved you with an everlasting love, and therefore in loving-kindness has drawn you to himself; that he will surely accomplish that which he has begun, and that nothing which can be named or thought of shall ever be able to separate you from him. This persuasion will give you strength for the battle! This is the shield which will quench the fiery darts of Satan! This is the helmet which the enemy cannot pierce! Whereas if we go forth doubting and fearing, and are afraid to trust any farther than we can feel, we are weak as water, and easily overcome. Be strong, therefore, not in yourself—but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.[http://www.gracegems.org/Newton/001.htm, Letter 2]

So, instead of doubt, instead of the ‘if you can’ idea about Jesus Christ, have this mind:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. [Romans 5:1-5, ESV]

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3 Evangelical Graces: (3) Hope

Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in Scripture, Sermons

We give thanks to God always… constantly bearing in mind your… steadfastness of hope.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

We use the word “hope” rather casually in our culture. Rarely do we ever use it in the biblical sense. When we use the word, it often takes the form of wishful thinking. “I sure hope this tastes OK”; “I hope I do well on this test today”; “I hope the weather is nice today,” etc., etc. But used in this way, “hope” designates uncertainty as to an outcome. There is no firm conviction concerning our future. We just “hope” it turns out all right.

But when Paul, Peter, and others spoke of “hope” they were describing a confident expectation, a joyful anticipation. They had in mind a settled attitude of hope, not one that is somehow determined in the future, but one that is settled already, even from before the foundation of the world. When we approach hope in this way, then the events and circumstances of this world lose their hold on our lives. We do not base our hope on things that are uncertain, but those that are certain. We are not affected inordinately when things or going well or when things are going bad because our hope is not in temporal things but in eternal things.

There are two things this type of hope brings to us. First, it enables us to wait. Paul was thankful for the “patience” or “steadfastness of hope” these at Thessalonica demonstrated. Paul understood this perhaps better than anyone other than Christ.

Philippians 1:20-26 – 20 According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.

According to Paul’s own testimony, what was the source of Paul’s patience in regards to his calling – his hope in Christ, a hope he wished to convene to those at Philippi and beyond as long as the Lord left him on this earth.

The same is true for us today. William Jay, the nineteenth century English minister, put it this way, “Christians, you must not be impatient if you desire heaven and are assured of it, but all the days of your appointed time you should wait, till your change come.” [William Jay, Withhold Not Thy Hand, 426] We are to live out our days, if we truly be in Christ, patiently waiting for His return for us or our home going to Him, whichever occurs first. That is our hope. God’s covenant promises are bestowed on those who are patient (Heb. 6:15).

The second thing this “hope” does is prepare us for suffering. Again, Paul wrote elsewhere, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). In light of what awaits, the believer is buoyed up by this hope, resilient to the persecution and suffering because he knows how it will turn out in the end. “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

The “hope” the believer has in the return of Christ and in receiving His glory is expanded on by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff – “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” He goes on to describe what the Lord’s return will be like. While there are a variety of interpretations of these verses, we cannot lose sight of the fact that Paul wrote these words to comfort them, and us, concerning the fact of the Lord’s return and the glory that awaits those who patiently wait and endure suffering for Him. Peter had a similar admonition. In writing to those who were in the midst of suffering, 1 Peter 1:4-5 reminded them of the hope that was already theirs, 4 “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Are you steadfast in “hope” today? is your assurance of what awaits eternally bound up in and with your only hope, which is Christ and Christ alone? Are you uncertain about what tomorrow might bring? Then as you meditate on Christ this Resurrection season, remember this: Because He lives, I can face tomorrow… Because He lives, all fear is gone… Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.

3 Evangelical Graces: (2) Love

Posted: Friday, March 16, 2018 in Scripture, Sermons

“We give thanks to God always… constantly bearing in mind your… labor of love.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

The Christian knows that the world has a much different definition and practice of “love” than God has in His Word. The world confuses or conflates love and lust. True love thinks of others before self, while lust always thinks of self before others.

