Year 3 Day 60
Read - Galatians 6
Message - Scott Woodburn
The Christian life is not like going to the gym. In such a place the focus is on our own self improvement, Vera might be struggling on the treadmill but that is no concern of ours. We are there to improve our own strength, our own fitness, our own body. But the Christian life is not lived in such isolation, instead we are to do good to everyone and especially the church (v10).
The letter to the Galatians finishes with such a reminder. If anyone is caught in sin the more mature Christian is to seek to restore the fallen brother. This should be done without arrogance lest the mature brother also fall (v1). Christians are to bear one another's burdens for this fulfils Christ's command for us to love one another (v2). As we live together in fellowship we are to put aside self-righteousness - the church is not the place for egos or superstars (v3). Indeed we are to pay attention to our own work and motives. We carry our own load and in this way it keeps us from snooping on the liberty of our fellow Christian (v4-5). We are to submit ourselves to the teaching of our leaders and we are to provide financial support to those who labour for the Lord (v6).
All of this stood in direct contrast to the impact of the false teachers. Their doctrine of self-righteousness produced envy, strife, bitterness, jealousy and gossip among the flock. Instead of bearing one another's burdens, Christians were always mindful of each other's failings and successes. The faith became a competition to be won and a ladder to be climbed. This has always been the result of false gospels. What is sown in the flesh always results in corruption (v8) but thankfully what is sown in the Spirit results in eternal life.
So the follower of Christ is to shun the works of the flesh and not grow weary of doing good (v9). I know we can grow frustrated when no one seems to notice the work that we do. At times the lack of encouragement can wound and our legs can grow weak when it seems all we hear is criticism, but again, brothers and sisters do not stop doing good to everyone and especially our fellow Christians (v10). In due time we will certainly reap a glorious harvest (v9b).
Galatians is perhaps Paul's earliest letter and he finished it in a Christ exalting manner. Those who insisted upon circumcision sought only to boast in the flesh (v13). They wanted a crowd gathered around them who once again had submitted to a yoke a slavery. Paul pointed in another direction. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counted for anything (v15). What really mattered was salvation and the new life it brought. Therefore Paul refused to boast in the flesh despite the fact that his body bore many scars and wounds from persecution (v17). Instead Paul boasted in the cross of Christ (v14).
Brothers and sisters, we bring nothing to the Lord that impresses Him. We do not work our way to salvation and we do not work to stay saved. When you are tempted to believe it is all about you, may you remember that it actually is all about Christ. He kept the law perfectly and became a curse for us. Through faith in Jesus we are declared righteous and as the Spirit works we are being sanctified. Let no one convince you that it is any other way. Salvation and sanctification belong to the Lord and in response we love and serve the Israel of God (v16).
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. (v18)
Q60 How is the Sabbath to be sanctified? The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.
Year 3 Day 59
Read - Ezekiel 4:16-17
Message - Alan Burke
What we have been told so far is that Ezekiel is to draw Jerusalem on a clay tablet, besiege the clay tablet with ramps, camps, battering rams. He was to place an iron pan between himself and the clay tablet representing Jerusalem and this iron pan is to represent the barrier between God and His people. He was to eat a meagre ration that was neither one thing or the other that, he was to cook in excrement and his water it rationed also.
So that Ezekiel could be in no doubt why he was to make this model, why he was survive for 430 days on such rations, he is now told by the Lord. Jerusalem would be under siege, God would cut their supply of food and water, ie they would face the consequences of the siege against them. The reality is that they would waste away as a result of starvation, all of this results because of their sin. What was coming, the Babylonians the siege, the starvation, was because of the sin of the people.
How did it get to this? Sadly it was because for years they tolerated sin in their midst, they didn’t do anything about those who claimed to be part of the people of God and made a mockery of it. They were a rebellious people who had failed to do anything about the sin of the people in their midst, it was the impact of sin in the lives of his people had caused the coming judgment. The holy God was about to judge his unholy people because of their sin. The closing words of this chapter make that clear, they will waste away because of their sin. All that would fall on the people was because of the peoples sin.
