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Old Testament, New Testament, Same Word: Judgment

Psalm 50:19–23

“You give your mouth free rein for evil,
    and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
    you slander your own mother’s son.
These things you have done, and I have been silent;
    you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.


“Mark this, then, you who forget God,
    lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
    to one who orders his way rightly
    I will show the salvation of God!” (ESV)

Seeing Jesus as He is

I was considering recently, what do I really need more than anything right now in terms of my internal, personal devotional life with Jesus? I simply need to see Him. Some of this stemmed from feeling a sort of dryness in reading the Scriptures recently. Now needing to see Jesus in Scripture is true in general all the time for all of us, but there are times that I think this can slip our thinking in our devotional life as being central.

Who Shall Ascend the Hill of the Lord?

Only those with a pure, clean heart, will ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in righteousness with Him, which on our own is none of us. Psalm 24 makes clear that the only one’s to ascend the hill of the Lord are those possessing a purity beyond reach because of our depravity and having cut ourselves off from the life of the Trinity. What a sad thought.

But this is precisely why the rest of the Psalm the ancient gates and doors open for the revealing of the Holy One of God, the Son of God, Jesus, as the one who will and now has ascended the hill of the Lord.

A New Creation

Thoughts from this morning’s Daily Office readings:

“For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.” | Psalm 26:3

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” | Psalm 36:9

“Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” | Psalm 28:9

The gospel in its essence, in what it calls for, is not doing something for God like busying ourselves with religious works to add to our resume (an impossible supposition). But of first importance, the gospel, the good news of the kingdom, is first calling us simply to come with the empty hands of faith to rest in His covenantal faithfulness toward us (“I walk in your faithfulness”), not our own, because if we’ re honest, we’re not faithful. Thankfully He was in our place. It’s not about “discovering the light within yourself” as your source of energy and life, but rather the reverse: all that is within is darkness because of our sin blinding us from the truth: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” (John 3:19). Therefore only, “In your light do we see light.” In the Person and work of Christ, revealing the Father to us by His perfect words and deeds, life, death and resurrection for us, He raised us from death and darkness in order to be resurrected to new life and light forever.

But it is a new life that starts now by that same internal work of God’s grace that first regenerated us and is continuing to do so, to produce fruit unto eternal life. The new creation life breaking into the old.

His Kingdom Above All Others – A Prayer

Your kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, one that has already been inaugurated by Your entrance into the world and Your ascension into heaven after suffering death, throwing the old order into disarray as Your Kingdom is shown to be that which will reign forever and ever, unlike all kingdoms before it and those that exist today. As believers whose eyes are set on His eternal reign, we see You not as a theoretical king or merely a future King but a present King, whose eternal political agenda confronts and upends all of our agendas at different levels. You humble all rulers, you humble all peoples and in the end You will appear in blazing glory to consummate Your reign with Your people, bring judgment, and establish the final order in the new heavens and new earth, where you are the great, forever and final political authority in the heavens and the earth. At present He rules in heaven, in the end He will rule visibly. Lord may we not lose sight of that. 

J.I. Packer’s Introduction to Witsius and De Oeconomia

INTRODUCTION: ON COVENANT THEOLOGY

J. I. Packer


I

The name of Herman Wits (Witsius, 1636-1708) has been unjustly forgotten. He was a masterful Dutch Reformed theologian, learned, wise, mighty in the Scriptures, practical and “experimental” (to use the Puritan label for that which furthers heart-religion). On paper he was calm, judicious, systematic, clear and free from personal oddities and animosities. He was a man whose work stands comparison for substance and thrust with that of his younger British contemporary John Owen, and this writer, for one, knows no praise higher than that! To Witsius it was given, in the treatise here reprinted, to integrate and adjudicate explorations of covenant theology carried out by a long line of theological giants stretching back over more than century and a half to the earliest days of the Reformation. On this major matter Witsius’s work has landmark status as summing up a whole era, which is why it is appropriate to reprint it today. However, in modern Christendom covenant theology has been unjustly forgotten, just as Witsius himself has, and it will not therefore be amiss to spend a little time reintroducing it, in order to prepare readers’ minds for what is to come.


A Prayer For a Time of Uncertainty

We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. (Psalm 75:1) 

Father as one of your churches that makes up the larger body of Your people, we come and simply lay at Your feet in thankfulness, for how You have given us life, support us in times of trial, provide for us in times of turbulence like we find ourselves in now, and how you’ve provided an incomparable salvation that we never could have sought after or achieved on our apart from the work of Your Spirit by Grace Alone. We thank You that Your name is near, that You have been made known to us through Jesus and all he’s accomplished to make us Your children. We thank You that You, the great I AM of the universe, would condescend to our level in order to be near us.

Fear is the Enemy of Faith, Faith is the Enemy of Fear

“I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.” | Elisabeth Elliot

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” | Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)

These are unexpected, historic, trying times to say the least. And it is during these times I believe the Lord gives us a great opportunity for personal, communal and societal reflection. But then there’s fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of loss (whatever form that takes), anxiety that we have no control over this situation, how long it will last, what shape it will take in the future, on and on. A person (points at self) can easily get wrapped around the axle at 3am in the middle of the night on all of this (or 2pm for that matter when dealing with even more struggles with the kids as cabin fever sets in). Fear is the enemy of faith in general, but at these times it gets ratcheted up exponentially. It’s no wonder this was the most repeated command in the Bible: “Fear not…” 

Yet the reverse is also true: faith is the enemy of fear. I believe the Lord has handed us a great opportunity filled with hope. This is a time for us, His people, to slow down, to take a step back and press into our life with Jesus individually and with our families or roommates, to recapture and develop routines and habits that move and press us into the resurrection life and activity of the Spirit. 

