YEar 3 Day 100
Year 3 Day 100
Read - Titus 2
Message - Scott Woodburn
The false teachers on the island of Crete may have been active in their deception but regardless, Titus was to continue teaching what accords with sound doctrine (v1). What does doctrine mean? Doctrine is a system of belief. It is often seen as a dirty word - some say "our church doesn't do doctrine, just grace!" but that in itself is a doctrinal statement. Doctrine is a good word and Christian doctrine is to be taught and embraced by the faithful.
Do you know you have doctrine? You certainly do. If you believe that Christ died and rose again from the dead - that's doctrine. If you believe Jesus is coming back - doctrine. If you believe you are being sanctified - you guessed it...doctrine! So we have doctrine, we should delight in doctrine and as we do a lifestyle flows out of good sound teaching.
Older men are commanded to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness (v2). Gentlemen as the years roll on we are to be always growing and maturing in the faith. Gone are the days of drunkenness and all-night parties and living with no responsibilities. Older men are to walk in a dignified manner before the Lord.
Older women are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine (v3). Ladies you too are to walk in a mature fashion. Gossip and slander should not leave your lips and if you enjoy a glass of wine it should not become your master. Additionally you are to be mentors to the younger women in the church. You are to teach them what is good and what Christian womanhood looks like. They are to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (v5).
In the same manner the younger men are to be self-controlled (v6). Gentlemen, in our youth we can often be driven and controlled by our sexual desires. We can act impulsively. Blood rushes to our head and we can offer to fight a rival in the carpark. The implication of Christian doctrine is that we must control ourselves and bring no shame upon the Gospel by our actions.
Titus' ministry was to be filled with good works (v7). He was to model Christian manhood to everyone in the church. As he taught he was to do so with integrity - his words were to be matched by his actions. He was to be dignified - not shouting and screaming and drawing attention to himself. His speech was to be sound - he was to choose his words carefully so that any opponent would be silenced (v8).
Even Christian slaves were to walk in accordance with sound doctrine. They were to submit to their masters without arguing or stealing. Instead they were to strive to please their master showing good faith in every circumstance. The works of the slave were to "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour" (v10). What does this mean? The actions of the individual are to enhance the beauty of the Gospel, not to detract from it.
All Christians are to strive to be submissive and obedient to rulers and authorities (3v1). We do not follow our leaders if they require us to sin, but when possible we are to be good citizens of the state. We are to be ready for every good work never tiring of doing good. We are to speak evil of no one, shunning gossip and slander. We are to avoid quarrelling, always seeking peace and we are to be gentle and courteous to all. (3v2)
The Gospel has come and the impact of the Gospel is profound - we are to put aside the ways of the past and live godly lives in the present age (v12). We patiently wait for the return of Christ who died for us and sanctifies us each day (v13-14). Titus was to boldly declare such truth and exhort and rebuke with all authority (v15).
In some circles doctrine may be a dirty word but it is not an optional extra for the Christian life. May you understand the ancient doctrines of the Christian faith and may you realise their practical implications for your everyday life. To Christian men, women and children may your lives adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour.
Q94 What is Baptism? Baptism is a Sacrament, wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.
YEar 3 Day 99
Year 3 Day 99
Read - Ezekiel 10:3-17
Message - Alan Burke
I’ve got a word for you, I’ll be trying to teach it to the boys and girls on Sunday and it is Omniscience. It means if you don’t already know ‘all knowing’ or rather the state of knowing everything. I have come across a few know it alls in my lifetime, actually more than I’d care to admit and I’m sitting across from one of those people right now (I’m sitting at General Assembly so there are lots). Well God is Omniscient, He is all knowing.
Here in this vision that the Lord had given Ezekiel it is once more filled with vivid literary imagery, that describes the departure of the Glory of God. First notice the cherubim standing on the south side of the temple as the man in linen went in, there is also cherubim mentioned in v4 which are different to the throne bearers of v3. We have two sets of cherubim, the throne bearers and those inside the temple. Now we may not be familiar with the Temple and it’s layout but in the temple there were two cherubim. In the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant, (think Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark) a wooden chest that contained the two stone tablets of testimony, better known as the ten commandments. Above the chest that was overlaid with gold there was a sold golden slab that fitted perfectly on top that was known as the mercy seat, the atonement cover. On this golden slab were the figures of two golden cherubim, with wings outstretched looking downward in reverent awe and it is from between these that God spoke to Moses.