God did not turn a blind eye to His peoples sin then nor does he now. We are warned in 1 Corinthians how a little leaven can impact the whole, how it can transform. This is what sin does! It only takes a little that is tolerated among a people before it affects and infects the whole. (1 Cor 5). For those sins that are public they should be dealt with publicly, for those sins that are private they should be dealt with privately, but sin should be dealt with and not just ignored.
God will not turn a blind eye to our sin and he will hold churches accountable for their failure to address it. In Revelation 2:5 to the Church in Ephesus the Lord warns that if they do not repent, he will come and remove their lampstand. Things may look healthy in churches but unless the preaching of the word is central and sin is addressed then the Lord will indeed remove our lamp stand. How sad a place it would be if we like the people of God in Ezekiel’s and Jeremiah’s day thought we were alright but failed to see that God was bringing his judgement, His discipline on us. The good news is for the Christian is we are those who have received Christ and escaped the eternal judgement and wrath of God that is due to us because of our sin. That good news though is not an excuse to keep on sinning, we are to repent, believe in the gospel, and a mark of that repentance and belief is the continuing to repentance of sin.
Q58 What is required in the fourth commandment?
The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself. (Deut. 5:12–14)
Year 3 Day 58
Read - Galatians 5
Message - Scott Woodburn
The message of Galatians could be summed up by the opening verse of chapter five "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." It was true in Paul's day and it remains true in ours. To seek to add anything to our salvation is to submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Paul stressed the seriousness of the issue. If the Galatians were to accept circumcision as necessary for a right standing with God then Christ would be of no advantage to them. Either Jesus is the entire ground for our hope or He is not. If circumcision was necessary for salvation then the Galatians would be obligated to keep the whole law (v3). In effect the Galatians would be cutting off their foreskins and cutting themselves off from Christ (v4). This image might jolt you but I make no apology. This is Paul's argument - if you think that salvation is Jesus plus something else then you have fallen away from grace (v4).
The hope of righteousness is that we have been declared righteous by God Himself. As we have believed the Gospel, Christ's righteousness has been credited to our account. Our works add nothing to this and our sinful works will not cause us to lose our salvation. In Jesus it doesn't matter if you are circumcised or not, what matters is faith in Christ and the outworking of that faith which is love (v6).
The Galatians had accepted Paul's teaching but had been pushed off course by the falsehoods of the group called the "Judaisers" (v7-9). Yet Paul was confident that the Galatians would take his view on the issue and the false teachers would meet with God's punishment. Paul faced persecution because of his defence of the cross. The message of the cross is offensive - guilty sinners cannot do anything for themselves and therefore need another to take their place. Christ is the One we are looking for and by His stripes we are healed.
Paul wished that anyone not proclaiming the true Gospel would emasculate themselves (v12) - this is another brutal image but one which shows the seriousness of the debate. We must get the Gospel right for it is the power of God for the salvation of all who would believe.
Some have criticised Paul's Gospel for being an open door to sinful living. Not so. Paul stressed that the Gospel brings freedom from a life of slavery to works based righteousness, but the Gospel of grace does not give an opportunity for works of the flesh (v13).
We have been saved not by works but by faith, yet we have been saved for good works. These works add nothing to our salvation but they are evidence of our salvation. Paul urged the Galatians to love one another instead of biting and devouring (v14-15). They were to walk by the Spirit and therefore would not gratify their sinful desires (v16).
It is vital that we heed Paul's message. We must understand the Gospel - it is all of grace and our works add nothing to the finished work of Christ. Additionally we must understand the Christian life - we are saved and called to a life of holiness. The works of the flesh are evident - sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these (v20-21). All of these must be put aside and instead we are to cultivate the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
As we attend to the ordinary means of grace and as the Spirit works, He will produce in us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (v22-23). This is the path of the Christian, this is walking by the Spirit (v25), this is our sanctification which flows from our justification.
Again the Gospel is entirely good news. A life slavishly tied to works based righteousness leads only to death. But a life transformed by the Gospel is transformed indeed. As Paul would tell the Romans "And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8v30-31) Amen!
Q58 What is required in the fourth commandment? The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself.
Year 3 Day 57
Read - Ezekiel 4:9-15
Message - Alan Burke
What we have here in this chapter of Ezekiel is a vivid picture of the siege of Jerusalem. The city figuratively depicted on a clay table surrounded by siege-works, ramps, camps, the pan of iron representing the barrier between God and his people but there is more that Ezekiel is told to do by the Lord. In these verses Ezekiel is told how he was to enact what the people who were besieged in Jerusalem would face. He was to make a cake from a mix of things, it is a food that isn’t really one thing or the other, but what it does is that it shows how the people would be willing to mix anything edible to try and give themselves sustenance due to the scarcity of food during this time.
This cake that Ezekiel made would have been hard, unappetising, it would have provided sustenance but that was about it. It would have weighed about 200g, that’s about 3 and a half slices of nutty crust. Also this cake would have sucked the moisture out of his mouth, you would have wanted to have a big drink after it, and Ezekiel is allowed one sixth of hin as his water ration which is about a pint, or 600ml. In a hot arid environment, with a cake that sucked the moisture out of your mouth Ezekiel would have been thirsty to say the least. The reason for the water ration was because like most ancient cities the water supply for Jerusalem was outside the city walls, so the city was vulnerable during a siege because of this, so water would have been the first thing that was rationed.
These rations, both the cake he is to bake and the water, for all these days are starvation rations, like that Jerusalem would face in the siege. He would have been able to survive but he wasn’t going to be up for much, Ezekiel was to lie on his side (4), but in truth he wouldn’t have had much energy to do anything else anyway. With his model of the siege of Jerusalem and just lying down in front of the people, not speaking, he is to daily for the 430 days, lie down as the people walked passed, some glared at him, assured of an audience. He is also to bake and eat this mixture in front of the people and initially God tells him to use human excrement for fuel.
Now the use of any kind of excrement for fuel may be striking to us but there was very little fire wood in the ancient near east, wood was precious, too precious to use as a fuel. Instead as many across this world today still use, Ezekiel is to used dried excrement which would have normally been cow dung mixed with straw or dried grass. But he is to use Human excrement which was unclean. Not unclean in the sense of germs but in in regard to ritual purity, (Deut 23:9-14), and such for Ezekiel to use it he would have been ritually unclean. He was told to use human excrement for fuel because even though the people thought they were clean, they may have observed the law in fact they were unclean.
God’s people had been keeping up appearances, doing things in the right way according to their traditions than they were about the hearts, they were not in relationship with God so it didn’t matter if the way the food was prepared was unclean, they were unclean, unholy, they were rebellious, their hearts were rebellious. All of us by our nature are unclean, unholy, rebellious, yet it is through Christ that we are made holy, we have been sanctified by his blood. I’ll leave you with this, Ezekiel was being called to prophecy in a very unusual way and the Lord thankfully is not calling us to do the same. But do we shy away from witnessing to the Lord, sharing our faith, offering to pray for or with someone because of how it will be perceived? We are not called to lie on our side for outside the meetinghouse, eat starvation rations, use excrement for fuel, but we are called to share the gospel, to tell others of how Christ died to save sinners so that they may be forgive and escape the wrath of God.
Q56 What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?
The reason annexed to the third commandment is, That however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment. (1 Sam. 2:12,17,22,29, 1 Sam. 3:13, Deut. 28:58–59)
Year 3 Day 56
Read - Galatians 4
Message - Scott Woodburn
We can sometimes remember the past with misty eyes...wouldn't it be great to go back in time? We believe that things were better back then, we were younger, fitter, prettier...wouldn't it be great to be 18 once again? Mmmmm. I'm not so sure. Life is not about standing still but growing up.
