Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Loving the Saints-Part VIII

Phil 4:6 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 1 Thess 5:18 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

One of the central duties of Christians is giving thanks. The failure to give thanks is the source of much trouble within the church. It is the fuel that feeds discontentment, discord, and schism.
It is very difficult to find fault with your neighbor when you are sincerely thanking God for him. It is very difficult to bemoan your circumstances when you are thanking God for them. Now, both of these examples are negative examples. I am encouraging you to thank God for those difficult things in your life, for the hard providences if you will. But that is not the best kind of thanksgiving.

God has showered us with innumerable blessings. They are all around us. In the house we live in, the breakfast we eat, the job we go to, the wife we come home to and the children we wrestle on the carpet with. Furthermore, he has given us brothers and sisters in Christ and spiritual mothers and fathers in the church. He has given us promises in baptism and the Lord’s Supper and He declares these promises to us again and again as we meet on the recurring weekly cycle of the Lord’s Day to also declare our allegiance to Him.In the regular course of life, if we remind ourselves to give thanks for all the good the Lord has done for us and is doing for us, we don’t have time to look at the few slights and difficulties around us. We are busy remembering God’s goodness instead of forgetting it. This forgetting is probably the chief sin in all of scripture. It denies the world that God has made and controls. So, let us remember that in everything, we must give thanks to God.

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 1 John 3:18-19

Heidelberg Exhortations-Lord's Day 7

Matt 6:9-10 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Our Father, we magnify Your name in the earth. You have called us out to be Your people and made us part of that kingdom that you have established here on the earth. May we be faithful to You so that Your kingdom here will look more and more like Your kingdom in heaven. You have been faithful from the beginning. You created us for Your good pleasure, not to fulfill a lack in Yourself but to display Your own glory, the glory You had with the Son and with the Spirit before the worlds were created. You provided a way for us to return to You after our fall in Adam. This was Your plan from the beginning. You made promises to Eve of the coming Christ and to all of our fathers in the faith of that one who would bruise the serpent’s head. You have kept Your promise to them and to us by revealing Christ in us. We thank You that You keep covenant with Your people to a thousand generations. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.


Q. 20. Are all men then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ? A. No; only those who are ingrafted into him, and, receive all his benefits, by a true faith.

Q. 21. What is true faith? A. True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart; that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness and salvation, are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits.

Q. 22. What is then necessary for a christian to believe? A. All things promised us in the gospel, which the articles of our catholic undoubted christian faith briefly teach us.

Q. 23. What are these articles?
1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe a holy catholic(that is, universal)church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
11. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting.

Those of you familiar with this will recognize the answer. It is the Apostle’s Creed. It is often ascribed to the apostle’s themselves but probably was not penned by them. However, it is one of the most ancient confessions of our faith and we would all do well to know it by heart as we confess with the Christian Church through the ages.

Question 21 speaks of true faith that is the free gift of God. The freer this gift the more binding is our duty and desire to obedience. We must get a handle on this. Those who oppose free grace often oppose it because they think it does nothing to bind the recipient to obedience. If grace does not cost anything, then why should we obey God? Dear ones, it cost a great deal. It cost the life of our precious Lord Jesus. If you really get a handle on this, then you must contemplate on how truly the free the grace is. You have no claim to it. You cannot purchase it. You cannot even really understand it. It is given to you by a gracious God merely because He is kind. And we stand there dumbfounded. A thankful man, woman, or child will immediately respond to that kind of grace with absolute fidelity, loyalty, and obedience. Any shortcomings will be immediately, confessed and repudiated. Remember, the freer the grace the more binding the obedience. And His grace is truly free and our love and thankfulness places upon us the most joyful burden of obedience. Who could not love such a kind Master?

Matt 6:12 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Our kind Father, teach us how free your grace is. Teach us to see the enormity of our debt and so, the enormity of the cost to forgive it and so, the enormity of the forgiveness. We confess to You that we have not rightly understood Your grace. We have either made light of it and have given ourselves an excuse for sin or refused to rightly believe it by refusing to forgive others. Your wrath and anger against us has been removed in Christ and through Christ our wrath and anger against those who have wronged us ought also to be removed. Let no unwholesome word proceed from our mouths. Forgive us for our spiteful words. We pray that You would reveal our own sins to us and we confess them to You now. Amen.

