THE CHRONICLES OF THE ELECT

A Look at Hebrews Chapter 1: Part 21

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But to which of the angels has He ever said: “ Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?

The argument in order to offer a distinction between the Son and the angels continues. His intent is to make certain the reader is has well understood the urging he has presented.  The writer now draws from his previous thoughts in v. 5 when he stated For to which of the angels did He ever say then continuing with quotations from Psalm 2 and 2 Sam. 7.  The emphasis here is to make a reiteration from the previous thoughts in vs. 5-7. This is quite popular in Hebrew thought along with the technique of repetition for emphasis. Once again we have in this case a question asked which must be answered in the negative sense.

The writer proceeds to once again consistently cite OT passages to substantiate his claims. This time around he quotes from the 110th Psalm which is a very well known Psalm since it is the most quoted Psalm in all of the New Testament scriptures. This passage is corresponding back to v.3 where the writer states that the Son sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high once again pointing to the enthronement of the king. The fact that anyone could ever sit on the throne of God was foreign to Jewish thinking since it brought the concept of equality with God. This is exactly what enraged the High Priest during the Lord’s mock trial.

 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. (Mark 14:62-63)

There has been some controversy surrounding the word till (Heos) where there seems to be a time of ending to His sitting on the throne. There have been those who would submit that Christ couldn’t be God since His reign on the throne will come to an end. To hold to this position in any logical terms would mean that one would have to ignore the previous 12 verses that demonstrate His divinity with clarity. Sadly this is the case, in our experience, with those who have a religion to defend. The earthly reign of Christ is in view here when He will leave the throne in heaven to make rule over the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 19:11-12; cf. Isaiah 63:1-3) What a glorious day this shall be!

Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 26, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Hebrews Ch.1

A Lack of Ambassadorship and Testimony Pt.3

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heavens-749570The Fear of the Lord

Our appreciation for the grace, mercy, power and holiness of our Lord brings our hearts to a position of great admiration of His person. There is joy in the heart of a believer who has seen and appreciated the majesty of the greatness of His perfection. With this retrospect comes a great humility! When we view God in such a light we begin our road to reverencing His glorious majesty. This reverence is what the bible reveals to us as the fear of the Lord.  It is the pinnacle of a heart that is truly faithful to its master and leads to the desire of Ambasadorship and a consistent testimony. There used to be a time when people who were believers would be consistently referred to as “God-fearers” (Gen.20:11) They were followers who were willing and eager to reverently bow the knee to their God. They had understood the words of wisdom from the book of proverbs as to: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7) and the ability to discover the knowledge from God flowed from it. (Proverbs 2:5) They were a people who “trembled at my word” (Isaiah 66:2) and had as their confidence this Godly fear (Job 4:6)

We feel that much of this special fear that is to be directed towards God has been lost and replaced by the desire to please men. Much of the Christian testimony has been taken much too lightly simply because we do not live in the fear of the Lord. This is exactly the way the unbeliever lives in light of his rebellion against the Majesty of Jehovah. (Psalm 36:1; Romans 3:18). These men unfortunately hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. (Prov. 1:29). What do I mean that we fear men rather than fearing God? Let’s face it, there are times when we are more occupied with how to bring people in to hear the gospel rather than the substance of the message itself. We live in a generation where we find pleasure in doing things that the unbeliever feels tremendously comfortable in associating with. There is the tendency to take something of the world and give it a “Christian” twist. We are, in essence, sugar-coating the pleasures of those who are not reverent towards the Lord. Some have spoken of this as our churches essentially feeding the goats rather than providing food for the sheep with a desire that the goats become sheep! This, in effect, brings much less relevance to the message of the Gospel and to the testimony of the believer. In order to live a life that is pleasing to God and continue to retain our testimony, we must pursue to cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1) The gathering of Christians should always be striving to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) When our testimony becomes “soft” and our desire for holiness becomes “trivial” then we have not understood that it isn’t only the unbeliever who needs to “fear the Lord” but especially the believer. The fear of the Lord causes us to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13) and to “keep away from evil” (Proverbs 16:6; Nehemiah 5:15). Why? Because it results in being conscientious and careful not to offend God! It is walking with respect and reverence to His character and person with the mindset that He can be affronted even by His children. We are to place God as supreme in our reverence rather than fall in the trap of fearing men over Him. (Matthew 10:28)

There is another issue that arises from the lack of a true fear of God. There are exhortations in scripture that are taken much too lightly. This seems, in our experience, to be some unfortunate cause of concern. We read certain “warning” passages as if they are to be taken without true consideration. The attitude seemingly expressed is that we should try our best to accommodate these scriptures but because we are now redeemed by the blood that there is nothing to truly have any real concern. We forget that God blesses those who take Him seriously! It is to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word (Isaiah 66:2) and that there is judgment for those who do not take His words seriously. (Revelation 2 & 3)

Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 25, 2009 at 7:39 am

Posted in Discipleship

John Piper on the Pride of Attachment to Someone Special

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Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 24, 2009 at 7:57 am

Posted in John Piper

A Lack of Ambassadorship and Testimony Pt.2

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042The Sovereignty of God in Salvation

What causes a man to throw the entirety of his person and his life into a testimony for God? It is far from the mind of our average non-believer to be an representative even unto death for someone he cannot see, taste, hear, smell or touch. We must admit that this is not something that is natural for people to do. In order for there to be desire for ambassadorship, there needs to be something that happens to this individual. He needs an appreciation of the supernatural.

Over the past few years there has been a sudden revival in the understanding of the doctrines of grace. There have been many truths in this regard that have become prevalent in many popular modern day teachers.  Along with this surge has come a new interest in some of the “old” writers whose writings had the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in salvation as a focal point to their theological writings has influenced many in a new appreciation for these ignored biblical truths. This resurgence however needs to grow tremendously before we can see a true effect on the state of Christians today and it is my prayer that it will.  When I speak of the sovereignty of God in salvation I am acknowledging the right of our God to choose to save whom he pleases and with whom He will spend eternity with. The scriptures raise our hearts to the sky in revealing to us of God’s purposes in saving a people unto Himself.  Paul affirmed this wonderful truth on many occasions in his writings. We read in Ephesians 1 that He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6) These wonderful blessings are on the basis of God’s “kind intention” and “to the praise of the glory of His grace”. Paul also confirmed this right of God in his letter to the Thessalonians where he stated that we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13) We find the entirety of our salvation based upon God’s work in us that was established “before the foundation of the world”. God’s will is the true source of salvation even to the extent that He gave us the faith to believe on His Son! (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:9) since without His planned interference that no one would come to the Son. (John 6:44) Salvation is truly and fully of the Lord!

What we might consider now is how the sovereignty of God in salvation is relevant to the lack of passion in our North American Christianity today? The answer, in our opinion, is that we no longer view our God in an awestruck way. What truly stirs up our hearts with overwhelming appreciation is that we can essentially look at God, not as one who simply created a plan of salvation and left us who are dead and enslaved to sin (Eph. 2:1-4; John 8:31-34), but instead as the gracious God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is the God of unfailing power and of conquering purposes. He is the one who broke our rebellious will and produced everything that is ours without ANY help of the human will. He is the one who is accomplishing His purposes in all things and demands faithfulness of His people! Who are we to be thankful as His chosen people but live a life that is in accordance with His holy purposes with fervour and zeal to proclaim His precious name!

The truth is however that I have addressed this particular point as a means of introduction in order to build upon it. It should be carefully noted that simply because an individual holds to God’s Sovereignty in Salvation shouldn’t presuppose they are possessing Godly passion in their lives. There are many who hold to the doctrines of Grace who have fallen into the trap of the losing their enthusiasm for the gospel testimony and holiness. The thought expressed here is that it is an incredible boost to humble ourselves in subjection to our Lord when we see that everything that we are and possess is ours only by Sovereign grace!

Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 22, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Posted in Discipleship

A Study of Hebrews Chapter 1: Part 20

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They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail 

Nothing last forever is a slogan I have heard much in my life by those who feel the need to live their life in a careless fashion. Even though we feel their paradigm leads to the wasting away of the existence given to us by grace, we concede that there is much validity to the statement as well. We spoke of the heavens and the earth as a part of the creation of the Lord. The writer continues to quote the Psalmist and by doing so indicates much more concerning the heavens & earth (creation) in contrast to the uniqueness of Jehovah (creator).