Unfortunately the Galatians were looking back to days of slavery. They had become children of God through faith in Christ but nevertheless they seemed to be seduced by the ways of the past. Paul reminded them that there was a time that God's children were under guardians and managers until a date set by the father (v2). In other words there was a time that the church lived and worshipped in type and shadow. Everything was pointing forward to Christ but He had not yet come.
The Law was in place to lead the faithful to Christ but some made law observance their means of escape. They sought righteousness in works and Paul calls this pursuit "the elementary principles of the world" (v3). Ever heard someone saying "good people will go to heaven"? If so you have heard someone explain an elementary principle of the world - it might sound plausible but is Biblically false. Eventually Christ came to redeem those under the law (v5). Jesus has sent His Spirit into our hearts and now those who once were slaves are called heirs (v7). We are sons and daughters of the king able to cry out "Abba! Father!" (v6).
Paul cannot believe that the Galatians wanted to return to the "worthless elementary principles" (v9). It was like freed slaves wanting to be back in chains. Those seeking to add circumcision to the Gospel wanted the Galatians to return to observing the Jewish calender (v10) and it seems the Galatians had followed their lead. It was as if the Galatians had trusted Christ but still kept their fingers crossed just in case. It was enough for Paul to worry that his work among the Galatians was in vain (v11).
He had come to them in physical weakness and yet they did him no long. They had helped him and treated him as if he were an angel or Christ Himself (v12-14). Paul believed that there was a time the Galatians would have gouged their eyes out for him (v15) hinting that Paul's physical ailment concerned his sight. But now, due to the influence of the false teachers, Paul feels that he has become an enemy to the Galatians for merely telling the truth (v16). These individuals wanted to be the focus of the Galatian's attention - they wanted to be the stars of the show (v17).
Paul's desire on the other hand was that Christ would be formed in the Galatians. He feels like a mother going through the pains of childbirth waiting for spiritual maturity to reach Galatia (v18-19). To convince his listeners of their error Paul takes the Galatians back into the Old Testament.
Abraham had two sons, one called Ismael and the other Isaac. Ismael was born to Hagar whilst Isaac was born to Abraham's wife Sarah. Ismael was the first born child but he was not the child of promise. He was born according to the flesh (v23) whilst Isaac was born according to the promise. Paul interprets this by way of allegory - he takes the story and shows a deeper meaning (v24).
Paul says Hagar represents slavery and is the current city of Jerusalem which remains in chains to law (v25). Sarah on the other hand represents the heavenly Jerusalem and freedom (v26). The Galatians had been set free by the Gospel but now longed for the chains of law observance and works based righteousness. Paul's conclusion was clear "brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman." (v31)
Brothers and sisters, there is no joy and no freedom striving endlessly to save ourselves. We have not trusted Christ in order to continually wonder "Have I done enough? Will I one day be saved? Perhaps I should observe a certain day just in case?" I urge you today to lay aside your attempts at works based righteousness and rest fully on the finished work of Christ. Uncross your fingers and gaze upon the cross.
Q56 What is the reason annexed to the third commandment? The reason annexed to the third commandment is, that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.
Year 3 Day 55
Read - Ezekiel 4:1-8
Message - Alan Burke
Rod Stewart if you don’t know, and this is according to Wikipedia so it may not be gospel truth “is a British rock and pop singer, songwriter, and record producer”, he has “sold over 250 million records worldwide”. Although I think for all those men who have grown up and still have their inner child wanting to get out the most interesting bit about Rod Stewart is that he has a model railway that is 124 ft by 23 ft (that’s 37.7m by 7m). While most of us have to put the toys away and do life, selling 250 million records means you can pay other people to do that and get on with building your model railway and if you bought one of his records back in the day you played your part in it. As children we loved this kind of imaginary play, but as we come to chapter 4 of Ezekiel, the Lord tells him to make a model but this isn’t imaginative play, this is a sign of the judgement of God.