However, there are different types of this other-oriented love in the original New Testament language, which was written in koine Greek. These are: phileo (brotherly love), eros (romantic love), storge (a love for family), and agape (divine love). It is this agape love that Paul commends the Thessalonians, a love for which they labored. Agape love is born from above, given by God with Trinitarian implications in the life of a believer. It is a “willing, self-giving sacrifice” of love (John MacArthur) and this is something that an unbeliever simply cannot have or practice – not even inconsistently – since it is a gift of God only to those who are His children.

Love is the greatest of all virtues in Scripture. Jonathan Edwards said, “Let a man have what he will, and do what he will, it signifies nothing without charity; which surely implies that charity is the great thing, and that everything which has not charity in some way contained or implied in it, is nothing, and that this charity is the life and soul of all religion, without which all things that wear the name of virtues are empty and vain.” [Charity and Its Fruits, 3-4]

Paul addressed this love in his other letters…

Colossians 3:12-14 – 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved (1 Thess. 1:4 – “Knowing, beloved of God, His choice of you”), put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

1 Cor. 13:13 – But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

And Peter in 1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

How is this love shown in the life of the believer? Matthew 22:36-39 – 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’”

That is the baseline for the believer, the summum bonum, the supreme good of the Christian life. The “great” commandments reflect two things:

First, a love for God. It is obedience to the first tablet of the Law out of the sheer joy we have in being the child of God. It is the love for God in the heart and mind of one who has the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, who has truly been loved by God. Those who have experienced the love of God then long for communion with Him, they love His Word, they worship and adore Him, they pray Adoring Him, Confessing to Him, Thanking Him, and Supplicating to Him – asking for His good wisdom and provisions. J. C. Ryle spoke to the necessity the love of God that is then marked by a love for God:

The charity of the Bible will never be found except in a heart prepared by the Holy Ghost. It is a tender plant, and will never grow except in one soil. You may as well expect grapes on thorns, or figs on thistles, as look for charity when the heart is not right. The heart in which charity grows is a heart changed, renewed, and transformed by the Holy Ghost… Such a heart is deeply convinced of sin… Such a heart is deeply sensible of its mighty debt to our Lord Jesus Christ. It feels continually that it owes to Him who died for us on the cross, all its present comfort, hope and peace. If it can do nothing else, it strives to be like Him, to drink into His spirit, to walk in His footsteps, and, like Him, to be full of love . . . Love will produce love. [Practical Religion, 174, italics mine]

Second,  there will be a love for others. In Galatians 5:13, Paul proclaimed, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Then in Ephesians 5:2 – “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” This sacrificial love, love for others first, for their joy and benefit, not your own, is at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian. This is what Jesus taught in John 13:34-35 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another” (foot washing in beginning of John 13).

We also see this from John in 1 John 4:

1 John 4:8 – The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

And especially love for the brethren – 1 John 4:19-21 – 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

There are a couple of things this does not mean:

(1) Love does not mean that you must always approve of another’s actions.
(2) Love does not mean that you must always agree with another all of the time.

But when Paul thanked God for the love at Thessalonica it was because their love was evident. They demonstrated love when they did not approve of another’s actions; they knew how to love when they disagreed. He was not referring to something easy or potential but tough and real. It was a “labor of love.” It was hard work, but it was joyful, self-giving work. Notice how he put it in 4:9ff:

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 – 9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

Inside and outside the church, the Thessalonians were making a determined effort to love the unlovely just as Christ loved us and died for us when we were unlovely. Christ made us lovely, and if we are walking in love by the Spirit then we are both loving and lovable.

3 Evangelical Graces: (1) Faith

Posted: Friday, March 9, 2018 in Scripture

“We give thanks to God always… constantly bearing in mind your work of faith.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

In one of the most significant moments in the history of the church, the Reformers concluded from Scripture alone that justification was through faith alone, sola fide. In other words, saving faith or justifying faith is by grace alone through faith in Christ alone apart from our works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Faith is the means or the instrument that God  has provided to bring us to Christ, and faith, in fact all of salvation, is a gift of His grace.

However, the Reformers also rightly concluded and proclaimed that though we are justified by faith alone, we are not justified by a faith that remains alone. James was clear, James 2:17 – “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” The problem for many interpreters comes with James 2:24 – “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” However, when we consider James 2:26 – “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead,” we see James in this discussion was looking at works of faith as evidence that one is in fact alive in Christ. By his works of faith he is shown to be righteous. Hence his conclusion, James 2:20 – “Faith without works is useless.” Or as the late songwriter Rich Mullins put it, “Faith without works is like a song you can’t sing, it’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.”

