Archive for June, 2012

Chapter Two: Covenant, Baptism and Salvation by Steve Wilkins

 

[God] always humbles himself for the good of others.

 

Each Person of the Godhead continually seeks the glory of the other Person. The Father seeks to glorify the Son and the Son seeks the glory of the Father. The Spirit seeks to glorify the Father and the Son, and the Father and the Son give glory to the Spirit. Neither Person seeks His own glory, but rather the glory of the other….The glory of God then consists not in self-seeking but in self-giving.

 

The sacrificial love that Christ displays for the Church is not simply a love for sinners, but the overflow of the love and communion that He shared with the Father and the Spirit from all eternity. 

 

If we are beloved by God, the means we are swept up into the holy, covenantal fellowship of love that has always existed in the Godhead.

 

There was, as it were, an eternal society or family in the Godhead, in the Trinity of Persons. It seems to be God’s design to admit the Church into the divine family as His Son’s wife. — Jonathan Edwards

 

This is what it means to be in covenant. Covenant is a gracious relationship with the Triune God, in which we are made partakers of His love and participants in the communion and fellowship that has existed from all eternity in the Godhead. Consequently, all who are brought into this covenant are called upon to live as God lives–in loving, sacrificial, self-denying service to others.

 

Image-bearing demands that man, (like God) live in community. 

 

It is impossible for man, in isolation from his fellows, to show forth the image of God in the fullest sense.

 

Each individual can fully show forth the image of God only within the context of life in community with others. Only in fellowship with others can we display to the world what God is like. This is because the true God is the community of love and fellowship. Therefore, covenant is essential to image bearing.

 

This is how man is to glorify God and enjoy Him–by worship, marriage and work.

 

Since the “fear of the Lord” is the beginning of wisdom, a man without that fear understands nothing rightly. 

 

Baptism is an act of God (through His ministers) which signifies and seals our initiation into the Triune communion (we are “baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”).

 

By virtue of our union with Him, we are made recipients of all that is his. This is how we receive the grace of God. We often think of grace exclusively as the “unmerited favor” of God toward sinners, but the term refers to “favor, pleasure, or goodwill.” Grace is not a thing or a substance, but the favor of God.

 

Christ is the One who is “well-pleasing” to God and, thus, all God’s favor or grace is found only in Him. We receive the grace of God “in Him.” …To be saved by grace then requires that we be united to Christ. Thus, Christians are called to persevere in the grace of God. –ie., never forsake the Lord Jesus in Whom alone we may find grace and favor. 

 

The elect are those who are faithful in Christ Jesus.

 

Union with Christ means that all that is true of Christ is true of us.

 

Covenant can be broken by unbelief and rebellion, but until it is, those in covenant with God belong to Him and are His. If they do not persevere, they lose the blessings that were given to them (and all of this works out according to God’s eternal decree which He ordained before the foundation of the world).

 

The apostate forsakes the grace of God that was given to him by virtue of his union with Christ…The apostate doesn’t forfeit “apparent blessings” that were never his in reality, but real blessings that were his in covenant with God.

 

To be in covenant is to have the treasures of God’s mercy and grace and the love which He has for His own Son given to you. But the covenant is not unconditional. It requires persevering faithfulness.

 

Each Person of the Godhead denies HImself, entrusting His glory to the other two Persons. By analogy, every image-bearer is to do the same. This was Adam’s calling.

 

If Adam had continued in faith, refusing to glorify himself, he would have been glorified by God. But because he sought his own glory (by setting himself in judgement of God) he was put to shame. 

 

Covenant life is always founded upon persevering faith in the faithful One. If we are to abide in union with Him, we, by the grace and power of the Spirit, must be faithful. Thus the elect are marked by abiding in the Word of Christ. Those who turn away and refuse to “hold fast to the word” break covenant with Christ and are referred to by Paul as having “believed in vain.”…The gospel is only saving to those who “hold fast to the word.”

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John Piper on the Myth of Same-Sex Marriage.

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Running hard into Him

Running hard into Him.

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Chapter One: Covenant and Election by John Barach

 

God didn’t predestine anyone to glory because of something in that person, but simply out of His sheer love and grace in Christ. God initiates, not because He sees anything in us, but out of sheer grace. 

 

If we are not comfortable with biblical language, not only hearing it but also saying it, if biblical language sounds strange to us, and if our theology gets in the way of our speaking and receiving the language of Scripture, than what has become of us–we, who are to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord?

 

God’s choise was  not conditional, but life in the covenant is.

 

Affirming the reality of apostasy is not denying God’s predestination.

 

For when he includes us under Abraham’s covenant this word makes us no less certain of their election than of the old Hebrews’. For the statement that they are in the covenant, testament and people of God assures us of their election until the Lord announces something different of someone. –Zwingli

 

Zwingli’s point seems to be that men will make errors in their attempts to judge if someone is elect or not. But God’s Word or Law is absolutely reliable. If the law declares that the children of God’s people belong to Him, one must receive it as the truth, until the law shows they do not belong to Him, as in the case of an adult unbeliever from a Christian family. 

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So this Sunday is Father’s Day. As a family, we never made a big deal of Mother’s and Father’s days. Of course, we would always do something small that said “I love you” but it wasn’t much.

Funny how the simplest things can suddenly become so important to us the moment we can no longer do them.
For the past two years, I’ve been immensely jealous of all the other people that get to give their fathers extra hugs and tell them how much they love them. In my quest to combat the jealousy, I’ve tried to ignore this day. But there’s no getting around it. It happens.

I’m still sad that my father isn’t here with me. Sunday will be a bittersweet day for my family. But this year I’m reminded of a couple of things.

First of all, there is a Father that we all share. He will always be there for us. He will always love us.

 

And I will be a father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.

 

I’m also reminded that there are other men in my life who have sought to be father figures to me and my siblings. While God takes away, He also provides. He took my father, but he gave other men the desire and courage to come alongside us and be something of a father, limited though they be.

I don’t have an earthly father. So I complain about Father’s day. I bet I’ll do that until the day I die. But deep inside of me I know that I’m not as fatherless as I once thought. I have two fathers in Heaven. Prayers reach the One. If only letters could reach the other.

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