Martin: July 4th and 5th

July Fourth is coming soon and I’m thankful for the many blessings we experience in our country. I’m excited to celebrate this Saturday God’s goodness and grace to us that we experience in the USA. I’m also, very grateful that the next Lord’s Day (July 5th) my church family New City Church http://www.newcitychurch.org will gather in person and via Zoom to celebrate the Lordship of Christ alone. We won’t sing the national anthem of any country, neither will we fly any flag. Why? Because we are there to worship Christ, and only Jesus is Lord. Caesar may have what is his—for the time he is allotted—but inside the church house, and among the gathered assembly, Caesar has no claim. #JesusIsLord #CitizensOfAnotherKingdom

-Erik

Edwards and Strachan: Love Our Enemies

“Christ denied himself to help us, though we are not able to recompense him; so we should be willing to lay out ourselves to help our neighbor freely, expecting nothing again. Christ loved us, and was kind to us and was willing to relieve us, though we were very hateful persons, of an evil disposition, not deserving any good, but deserving only to be hated, and treated with indignation; so we should be willing to be kind to those that are an ill sort of person, of a hateful disposition, and that are very undeserving. Christ loved us, and laid himself out to relieve us, though we were his enemies, hated him, had an ill spirit towards him, had treated him ill; so, as we would love Christ as he hath loved us, should {we love those who are our enemies, hate us, have an ill spirit toward us, and have treated us ill}.”

-Jonathan Edwards, Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733.

“It isn’t hard to say that we’re Christians. If we keep the definition vague, the shoe seems to fit. We go to church, do what we’re supposed to do at work, and write a check once in a while to a worthy cause. With this low threshold, the faith doesn’t seem all that challenging; it fits comfortably into a typical American lifestyle, and we experience little discomfort.

But when we dig into the priorities of true Christianity, that laxness seems woefully deficient. The standard of Christ is not simply to love people who love us back, or to love humanity in a general sense. The standard of Christ is to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Such teachings present us with a major challenge. It’s no easy thing to love someone who acts hatefully toward us. Our every instinct runs away from love in such situations.

Christianity brings about a quiet revolution in the human heart. One of its chief effects is to awaken a full range of compassion and kindness to the people we encounter. Faith grabs hold of the truly repentant, and upends us, making friends of those who once were enemies. “Christ loved us” when we “hated him.”

Now, God gives us the strength, the otherworldly ability, to emulate our Savior and love those who despise us. Few practices are more challenging—or more revealing of the authenticity of our faith.”

‘If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.’ (Romans 5:10)

-Owen Strachan, Always in God’s Hands, Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, 167.

Beale: Future Animal Sacrifices in Ezekiel ?

“The Scofield Bible, espousing the standard literalist dispensational approach [to interpreting eschatological passages], gives a surprising response to what appears to be a vexing problem for those arguing for the future revival of the sacrificial system. In addition to saying that the sacrifices might be memorials Scofield also offers the following possibility:

‘The reference to sacrifices [in Ezekiel’s temple prophecy] is not to be taken literally, in view of the putting away of such offerings [according to Hebrews], but is rather to be regarded as a presentation of the worship of redeemed Israel, in her own land and in the millennial temple, using the terms with which the Jews were familiar in Ezekiel’s day’ (The New Scofield Reference Bible, 1967:888).

More than one commentator has recognized the inconsistency in this quotation from the Scofield Bible: ‘These words convey a far-reaching concession on the part of dispensationalists. If the sacrifices are not to be taken literally, why should we take the temple literally? It would seem that the dispensational principle of the literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecy is here abandoned, and that a crucial foundation stone for the entire dispensationalist system has been set aside!’ (Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 1979:204).

Therefore, ‘make the sacrifices symbolic and the temple becomes symbolic too’ (H. Ellison, Ezekiel: The Man and His Message, 1956;140).

Even to entertain the possibility that the sacrifices are memorials contravenes a literal interpretation of prophecy because of the Hebrew word that Ezekiel uses to explain the purpose of the sacrifices ‘to make atonement’ (45:15,17,20). The verb is kipper (in the Piel verb form), which is the exact word (and verb form) employed in the Pentateuch to describe sacrifices that have an atoning purpose (Lev. 6:30 [23]; 8:15; 16:6, 11, 24, 30, 32, 33, 34; Num. 5:8; 15:28; 29:5) (following Hoekema 1979:204).

Of course,the atoning purpose in the Old Testament accomplished only a temporary ‘covering’ (which is the meaning of kipper) of Israel’s sin, which pointed typologically to Christ’s once for all atonement. The point is that Ezekiel does not call these sacrifices memorials, but puts them on a par with the Levitical typological sacrifices of atonement. From a New Testament perspective, the Lord’s Supper is the only memorial instituted by Christ to ‘memorialize’ his redemptive work. To suggest that this memorial will cease in a coming millennium, to be replaced by the ‘old’ Old Testament sacrifices, not only is at variance with the book of Hebrews, but abrogates Christ’s command to remember him in the Lord’s Supper (Ellison 1956:142)

Thus, in light of the evidence, it does not seem likely that Ezekiel’s sacrifices will be literally fulfilled in a future temple.

