BELIEVE

Have a beautiful Sunday and Worship filled with all good things that He has graciously given to you!  TG-RW

“God has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Eccles 3:11

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“Hanging On – The Church Above & Church Below”


“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised), and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Heb 10:23


“We call the church a family — the family of God. And like any family, it has its pluses and minuses. We know that there is an ideal church consisting of all the elect — the so-called invisible church — but precisely because it is invisible, affirming its existence does not mean that we can point to it and say, “There it is.” The only church we know is the visible church, by whatever form of church government we call it (local, regional, national, international, or all of the above). And we have to admit that if seeing is believing, we might be hard-pressed at times to identify the church we know with the uncompromised church in glory.

At its best, the church below is the staging area for the things to come: a kingdom of grace, not yet a kingdom of glory; a church militant, not yet the church triumphant. So the wheat and the weeds grow together until the Son returns to gather and make the final separation (Matt. 13:24-30). Until then, there is no pure church, but only churches more or less pure. For now, it is a “mixed body,” with no doubt some sheep outside it and some wolves within.

Augustine, one of the key sources for this invisible-visible church distinction, can be improved on by reference to eschatology. In other words, the proper distinction is not between two types of churches, one “inner” and another “outer,” but rather two eras of the one church’s existence: “this present age” and “the age to come.” This is the import of the parable of the wheat and weeds: Jesus will sort things out in the end. But for now, the visible church is a garden of wheat and weeds and sometimes we cannot tell them apart. In this age, the church is compromised; in the next, it is glorified — completely purged of being, as we lament in the hymn, “by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.” The distinction between the present and the future condition of the church is the corporate analogue to the paradoxical life of the individual believer as “simultaneously justified and sinful.” But just as we are definitively new creatures in Christ, despite our continuing battle with sin, the church really is the site of God’s covenantal grace. Like any family, it has its problems, but because it is Christ’s family, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). To this church Christ has entrusted the keys of the kingdom, so that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (v. 19). Just as the individual believer is a work in progress, so corporately the church even in its weakness is the place where the age to come breaks in on this present evil age. It is not because of anything intrinsic to the church itself, but because the ministry of the keys has been entrusted to her. It is through its ministry of Word and Sacrament, as well as discipline, that the Spirit makes us taste the heavenly reality of God’s sabbath rest. Even the nonelect in the visible church experience through this ministry some measure of the kingdom reality, as they have been “enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Heb. 6:4-5).”Excerpts from “A Permanent Address” by Dr. Michael Horton, Modern Reformation Magazine (May/June Issue, Vol. 13.3, 1994)

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The Ancient Love Song – Old and New


“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”   2Tim3:16-17

In our study of “The Ancient Love Song, Finding Christ in the Old Testament,” we were reminded of the importance of reading and understanding God’s Word in total, in its entirely, as one consistent book of God’s sovereignty in words and salvation.  There are professors of Christ who do not subscribe to reading and studying the Old Testament and giving them equal value and weight to their own detriment and error.  Thus, a simple practical question arose: “What does a Christian believer miss by not knowing the Old Testament well?”

The Old and New Testaments are one book, the Bible. To only read and “know” the New Testament is only reading half a book. We know the middle of the story and end but not the beginning. Christ has given us the first 39 books of the Bible to tell us of the majesty and greatness of our God, His creation, of Christ, His story, our beginning, of His law and commandments, His poetry, His working in the lives of His people. It tells us of our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all of our other brethren. It is our family history, our genealogy. It is Messianic and prophetic; it shows us grace, judgment and mercy. It tells us of God’s attributes. It gives us hope and encouragement. It answers old, new and contemporary questions to life and godliness. It is what the Old Testament saints, Christ in His earthy ministry, the Apostles and Disciples used to teach and learn about God and to teach about Christ. It tells us the story of redemption, salvation, faith, justification and eternal security.  It holds the key to our past and our future. It is for our learning:

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”  Romans 15:4

As He has said,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”   2Tim3:16-17

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All Scripture; or, the whole of Scripture; though it makes little difference as to the meaning. He follows out that commendation which he had glanced at briefly. First, he commends the Scripture on account of its authority; and secondly, on account of the utility which springs from it. In order to uphold the authority of the Scripture, he declares that it is divinely inspired; for, if it be so, it is beyond all controversy that men ought to receive it with reverence. This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit.”__John Calvin

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,…. That is, all holy Scripture; for of that only the apostle is speaking; and he means the whole of it; not only the books of the Old Testament, but of the New, the greatest part of which was now written; for this second epistle to Timothy is by some thought to be the last of Paul’s epistles; and this also will hold good of what was to be written; for all is inspired by God, or breathed by him: the Scriptures are the breath of God, the word of God and not men; they are “written by the Spirit”, as the Syriac version renders it; or “by the Spirit of God”, as the Ethiopic version. The Scriptures are here commended, from the divine authority of them; and which is attested and confirmed by various arguments; as the majesty and loftiness of their style, which in many places is inimitable by men; the sublimity of the matter contained in them, which transcends all human understanding and capacity ever to have attained unto and discovered; as the trinity of persons in the Godhead, the incarnation of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, &c. The purity and holiness of them before observed, show them to be the word of him that is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; as also their harmony and agreement, though wrote by different persons, in different places, and ages, and at sundry times, and in divers manners; what seeming inconsistencies are observed in them may, with labour and industry, by divine assistance, be reconciled.” _John Gill

“That the scripture has various uses, and answers divers ends and purposes: It is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction of all errors in judgment and practice, and for instruction in righteousness. The scripture is a perfect rule of faith and practice, and was designed for the man of God, the minister as well as the Christian who is devoted to God, for it is profitable for doctrine, etc. If we consult the scripture, which was given by inspiration of God, and follow its directions, we shall be made men of God, perfect, and thoroughly furnished to every good work.”  _Matthew Henry

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