It is this sanctifying “work of faith” that Paul says he often remembered about the  Thessalonians in his prayers. What did their “work of faith” look like? What had Paul heard back from Timothy while he was in Athens (see 3:1-2, 6) that spurred him to write these things? There are two things to consider concerning this “work of faith.”

First, the “work of faith” is a trusting work. Faith is taking hold of all that God has done in and through Christ. It is trusting in God and His way of salvation, Christ finished work, rather than in our own works. Christianity alone provides the only hope for a desperate people. All other world religions are based upon the works of man, which are nothing more than filthy rags in God’s sight. The Christian can have hope because his faith is in the merits of another, the righteousness of Christ. If your trust is in anything or anyone other than Christ alone, then you should examine yourselves to see if you are even of the faith. In our pluralistic age, we are led to believe that all roads lead to salvation. As long as you are seeking to do good then everything will be all right in the end. But that is not  what Scripture says, Scripture that proclaims the redemptive history of man in Christ alone from beginning to end.

However, flowing from this initial faith is a real trust in God and unwavering commitment to Him that is evident in the life of one who has totally submitted himself to the righteousness that God has provided in Christ. It is to live as Proverbs 3:5-6, 5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” One writer put it this way: A true church is made up of people who have faith in Jesus Christ. People without such faith are not Christians, and any collection of individuals without it, however religious they might be, is not a church. Faith includes the idea of confidence; it is convinced that Jesus can be trusted. [J. Philip Arthur, Patience of Hope: 1 & 2 Thessalonians simply explained, 25 – italics mine.]

Of course, the works that stifle this faith are born out of doubt. We see this in Matthew 14 in the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water:

Matthew 14:28-31 – 28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

So, here Paul commends the Thessalonians for their confidence in Christ. They were  struggling. They were being persecuted by the Jews and others. There were probably times that even we could identify, times where they did not know whether they could make it through the day. The trials and sufferings, their persecutions seemed more than they could bear. But they did not doubt! They trusted God. They walked by faith and not by sight – not a blind faith, not a let go let God faith, but a trusting faith. They believed God!

Second, the “work of faith” is a battling work. One of the titles that Paul used of the early church believers was that of “soldier” (Philippians 2:25; 2 Timothy 2:3,4; Philemon 2). Paul calls the soldier to put on the full armor provided by God (Ephesians 6:10-17). As such, the believer is called to battle, as Paul put it, to “fight the good fight, keeping faith” (1 Timothy 1:18). The work of faith is a battle: a battle against the flesh (Romans 7 & 8); a battle against the devil, who is called our “adversary” (1 Peter 5:8), and a battle against the world, over which the apostle John reminds us that we are “conquerors” or “overcomers,” 1 John 5:4 – “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” Then in Revelation each of the seven churches is called to “overcome” and the promise of the inheritance is granted to those who do so (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 21:7).

This is exactly the faith that Paul had heard from Timothy concerning the saints at  Thessalonica:

1 Thessalonians 3:1-8 – 1 Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it  best to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, 3 so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. 4 For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain. 6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, 7 for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; 8 for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.

“Surely” – Knowing God’s Word

Posted: Wednesday, January 3, 2018 in Pastoral, Resolutions, Scripture

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying,
“You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
(Genesis 2:16-17)

One of the popular resolutions that believers make in a New Year is to read their Bible through. And this is an important resolve! There are many plans available that will take you through the entire Bible as it is written, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. I prefer the method that takes you through the Bible chronologically. Others take you through the New Testament only, once or twice in a year. The available methods is endless.

I cannot stress enough the importance of you getting into the Word of God in order to get the Word of God into you. We face a powerful adversary who seeks to find a way to bring us down, and his fiery dart is often either one’s ignorance of God’s Word or one’s apathy towards God’s Word. It is important that we know God’s Word, word-for-word, because God didn’t waste any words in giving us His Word. I understand that words vary from translation to translation, and that is why it is important to have an English version that is close to the Hebrew and the Greek, the original languages that the Old Testament and New Testament were written. You can find helps with that, or ask your pastor for some guidance. The point – know God’s Word as He gave it to us.

