September 2007


The assurance of one’s election also affords much liberty and gives much support in prayer. One may approach unto God and say, “My Father! Hast Thou not known me by name and have I not found grace in Thine eyes? Hast Thou not eternally known me to be one of Thy own, chosen me to be Thy child and the object of Thy love, and wondrously to glorify me by Thy grace, mercy, and faithfulness, which manifests itself in the way in which Thou hast led me and wilt lead me? Therefore, oh Father, consider the trials and tribulations which I fear, the troubles which press me down, and my sinfulness which oppresses me. These matters I desire, these are the needs of my body, and these are my spiritual desires. May it therefore please Thee to look down upon Thy chosen one and upon the object of Thy favor. May it please Thee to hear me and to grant my desire.” How this yields liberty, familiarity, faith that my prayer will be answered, and quiet submission! (I: 249-250).

For those of you who do not follow comments: hidden under the post with the great Lloyd-Jones quote lies a buzzing comment section concerning the church’s duty to illegal immigrants. My position is that the church has a spiritual duty to minister to them and part of that duty is calling them to repentance for their violation of the 10th commandment. Others feel differently.

To give some spiritual widsom to this heated conversation, I would like to ask those interested to read the OPC position paper on illegal immigrants and church membership. I would be interested in reading other’s thoughts on this issue as well.

There are many great Scriptures that serve as self-examination to see whether or not you are a follower of Jesus Christ. I can think of no better place (in the New Testament) than the Sermon on the Mount for Christians to perform this holy duty. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has a wonderful statement on this in his book, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Here is what he says:

There, then, is the general account of the Christian which is given in the Beatitudes. Do you see how essentially different he is from the non-Christian? The vital questions which we therefore ask ourselves are these. Do we belong to this kingdom? Are we ruled by Christ? Is he our king and our lord? Are we manifesting these qualities in our daily lives? Is it our ambition to do so? Do we see that this is what we are meant to be? Are we truly blessed? Are we happy? Have we been filled? Have we got peace? I ask as we have looked together at the general description. Do we find ourselves to be? It is only the man who is like that who is truly happy, the man who is truly blessed. It is a simple question.

My immediate reaction to these Beatitudes proclaims exactly what I am. If I feel they are harsh and hard, if I feel they are against the grain and depict a character and type of life which I dislike, I am afraid it just means I am not a Christian. If I do not want to be like this, I must be “dead in trespasses and sins”; I can never have received new life, but if I feel that I am unworthy and yet I want to be like that, well, however unworthy I may be, if this is my desire and ambition, there must be a new life in me, I must be a child of God, I must be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and of God’s dear son. Let every man examine himself.

It is interesting how many of us have been influenced by the liberalism of the 1920s. Even in conservative Reformed circles the hope for society is placed in government agencies, political parties, and social programs. (Of course, we need to acknowledge that government is a creation ordinance.)
The church used to be that institution that met the needs of the poor, advanced the betterment of society, and promoted all of the ‘social’ aspects of the Gospel of Christ. In our day, we have handed those reins over for unconverted men and women to do through social programs.

If the church is to take back her rightful place in society, then she is going to need to set up the programs to meet these needs, in advance of those in need coming to her. I am as guilty as the next guy in not reaching out to the needs of the fatherless, widow, and (illegal) alien within our gates. May we all pour our energies into the body of Christ so that she can do that which she is called to do.

It is upon this brotherhood of [the] twice born sinner , this brotherhood of the redeemed, that the Christian founds the hope of society. He finds no solid hope in the improvement of earthly conditions, or the molding of human institutions under the influence of the Golden Rule… A solid building cannot be constructed when all the materials are faulty; a blessed society cannot be formed out of men who are still under the curse of sin. Human institutions are really to be molded, not by the Christian principles accepted by the unsaved, but by Christian men; the true transformation of society will come by the influence of those who have themselves been redeemed. True Christianity differs from liberalism in the way in which the transformation of society is conceived. But according to Christian belief, as well as according to liberalism, there is really to be a transformation of society; it is not true that the Christian evangelist is interested in the salvation of individuals without being interested in the salvation of the race. And even before salvation of all society has been achieved, there is already a society of those who have been saved. That society is the Church. The Church is the highest Christian answer to the social needs of man. -J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism.

I am taking an Ethics class. We have been talking about axiology which is the study of values. Our professor gave this illustration for making value judgments in all that we do (whether conscientiously or un-conscientiously) in the area of food:

“When we eat at McDonald’s, do not pray, bless this food to our bodies; pray protect us from what we are about to do.” -Dr. James Grier

The eating from this tree was not a minor sin, even though the eating of the fruit itself was a small matter. Rather, it was a dreadful crime in which the breaking of the entire law was comprehended. It was a breach of love, obedience, and the covenant, resulting in the perdition of himself and all his descendants (I: 372).

I have begun a Bible study on the seven churches of Asia Minor found in the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation. There are so many practical applications for the Church today found in those two little chapters.

Wednesday we began with the letter to Ephesus. Ephesus was the ‘mother kirk’ of the other churches in that region, pastored by Timothy with apostolic oversight from John. The session of this congregation was known to have precision doctrinally and could spot heresy from a distance. At the time of the writing to the churches, this congregation had lost much of the zeal that ‘first generation’ Christians bring to a congregation. The love for Christ had grown cold. Jesus tells them that they are to do these first works again and to repent.

“The lush green color of springtime in the congregation has disappeared, and the fading shades… of Autumn are now prevalent. To put it differently, the church that Jesus addressed no longer consisted of first generation believers but of second and third generation Christians. These people lacked the enthusiasm their parents and grandparents had demonstrated. They functioned not as propagators of the faith but as caretakers and custodians. There was an obvious deficiency in evangelistic outreach as a result of a status quo mode of thought. They loved the Lord, but no longer with heart, mind, and soul.” -Simon Kistemaker

Jesus gives them a great promise though. If they overcome, they will be granted to eat from the Tree of Life. To a city that was full of false worship that was symbolized by the fig-tree, this promise would stand out as such comfort to those that longed to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Jesus’ last words… is not a threat but a promise: the victor will eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God. In this first letter the painful memory of paradise lost is transformed into hope, as the promise points ahead to the tree of life in the New Jerusalem… The great temple of Artemis at Ephesus was built on the site of an ancient tree-shrine, and the image of the date palm symbolized the goddess and her city, Ephesus. But Jesus excels Artemis, for he promises to those who overcome, through truth expressed in love, access to a tree that yields endless delight and eternal life. –Dennis Johnson.

May we not lose our first love, do those first works of love and worship towards Christ and neighbors, thus also being partakers of that eternal fruit from that Ancient Tree.

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