Ezekiel is to take a clay tablet we are told and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. Likely he is to place this tablet outside house, and around it, with this clay tablet, this depiction of Jerusalem at centre point, Ezekiel is to build a model. The model has siege works, a mound, rampart, set up military camps around it, with battering rams. This is what God is tasking the prophet to do before the people, with Jerusalem drawn on the tablet and this three dimensional model surrounding it. It may not have been as fancy as Rod Stewart’s model railway but it would have been a very visual and striking way of communicating to all who saw it what was indeed going to happen and what would happen in Jerusalem some years later that ended with its destruction (586 B.C.).
The iron pan he is to put this between himself and the tablet of Jerusalem it was to represent the barrier between God and his people. It is heartbreaking and frightful because God has warned his people, there would be blessings for obedience and punishment for disobedience (Lev 26). What it means is because of their disobedience their prayers would not reach Lord in the coming judgment for it was too late. The Lord would not step in to save them for the judgement was at his hand. Ezekiel is to turn his face was towards Jerusalem which was a sign of the judgement of God, and this should make us sit up and listen because God will not let the disobedience of his people go on forever.
Yet notice what Ezekiel is to do once the model is built, he is to lie and as he does he is to put the sin of the house of Israel on himself (4). Ezekiel is to bear the sin of the people of God while he is on his side. Don’t miss in this that God was dealing with the sin of his people, all of his people. Although everything seems hopeless, notice that there is even in this an element of hope, for what Ezekiel faced would indeed come to an end. Ezekiel would lie but it would end, he would lie for 430 days in total it was not going to go on for ever.
The good news for the Christian is that we are those who have received Christ and have escaped the judgement and wrath of God that is due to us because of our sin. We know that Jesus Christ has taken the punishment that we deserve, but it does not mean that we will be free from trouble in this life. We live in a fallen world among the righteous and wicked and sometimes although you may not want to hear this, God as our loving Father discipline those whom he loves (Prob 3:12, Heb 12:6-8). In all that you face, if it is hardship because of living in a fallen world among the righteous and wicked, or under the discipline of your heavenly Father remember Christ, remember that he went to the cross and has taken what we deserve and that he will ensure we cross the finish line.
Q55 What is forbidden in the third commandment?
The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning and abusing of any thing whereby God maketh himself known. (Mal. 1:6–7,12, Mal. 2:2, Mal. 3:14)
Year 3 Day 53
Read - Galatians 3
Message - Scott Woodburn
How is anyone saved? It is not by human work but instead by an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit. Salvation does not happen unless the Spirit works and raises a spiritually dead individual to life. That individual is born again and with a new will freely chooses Christ as Saviour. Salvation is all of God and all of grace.
Sadly the Galatians had been bewitched by those seeking to add to salvation (v1) but Paul had no patience for such deception. He stressed that we receive the Spirit by hearing with faith (v2) therefore did the Galatians really believe that the work of salvation had been started by the Spirit but was now being perfected by works (v3)? Did they suffer for the Gospel in vain (v4)? Does the Lord save by works or by hearing with faith (v5)?
To answer the doubts of the Galatians Paul reminded them of Abraham. Abraham was not saved by works but by faith, he had believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness (v6). Anyone who has received Christ by faith is a spiritual descendant of Abraham (v7). It was just as predicted by Scripture. In Abraham all the nations of the earth would be blessed (v8). He heard the Gospel and believed it and so can rightly be considered "the man of faith" (v9).