The reason why this is important is because there above the Ark of the Covenant, between the cherubim with their wings outstretched that covered their faces, the Lord symbolically dwelt among His people. What we have here is that the glory of the Lord rose above them, moved into the threshold of the temple, and a cloud filled the temple. Back in chapter 9 we are told the Glory of the God of Isreal had went up from the cherubim but the glory of God now fills the temple. The fact that the Glory of the Lord went up from above the cherubim is because the Glory of the Lord is departing form among His people.
The sound of the cherubim whom above was the throne of God could then be heard. Now I know cars have changed hugely in the past ten years and electric cars are becoming a regular sight, but imagine a car before a start stop engine, one that you put the key in the ignition, and it is there and then as the ignition is turned on and the engine idles, the car is ready to move. Well here the glory of the Lord goes up from among the cherubim on the ark of the covenant and the four cherubim with the throne above their heads is like a car ready to move, the sound is heard, from outside as their wings prepare to transport God’s glory from the temple.
Then man in linen takes the coals, he faithfully responds to the command of the Lord God, and they pass the live coals to the man. At first this man was to show the mercy of God, he placed the mark on the foreheads of those who had grieved and lamented at the sin and idolatry of the people but now he would dispense judgement. There are some differences between this vision and the first given to us in chapter one. None more significant than that of the eyes. In chapter one (18), we were told the wheels were full of eyes all around, whereas here it is also the cherubim, they are complete full of eyes (12). The eyes teach us something more of God and it is that He is Omniscient.
God’s omniscience that is here displayed should be remembered in the midst of this judgement on the people, God knows, in the midst of it all, God knows and He had seen His faithless people. One day all of us will stand before the Lord, He sees and knows, every one of us will give an account for all of our lives and we can’t ever throw it back in God’s face that he acts unjustly because He sees and knows all things. When he evaluates our lives both now and in the final judgment, His word is final. This should be a motivation for righteousness.
Q93 Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?
The sacraments of the New Testament are, Baptism, (Matt. 28:19) and the Lord’ s supper. (Matt. 26:26–28)
Year 3 Day 98
Year 3 Day 98
Read - Titus 1
Message - Scott Woodburn
Throughout Paul's letters he makes reference to someone called Titus. Paul describes him as a brother (2 Corinthians 2v13), a comforter (2 Corinthians 7v6), someone who cared for the church (2 Corinthians 8v16), a partner (2 Corinthians 8v23) and a worker (2 Corinthians 8v23). He was from a Gentile background (Galatians 2v3) and had travelled to Jerusalem with the Apostle (Galatians 2v1). It is clear from Paul's testimony that Titus is a well valued worker of the Gospel, so-much-so that Paul leaves him on the island of Crete to oversee the work of the newly founded church (v5).
Titus' first task was to appoint elders in every town (v5). As Presbyterians we take our name from the Greek word for elder - presbuteros. We believe that the office of the elder is the highest office in the church and every local fellowship should be overseen by suitably qualified elders. As Titus sought to install elders in the Cretan church he was well advised as to what to look for.
The elder should be above reproach - he shouldn't be praising the Lord on a Sunday and fighting with the police late on a Saturday night (v6). He shouldn't be a womaniser with a girl in every town - he should be faithful to his wife and have children who aren't living in a manner opposed to the Gospel (v6b). An elder works for God as a steward of the church (v7a). He oversees the spiritual life of the congregation and therefore is to be above reproach. This is the second time Paul mentions this fact. An elder can't be living a double life. He shouldn't be overseeing the church accounts and then stealing money from the government. He shouldn't be peaceful at a church meeting and then running his own home with furious anger and threats of violence. An elder is to be above reproach.
Paul highlights other characteristics that shouldn't be evident in an elder's life. There should be no room for arrogance - he should understand that we boast only in Christ. He should not be quick-tempered - he should endure persecution and be slow to anger. He should be mindful of the sin of drunkenness and keep himself safe from this particular danger. An elder shouldn't be eager to throw punches - he should shun violence and keep his hands in his pockets. Finally, he should not be driven by a love of money always striving to put more cash in his pocket.
