Discerning and Doing the Will of the Lord as His People

JG Vos WLC Commentary CoverFor Lord’s Day, July 19, 2015

Dear Saints,

Before I put J.G. Vos’ Westminster Larger Catechism commentary back on the shelves, I thumbed through its pages for review and came across these statements that seemed quite poignant for the times of our nation. We the people need the ability to distinguish between good and evil by the use of the Good Book and Holy Word of Christ if we aren’t to go the way of the Roman Empire:

Where the Bible is known and believed, wickedness and crime are curbed, human life and property are secure, education is widespread, institutions of mercy for the care of the sick, unfortunate, and insane established, and civil liberty is honored and safeguarded … Where the Bible is unkown or almost unkown, human life is cheap and insecure; dishonesty is almost universal; men live in bondage to superstitions and fears; moral corruption and degradation abound.

Human opinions, reasonings, and philosophy are of no weight whatever against the statements of God’s Word.

All human schemes of betterment which are not founded on redemption from sin through Christ are foredoomed to failure. Permanent relief cannot be obtained by treating symptoms only, while ignoring the cause of the trouble.

… the civil magistrate may rightly, for civil reasons, prohibit the public propagation of atheism and of the denial of man’s moral responsibility to God. For a civil court to refuse to grant a charter of incorporation to an association the purpose of which is publicly to propagate atheism is no real infringement of civil or religious liberty. The success of such a corporation would result in the destruction of the moral foundations of human society and of the state itself. Civil and religious liberty do not include even the civil right to attempt to destroy the very basis of human civilization.

These fine assertions are also good timing to meditate on for our text tomorrow morning about the dietary laws in Leviticus 11. The continuity of their general equity today (WCF 19:3) teaches Christians to make ethically holy distinctions in life so as to be protected from the defilement of morally impure worldly influences, and thus to remain ethically pure and whole in the presence of our thrice holy God. The message for tomorrow will be, “Show Discernment to Show Who You Are and Who is Your God.”

May we come before the Lord Jesus with ears to hear what the Spirit has to say to us, praying that He will help us rightly divide the Word of Truth in worship and in life. For in the evening, with the message “Apply Your Life to God’s Word” based on Psalm 111:10, we will learn that when we are simply willing to obey God without question (the answer to the “why?” of the arbitrarily chosen animals in Leviticus 11), He will reward us with good discernment.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

The Awful Public Execution of Hell and the Cross

DissectingFor Lord’s Day, April 5, 2015

Dear Saints,

We were all struck by the typology of the Burnt Offering in Leviticus 1:6-7 last Lord’s Day.

 

(Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissection)

Many agreed that the public execution typified by the flaying off of the animal’s skin and the deliberate dissection of it into pieces to be meticulously laid over the fires of the Brazen Altar is one of the scariest prefigurations of what hell will be for the unrepentant sinner who is not covered with the propitiatory (Mercy Seat) blood of the Lamb of God to satisfy the Father’s wrath and curse due to him or her for sin.

Mr. Delgado later shared a sobering insight as to how this type surely was alluded to by Jesus in Matthew 24:50-51 about Judgment Day and its aftermath upon an unbeliever:

The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

As you know, the animal in the Burnt Offering served as the substitutionary sacrifice for the vicarious atonement of what the offerer should suffer in hell if not for the Lamb of God ultimately prefigured in John 1:29 (and all through Revelation).  The exacting, clinical, cutting execution of the helpless animal represented the open and eternal punishment of God upon those in hell.  This is what Jesus, in our place, experienced in His public trial and public execution on the Cross.  Remember what Andrew Bonar wrote about Leviticus 1:6:

… the deliberate infliction is the most awful feature of justice. It leaves the sufferer hopeless. The stroke is awfully relentless, determined, righteous! Such too were the Saviour’s sufferings.