The third argument for the uniqueness of Jehovah is found in that God is an unchanging God. This is what is called the doctrine of immutability. The writer within the Psalm argues from the standpoint of what is mutable and what is immutable. The first contrast in this case is found in the fact that the heavens will perish and they will be changed. The great prophet Isaiah agreed with the Psalmist in that All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree (Isaiah 34:4). As for the Son however there is absolutely no alteration to His being since by nature these created things change but the Lord Jesus cannot change For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6) There should be a joyous moment that comes upon us when reading these words since the thought of a changing God would suggest an uncertainty of the fulfillment of the promises given to us as His people. The Lord is deserving of our praise and adoration since this is not the God of the bible and we can be certain that due to the precious attribute of immutability we can find hope in a world where hope is tremendously lacking. 

We find in the statement that the “years” of Jehovah are “throughout all generations”. We have here a statement known as anthropomorphism[i] where God is defining His eternal nature.[ii] The text is appealing to a continuance in that from generation to generation and so forth, His years are. We find the Psalmist establishing this thought in other psalms as well in stating that Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. (Psalm 93:2) and Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Psalm 90:2) Throughout time itself Jehovah simply exists and His entire nature is outside of our existence. If He bears the nature of eternity and is outside of time then there can be no variation of change. He does not grow old or see any sort of decay hence from start to finish He simply exists and is God. He abides for ever and ever; unchanged and unchangeable; eternally independent; independently eternal. He is, beyond any question, greater than His creatures and therefore greater than angels[iii] What a lovely contemplation that the one who bore our sins on Calvary so long ago is the same one whom the Psalmist could express His admiration in presenting His uniqueness only in the sum of three short verses

 


[i] Anthropomorphism is when God uses human terms about Himself when attempting to teach a truth regarding Himself. This is very similar to a parable when we use a common expression or story to reiterate a deeper truth.

[ii] See Micah 5:2; John 8:58; John 17:5, Colossians 1:17; Revelation 22:13

[iii] What The Bible Teaches: Hebrews, J. Flanigan, J. Ritchie, Page 35

Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 21, 2009 at 11:37 am

Posted in Hebrews Ch.1

A Look at Hebrews Chapter 1: Part 19

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And:“ You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

The crescendo of the writer’s argument to these confused Hebrews who were in consideration of defecting back to their former religion is now upon us. These last four verses embellish and elucidate the previous passages. It is imperative that we take note of the opening term of this verse found in a little three letter word “and”. The term is a translation from the Greek kai which is used to demonstrate the continuation of the Father’s address of the Son. The flow of the address was initiated previously in v.8 with the expression “but to the Son He says”. The whole point of the term “And” is that the Father is not finished speaking of His Son!

The writer maintains the same line of argumentation by quoting from another Psalm; mainly the 102nd Psalm. We must emphasize the importance of understanding that this quote that is attributed to the Son is one of great importance. Scholar F.F. Bruce gives a brief description of the motives of God in this Psalm:

The Psalm, which begins “Hear my prayer, O Yahweh,” is truly described in its superscription as “a prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint, and pours out his complaint before Yahweh.” Both he and Zion, his city, have experienced the judgment of God, but he makes confident supplication for mercy and restoration for himself and Zion, that men and women may assemble there once more to give praise to God. He is oppressed by a sense of the brevity of his personal span of life, with which he contrasts the eternal being of God. IN comparison with his short life, heaven and earth are long-lived; yet heaven and earth must pass away. They had their beginning when God created them, and they will grow old and disappear one day; but the God who created them existed before they did, and he will survive their disappearance. As one man in his lifetimes outlives many successive suits of clothes, so God has seen and will yet see many successive material universe, but he himself is eternal and unchanging.[i]

The significance of recognizing that the God of the scriptures is a unique God is vital to our argument. Jehovah is a God that possesses characteristics that make Him God that no other being can possess no matter how exalted they might be. What makes Him God is found in the verses of the Psalm and here attributed to the Son.

The first unique trait of Jehovah is found in the exclusiveness of His name.  Notice an often-missed expression “You, LORD” which, since it is quoting the OT Psalm, could be rendered “ You, Jehovah”[ii]. The most unique characteristic of God is found in His name, the name that was set apart as a token of expressing His being and Holiness. The Father applies to His Son the very name that is never used of a mere creature.

The second divine attribute is that of creatorship. This we have dealt with previously in verse 2. The expression sought to be articulated by the writer in based upon the word “Beginning” and should be taken as a parallel expression to that found in other portions of Holy scripture. God created “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1) while the Father and Son were together (John 1:1; 1 John 1:1). The uniqueness of this attribute can be examined in the trial of the false gods found in Isaiah 40-48 which argues for the sole deity of Jehovah, the God of Israel especially in v.44:24. 