Individuals who seek salvation by the works of the law may be sincere but they are sincerely wrong. Indeed the Scriptures say that such a person is under a curse (v10). What is this curse? If you walk the path of law observance then you must do everything required by the Law every single day (v12). Imagine that burden. Imagine every waking moment striving to keep the Law of God. Imagine having to watch every action, every word and every thought. Salvation by works is impossible. No one can be justified before God by the law (v11). The righteous shall live by faith.
But there was One who kept the Law fully. Jesus actively obeyed the Law's demands and Jesus passively received the Law's punishments. Jesus became a curse for us in fulfilment of Scripture by being hanged upon a tree (v13). It is by Christ that the promise made to Abraham has been fulfilled. Jew and Gentile alike must be saved and it is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.
The Covenant of Grace was proclaimed in Genesis 3 and reiterated to Abraham. This Covenant was in place long before the Law was republished at Mount Sinai (v17). Paul's point is that the blessings to Abraham and his offspring were given by a promise not by works (v18). The Law did not annul the Covenant of Grace or add to it (v15). The Gospel is all of grace.
So what is the purpose of God's law? It has a threefold use in the Christian's life. Paul stated that the law was added because of transgressions (v19). In other words, the law shows us our sin and in turn it displays the holiness of God. The law is not evil or contrary to the promises of God (v21). It acts as a restraint of sin and it instructs us in what is good and pleasing to Almighty God. Finally, the law acted like a guardian until the arrival of Abraham's offspring who is Christ (v24). The law makes us realise our inability to please God and it causes us to run to Jesus.
As Christians we should seek to know God's law and love it. We remain bound by the demands of God's moral law but we must never allow ourselves or others to add law observance to the Gospel of grace. Now that faith has come we are not under the guardianship of the law (v25) for in Christ we are sons and daughters of God by faith (v26).
It doesn't matter who you are or your background. Jews, Greeks, slaves, free, male and female can only be saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. The righteous shall live by faith and they are made one in Christ Jesus (v28). Abraham was not given a gospel of works for that would have no gospel at all. Instead father Abraham heard the good news that a Saviour would come and meet the law's demands. Christ is that Saviour and He has set us free from the curse of the law.
If you are tired of trying to save yourself and if you are well aware of your inability to keep the law of God then remind yourself of the good news. Christ has done it all. As you have received Him as your Saviour, rest in His finished work.
Q54 What is required in the third commandment? The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works.
Year 3 Day 52
Read - Exodus 4:19-23, Romans 1:18
Message - Alan Burke
“First posted Year 1 Day 330 - 17 Feb 21”
I am away on Post Ordination Training this week so my devotions are the last of some of the most liked of ‘Year One’.
Moses didn’t want to go to Egypt, he had made excuse after excuse finally asking God to send someone else (4:13). There was no doubt that fear of what awaited him played a part in his unwillingness, after all Pharaoh wanted him dead. We as readers already know that Moses doesn’t need to fear Pharaoh because he had died (2:23) making the path clear for Moses to return yet Moses wouldn’t have known this, that is until God reassured him that he had nothing to fear for everyone who wanted to kill him are dead.
Then Moses took his wife and sons and started his journey to Egypt. But he went with his staff, the same staff that had accompanied him through many years shepherding the sheep of his father in law had now became the staff of God. What was once ordinary had become extraordinary by the work of God, it was a symbol to Moses that although he had some way to go in his faith, God would equip him, for all that lay ahead, for the staff was a symbol of the authority of God, of his saving power.
On his return to Egypt, Moses would use this very staff to preform the the signs God had given him. But they would not make a believer our of pharaoh, instead God by them would harden his heart. These verses act as a summary of what will take place and look to how because pharaoh would not release the people of God that he would face judgement, his own first born son would die.
It may be difficult for us to grasp but God was going to harden the heart of Pharaoh, yet elsewhere we are also told that pharaoh hardened his own heart, meaning that his heart was doubly hardened. In the hardening of pharaohs heart, God was sovereignly at work but not in a way that removed Pharaoh’s own responsibility, because ultimately his heart was hardened to the word of the living God because of his sin. He had suppressed the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18). And when he heard the word of God he rejected it.
Pharaoh would ultimately let the people of God go. But the point should not be lost on us that this was entirely God’s work. He was redeeming his people out of their bondage, for they were not a nation like those that surrounded them, instead they were as God’s firstborn son, he had chosen them not by their own doing by his grace alone.
In the Gospel of Matthew, quoting from Hosea 11:1, Mathew makes clear how the prophecy “Out of Egypt I have called my son (2:15), was fulfilled when Jesus and his family returned to Judea. Matthew understood that Jesus was God’s son, he is the true Israel who did what the nation of Israel failed to do as God’s perfect son. This was confirmed when Jesus was baptised, and the Father said, “This is my Son, whom I love” (Matt. 3:17). The promise of sonship was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
It is through faith in this son, Jesus Christ that we can become sons of God the children of the living God. It is the work of Christ, bring the slaves of sin into the liberty of sonship. Jesus is “the firstborn among many brothers” as we are reminded in the book of Romans (Rom. 8:29)—“many brothers” because every believer is a child of God. As the Bible also says, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26). To know Jesus as Savior is to know God as Father. All of that which happened in the Exodus was all part of his plan to redeem his people and bring salvation to the ends of the earth, to bring salvation to you and I though the Son.
Q52 Which is the third commandment?
The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exod. 20:7)
Year 3 Day 51
Read - Galatians 2
Message - Scott Woodburn
We know that the Apostle Paul visited Jerusalem on at least four occasions in the Scriptures. Once when he visited Peter (Galatians 1v18), later when he took a collection for the poor (Acts 11v30), again when the Jerusalem Council took place (Acts 15) and later still when eventually he would be arrested.
Paul tells the Galatians about one of these visits (probably the second one) when he travelled to Jerusalem and set before the other Apostles the gospel he had been preaching. Paul wanted to be sure that he was not running in vain, he wanted to be certain that he had got the Gospel right (v2). Paul met with James, Peter and John amongst others (v9) and these men did not insist upon circumcision to be saved. Titus was with Paul and he came from a Greek background but still the Apostles did not require Titus to be circumcised (v3).
The Apostles instead extended the right hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas and encouraged them to continue preaching to the Gentiles and to remember the poor (v9-10). The Apostles did not change Paul's Gospel or add anything to it (v6). Paul's Gospel was the Gospel. It was authentic and true and did not require circumcision as a necessity for salvation.
That was the issue settled...but not quite. Peter visited Antioch and happily ate with the Gentiles (v12) but later when others from the "circumcision party" arrived, Peter withdrew from the Gentiles and acted hypocritically (v13). Indeed even Barnabas was led astray by their actions. Paul could not abide this state of affairs and he confronted Peter about his hypocrisy (v11). Peter was a Jew who lived like a Gentile but was forcing the Gentiles to live like Jews (v14). That's certainly a tongue twister but more importantly, it was dangerous hypocrisy.
The issue at stake was justification. What is justification? Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone. There is no room for works in justification. Peter's actions suggested that righteousness before God also depended upon our works.
A person cannot be justified before God by works of the law (v16). It doesn't matter if you are the best person in your street or even if you are an elder in a church - your works cannot save you. Instead a person is only justified through faith in Christ (v16). Circumcision and other works of the law justify no one (v16). Only faith in Christ will see an individual declared righteous.
As the chapter comes to a close Paul answered an objection of his opponents. Essentially they had accused Paul of making Christ a servant of sin (v17). How could this be? Their argument was that Paul had been saved but was still living like a sinner. He was bringing the Gospel into disrepute. Paul answered with the statement "certainly not!" Every sinner is saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. We are declared righteous but the old sinful life is still there. If a Christian falls into sin is this Christ's fault? Certainly not! Christ does not require good works for salvation but this does not free the Christian to a life of sin.
Paul was now a man who would live to God (v19). He refused to rebuild his days of devout obedience to the law (v18). Such an activity would only prove him to be a sinner. The law cannot save us but instead it shows us our sin and our need of a Saviour. The law used rightly causes us to die to the law - it makes us run from it and run to Jesus (v19).
The Christian has been crucified with Christ. Our sins are no longer held against us, but now it is Christ Himself who lives in the hearts of believers (v20). We will still know days of failure and sin but our weakness does not nullify the grace of God (v21). We are not declared righteous because of our good ongoing works but instead because we have Christ's righteousness credited to us.
The Gospel is one of freedom. Certainly not freedom to sin but certainly freedom to know that God Himself has declared us righteous through faith in Christ. Who you have dinner with does not change your status with the Lord - in Christ we are free!
Q52 What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment? The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’s sovereignty over us, his propriety in us, and the zeal he hath to his own worship.
Year 3 Day 50
Read - Exodus 4:18
Message - Alan Burke
“First posted Year 1 Day 328 - 15 Feb 21”
I am away on Post Ordination Training this week so my devotions are the last of some of the most liked of ‘Year One’.
Think of how Moses was unwilling to do as God had commanded him, how four times God had told Moses to go, (3:10,16,18 4:12), then finally Moses tells God that he simply didn’t want to go. That’s what it came down to, God was saying go and Moses was saying no, but Moses did go.
What though would be the first thing that you would do if you had been offered a job that meant you would have to move to somewhere far away? Go on to property pal? Purple bricks? Maybe tell the exciting news to those who you know and love? Here Moses does something that today would almost be unthinkable for an eighty year old to do, he asks for permission to go.
Of course, Moses could have simply went, but he wanted his father in laws blessing, after all he was living under his roof, he was under his care, he had married his daughter and was going to take her and the grandchildren away with him. This eighty year old Moses goes to his father in law and the way he puts his request effectively is asking for permission for what could be described as an extended holiday to go to Egypt to see how his people were doing. And to this request Jethro tells Moses, “Go, and I wish you well”.
Why are we told this, what does it matter, it almost seems unnecessary. Yet it is hear for a purpose, it is the word of God and it helps us just like all of this section from v18-26 to understand how Moses responded to the call of God, and how he still has much to learn as a servant of God.
So what do we learn here? Well it seems at stage one of Moses journey, as he was about to depart, he wasn’t sure himself or that God would do what he had promised he would do. Added to that how he was already filled with a sense of his own inadequacy, he probably worried about what Jethro would think if he told him the truth of why he was going. This Moses was a work in progress.
How many times have you been filled with your own sense of inadequacy when it comes to serving God? Or how many times have you worried about what others will think of you if you told them the truth of how God has called you to himself through Christ Jesus? How many times have you dodged it at home, the workplace, at times living a double life, maybe a wee bit embarrassed at it all, trying to save face?
There are all times in the past that we all have. But you, just as I, just as Moses was here, are a work in progress. Moses lacked the courage to tell Jethro why he was going but he went nonetheless. Through faith Moses went, he still had a long way to go just as you and I, we are God’s workmanship, but being a work in progress is not an excuse to be compromised though.
One other thing the eighty year old Moses went to his father in law to ask for his blessing. We could all learn a lesson if we still have parents, in laws, because they have years of wisdom that we don’t have, they will want the best for us, whereas today its much more common for children to go to their parents to affirm choices they have made no matter how disastrous they will be and parents are expected to affirm it. As children we are to still honour our father and mother even in 2021 no matter what age even in your eighties, and for those of you who are parents that also means you may need to challenging your rebellious sixty year old. (Ex 20:12, Eph 6:2)
Q51 What is forbidden in the second commandment?
The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, (Deut. 4:15–19, Exod. 32:5,8) or any other way not appointed in his Word. (Deut. 12:31–32)