Instead an elder will be marked by his hospitality towards the church and strangers alike (v8). He will love that which is good always shunning wickedness and evil. An elder must be able to control himself - it might be around women, alcohol, food or sport but only Christ should be his master. He will be considered an upright, holy and disciplined man - he shouldn't be one thing in the meeting house and then another in the market square. Finally, he must be a man who holds fast to the Word of God. He should be able to teach the Word and instruct others in sound doctrine and just as he instructs, he should also rebuke those who go against the things of God (v9).
The necessity of good and Godly elders was underlined by Paul. On the island of Crete there were many enemies of the Gospel. They did not respect authority, their words were empty, they deceived with their talk and others insisted upon circumcision as necessary for salvation (v10). Such individuals needed to be challenged - their activity was causing turmoil for whole families who were listening to things that should never have been taught (v11).
Paul wasn't surprised. Cretans had a reputation even among their own prophets for being liars, beasts and lazy gluttons (v12). Imagine being described in this way! It sounds incredibly harsh but as far as Paul was concerned it summed up the Cretans accurately (v13). Therefore godly elders were required to rebuke the opponents of the Gospel sharply (v13b). This wasn't to destroy the Cretans but instead that they would be sound in the faith. The temptation was for them to be devoted to Jewish myths and the commands of false teachers (v14). It was the same message of the false teachers in Colossae - don't touch, don't eat, don't drink! Such individuals were defiled, unbelieving and impure therefore godly elders were an absolute necessity to combat the march of falsehood.
Reading such a passage causes me to fall before the Lord. The eldership is a high calling and an extraordinary privilege. As an elder I know that I often fall short of the required standard - may God forgive me and may God reform me. The need for godly qualified men to serve as elders is as important today as it always has been. We may not feel able to describe the people in our towns as liars, beasts and gluttons but make no mistake truth is still attacked and the Gospel is still despised. Brothers and sisters, pray today for your elders. May they take their call seriously and may the Lord equip them for their difficult but incredibly vital work. For Christ's sake. Amen.
Q92 What is a Sacrament? A Sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.
Year 3 Day 97
Year 3 Day 97
Read - Ezekiel 10:1-2
Message - Alan Burke
If you can think back to chapter 1 of the book of Ezekiel, there we were told of the vision that came to Ezekiel of the living God. It is one that many have tried to explain with such weird and wonderful theories. It is a vivid picture, a literary picture, there were no images, photographs, no drawings or doodles, yet it is a vivid picture that is full of the Glory of God and as He approached on His throne chariot. Once more the throne chariot of God approach but here it is something altogether different, this time the coming of the throne represents the departure of the Lord God from among His people.
This vision assumes that we know what had come before in chapter one, there is much detail given there that is not repeated here. In chapter one we were told of the four living creatures and now it is revealed to us that they are indeed cherubim. Cherubim are the servants of Lord God, they are the guardians of His holiness. They first appeared in scripture in the book of Genesis as they guarded the way into the garden of Eden with their flaming swords flailing back and forth to man from the tree of life and the presence of God (Gen 3:24). In chapter one of Ezekiel we are given much more descriptive language of the cherubim about their appearance, their likeness, but just as there, here in Ezekiel ten they are not the focus.
Rather the focus is on the throne itself, for this was the throne of the Lord, His chariot throne. These Cherubim, the servants of the Lord the guardians of His holiness have come bringing the throne of God to take the glory of God from His earthly dwelling place. The Glory of the Lord will depart on His sovereign throne, a sapphire throne, of deepest blue that was above their heads. To the man in linen who had gone and placed a mark on the foreheads of all those who grieved and lamented, to him the Lord says that he is to fill his hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city.
