Wednesday Worship

He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statues;
and I will keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise,
that you may be feared.
Turn away the reproach that I dread,
for your rules are good.
Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life!

Psalm 119:33-40 (ESV)

(Wednesday Worship will return in 3 weeks)

Monday Meat – Summarizing Ephesians 1

After all the observations and bombarding the passage with the 5 W’s questions, and determining what the passage says, we then move on to the stage of interpretation: what does the passage mean? Many times this becomes obvious through the observations we make. Other times it takes a little more digging. The more observations we make, the more accurate our interpretation will be. Once we have determined what the passage means (what it meant to the original audience, as it will never mean now what it never meant then), then we can check commentaries to see if our interpretation is correct or off the mark. But it is good to not use commentaries until we’ve done the hard work ourselves of determining the meaning.

When we have determined the meaning of the passage, from careful observation and looking at it in context, we see what principles are in this passage that are timeless. That is, principles that were true for the original audience that are also true for us. This helps us to make application from the passage from the timeless principle. A word of caution here. Not every passage is going to have application in the sense of telling us what to do or how to live. Sometimes the application of a passage may simply be showing us Who God is or part of His character. The application of that helps us to live in light of Who we know God to be.

So what is Ephesians 1 telling us? A summary statement for the chapter could be something like this: God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. The chapter then goes into detail on what some of these blessings are. How do we then take that and apply it? Application will be different for each person. There is only one meaning, but multiple applications. Here are some ideas to get you thinking in regards to personal application for this chapter:
-How does knowing our forgiveness and inheritance cause us to live differently? What impact does that cause in my daily life?
-Who can you pray for with the prayer Paul used? How are you praying this for yourself?

Monday Meat will return in 3 weeks and we will look at Ephesians 2.

Theology Thursday – Creeds and Confessions

Last week when we looked at Christology, I included the section on Jesus Christ from the Westminster Confession of Faith. Some may ask what this confession is and why does it matter? Creeds and confessions were used down through the course of church history as a way to nail down theological terms and concepts. Since theology is something that we learn from the Bible by taking the various Scriptures that deal with a particular doctrine and putting it all together to form summaries of what the Bible is saying, some may argue that a particular doctrine is not actually spelled out in the Bible. Doctrines like the Trinity sometimes deal with this argument as the word “Trinity” is not actually used in Scripture. However the information regarding the Trinity and God is one yet being three persons is spelled out for us in the Bible, though not using the term Trinity to define it. So as these doctrines were getting clarified in the early church, creeds and confessions were used to hammer out these details.

An easy, quick read to get an overview of the creeds is Justin Holcomb’s book Know the Creeds and Councils. Understanding these creeds and confessions and how they came about helps us to understand some of the struggles throughout church history to remain faithful to God’s Word and combat heresies. It also shows us the development of theology throughout the course of history. Some of the more famous creeds and confessions include the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Heidelberg Catechism.

Further resources:
Reformed Creeds and Supplementary Resources at Monergism
Historic Church Documents at Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics
Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms

 

Wednesday Worship

Daleth

My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!
When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!
Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

Psalm 119:25-32 (ESV)

Monday Meat – Ephesians 1:11-23

In the previous Monday Meat posts we’ve looked at the first 10 verses of Ephesians 1. Verse 11 starts off once again with the repeated phrase “In Him”. These many blessings that Paul is writing about are because of Christ, not us. Have you put your faith in Christ alone? He is the only Way.

As believers, the truth of our future is secure. It doesn’t matter what happens to us in this life for we have an eternal inheritance awaiting for us. God purposed to predestine us, for everything He does is according to His will. The first believers, the first to place their hope in Christ in this new redemption, were for God’s praise and His glory. So far in this chapter of Ephesians we have discovered our redemption – freedom from the sin that bound us, forgiveness – no longer having our sins counted against us, and our adoption and inheritance as sons of God. This means that we are counted as heirs with Christ (see also Romans 8:17). No matter what we face on this earth, our eternity has been secured and our inheritance there awaits us. This gives us the courage to face the trials and difficulties of this life, knowing that a future with Christ is waiting for us. Other passages (along with Romans 8) that speak to this include 2 Corinthians 4, where Paul talks about our momentary afflictions here are nothing compared to the glory that is coming for us in heaven. We can’t see it now, but this passage affirms for us this truth, the hope that we have to hold on to during our sojourn here.

The gospel is the word of truth and believing in Christ (the Word – John 1:1) saves us. We are then sealed with the Holy Spirit – He is our guarantee that we will get the inheritance promised to us. These verses bring out the truth of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. They show that a true believer, sealed with the Holy Spirit, will not lose their salvation, but is guaranteed an inheritance in heaven. What comfort these words bring! And all this is so that God receives praise. His glory is praised. So much in this chapter has pointed out God’s glory – his glorious inheritance, his glorious riches, his glorious grace. All of our salvation is for God’s glory.

Because these Christians were sealed by the Holy Spirit upon their faith in the Lord Jesus, Paul expresses his thanks for them and prays for them. He also mentions that he has heard of the love they have for other believers. Their faith in Christ and their love for other Christians is known to Paul, which makes him thankful. Hearing how other Christians are doing in the faith and finding out that they are growing should be a cause for us to express thanks to God. We should be continuing to remember each other in prayer. Paul also prays that they would have wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge of God, knowledge of the hope that they have been called to and knowledge of the riches of God’s inheritance to them as believers. Do we pray such prayers for our fellow Christians? Do we pray this for ourselves? Are our eyes enlightened to know this knowledge?

God’s power is immeasurable. As an example of His incredible power, Paul reminds his readers that God raised Christ from the dead. And then seated Him at His right hand above all other rulers and powers. For all eternity. God put everything in subjection to Christ and made Him the head of the church. This church is His body, His fullness. Christ fills all in all and we are His body. This paragraph just shouts of God’s immense power and authority over all of creation. And He has chosen us as believers to be His own! What tremendous grace and incredible privilege we have in Christ. God’s power is revealed in Christ’s resurrection, so we never have to fear that He will not complete what He has started (Philippians 1:6).

Next week we’ll wrap up Ephesians 1.

Christology – The Study of Christ

Jesus Christ is the theme of the Bible. He plays the starring role. Studying who He is is important as we are called as Christians to be like Him. To be like Him we need to know Him. A lot of heresies and false teachings can be spotted by who they say Jesus is. He is the Son of God, yet equally God. He is the Word of God (John 1:1). He took on a human nature yet remained fully God. These things are mysteries to us.

All of the attributes of God that we study as part of Theology Proper also belong to Christ as He is also God, part of the Trinity.

Here is what the Westminster Confession has to say on Jesus Christ: (source)

CHAPTER 8
Of Christ the Mediator

1. It pleased God, in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Savior of his church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world: unto whom he did from all eternity give a people, to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.

2. The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man’s nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.

3. The Lord Jesus, in his human nature thus united to the divine, was sanctified, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, above measure, having in him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell; to the end that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a mediator, and surety. Which office he took not unto himself, but was thereunto called by his Father, who put all power and judgment into his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same.

4. This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake; which that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it; endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified, and died, was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered, with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father, making intercession, and shall return, to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.

5. The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of his Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.

6. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and forever.

7. Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.

8. To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by his Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.

 

We will also look more at Christ and His work when we study Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation.

Further Resources:
Christology from Southern View Chapel
Westminster Confession of Faith includes Scripture proofs
Theology for Girls – posts on Jesus Christ
Christology resources from Monergism

Wednesday Worship

Gimel

Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.
Take away from me scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your testimonies.
Even though princes sit plotting against me,
your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.

Psalm 119:17-24 (ESV)