Matt 6:13 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Dear Ones, God has been very kind to us and forgiven our sins. Just as we forgive, may he forgive us. This may scare us realizing that we do not forgive as He does. However, we must learn that by faith in Christ, we are forgiven, freely, fully, and forever. When we grasp this, we will be able to freely and fully forgive others. And God’s forgiveness will be with us forever. So, come and honor him now. Amen.

Heidelberg Exhortations-Lord's Day 6

Gen 3:14-15 14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Our Father in Heaven, we give honor and glory to Your name. Our race forsook Your kindness when we sinned in the garden. However, you did not forsake us. Instead, you intimated the promise of one who would one day crush the serpents head. You saved mankind in Noah so you could be faithful to that promise and you continue to remind yourself regularly in the rainbow that you will fulfill your promises to us. You promised the nations to Abraham. You gave your wonderful law to Moses and began to more clearly reveal Christ in the shadows of the law. The kingdom was established with David and you taught us of Christ in and through him. The prophets afterwards declared that one would come who would put an end to wars and that peace would reign. Your people waited and were not disappointed as you brought us Messiah, the Lord Jesus. In Him are all the promises yea and Amen. In Him, we see the serpents head crushed. Our Father, these things are too wonderful for us but they are glorious and we rejoice in what you have done in Christ, our perfect sacrifice. Amen.

EXHORTATION 6. Lord's day

Q. 16. Why must he be very man, and also perfectly righteous? A. Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others.

Q. 17. Why must he in one person be also very God? A. That he might, by the power of his Godhead sustain in his human nature, the burden of God's wrath; and might obtain for, and restore to us, righteousness and life.

Q. 18. Who then is that Mediator, who is in one person both very God, and a real righteous man? A. Our Lord Jesus Christ: "who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."

Q. 19. Whence knowest thou this? A. From the holy gospel, which God himself first revealed in Paradise; and afterwards published by the patriarchs and prophets, and represented by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law; and lastly, has fulfilled it by his only begotten Son.

Our God has left no room for human boasting outside of Christ. Our fall was wholly our own but our rise to prominence is all of grace. The Father promised throughout our wanderings from Him that he would one day bring salvation by a redeemer. He was always faithful though we, as men, were ever unfaithful. But God is not slow to bring about His promises. In good time, he brought forth Christ, born of a virgin, to fulfill all that He promised from ages past. We ought to be able to understand from the events in history that man’s every attempt to save himself was only a heaping up of more sin and misery. His vainglorious good deeds made it worse, not better. We would not have figured out the purpose of God in His Messiah. The best religious scholars of the day and the closest associates of Christ, Himself, could not comprehend the will of God in salvation. It is not our work or merit or intellect or wisdom that leads us to salvation, but rather, the kindness of God in Christ. Until we see that the beginning, middle and end our faith is the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, we have not rightly understood the gospel. Lay down your vain attempts to save yourself. Only one who is very God and very man can handle that task, and He has done so. Receive it and rejoice.

Rom 5:12 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Our Father, sin entered into the world through a man and death by sin and that death passed upon us all and we all sin. Our very nature, apart from your grace, is to sin and death. And thus, by our nature we are objects of your wrath. How can we ever think that we can bring good gifts to you in our own stained names? This so belittles the free gift that you have given us in Christ, Himself. Teach us to look to and trust in Him alone for our salvation, sanctification, and glorification. Forgive us when we think too highly of ourselves and our goodness and thus think little of our Lord Jesus. Teach us complete reliance upon Christ and lead us into the everlasting way. Thus, we are not objects of wrath by nature any longer, but objects of mercy by grace. Father, we pray that you would reveal our individual sins against you and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We confess them to you now and turn away from them by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Rom 5:10-11 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

We are reconciled to God in Christ. We are given life and are enabled to live righteously before our Father in heaven. We are joyful because Jesus died for us and bought us. You saints, who honestly seek His favor, your sins are atoned for. There is no separation between you and God. So come and worship Him now. Amen.