Among the throne there is fire, with their burning coals. Just like for Sodom and Gomorrah where God’s fire rained down from heaven in Judgement (Ge 19:24) symbolically here as the man in linen is told to scatter the coals from among the cherubim among the city it is in judgement for the sin of God’s people. They had been warned by the Lord God, in Deuteronomy God had forbidden idolatry and warned His people that He is a consuming fire, a jealous God, here the burning coals from the throne chariot, comes to scatter coals over the city in judgement. God’s perfect holiness demands judgment for sin. Here the coals represented the purging of sin, Jerusalem and its inhabitants who had sinned and refused to repent would face the consequences and shortly after this prophecy, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem by fire (2 Kings 25:9; 2 Chronicles 36:19). But we also have to remember that these coals were scattered and the judgement that came was also part of God’s redemptive purposes to purify.
When we think of the judgement of God throughout the history of His people we should know that it is redemptive in its purpose. Just as in the flood it was redemptive, it was to purify the world, in Ezekiel’s day it was redemptive to purify His people so that a remnant would be maintained. From this remnant the Lord Jesus Christ would come and in the judgement He took it was redemptive that there could be purification who repent and believe. God’s purposes in judgment are redemptive and on that great and final day in the Judgement of God it is to redeem a people for Himself, but for all those who have not trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ then they will not know redemption, but his judgment and a fire that is an unending punishment for sin. What God’s people faced was "pre-wrath wrath and pre-judgement justice” (GK Beale). They faced the consequences for their sin in this life and they are currently facing the consequences for sin in the next life right now.
Q91 How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, (1 Pet. 3:21, Matt. 3:11, 1 Cor. 3:6–7) and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them. (1 Cor. 12:13)
YEar 3 Day 95
Year 3 Day 95
Read - Colossians 4v7-18
Message - Scott Woodburn
I sincerely hope by this stage that you know that I'm a Presbyterian. In Northern Ireland eyes often roll when my theological leanings are discovered. Some think we're apostate while others think we are as dead as the dinosaurs. Nevertheless I am a Presbyterian. There are many reasons why this is the case but one is to do with the inter-dependance of the church. As a Presbyterian in Ballynahinch I have a bond with my fellow Presbyterians in Downpatrick, Ardglass, Clough, Seaforde, Spa, Magherahamlet, Saintfield, Comber, Ballygowan, Killyleagh, Killinchy, Carryduff, Boardmills, Raffrey, Kilmore and Crossgar. Eyes may roll but I'm still an unashamed Presbyterian.
I don't know what Paul would say to Presbyterians in 2022. I'm sure he would have much to correct and I'm certain he would find cause to rebuke us, but I hope he would appreciate our commitment to the wider church. Paul wasn't a man who stood alone. As the letter to the Colossians draws to a close Paul finishes with a "who's who" of the church.
Tychius was charged with travelling to Colossae with news of the Apostle Paul (v7). The activities of the church around the world and even down the road should always concern us. We should be thankful for Gospel preaching in Downpatrick just as we should be praying against opposition to the Gospel in Saudi Arabia. Tychius was to tell the church how Paul was doing with a view to encouraging their souls (v8).
Tychius didn't travel alone, instead Philemon's runaway slave Onesimus was sent with him (v9). Throughout the Scriptures two or three witnesses are seen as a sure testimony of truth and so Onesimus would confirm Tychius' account. However it wasn't just for truth's sake that the men travelled together. Life is tough, the road is long and every Christian needs sweet fellowship. I'm certain Tychius and Onesimus were a tremendous help to one another on the way to Colossae.
Even those who wouldn't make the journey were still concerned for the welfare of the Colossian church. Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus (not Christ but a man who was also called Justus), Luke and Demas all sent greetings (v10&14). They were a real comfort to Paul and just as the Apostle loved the Colossians, so too did his friends.
Epaphras greeted the church too and more than that he struggled for the Colossians in prayer. He wanted them to grow in their faith so that they would be both mature and fully assured in God's will (v12). Epaphras prayed for them and had worked hard for the churches in Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis (v13).
Paul sent his own greetings to the church and to Nympha and the church that met at her house (v15). Additionally he commanded that his letter be read in both Colossae and Laodicea (v16) before finally sending word to Archippus that he was to fulfil the ministry that he had received in the Lord (v17). Comfort, command and challenge all formed a part of the relationship between Paul and the churches.
The Colossians were to remember Paul's imprisonment for the sake of the Gospel but with a handwritten greeting and a word of grace, the letter to the Colossians came to an end (v18).
It is tempting to breeze over these final verses. It is hard to pronounce some of these names and the content seems trivial compared to the rest of the letter. I hope we don't make that mistake. The final verses of this Spirit inspired and Spirit kept letter encourage us to think beyond the walls of our own church and the boundaries of our own town. Brothers and sisters, we are part of something much bigger than we can imagine. The church of Christ knows no borders and is not confined to one single nation. If you know Christ in Ballynahinch then you have a blood-won bond with Joonas in Finland and Olivia in Korea and Balint in Romania and Victor in Nigeria and Matt in Norway and Alan in Crossgar. Don't ever take it for granted but instead take your part in, pray for, love and encourage the beautiful Bride of Christ.
Q90 How is the Word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation? That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.
YEar 3 Day 94
Year 3 Day 94
Read - Ezekiel 9:11
Message - Alan Burke
In this judgement of God against His rebellious people there is hope, that is something that we must not loose sight off! For in the judgement there are some who are spared. Ezekiel had cried out because of the outpouring of God’s wrath, but he had failed to understand that if God did not deal with sin then He would be to condone it, to say that sin did not matter, but sin matters a great deal. The people believed the Lord had forsaken the land, that He did not see that He was some kind of local deity who was confined to a place (9:12) but God is omnipresent, what ever we think, what ever people think, they are not living with God ignorant of what they do, all will be held to account. Yet as this section closes we are reminded of that hope. For the man dressed as a priest, who was to place the mark on those who grieved and lamented over the idolatry and sin of the people reports back to God declaring “I have done as you commanded.”
Why does this offer hope? It does so because it indicates that there will be a remnant preserved. Ezekiel’s concern for the survival of the Jewish people would have been alleviated when he heard this. God was preserving a remnant. God preserved a remnant as he was working out his great plan of salvation, one that would see the coming of the saviour Jesus Christ, the Long awaited Messiah. Remember that for those of us who have received Christ, as we have repented and believed we are the Lords, we have been marked as His, we can be assured of God’s favour. It does not mean that we will be free from pain and strive, it wasn’t the case for those who were marked in Ezekiel’ day. Their world was literally falling down around them, the bodies were piling up here in the temple, it was no longer was the house of the Lord where the living worshiped it was a funeral parlour, but those who loved the Lord could be secure, the temporal realities were hard, but they had the mark of eternal life, and likewise have eternal life. What ever we face, those who are the Lord’s are secure eternally.
For the church in Ezekiel’s day judgment was coming because the rot set in years beforehand. God’s people were to live in an exclusive relationship with their God, they were His chosen people, and their worship was to be exclusively to Him and for Him. The church in Israel and the seven churches listed in the book of Revelation, the church in Sardis was warned although and they act as a warning to us, we must see fidelity God and his word as important, it is the only thing that we have to offer the people in this sinful, decaying, dying world, it is a message of hope.
Let us be people of the book, people who are known for repentance and belief, know for faithfulness to our God and his word, remembering that the Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him (WSC2). It is not what we want, nor what the church down the road is doing, nor what we have done in the past that should be the vision of your church, rather the church should be founded upon and agreeable to the word. In Ezekiel’s day the time of judgment has come, and judgment will come again, our task is to preach the word, in season and out of season, to all people for there will be a day of judgment that comes on all, a sure and certain day.
Q89 How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building
Year 3 Day 93
Year 3 Day 93
Read - Colossians 3v18-4v6
Message - Scott Woodburn
The Gospel isn't just for Sunday, it has dramatic and counter-cultural relevance every single day. We live in a day and age of revolution inside and outside the home and so an incredibly controversial statement is when a Christian stresses that wives should submit to their husbands (v18). What is often heard when such a statement is made is that Christians believe a wife should be chained to the kitchen skin. Some think we mean that a wife exists to meet her husbands every demand, she should be quiet unless spoken to and she should always be ready to please her husband sexually when he demands.
I trust you won't be surprised when I tell you that all of the above is not what we mean by Christian submission. Firstly, as Christians we all willingly submit to the Lordship of Christ. He is in no way abusive towards us. He does not treat us harshly. He does not beat us or demean us or call us names. We willingly submit to a kind and loving Lord.
In the same way wives are to submit to their husbands - this is fitting in the Lord (v18). How so? The Lord made men and women in His image and therefore they enjoy equality before Him. However He gave them different attributes and abilities which made them distinct from one another. The husband of any home is expected by the Lord to be the leader of that home. He is to be wise and caring and he is to take the spiritual lead in his family. In this manner wives are to willingly submit to their husbands just as they willingly submit to Christ.
Husbands in turn are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Gentlemen there is no Biblical mandate to treat your wife harshly. We are not to raise our hands against our wives. We are not to mock them or to treat them as objects for our pleasure and gratification. This is not submission and it is certainly not Biblical. Husbands love your wives. Treat them well and honour them with your love, care, attention and prayer - this is pleasing to the Lord.
Children are to strive for obedience when it comes to their relationship with their parents. Our parents have no mandate to force us into sin but whenever possible we are to obey our mother and father (v20). It pleases the Lord when a child honours their parents in this way (v20b). Equally a father should not be harsh with his children (v21). Does this mean we shouldn't discipline our kids? No. Discipline that comes from a loving and kind fatherly heart is a good and necessary thing. However we are not to provoke our children. Fathers are not to mock their children's achievements or lack of them. Fathers are not to tell their children that they will never amount to anything. Fathers are to submit to the Lord and in turn cherish their children.
Even our working relationships are to be transformed by the Gospel. In Paul's day there existed a vast number of people born into slavery. If their master was kind they would enjoy a good life, if he was cruel then the slave's life could be made a misery. Paul's exhortation was that the slave should work as if they were serving Christ Himself (v23). Their service should be marked by fear of God (v22) and even if they were faced with a wicked master they should trust that the Lord would repay the wrongdoer (v25). In like manner Christians who owned slaves were to treat them justly and fairly in light of their own heavenly master (4v1).
In all of our relationships the Gospel is to abound. At no turn are we to be the abuser. It doesn't matter if it is inside the home or outside - as we submit to the Lord Jesus so our relationships are to mirror the beauty of the Gospel. It should go without saying that prayer is to underpin everything we do. We are to be watchful in prayer, ensuring that we make time for it and being thankful always. Indeed as we pray we are to ask that the Lord would open doors for the Gospel (v3-4). Time is short and so we are to walk wisely and we are to talk graciously to each person (v5-6).
When Paul speaks and urges us to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel, he isn't just urging us to go to church on a Sunday. The glorious news of the death and resurrection of Christ is to flow through every aspect of our lives and relationships. May we take the call seriously and may the world see the evidence that we are indeed children of the living God.
Q88 What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption? The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, Sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
YEar 3 Day 92
Year 3 Day 92
Read - Ezekiel 9:5-10
Message - Alan Burke
The seven men that the Lord called to the city had come and stood beside the bronze altar, the one that had provoked the Lord’s jealously, six are the executioners whereas the seventh is to show the mercy of God. The seventh man will move throughout the city and mark those who are the Lord’s the others will follow him through the city and kill without compassion. Unlike the Passover when God came in judgment upon the enemies of God’s people (Ex 12:7, 13), this time it is God’s people themselves that would face judgement. Those who had the mark would be spare all others, the old, the young, men and maidens, women and children would be judged. The judgment is the guilty, it would come upon on, there would be no exceptions except those who were indeed His people who had the mark placed upon them.
This judgment was fulfilled in the death of the multitudes by famine, plague and the sword of the Babylonians. These angelic figures who come in the form of men obey the summons of the Lord God, they are symbolic of what the Lord was doing, for He in His judgment would use the Babylonians to invade, to wreak havoc on the people. The Babylonians are but servants or rather tools of the Lord in His judgement. God was using the enemies of His people to bring judgment upon them. Now this is something we are confronted with time and time again, God uses His enemies for His glory, in what is going on today, we do not have the Babylonians coming but we do face increasing opposition, yet God in His providence is working in the midst of all things and uses even those most opposed for His purposes. What a comfort, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring never mind in twenty years, but God is at work even though things may seem beak.