Case in point is found in the beginning – in some of God’s first words to man found in Genesis 2:16-17. I have emphasized a word – a word that God used in communication with Adam – a word that is significant when Satan approached Eve in all of his craftiness in Genesis 3:1. Notice the very first words the evil one used with Eve: “Did God actually say…” Stop there for a moment. If Satan were to come to you and ask, “Did God actually say…” would you know what God actually said? Not what you think He said or something close to what He said or what you have made it out to say, but what He actually said? Satan asked Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

It is in Eve’s response to Satan’s question that we see the importance of knowing God’s Word, word-for-word. Notice what happens when Eve responded in v. 2. She began correctly. “No, Satan, that is not what God said.” Well, she didn’t say that but that is the thought behind her words, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden.” But notice something missing? One word, “Surely.” Some translations have “freely.” Regardless, the emphasis is on God’s gracious provision for Adam and Eve in the garden. They had access to any tree, every tree, all the trees, 24-hours a day. They had it all – they could surely eat of every tree in the garden. The focus was on His provision, not his prohibition. Eve’s response minimized the grace of God’s provision.

But she went on in v. 3 to tell Satan what she remembered God said, “But God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” And here is where Satan knows he has her. If you will notice, this isn’t even close to what God actually said. In fact, it changes what He said altogether. First, she neglected to name the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as God did in 2:17. It was certainly true that this tree was in the midst of the garden (2:9). This could mean it was in a central place in the garden, but geographical location was not the issue. It was what the tree provided that was the issue – and a damning one at that!

Second, she totally left out “for in the day you eat of it.” She neglected the immediacy of the consequence – on that day.

Third, she added to what God said, “neither shall you touch it.” Now in fairness, it would probably be prudent to stay away from the tree, not even go near the tree, not even touch the tree, as a guard against eating it. But God did not say that they would die if they touched it, only if they ate it. Eve was the first Pharisee. The Pharisees were known for adding all sorts of laws heaped upon laws to “aid” a person in keeping the one law that mattered – God’s law, what He actually said. And some of these laws were wise, others not so much. But in adding to God’s requirements, and in providing consequences for breaking those laws that God’s law did not stipulate, they did not “aid” the people but only added to their misery.

But perhaps the most significant error is how Eve finished her reply, “lest you die.” In 2:17 God said, “You shall surely die.” Eve said that He said, “lest you die.” Quite a difference, don’t you think? She again minimized what God had said and the magnitude of the consequence. “Shall surely die” – “lest you die.” Matthew Henry noted, “She seems a little to waver about the threatening, and is not so particular and faithful in the repetition of that as of the precept. God has said, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; all she makes of that is, Lest you die. Note, Wavering faith and wavering resolutions give great advantage to the tempter.”

And Eve gave the tempter a great advantage. The one who knew God’s Word better than she didn’t leave out the surely, “You will not surely die” (v. 4). This was a lie, a lie with hateful, destructive intent. God said, “You will surely die.” Satan said, “You will not surely die.” And the tragedy – who did Eve believe? And why? “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5). And this was absolutely true (3:22). However, this was the way or sure death!

Do not waver in your resolution to get into the Word of God so that the Word of God can get into you! I trust you see the importance. One of Satan’s most fiery darts is to distort God’s Word. “Did God actually say…” I pray you know!

Day 4 of our Christmas meditations with Spurgeon… Merry Christmas!

How complex is the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ! Almost in the same breath the Prophet calls Him a “Child,” and a “Counselor,” a “Son,” and “the Everlasting Father.” This is no contradiction, and to us scarcely a paradox, but it is a mighty marvel that He who was an Infant should at the same time be Infinite—He who was the Man of Sorrows should also be God over all, blessed forever—and that He who is in the Divine Trinity always called the Son, should nevertheless be correctly called “the
Everlasting Father.”

How forcibly this should remind us of the necessity of carefully studying and rightly understanding the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ! We must not suppose that we shall understand Him at a glance. A look will save the soul, but patient meditation alone can fill the mind with the knowledge of the Savior. Glorious mysteries are hidden in His Person. He speaks to us in plain language, and He manifests Himself openly in our midst, but yet in His Person itself there is a height and depth which  human intellect fails to measure…

… In what sense is Jesus a Father? Answer, first. He is federally a Father representing those who are in Him, as the head of a tribe represents his descendants. The Apostle Paul comes to our help here, for in the memorable chapter in Corinthians he speaks of those who are in Adam, and then he talks of a second Adam.

Adam is the father of all living. He federally stood for us in the garden, and federally fell and ruined us all. He was the representative man by whose obedience we should have been blessed, but through whose disobedience we have been made sinners. The curse of the Fall comes upon us because Adam stood in a relation towards us in which none of us stand towards our fellows. He was the representative head for us—and what a fall was there when he fell—every one of us in his loins fell in him. “In Adam all die.”

Since his day there has been but one other here to the human race  federally . It is true, Noah was the father of the present race of men, for we have all sprung from him, but there was no covenant with Noah in which he represented his posterity. There was no condition of obedience by which he might have obtained a reward for us, and no condition of disobedience for the breach of which we are called to smart. The only other man who is a representative man before God is the second Adam, the man Christ Jesus, the Lord from Heaven! Brothers and Sisters, we mournfully call Adam father, for we are cast out of Eden by him—and we till the ground with the sweat of our face—in sorrow did our mothers bring us forth, and to the grave in sorrow must we go.

But we who have believed in Jesus call another man Father, namely, the Lord Jesus! And we speak this not sorrowfully but joyfully, for He has opened the gates of a better Paradise. He has taken away the sweat of toil from our faces spiritually, for we who have believed do “enter into rest.” He has borne Himself the pangs which were brought upon us by sin. He took our sicknesses and bore our sorrows, while death itself, the heaviest affliction, He has overcome, so that he that lives and believe in Him shall never die, but pass out of this world into the life celestial!

The grand question for us is this, Are we still under the Old Covenant of works? If so, we have Adam as our father, and under that Adam we died. But are we under the Covenant of Grace? If so, we have Christ as our Father, and in Christ shall we be made alive! Generation makes us the sons of Adam. Regeneration acknowledges us as the sons of Christ. In our first birth we come under the fatherhood of the fallen one. In our second birth we enter into the fatherhood of the innocent and perfect One. In our first fatherhood we wear the image of the earthy. In the second we receive the image of the heavenly.

Through our relation to Adam we become corrupt and weak, and the body is put into the grave in dishonor, in corruption, in weakness, in shame. But when we come under the dominion of the second Adam we receive strength, and quickening, and inward spiritual life—and therefore our body rises again like seed sown which rises to a glorious harvest in the image of the heavenly—with honor, and power, and happiness, and eternal life! In this sense, then, Christ is called Father, and inasmuch as the Covenant of Grace is older than the Covenant of Works, Christ is, while Adam is not, “the Everlasting Father.” And inasmuch as the Covenant of Works, as far as we are concerned, passes away, being fulfilled in Jesus, and the Covenant of Grace never passes but abides forever, Christ, as the Head of the New Covenant, the federal representative of the great economy of Grace, is “the Everlasting Father.”…

…We weigh the words, “EVERLASTING FATHER.” I have already explained what this means. Christ is called, “the Everlasting Father” because He does not, Himself, as a Father, die or vacate His office. He is still the Federal Head and Father of His people. He is still the Founder of Gospel Truth and of the Christian system—not allowing archbishops and popes to be His vicars and to take His place. He is still the true Life-Giver from whose wounds and by whose death we are quickened. He reigns, even now, as the patriarchal King. He is still the loving family Head. And so, in every sense, He lives as Father.

But here is a sweet thought. He neither Himself dies, nor becomes childless! He does not lose His children! If His Church could perish He would not be a Father. A Father without a son? And this is the best of all, that He is “an Everlasting Father” to all those to whom He is a Father at all. If you have entered into this relationship so as to be in union with Christ, and to be covered with the hem of His garment, you are His child and you shall forever be! There is no unfathering Christ, and there is no  unchilding us! He is everlastingly a Father to those who trust in Him, and He never does, at any one moment, cease to be Father to any one of these.

This morning you may have come here in trouble, but Christ is still your Father. This day you may be much depressed in spirit and full of doubts and fears. A true father never ceases, if he is a father, to exercise his kindness to a child. Nor does Jesus cease to love and pity you. He will help you. Go to Him, and you shall find that loving Friend to be as tender as in the days of His flesh. He is the Author of an eternal system. As I glanced at the words ,“Everlasting Father,” and thought of Him as the Founder of an ever-living system, I said to myself, “Ah then, the Christian religion will never die out!” It is not possible that the Truth as it is in Jesus should ever be put away if He is “the Everlasting Father”!…

…“The Everlasting Father,” last of all, because He is the Father, in all His people, of eternal life. Adam, you are a father, but where are your sons? If you could return to earth, O Mother Eve, where would you find your children? I think I see her as she paces round the earth and finds nothing but little grassy mounds, heaps of turf, and sometimes a valley sodden blood-red where her children have been slain in battle. I hear her weeping for her children. She will not be comforted because they are not!

But hush, Mother Eve, what life did you give them? What life was that which Father Adam conferred upon your sons and daughters? Why, only life terrestrial, a bubble life that melted and disappeared! But Jesus, as He comes again, will find none of His children dead! None of His sons and daughters lost! Because He lives, they live also, for He is the Everlasting Father and makes those to have everlasting life who live and breathe through Him. Thrice happy they who have an interest in the truth of our text!

Now, dear Hearers, may I ask you whether Christ is Everlasting Father to you? There are other fathers. The Jew said, “We have Abraham as our father,” and to this day certain divines teach that we have covenant rights because of our earthly fathers. They believe in the Abrahamic Covenant much after the manner of the Jews. “We have Abraham as our father”—therefore we have a right to baptism. Therefore we are church members—“born into the church.” Yes, I have heard it said, “born into the church.”

Let no man deceive you! This is not Christ’s teaching! “You must be born-again.” If not, though your mother were a saint in Heaven, and your father an undoubted Apostle of God, you should derive no advantage but a world of solemn responsibility from the fact—unless you are yourself born-again!…

…Adam was driven out of Paradise, and you will never be admitted there! Adam lost all his hopes and you will lose yours. On the ground of the Law shall no flesh living be justified! Alas, I fear that many here have another father. How does Christ put it? “You are of your father, the devil,” says He, “for his works you do.” Not works merely of open sin in the form of adultery, uncleanness, theft, and such like, but opposition to Christ is peculiarly a work of the devil! And unbelief in Christ is the devil’s masterpiece! If you do not, then, trust the Lord Jesus, do not say tonight when you kneel at the bedside, “Our Father, which are in Heaven,” for your father is not in Heaven—your father is in Hell!

Go to the blood of Jesus and ask that you may be cleansed from all iniquity, and then may you say through the Everlasting Father, “O God, You have made me Your child, and I love and bless Your name.” May God be pleased to give you all His blessing for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

C. H. Spurgeon, Sermon #724, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit

 

His Name – “The Mighty God”

Posted: Sunday, December 24, 2017 in Scripture, Seasonal, Sermons, Spurgeon

Day 3 of our Christmas meditations with Spurgeon:

CHRIST HAS PROVED HIMSELF TO US TO BE “THE MIGHTY God.” And here Beloved, without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness, for the passage from which
the text is taken says, “Unto us a Child is born.” A child! What can that do? A child totters in its walk, it trembles in its steps—and it is a child newly born. Born!—an infant hanging on its mother’s breast, an infant deriving its nourishment from a woman? What? Can that work wonders? Yes, said the Prophet, “Unto us a Child is born.”

But then it is added, “Unto us a Son is given.” Christ was not only born, but given. As Man He is a Child born, as God He is the Son given. He emotes down from on high—He is given by God to become our Redeemer. But here behold the wonder! His name is named! This child’s name “shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God.” Is this child, then, to us the mighty God? If so, O Brethren, without controversy,  great is the mystery of Godliness, indeed! And yet, just let us look, look through the history of the Church and discover whether we have not ample evidence to substantiate it. This Child born, this Son given, came into the world to enter into the battle against sin. For thirty years and upwards He had to struggle and wrestle against temptations more numerous and more terrible than man had ever known before. Adam fell when but a woman tempted him. Eve fell when but a serpent offered fruit to her—but Christ—the second Adam, stood invulnerable against all the shafts of Satan though tempted He was in all points, like as we are.