This is where for me the Daily Office patterns of prayer and Scripture readings throughout the day have been life giving. http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/mobile/devotions/bcp/

Generally, what this looks like is simply having a morning, afternoon and evening time of prayer, Scripture reading and meditation. And it doesn’t have to be some long, drawn out time. Make it your own. Just wake up, get coffee and pray through a Psalm or two. Let it penetrate your own heart as you dwell on it. Then at lunch, stop what you’re doing, step away (as the setting allows) and repeat by reading more Psalms, an Old Testament reading or a New Testament reading. Then in the evening, either alone or with your family or roommates, read the gospel reading and pray, resting and rejoicing in Your Father’s rejoicing in and over You. Just make it consistent. This is a great pattern to start and get in the habit of, a time to take a step back from the chaos and uncertainty and be in the word and in prayer, really as a means to simply be with Jesus, either alone or with others. Let Him work His healing salve and the means of grace into Your heart. Allow Him to dine with You and fill Your soul with what is the banquet Your soul and my soul so desperately needs: Jesus Himself.

Here is a lecture series Pastor Brian (at Trinity Pres Fort Worth) did at the very beginning of Trinity I have posted before that explains this in greater detail. Such good, rich material I commend to you to sit with and take in during this time. https://trinitypresfw.org/media/lectures/formation/

None of this chaos catches our Father by surprise. The past, present and future is ever-present before Him and is all worked out for His glory and our good. He is sovereign, He is kind and loving. He is our great Physician with a surgeon’s scalpel and healing hand who knows exactly what we need to shape us and form us into the image of His Son, the very One who went through the worst form of suffering, to the cross, bearing our wrath, and rose again, victorious over sin, death and hell, so that we could live with Him forever in the City of the New Jerusalem. Let’s together as His people put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6) and stand firm in the faith, resisting the work of the devil to discourage us, fighting the temptation to fear and press toward our great King who has already won the victory, with the hope and resiliency of the saints in the past who have endured similar trials.

“On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…”

May it be so. Amen.

“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. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” | Romans 5:1–6 (ESV)

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” | James 1:2–5 (ESV)

A Prayer in Memory of D. Kent Pingel

Father we praise You for Your work in creation, in bringing about all that exists from nothing. We praise You for creating men and women in Your image, to reflect Your glory in the world. And yet, though we fell into sin and that image has been distorted within us, You brought about salvation and pointed the way to our only source of salvation all throughout the Old Testament through prophets, priests and kings that You appointed to proclaim Your good news. And in time you brought into the world the greatest prophet, priest and king, Your Son Jesus, who lived a perfectly righteous life we could never live, died a sacrificial death in our place to remove the poison and consequence of our sin, and rose again conquering sin, death and hell once and for all. In doing so You have restored and are restoring Your image in Your church, in those who trust in Christ alone for salvation. We praise You for Your wonderful works of mercy to save us from our sin and to have the image of Christ restored in us and brought back to our original purpose for existing: to bring You glory.

Father we thank You today for Kent and the way You created Him in Your image and revealed Your Son to Him. We thank You for the life of Kent as a father, brother, uncle, son and friend to so many here.

We pray for the family and friends here who are mourning his loss and ask for Your comfort today and in the coming days of grief, that You would be near by Your Spirit, that You would fill that hole, that gap they are experiencing with the presence of Your Son and His grace. Lord You are our only hope of life in the midst of suffering.

But Father, we don’t pray now or mourn as those without hope: because You rose again You are bringing with Yourself and raising to life all those who rest in You to live with You forever in Your kingdom. Lord would You comfort us all with the truth and joy of Your resurrection, that death doesn’t have the final word. You are our hope now and for all eternity. Would You grant us rest and joy that surpasses understanding even in the midst of loss.

The Fulfillment Realized – A Prayer

Father, after many years of waiting for Your promises to be fulfilled, You brought Christ into the world and made His coming known to the Gentiles, and specifically during this time of Epiphany, you revealed Him to the Magi who had come to see this King who had been born. In fulfillment of so many Old Testament passages such as Moses who says, “Rejoice O Gentiles with His people,” and Isaiah who says, “The Gentiles will hope in Him,” You brought about a great fulfillment to bring salvation not just to ethnic Israel but to include the Gentiles around the world with Your chosen people Israel and so all Israel will be saved together. We rejoice together that we are seeing the promise spoken to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations fulfilled in our very midst. Father in Your great kindness, across history and even to this very day, you are continuing this fulfillment in effecting your work of the covenant of grace in Christ our Lord and bringing in Your called people from every tribe, tongue, language and nation. You are building Your church and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. Though we see so much persecution around the world against believers and even in our midst feel it with our family and friends at times who don’t know You, You are working a glorious end in which You will be lifted up and highly exalted and we will be caught up together and share in Your glory. Lord fill us with the hope and wonder and mystery of these truths that we would seek and find our treasure first and foremost in Christ, seeking the things that are above where He is instead of fleeting things here on Earth, and find rest for our weary souls.

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan didst proclaim him thy beloved Son and anoint him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with thee and the same Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (BCP)

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