Although I want you to notice were this judgement begins, and who it begins with. It begins at the temple with those who should have known better. They were the twenty five, likely priests who were to be serving the Lord but had turned their back on Him and worshiped a false god, they had exchanged the truth for a lie. The Temple of God was holy, it was set apart, everything about the peoples worship was to teach them that God is holy and they are not. In 2 Kings we are told how Queen Athaliah was dragged out of the temple complex before being executed so it would not be defiled by her blood (2 Kings 11:15-16), but now the killing beings and takes place in the temple itself because by their idolatry it was already desecrated, it was unholy, defiled, it was worthless, and justice was more important than ritual purity. From there the executioners of God’s judgement spread out throughout the city bringing judgement.
The people of God both in the Old and the New Testament are told that we will be judged, Christ has paid the full penally of our sin, in 1 Peter the judgement that is spoken of has a broad meaning that comes with the purpose of discipline, we face suffering in our lives, sometime to test our faith to refine us, to give us greater strength. The outcome as the church is brought under judgement for sin is refining for those who know Christ and damnation for those who do not. In Judgement God’s true people will be strengthened and purified, this is what was happening in Ezekiel’s day and it happens today. While we may not always know why we suffer, God is using it for his purposes, we will either be purified, disciplined, or gain some kind of heavenly reward.
Q87 What is repentance unto life?
Repentance unto life is a saving grace, (Acts 11:18) whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, (Acts 2:37–38) and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, (Joel 2:12, Jer. 3:22) doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, (Jer. 31:18–19, Ezek. 36:31) with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience. (2 Cor. 7:11, Isa. 1:16–17)
YEar 3 Day 91
Year 3 Day 91
Read - Colossians 3
Message - Scott Woodburn
When a sinner receives Christ by faith a radical transformation occurs. That individual is no longer dead in sin but alive in Christ. The repentant sinner has their name written in the Lamb's book of life. The chains of sin which once bound them are broken and they are declared righteous by God Himself. Unfortunately false teachers in Colossae had forgotten this wonderful news and instead were teaching that the true faith was one centred around earthly man-made rules.
Paul wanted to remind the Colossians that these seemingly wise rules could do nothing for their problem with sin. A faith that said "don't handle, don't taste or don't touch" could do nothing to change an individual's sinful heart. Only Jesus can transform us and give us hearts of flesh instead of hearts of stone. Therefore Paul told the Colossians about their union with Christ. By grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone they had been saved and were already spiritually raised with Jesus (v1).
In response to this Gospel truth the Colossians were to take their eyes of the earthly nonsense of the false teachers and instead set their eyes on heavenly realities (v1-2). Jesus is in heaven, seated at the Father's right hand (v1b) and Christ should always capture the attention of the Christian. Why? Because of the extraordinary transformation that Christ has worked in us. In Christ we have died to sin and been made alive through the Gospel (v3). Currently we enjoy a union with Christ that is "hidden" (v3) but when Jesus returns the reality of our union with Him will become absolutely clear (v4). Currently we know Jesus by faith but one day we will know Him by sight.
This is such wonderful news that it should have a dramatic Spirit-worked impact on the Christian. As the work of sanctification takes place the believer is to put to death old earthly attributes (v5). Paul mentions all sorts of sinful practice - sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. None of this has any place in a Christian's life. God's anger burns against these sins (v6) and everyone of us once walked in these ways (v7). But now the Christian should shun anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk (v8). Our words to one another should always be true because the old self has gone and the new self has come (v9-10). Indeed this new self is being sanctified, it is being renewed each day and at the last day we will once again bear the image of God untainted and undefaced by sin.
Paul doesn't direct a certain type of Christian on the path of sanctification. It doesn't matter if you are from a Greek or Jewish background. It doesn't matter if you are master or slave. It doesn't matter if you are from Ballynahinch or Ballygobackwards. Christ is all, and in all and His followers are to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel (v11).
As we take off the old self we are to put on new clothes. We all like clean clothes when we realise the old ones are dirty and stained. The Christian's clothing is compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (v12). If we argue and fall out then we are to be quick to forgive (v13). The Lord has forgiven us more than we can imagine and therefore we are to forgive one another. We are to be loving in all our words and deeds and this love binds everything else together in perfect harmony (v14).