A related issue is whether or not to take literally Ezekiel’s apparent portrait of Jerusalem as the centre of the world to which Gentiles must come in order to be related to God (Ezek. 47). If taken in a narrowly literal manner, then the redemptive-historical principle of John 4:21, 23 would be radically violated: ‘an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father… but an hour is coming, and now is,when the true worshipers will worship the Father in [the Holy] Spirit and truth’.

This principle is related in Jesus’ mind to Ezekiel’s vision. Jesus alludes to the water flowing from Ezekiel’s end-time temple in John 7:38 and interprets it of himself and of the Spirit in relation to believers, a passage that further develops the ‘living water’ theme of John 4. One could say, therefore, that just as the picture in Ezekiel 47 of Jerusalem as the centre for world worship is meant to be taken figuratively on the basis of Jesus’ teaching,so also is all of Ezekiel 40-48 to be taken.

One does not need, however, to resort to a figurative approach to be consistent with Jesus’ teaching, if…our…argument…is correct: that in the end time an Eden-temple will be established as a new Jerusalem that will extend throughout the whole earth.”

-G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, 344-345.

Clowney: Jesus is the Greater Temple

[The view that Israel’s temple or one rebuilt by human hands is not the fulfillment of Old Testament temple prophesies] is not spiritualization in our usual sense of the word, but the very opposite.

In Christ is realization. It is not so much that Christ fulfils what the temple means; rather Christ is the meaning for which the temple existed. Our reflection on the claims of Christ has already shown us that his use of the Old Testament is far from figurative. The situation is completely reversed. In the wisdom of God’s purpose the earlier revelation points forward to the climax, when,in the fullness of time, God sent his own Son into the world.

Christ is the true temple, the true light, the true manna, the true vine. The coming of the true supersedes the figurative. The veil of the temple made with hands is destroyed, for its symbolism is fulfilled.

At the cross the actualization of the symbolism of sacrifice is particularly clear. It is not a figurative use of Old Testament language to say that Christ is the Lamb of God offered to make atonement for sin. The sin-offering at the temple altar is not being ‘spiritualized’ when we say it is fulfilled in Christ.

Neither is the temple being ‘spiritualized’ when we say that in the resurrection the true temple was raised up. No earthly temple made with hands can ever again become the place of God’s dwelling.”

-Edmund Clowney, The Final Temple, Westminster Theological Journal, 35, (1972) 177,182-183)

Martin: We Need Change; We Need the Police

PSA: It is possible to hold fast to the gospel and also believe that the gospel requires we care for the outcast and the oppressed. Faith without works is dead. It is possible to be anti-riot, anti-racism, opposed to the abuse of power by some law enforcement members, and also support just police officers. I am thankful for every good and righteous law enforcement professional; They are vital and essential.

Defunding the police is a horrible idea. We need reform and change, but abolishing the police will destroy our cities and communities. We cannot ignore the fact that some law enforcement professionals commit evil and oppressive acts. We also can’t ignore the history of Jim Crow and the legacy of racism that still affects so many of our brothers and sisters, even today. But racism and the legacy of slavery are not just issues in law enforcement. Racism exists in many areas of society, and beneficial reform will address racism and injustice wherever it exists.

We need to stop attacking the police, most officers are just and truly seek to protect and serve. That doesn’t mean we can’t hold people accountable and policy changes are definitely needed in many communities. Let’s unite in condemning violence on all sides. We need Jesus to heal us, and only regeneration of the heart by the Holy Spirit brings true and ultimate justice, but that’s not an excuse to ignore evil here and now.

-Erik

Robertson: Types

“John declares that God now “tabernacles” with his people in a way that far surpasses his dwelling with Israel in the days of their wilderness wandering (John 1:14), that the angels of God now ascend and descend on the Son of Man rather than on Jacob’s visionary ladder (John 1:51), that the lifting up of the Son of God supersedes the lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14), and that the manna from heaven given by Moses has been transformed into “living bread” given by Christ (John 6:49-51).

Paul speaks of the religious festivals of the old covenant as “a shadow of the things that were to come” (Col.2:17), and the events of Israel’s redemptive history as “types” for believers during the new covenant age (1 Cor.10:6). All these authors of new covenant documents develop a significant aspect of their theology by contrasting old covenant shadows with new covenant realities.

It is particularly in the epistle to the Hebrews that this contrast between anticipation and realization, between shadow and reality, finds its fullest and most distinctive expression. According to the writer to the Hebrews, the administration of redemption under the law of the old Covenant was “only a shadow” of the good things that were
coming (Heb. 10:1). These shadowy images of redemptive reality did not originate merely in the context of old covenant experiences. Instead, these prophetic shadows originated in the abiding realities of heaven itself.