Not one arrow out of the quiver of Hell was spared—the whole were shot against Him. Every arrow was aimed against Him with all the might of Satan’s army and that is not little! And yet, without sin or taint of sin, more than conqueror He stood. Foot to foot with Satan, in the solitude of the wilderness—hand to hand with him on the top of the pinnacle of the temple—side by side with him in the midst of a busy crowd—yet ever more than conqueror. He gave him battle wherever the adversary willed to meet Him and at last, when Satan gathered up all his might and seized the Savior in the garden of Gethsemane and crushed him till He sweat as it were, great drops of blood—then when the Savior said, “Nevertheless, not as I will but as You will”—the tempter was repulsed. “Go! Go!” Christ seemed to say. And away the tempter fled, nor dare return again. Christ, in all His conquests over sin, seems to me to have established His Godhead. I never heard of any other creature that could endure such temptation as this.

Look at the angels in Heaven. How temptation entered there I know not, but this I know, that Satan, the great archangel, sinned and I know that he became the tempter to the rest of his companions and drew with him a third part of the stars of Heaven. Angels were but little tempted—some of them not tempted at all—and yet they fell. And then look at man—slight was his temptation—yet he fell. It is not in a creature to stand against temptation. He will yield, if the temptation is strong enough. But Christ stood and it seems to me, that in His standing He proved Himself to have the most radiant purity, the immaculate holiness of Him before whom angels
veil their faces and cry—

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.”

But these proofs might appear insufficient if He did not accomplish more than this. We know also that Christ proved Himself to be the “mighty God” from the fact that at last all the sins of all His people were gathered upon His shoulders and, “He bare them in His own body on the tree.” The heart of Christ became like a reservoir in the midst of mountains. All the tributary streams of iniquity and every drop of the sins of His people, ran down and gathered into one vast lake, deep as Hell and shoreless as eternity. All these met, as it were, in Christ’s heart and yet He endured them all. With many a sign of human weakness, but with convincing signs of Divine Omnipotence, He took all our griefs and carried all our sorrows. The Divinity within strengthened His Manhood and though wave after wave rolled over His head, till He sank in deep mire where there was no standing and all God’s waves and His billows had gone over Him—yet did He lift up His head and more than a conqueror, at  length, He put the sins of His people to a public execution. They are dead. They have ceased to be. And, if they are sought for, they shall not be found any more. Certainly if this is true, He is “the mighty God,” indeed.

But He did more than this, He descended into the grave and there He slept, fast fettered with the cold chains of death. But the appointed hour arrived—the sunlight of the third day gave the warning and He snapped the bands of death as if they were but thread and came forth to life as “the Lord of life and glory.” His flesh did not see corruption, for He was not able to be held by the bands of death. And who shall be the death of death, the plague of the grave, the destroyer of destruction, but God? Who but immortal life, who but the self-existent, shall trample out the fires of Hell? Who, but He whose Being is eternal, without beginning and without end, shall burst the shackles of the grave? He proved Himself, then, when He led captivity captive and crushed Death and ground his iron limbs to powder—He proved Himself, then to be the mighty God!

Oh, my Soul, you can say that He has proved Himself in your heart to be a mighty God. Sins many has He forgiven you and relieved your conscience of the keen sense of guilt. Griefs innumerable has He assuaged. Temptations insurmountable has He overcome. Virtues once impossible has He implanted, grace in its fullness has He promised and in its measure He has given. My soul bears record that what has been done for me could never have been done by a mere man. And you would rise from your seats, I am sure, if it were needful, and say, “Yes, He that has loved me, washed me from my sins and made me what I am, must be God, none but God could do what He has done—could bear so patiently—could bless so lavishly, forgive so freely, enrich so infinitely. He is, He must be—we will crown Him such—“The mighty God.”

C. H. Spurgeon, Sermon #258, The New Park Street Pulpit