 


[i] The Epistle to the Hebrews, F.F. Bruce, Eerdmans Publishing, Page 61-62

[ii] It should be noted that in the Psalm the writer refers to this portion as “You my God” which is paralleled with the term “You, LORD”.

Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 20, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Hebrews Ch.1

A Study of Hebrews Chapter 1: Part 18

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Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You. With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

The humble work of the Lord Jesus has always brought much awe to the hearts of those who have spent any time meditating on its totality. The thought of one who was exalted above all and fully God in Nature dwelling in the heavenly paradise leaving His Father and taking on the form of a man in all its weaknesses and dying such an extraordinary death to save undeserving sinners from the wrath of God is overwhelming indeed. To miss this is to fail in many fronts even to lack in the understanding of the Trinity.[i]

The text we will examine in v.9 has received some controversy throughout the years which is unfortunately nothing new however when we examine the true nature of the idiom presented by the writer; we feel there is much unwarranted speculation in this debate. There are those who have attempted to gather an argument against the deity of Christ in the preceding passages by stating that this text is a proof that in fact the Lord Jesus couldn’t have been God since He refers to the Father as His God. This type of argumentation is very weak in its approach since it does not take into consideration the willful subjection of the Son to the Father from a positional standpoint. The Son bowed the knee in obedience to fulfill perfectly what humanity had failed so often to do in always putting God ahead of Himself. The thought of the Son referring to the Father as “His God” is really not unnatural even in light of the equality of their nature. This has as its stem a reference back to His human nature and position (Philippians 2:6-8). One must wonder if the Father stating that the Son is God just a verses earlier stands to make the assertion that the Father cannot be God since the Son is referred to as God.

The anointing of the Son by the Father is continuing to reference the Kingship of the Lord Jesus. The anointing with oil is without any challenge referring to the OT crowning ceremony of the King of Israel (1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13) The reference here however seems to suggest a greater anointing than they since it is with the oil of gladness. The thought here is that of the satisfaction of the Father with the perfection of the work of His precious Son during His first advent which brought a sweet aroma to the Father and salvation to His elect. This anointing with the oil of gladness could certainly be corresponding with His resurrection. The Father placed His seal of approval and demonstrated His satisfaction of the work of the Son by raising Him from the dead.

The promulgators of controversy have placed a strange interpretation upon this verse in that it has been said that the Son has been placed in a position of honour even though His is equivalent with his “companions”. The identity of the “companions” is said to be referring to the angels however we feel that this interpretation fails in light of considering the point of this passage which is the anointing of a king. This has never been said of the angels in scripture. The writer, in speaking of the OT coronation ceremonies, is referencing the former kings that were anointed to rule over Israel. The thought here is not nature but position and quality of the kingdom that He will rule.

A.W. Pink gives an excellent summation of the previous three verses:

It is indeed striking to see how much was included in the ancient oracle concerning the Messiah which the Spirit here quoted from Psa. 45. Let us attempt to summarize the content of that remarkable prophecy. First, it establishes His Deity, for the Father Himself owns Him as “God”. Second, it shows us the exalted position He now occupies: He is on the throne, and there forever. Third, it makes mention of His Kingship, the royal “scepter” being wielded by Him. Fourth, it tells of the impartiality of His government and the excellency of His rule: His scepter is a “righteous” one. Fifth, it takes us back to the days of His flesh and makes known the perfections of His character and conduct here on earth: He “loved righteousness and hated iniquity.” Sixth, it reveals the place which He took when He made Himself of no reputation, as Man is subjection  to God: “Thy God.” Seventh, it announces the reward He hath anointed thee”. Eight, it affirms He has the pre-eminence in all things, for He has been anointed with the oil of gladness “above His fellows”.[ii]

 


[i] The means by which I have explained the doctrine of the Trinity is based upon these three important points: (1) Within the being of the one true God, there are three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are co-eternal and co-equal in nature and are the one true God. (2) The three persons differentiate themselves only in a positional or functional aspect due to the willful subjection of the Son to the Father because of the eternal plan of Salvation. Difference in function does not mean inferiority in nature. (3) The Son possesses perfectly two natures, the nature of God and of man hence, in essence, function and possesses attributes of both natures

[ii] An Exposition of Hebrews, A.W. Pink, Baker Book House, Page 66-67

Written by shawnkjmcgrath

August 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Hebrews Ch.1