Because Melchizedek the priest-king was made “like” the Son of God in his eternal relationship to the Father, he could anticipate the priestly role of Jesus (Heb. 7:1,3). Similarly, only because the tabernacle in the wilderness was constructed precisely “according to the pattern” shown to Moses on the mount, could its pattern of worship provide insight into the realities of a proper approach to God under the provisions of the new covenant (Heb.8:5).”

-O. Palmer Robertson, The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, 5.

Origen: The Scarlet Thread

“The sign of salvation (the scarlet thread) was given through the window because Christ, by His Incarnation, gave us the sight of the light of the godhead as it were through a window. Thus all may attain salvation by that sign which shall be found in the house of her who once was a harlot, being made clean by water and the Holy Spirit, and by the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

-Origen

Anselm: God Cannot Remit A Sin Unpunished

“For the devil would not have been able to tempt mankind if it had been God’s will to prohibit him. Would God, I repeat, not be acting in a similar way if he were to bring man back to Paradise stained with the filth of sin without any washing, that is, in the absence of any recompense, at least supposing man were to remain in this state for ever?

…Consider it, then, an absolute certainty, that God cannot remit a sin unpunished, without recompense, that is, without the voluntary paying off of a debt, and that a sinner cannot, without this, attain to a state of blessedness, not even the state which was his before he sinned. For, in this case, the person would not be restored, even to being the kind of person he was before his sin.

…It is to no avail that someone who is not making payment says, ‘Forgive’, and the reason why someone who is making payment makes supplication is that this very fact of his supplication is a contingency of relevance to the repayment of the debt. For God owes nothing to anyone, but all creation is in debt to him, and therefore it is not expedient that a human being should deal with God as an equal deals with an equal.”

-Anselm of Canterbury, Why God Became Man, Book 1, 19.

Psalm 46 (Lord of Hosts)

O Come behold the works of God
The nations at His feet
He breaks the bow and bends the spear 
And tells the wars to cease
O Mighty One of Israel You are on our side
We walk by faith and God who burns the chariots of fire

Lord of Hosts You’re with us, with us in the fire
With us as a shelter
With us in the storm
You will lead us 
Through the fiercest battle 
Oh where else would we go 
With the Lord of Hosts

You will lead us through the fiercest battle 
Oh where else would we go 
With the Lord of Hosts

Oh God of Jacob fierce and great 
You lift your voice to speak
The earth it bows and all the mountains move into the sea
Oh lord you know the hearts of men and still you let live
Oh God who makes the mountains melt come wrestle us and win

Though oceans roar You are the Lord of all
The one who calms the wind
And waves and makes my heart be still
Though the earth gives way the mountains move into the sea
The nations rage I know my God is in control

-Jennie Lee Riddle/Josiah Warneking/Josh Miller/Shane Barnard

© 2015 Songs From Wellhouse (BMI) (Admin. by Wellhouse Entertainment LLC) / Tent Peg Music (BMI) (Admin. by Music Services) / Jennie Lee Riddle Music (BMI) (Admin. by Music Services) / Tent Peg Music (BMI) (Admin. by Music Services) All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Edwards and Strachan: Examine Yourself

“Examine whether or no you are new born.

1. Whether or no you are, ‘as little children,’ humble (Matthew 18:3-4).

2. Whether or no ‘as new born babes,you desire the sincere milk of the word,’ whether [you are] governed by spiritual appetites (1 Peter 2:2).

3. Whether you are a ‘follower of God, as a dear child’ (Ephesians 5:1), and ‘walk as a child of the light’ and of the day (Ephesians 5:8), [and] follow God: [a] child with a filial disposition, [with] love, reverence, [and] dependence as a little child on a father, imitating, obeying in everything.”

-Jonathan Edwards, Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733. As recorded and commented on by Owen Strachan.

“The seriousness of Christianity is unlike anything else we’ve experienced. It’s true, Christians can sometimes earn the reputation of being overly uptight. We want to guard against that, especially because overflowing joy is a major gift of God to his blood-bought people. But we also stand apart from the world in fundamental ways. Life is not a joke. It is not a game. We are sinners. Eternal matters are at stake.

So it is that true religion marks us as different. Our faith is not a mere interest in heaven, but rather a matter of heaven and hell. Above all else, we are called to examine whether we are in Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5).

‘Test yourself,’ the apostle Paul tells us. So it was that Jonathan Edwards summoned his hearers in Massachusetts to examine their hearts. Were they humble? Did they desire to know God’s Word? Were they ‘governed by spiritual appetites’? Did they seek, at even a basic level, to follow their holy Father?

These were not trick questions. Edwards did not wish to bring his people down, but to lift them up. When we revisit such matters as these, we who are born again will remind ourselves of our first priorities.

Our present walk with Christ is not about having a position, or being listened to by others, or making ourselves great. It is about the simple things: humility, spiritual hunger for God, obeying the Father.

In a world prone to silliness, the Christian faith is serious, and it yields serious change, and serious joy.

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ JOHN 3:7

-Owen, Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, 135.