Gazing above to where Jesus is causes great peace to rest and rule in our hearts. This peace overflows into our fellowships where we are to live in peace for there is only one body (v15). Thankfulness is to abound in the Christian life (v16) and we are to be saturated by the living Word of Jesus (v16). As we ourselves are taught the Word so too we teach others and on occasion we may have to warn our brothers and sisters. But when the warning is done we sing Psalms together, we sing the great hymns of the Christian faith and we sing spiritual songs. We are to be a thankful people doing everything in the name of Christ and giving thanks to God (v17).
The false teachers couldn't have been more wrong with their focus on endless rules and regulations that could not save and could give no assurance. The Christian faith on the other hand is not a dead empty letter but a living breathing faith in a living breathing Saviour. We are united to Christ by faith and He sends the mighty Spirit into our lives to transform. If today we find our eyes focused on the muck and the mire of modern living then may we heed the Apostolic call - "seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."
Q86 What is faith in Jesus Christ? Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.
YEar 3 Day 90
Year 3 Day 90
Read - Ezekiel 9:1-4
Message - Alan Burke
The judgment of God here that is before us is not palatable to people, it wasn’t any more palatable to those in Ezekiel’s day as it is in ours, we hear of these things and they leave us reeling, and yes God is love, but God’s love also includes judgement. For what kind of loving God would let sin go unpunished, what kind of love would God have if there were no consequences for our rebellion or sin, He’d be a monster, evil would continue unchecked, sin would increase. But God doesn’t let sin go unchecked, He hates sin, He deals with sin and for us He has dealt with our sin through another, Jesus Christ who took our sin upon himself so that we might we saved from the Judgement that we deserve.
This passage acts as a warning to us of the judgment of God. It also teaches us and warns us that that God can withdraw His glory from the Church today. Knowing that, we need to be careful that we do not fool ourselves into thinking that what matters today is our presbyterian heritage, our buildings, our programs, or attendance or the vestiges of religion, for these things will not save us, what matters is that God is known in this place and that Glory is given to His name in all that we do.
With the people were shouting (8:18), the Lord speaks and the peoples shouts are drowned out by Him, as He calls His executioners. These six men are the executioners of God’s judgment. They are described as men but they are angelic beings who elsewhere in scripture appear as men, (Gen 18:2; 32:24; Dan 10:5). They come from the north in obedience to the Lord from the direction of the upper gate, that’s the gate where the idol that provoked the jealously of God was (8:5,16) and the Lord calls them to dispense His judgement. But there is another man one clothed in linen.
The seven men have two different tasks. The seventh man, the one dressed in linen, is dressed as a priest of the Lord, the writing kit of a scribe and this man is there and will reveal the mercy of God in the midst of the judgment. He is to use the writing kit to put a mark on the forehead of those who have remained faithful, they will be spared, those who have sighed and groaned about the abominations that were committed. This mark is to distinguish the righteous people of God from the wicked who have sinned against the Lord God in the abominable practices.
Even in the midst of this judgment that is coming, God is merciful, those who were truly God’s people would be saved. In the book of Revelation 7(v3), where those who are to be delivered who are the servants of our God, we are told will have a seal on their foreheads, they will be marked out. Likewise in Revelation 14(v1) as John looked and saw the lamb standing on Mount Zion with him the 144,000 figuratively speaking of a great multitude with Him, upon them on their foreheads the name of the Father was written.
Upon God’s people He has placed His mark. Today if you have repented and believed, if you have come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ then you are a child of God and upon you there is a mark, a seal, for you are sealed by the work of God the Spirit. No matter what lies ahead for you, if there is much suffering in this life, if you die for your faith and there are many who in this world do, if you live to a ripe old age, or what ever you face, know that God has placed his mark on you and that eternally you have nothing to fear, for His mark is upon you! Those who hare the Lord’s can have confident hope. For in God’s judgement there will be mercy, there was in Ezekiel’s day and there there will be again when Christ returns to Judge the living and the dead.
Q85 What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and cursedue to us for sin?
To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, (Acts 20:21) with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption. (Prov. 2:1–5, Prov. 8:33–36, Isa. 55:3)