Let us meditate on this horrific picture of hell and the cross as we prepare to take the Lord’s Supper tomorrow evening in remembrance of what the Lamb of God did for us. Charles Spurgeon, in his March 31 morning devotion, gives us a frightening image to so prepare ourselves, with Isaiah 53:5 as his text, “With His stripes we are healed”:

The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture.  It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were inter-twisted every here and there among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration, and tore off the flesh from the bone.  The Saviour was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten.  He had been beaten before; but this of the Roman licturs was probably the most severe …  My soul, stand here and weep over His poor stricken body.

Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon Him without tears, as He stands before you the mirror of agonizing love?  He is at once fair as the lily for innocence, and red as the rose with the crimson of His own blood.

Dearly beloved, may you more deeply adore your Beloved as He reminds you with graphic pictures in the Lord’s Supper of how He went through hell for you on the cross so that you will never have to endure the eternal public exposure and execution of God.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Christ’s High Priestly Robe and His Unchangeable Priesthood

For Lord’s Day, November 16, 2014

(image source for below: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs084/1107177002582/archive/1110201535913.html)

Golden Garments 1Dear Saints,

While driving this morning, I was listening to a lecture by one of my professors about the priesthood of Christ as figuritively represented by the Old Testament high priest, especially his robe.  He spent a lot of time on Exodus 28 and the typology of the high priest, and pointed out something really important that I did not think of when I preached on the Golden Garments of the High Priest recently.  I’d like to share his insight with you, as I think it will lead nicely into tomorrow’s text (Exodus 29:38-46).

Dr. C.J. Williams (professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at RPTS) draws our attention to the following verse:

They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it [Christ’s robe], but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. (John 19:24)

What should be noticed is that they did not tear Christ’s royal robe (which they had earlier mockingly put upon Him); rather they cast lots for it and then someone acquired it as one, whole, preserved piece.  John notes that this lack of rending Christ’s robe fulfilled the prophecy of casting lots to get them in Psalm 22:18.  But also, remember what we learned about the High Priest’s robe in Exodus 28:31-32: it must be made of one piece (like chain mail) with a special embroidery around the neck, so that it would not be rent.  This clothing design was to prefigure the eternal priesthood of Christ (which can never be rent; rather, it is forever finished and complete on behalf of God’s people whom Christ represents as Mediator eternally).

In our sermon on this text, we did consider what A.W. Pink pointed out: the high priest tore his robe in response to Christ saying Who He was, noting along with the tearing of the veil in the temple shortly thereafter that the ceremonial system was now expired in the finished work of Christ to which it pointed.  But here we see Christ’s robe not being rent (for His true priesthood will never expire nor need repetition of His sacrifice, also seen in the rending of Himself as the true veil of the true heavenly temple, per Hebrews 10:20).  These connections with Christ’s un-rent robe are yet another juxtaposition that teaches us what the writer to the Hebrews emphasizes, quoting Psalm 110:4:

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 5:8-10)

Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 6:20-7:1)

And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 7:15-17)

(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. (Hebrews 7:21-28)

What is the point?  Jesus is clothed in a priestly robe that can never be rent, because He has an unchangeable, everlasting priesthood as promised by the Father to Him from all eternity (Psalm 110:4).  Thus, the reality of the typology of the Tabernacle system pointing to Christ and His Church is this: I will be your God, and you will be My people, forever!

Dr. Williams also taught that the priests who pointed to Christ never actually lived up to the priesthood of Christ.  God thus demonstrated that He would provide His true eternal High Priest by the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of His Son, as He said he would in 1 Samuel 2:35:

And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.

We will see this eternal, personal relationship with you as the household (tabernacle) of God by virtue of His High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, highlighted in our text tomorrow.  So we are today reminded by Christ’s robe which is never rent that He has once and for all put you into a personal relationship with the Personal Triune God that begins here on this earth and will last forever in the New Heaven and the New Earth.  Let us personally praise Him together as His assembled tabernacle tomorrow on the Lord’s Day as we again have the privilege of tasting of the eternal Sabbath that awaits us!

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant