Year 3 Day 161
Read — Acts 7v51-53
Message - Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 1 Day 331 - 18 February”
The late Stanley Rea was a man of prayer who would always call upon the Lord to save the lost. I can hear his encouragement yet telling me that I had just preached a "strong" sermon and that the congregation no longer had any excuse about the demands of the Gospel. I miss Stanley in many ways but I especially miss his zealousness for the work of the Lord. He understood the gravity of sin and that a lost eternity was terrible indeed.
As Stephen finished his sermon he turned to face his accusers directly. Despite his eloquent sermon, full of grace as he recounted the work of God, the assembly had not fallen on their knees in repentance. Unsurprisingly they had refused to listen. Stephen called them a "stiff necked people" (v51a), language used by the Lord Himself when describing the Israelites to Moses (Exodus 32v9). They will turn neither to the right or the left, they are stiff necked and will not see what the Lord has done.
Stephen continues by stating they are uncircumcised in both heart and ears (v51b). This is an extraordinary claim. To be circumcised was a mark of your identity. You were a Jew, a follower of the one true God, you were part of the team. Yet it is possible to be a Jew outwardly in the flesh and not to truly know God inwardly. A true Jew, a true Believer will have his/her heart circumcised by the Spirit (Romans 2v29). These men were not true to what they professed. They resisted the Lord as their forefathers had done long ago (v51c).
The true prophets of God had always known persecution (v52). Those who had announced the coming of Christ had been killed (v52b) and when Jesus finally arrived He had been murdered as well. He was the Righteous One who came to His own, but His own did not receive Him (John 1v11).
The tragedy of these accusations was that those listening to Stephen could trace their family history back to those who had received the law at Mount Sinai (v53). God had brought these people out of captivity and had promised them a land and a future. Yet even as the Lord delivered the tablets of stone by the hand of angels (v53), these people didn't keep it. Even as Moses was returning, the people were worshipping the golden calf (Exodus 32).
Spiritual blindness is a terrible thing. It shuts the eyes to the plain teaching of Scripture and it closes the ears to the Gospel of grace. Men and women walk through the gates of hell utterly unaware of the tragedy of their condition. I pray that in these days of trouble many will realise their condition and call upon the Lord. Only the Spirit can soften hard hearts and lead the lost to Christ and so we pray...Father God, may the Spirit be much at work in these dark days. May the blind see their need of Jesus and may you open their ears to receive the call of the Gospel. Unstiffen necks. Soften hearts. Save the lost we pray! For Christ's sake, amen.
Q39 What is the duty which God requireth of man? The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will.
Year 3 Day 160
Read — Romans 1:1
Message - Alan Burke
This week we are starting a new series and will be focusing on the opening verse of Romans. I’m trying to avoid the temptation to do a Martyn Lloyd Jones and if you are wondering who he is or what that is check out the Wikipedia entry concerning him and read under the heading ‘Later life’. Today you’re getting the opening verse, or rather a bit of the opening verse, actually you’re getting one word and we will spend the rest of the week working through this one verse, well some of it anyway.
The book of Romans opens with the same word in the Hebrew as is in our English translations or rather an anglicised version of the word in our English translations which is Paul. We all know who Paul was, we are familiar with him because of what we are told in the book of Acts. Hiram over the past few weeks in Lissara has been taking us through some of his background and the transformation that there was in him, but suffice to say for now the same Paul who wrote this letter once instilled fear in believers. Paul was a man who hated christians, who went from house to house dragging men and women and putting them in prison. But one day while on the way to destroy the church in Damascus, the resurrected Jesus Christ spoke to him. In short Paul turned from his sin and trusted in Christ, Paul was once an enemy of Christ was now a follower of Christ. After his conversion we learn of the fear that the church had of him coming, yet the Lord had transformed his heart.
It is here we start the study of Romans, because God used Paul, led him to write this letter to the church in Rome carried along but the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This man who was once the enemy of God, became a man whose life and experiences were used by God for his glory and became one of the greatest missionaries that there has every been. This letter as it begins Paul introduces himself to the church and tells of the message of God, the gospel of God that he had preached throughout his travels. This letter is filled with such rich theology, such wonderful theology that comes from God, teaches us about God and leads us to God. Before we dive into it we are introduced first to Paul a sinner who was saved by grace!
The conversion of Paul was a dramatic one, and people love to hear of the dramatic, the life that has been transformed dramatically by the gospel, who have been saved from a life of scandalous sin. More often than not though how the Lord called us to himself is not like that, we haven’t had a Damascus road experience, instead we have experienced God’s covenant promise like Timothy (2 Tim 1:1-5) who always knew the scriptures.
For our children our hope and desire, our prayer should be that they will never know a day that they did not know and love the Lord our God and that they will be spared from a life of such flagrant sin, that even if they do not know the day and hour that they were saved that they would know Christ and what He has done for them. When God calls us to himself, no matter what age it is a testimony to God’s loving and compassion, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us, that we who are His enemies by nature, would be His children. Paul, this one die hard fanatical Jew, well educated, who once thought Jesus deserved to be crucified for such blatant blasphemy against the Lord God, who desired to see his followers wiped out, happy to torture and kill them died calling himself a servant! He was changed by the power of the Gospel and so should we be, each one of us it should be evident in our lives as we live for the risen Jesus Christ.
Q38 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, (1 Cor. 15:43) shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, (Matt. 25:23, Matt. 10:32) and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God, (1 John 3:2, 1 Cor. 13:12) to all eternity. (1 Thess. 4:17–18)
Year 3 Day 158
Read — Acts 6v7
Message - Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 1 Day 324 - 11 February"
The late Noel Agnew used to tell me stories about people who he met on his travels who had experienced days of revival in the church. I would sit and listen as he spoke about old ladies who as young girls remembered seeing local alcoholics converted, abusive husbands radically changed and thousands gathering to hear the Gospel and to call upon the Lord in prayer.
I have yet to see such days but by the grace of God I may see them yet. In today's passage we note that the church was continuing to grow. Every single day men and women were receiving Christ as their Saviour. How could this be so? Because the word of God continued to increase. This phrase says much about what days of revival look like.
During such days the Word wasn't an optional extra. The Word was preached consistently at home and abroad. The Word was studied in private homes and preached faithfully in the public square. The Word was at the front and centre of each service of worship and the people during days of revival would receive the Word gladly and believe it passionately.
The church in Thailand is a tiny minority in that great nation and yet it exists and grows slowly but surely. I was there many years ago when our team was asked to lead a service of worship in a small Christian village. We all took part and our team leader preached in the Thai language. When he had finished, the congregation looked at one another as if to say "Is that all?". It wasn't a comment about the quality of the sermon, just that they were used to spending the entire afternoon in the Word. May the Lord give us such a hunger for His Word!
When the Word goes forward there are no doors which can keep it out. Luke records for us that in those days even a great many priests were receiving Christ as their Saviour. The significance of this shouldn't be understated. We have already seen in Acts the opposition of the Jewish leaders to the Gospel. They wanted it silenced and yet here were some of their own number who had turned to Christ.
The Gospel can soften the hardest heart. The Gospel can loosen the stiffest neck. The Gospel can convert even the most powerful. The Gospel is the power of God unto the salvation for all who will believe. So today may we delight in the Word of God and may we pray for the salvation of many. Pray for politicians, popes, kings and queens, the rich and the famous. Pray for Biden and Boris and Nicola and Arlene and Michelle. Ask that if the hearts of the powerful and famous are not yet receptive to the Gospel then may they soon be. In one mighty verse Luke brings a world of encouragement. The Word increased and many were saved.
Q37 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death? The souls of believers are, at their death, made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves until the resurrection.
Year 3 Day 157
Read — Mark 6:1-6 (focus v2b-4)
Message Alan Burke
“First posted Year 2 Day 128 - 28th July“
As Jesus went to Nazareth, teaching in the synagogue the people were amazed at his teaching, yet their amazement soon turned to offence. Look at what they said to him, “where did this man get these things”, notice they didn’t even call him by his name. Then “What’s this wisdom that has been given to him, that he even does miracles”. They had all likely heard the wonders that he was doing but they remain unconvinced, after all his family had and had tried to shut him up (Mk 3:20-21). Then “isn’t this the carpenter”, it’s like saying sure he’s only a labourer, he never went to university. There remarks are mockery but they are not to bad, it’s like saying sarcastically; “aww great teacher isn’t he”, then “ooo I wonder where he gets this wisdom from” and “he’s a miracle worker don’t you know”. As they continue they exclaim, “Isn’t this Mary’s son”
Remember the culture at that time, sons were always identified by their fathers, not their mothers. Even when their fathers were dead your were still identified by your father, like in a similar many of us have the surnames of our Fathers. The point that they are making is, sure isn’t he the illegitimate child of Mary! Added with the other children of Mary, his brothers and sisters, they are making the point that Jesus is an illegitimate child, ordinary lad, thinking too much off himself! Jesus was one of them and he’d come back, hearing his claims it was too much for them. Finally it is clear as verse three ends, they took offence at him.
All of this is because they know him, among those listening there in the crowd would have been ladies who nursed him, changed his nappy or what ever they had back then, there were also those who grew up with him, those who Jesus had done a bit of work for, whom he had fixed their roof, sorted out their plough, it wasn’t that long ago that he was doing these things. They took offence not because they did not know him, rather they took offence because they knew him.
They knew him not as Jesus the teacher, the miracle worker, the Son of God the long awaited Messiah, but they knew him as the local boy, they can’t wrap their heads around it. Not only is Jesus rejected by the people of the town and the wider circle of relatives there, but also by His own family. Just like other prophets before him, (2 Chr 36:16; Jer 11:21; Mk 6:17; 12:1–12), Jesus is not honoured by his own family and his hometown. He makes that clear in verse 4 in what he says. Yet this rejection by his own foreshadows the ultimate rejection he would face in Jerusalem by the whole of the people of God.
There is a sense at some level we know this is how people work. Spiritual apathy makes the message of Jesus hard to hear, the condition of our hearts by nature is such that people don’t want to know. Yet we must tell others of the good news, those whom we know and love, knowing that God will work according to his time and purposes. At times it’s easier not to share the gospel with others because they know about us, they know our past, our indiscretions, or weaknesses, and it can hold us back. But the grace of God that forgives sinners like us covers all those things and we are to tell others of the good news of the Christ, Crucified Risen and ascended, and the grace of God.
Q36 What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’ s love, peace of conscience, (Rom. 5:1–2,5) joy in the Holy Ghost, (Rom. 14:17) increase of grace, (Prov. 4:18) and perseverance therein to the end. (1 John 5:13, 1 Pet. 1:5)
Year 3 Day 156
Read — 2 Corinthians 9
Message - Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 1 Day 235 - 14 November”
This week's devotions have been focused on the thorny subject of money with Paul urging the willing Corinthians to give financially to support the wider church. No one likes to talk about money and certainly no one likes to hear the topic preached. However we have no right or authority to ignore passages like this in the Word of God and so we finish 2 Corinthians 9 by grasping the nettle once more.
Some of you will be men and women who tithe. What is tithing? Tithing is the practice of giving a tenth (a tithe) of your income (before you pay tax), as a minimum, to the church of Jesus Christ. It isn't something invented by a preacher or denomination, instead we find tithing on the pages of Scripture. Abram returning from a great victory meets Melchizedek the king of Salem and honours him by giving him a tenth (a tithe) of the spoils of war (Genesis 14v20). This incident takes on huge
significance when we realise that Christ comes in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6v20).
So thats settled then. Christians should tithe? Steady on. Others argue that tithing does not find itself as part of God's moral law (the ten commandments) and therefore should not be imposed upon Christians. So what then should we do? I think the first step is to avoid the pitfalls and then to have our practice shaped and reformed by the Word of God.
The pitfalls? Yup, the pitfalls. Some reject the tithe or any standard of giving and sinfully ask the question "How little can I give?" Others, beginning in a place of generosity, grow to a place of hardness asking "Why doesn't everyone contribute the way I do?" Yet another believes a false Gospel and thinks "The Lord and I are okay because I pay in." Still others keep their name on a church list and contribute something just to keep their graveyard privileges (let me assure such a man, I'll bury you for free but today you must be born again). We avoid the pitfalls and then let the Word thunder. God is not silent even when a subject is thorny. Indeed the thorns of this particular subject are removed by the sharp sword of God's Word.
He tells us to give according to our means and at times to go beyond this (2 Corinthians 8v3). The Lord tells us that we are not to be forced into giving but to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9v7). The Lord tells us that our faith (or financial gift) will not guarantee health, wealth and prosperity, the Christian walk will be hard (John 16v33). The Lord tells us that our salvation has got nothing to do with our finances (Acts 16v31). The Lord tells us that we do not give Him a gift that He will have to
repay, He is not a genie who responds to your money with three wishes (Romans 11v35). The Lord tells us to avoid storing up treasure on earth (Matthew 6v19). The Lord tells us that our giving
is in response to His grace (2 Corinthians 9v8) and the Lord tells us that our giving should always be in view of His glory and the advance of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 9v12-13).
Ulster wisdom likes to say that "you can't take it with you" and perhaps such wisdom echoes in other parts of the world too. It's right. We can't. Only the kingdom of God has foundations that will never be shaken. Men die with Christ or they die without Him. Heaven or hell remain the only two eternal destinations. A cheerful investment in the Gospel is more precious than gold.
Q35 What is sanctification? Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.
Year 3 Day 155
Read — Mark 6:1-6 (focus v1-2a)
Message Alan Burke
“First posted Year 2 Day 126 - 26th July“
Today we live in a world that is more interdependent than at any other time in human history. That’s not all down to the technological revolution that has happened in our lifetimes, yes it has had a profound impact supply chains, production patterns, outsourcing but from the industrial revolution onwards we have been becoming more and more interdependent. Before the industrial revolution most peoples lives were failure insular. This meant that you would have been reliant on your neighbours, nearly everything would have been made, produced and sourced locally. Needed new sandals well it’s your man down the street, your fella two doors down he’s your man to build you a new shed, everyone was reliant on everyone else, everyone knew everyone else.
That’s how it was in Jesus day and Nazareth where he came from Nazareth wasn’t a big place. Your talking population of about 500 people, with dwellings made of earth, flat roofs, and in town land terms its around sixty acres of rocky hillside off the beaten track. Like there would have been fairly insular, there were no cars to jump into to head to the nearest supermarket or hardware store, no amazon man arriving with your brown box of goodies, not even a general store.
As Jesus arrives to Nazareth, there is no mention of the crowds who were coming out to Jesus, he isn’t welcomed by a ticker-tape-parade, there are no welcome home banners adorning buildings, nobody lining the streets in expectation. Rather it’s Jesus accompanied by his disciples, those who he had called to himself, the twelve with maybe a few dozen others.
His arrival though wouldn’t have gone unnoticed, it’s not a big place after all, but what is significant is that in the year or so that Jesus has been away, likely leaving there alone, maybe unnoticed, he returns with disciples. He returns with those who had seen and heard, who had witnessed amazing things, who were learning more and more about the wonder of the word incarnate Jesus Christ. The disciples may have expected that Jesus would be welcomed as a hero, that he would do many wonders among them, there in home town, but the reality of spiritual apathy is clear. Here reality bites and rejection comes.
Were told that when the Sabbath came, Jesus began to teach in the Synagogue. There is nothing striking about this, after all Jesus had taught many times in the synagogue throughout his ministry, and had taught the people where ever he was as the crowds came out to him. But they were not coming so much to hear the message that he proclaimed, to hear what he had to say, rather they came in their droves, to see what he was doing, how he was healing many and casting out demons.
Look what we are told that in his own town “many who heard him were amazed” (2a). They were full of wonder, they are taken aback by his teaching but their amazement ends up in offence. Just like the family of Jesus, these people were those in a sense who were closest to him, they had seen Jesus grow up but their proximity meant nothing. Familiarity to Jesus, knowing about him, knowing who he was and is, knowing the claims that he makes, does not make one a disciple, we must respond in faith. To those who receive him, those whom believe in him, he gave the right to become children of God.
Q34 What is adoption?
Adoption is an act of God’ s free grace, (1 John 3:1) whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God. (John 1:12, Rom. 8:17)
Year 3 Day 162
Read — Romans 1:1
Message - Alan Burke
Today we think about Paul who is a servant and what that means, but as we come to the passage remember that what you have before you is but a translation of the original language and for Romans the language is Greek not King James English. I mention this because translators often have challenges conveying the full meaning of what is being said or an English equivalent doesn’t exist. Here though there is a word used and translators have used a substitute to avoid negative connotations and modern sensitivities. The word is translated as servant but it means slave.
The word servant doesn’t capture the significance of what Paul is saying. He’s not a hired servant, but rather a slave . The reason why he uses the word slave is because a slave was one who was bought with a price, and as Paul writes, he is fully aware that he was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, that he became the possession of another, he became Christ’s slave. For any self respecting Roman citizen, identifying ones self as a slave would have been unthinkable, but Paul understood in a way that many of us miss the wonder off. By our nature we are slaves to sin and the flesh, when we are redeemed by Christ Jesus then we are set free from that slavery to sin and the flesh but it comes at a price.
There has been a price paid for us, we have been bought with a price, we have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ that was spilled for us, he bore the wrath that we deserve and we now belong to him, we are the possession of Christ Jesus. As a result we are called to live our lives not as our own, not as autonomous or independently from God but instead to live for him, for his glory. We must understand the great cost, in how the only begotten Son of God Jesus Christ gave up the realms of glory and condescended, taking on our flesh so he could pay the price for our sin, thusly he had redeemed us by His blood, it is this great price that has been paid for us, we have been bought with the blood of Jesus and thusly are to live in the privileged position that we have.
Because we are bought with a price, no longer are we slaves to sin and the flesh and when we die we face the pains of hell forever, instead because of the price that was paid for our salvation. Of course the imagery of slavery in our relationship with God is not everything that there is, we are called friends, children, heirs. There are also some aspects of slavery that are not fitting analogies, but that of how we were bought, that we have a master that is not ourselves is the significance that Paul is portraying.
Paul was bound to Christ through faith, he was both with a price, and that price being the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:19, Acts 20:28), likewise we are bough with a price, that price is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and we have been liberated by the work of God the Spirit, that we are freed from our slavery in sin and brought to slavery to God. For the believer we are not our own, we were bough with a price, we have been moved from slavery to sin, the flesh and death, to slavery to the Lord God though faith. Slavery to Christ is a special kind of slavery, of course. It is a slavery in which we actually become free.
Q40 What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law. (Rom. 2:14–15, Rom. 10:5)
Year 3 Day 154
Read — 2 Corinthians 3v1-6
Message - Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 1 Day 182 - 22 September"
It has been stated that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. For his critics Paul needed to prove himself to the Corinthian church. He hadn't appeared in front of them, he was full of big words in his letters but in person seemed weak and unimpressive. Why should we listen to such a man? Paul wondered if he needed to prove himself all over again (v1) or perhaps get a letter of recommendation from his local church (v1b). Such letters would be carried by Christians whenever they moved from one church to another. The letter would state that the individual was a Christian in good standing and should be welcomed by their new church. Did Paul need such a letter for the Corinthians to believe him?
Perish the thought. Instead Paul says the Corinthians are his letter, written on his heart for all to read (v2). Paul knows these men and women and they know him. He cherishes them, they are written on his heart and he needs no external letter of recommendation to prove himself to a church that he was instrumental in planting.
Indeed the very existence of the Corinthian church in such a pagan city was in itself evidence that Paul's ministry was genuine. Paul says that the church in Corinth show that they are a letter from Christ delivered by the apostle (v3). This letter was not written in ink but by the Holy Spirit. This letter was not carved into tablets of stone but into hearts of flesh (v3b). Paul's claims and proof about the Corinthian church couldn't be any more extraordinary.
Paul is utterly confident in all of this through Christ toward God (v4). Paul doesn't plead his case with arrogance reminding the Corinthians how wonderful he is (v5). He knows that he is only sufficient for such work because God made him sufficient (v5b). He is a sufficient minister of the new covenant (v6). A covenant not of works but of grace or as Paul puts it, not of the letter but of the Spirit (v6b). For the letter only kills but the Spirit brings life (v6c).
Here Paul makes a distinction between the law and the Gospel. The law is from God and is therefore good (Romans 7v12), but it cannot curb human sin (Romans 8v3) and ultimately brings death (Romans 7v10). The Corinthian church was not built by law observance but by the Spirit. Here is Paul's defence, here is his letter of commendation. He arrived in Corinth in much weakness but fearlessly preached the Gospel. The Spirit moved powerfully, sinners were saved and a local fellowship was born.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and in days of doom and gloom you might ask "Where is the Lord?". I would respond "He is reigning". Of course a preacher would say that, but where is the evidence? In Northern Ireland you don't need to look too far. Across this land there exist fellowships of Christians who have been converted to Christ by the preaching of the Gospel and the work of the Spirit.
These fellowships are sometimes big and sometimes small. Many of them have preachers known around the country and many have preachers known only to their flock. Many of them have music so wonderful that it could grace a concert hall and many have Gertrude on an old piano that sounds somewhat out of tune. Yet all of them belong to Christ. Where the Word is preached faithfully, where the sacraments are administered correctly and where discipline is exercised - there is the church. May we love the church and take her seriously and understand that she is worth being part of. Extraordinarily she is Christ's letter to this world, a letter of grace and forgiveness to guilty sinners, a letter that cries out "You must be born again!".
Q33 What is justification? Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
Year 3 Day 153
Read Mark 5:35-43
Message Alan Burke
“First posted Year 2 Day 123 - 23rd July“
There are times that we have all faced news that we didn’t want to hear. Bad results in our exams, the loss of a job, your husband bought another bike, there are many things that we could add to that list. The last one we ever want to hear is the loss of someone we love especially a child. Jairus had come to Jesus, falling to his knees, pleading for the life of his daughter, pleading that he would come put his hands on her. Jairus believed if Jesus did this then she would be healed and live, he turned to the only place that there was for him to be helped. While Jesus was dealing with the woman news comes that Jairus’s daughter had died.
The men’s comment of why bother the teacher anymore is understandable but Jairus doesn’t say anything to the news they bring, he couldn’t. Look though to the words of Jesus, don't be afraid just believe. Jesus ignored what the men said and instead gets Jairus to focus on him, the only hope that Jairus had was to believe, believe in Jesus for though God all things are possible. Rather than give up, rather than despair, Jairus must believe.
Taking only Peter, James and John, Jesus goes with Jairus to his home. There they were greeted with people crying and wailing, it’s a heart wrenching scene, death’s sting is often felt most when it is a child, the grief of parents, siblings. They make their way through the mourners, as they grieve, crying, wailing, this was heartbreak. Among them there would have been professional mourners, those hired to play the flue, women to wail loudly, it may seem a little strange to us but it was a public manifestation of grief. The professional mourners there would have known that the girl was dead, there would have been no doubt in their mind, and to Jesus saying that she is nearly sleeping they laugh. Going in, taking her father and mother, he takes her hand and said Talitha koun, which means little girl, or rather little lamb get up. Immediacy she did, she was twelve, they were astonished, she was up walking and eating, this is a total restoration of her life.
The power of Jesus over physical death is displayed, that’s something only God can do for he was the one who gives life, created life by speaking all that is into existence (Gen 1). This girl is spared death at this moment, but one day again she would die, the woman had been healed for now but she would face new ailments as she grew older and she would die. Not everyone will find physical healing and all of us will one day die. But as we thought of on Monday, for us we can have faith in Jesus, how in the face of death and though our Saviour Jesus Christ death has been defeated, it is not the end because of the resurrection of Christ. So that through faith we can face death and know that the souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, (Heb. 12:23) and do immediately pass into glory; (2 Cor. 5:1,6,8, Phil. 1:23, Luke 23:43) and their bodies, being still united to Christ, (1 Thess. 4:14) do rest in their graves, (Isa. 57:2) till the resurrection. (Job 19:26–27). This is our hope, immediately as we wait the general resurrection of the dead.
Q32 What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, (Rom. 8:30) adoption, (Eph. 1:5) and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them. (1 Cor. 1:26,30)
Year 3 Day 151
Read — Proverbs 1.1-7
Message - Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 1 Day 37 - 27 April"
The book of Proverbs is usually a book that most of us spend little reading. We all know Proverbs 3.5-6 but ask us about King Lemuel or Agur the son of Jakeh and we are left scratching our heads. Hopefully you don't avoid the book. It is more than just a verse about a straight path. Indeed as it begins, Solomon makes it clear what his goal for Proverbs is. He wants us to know wisdom and instruction (v1). To understand words of insight (v3). To receive instruction in wisdom filled living (v4). To help the simple and the young to make wise decisions (v5) and to help the wise
to grow in their learning (v6). That all sounds great. Who doesn't need a healthy does of wisdom in their lives? Fools might despise wisdom and instruction (v7b) but certainly not us. Where can we sign up? Another quite well known verse from Proverbs tells us. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (v7a). The fear of the Lord? Indeed. Knowing and trusting the Lord, fearing Him, is the wisest move any of us could make. Yet we don't fear Him the way a servant fears his master. We call this a servile fear. A servant fears the judgement and punishment of his master. Instead the Christian's fear is a filial fear. The fear a child has for his/her parent. Zacharias Ursinus helps us see the distinction between the two. He writes "Filial fear arises from confidence and love to God; that which is servile arises from a knowledge and conviction of sin, and from a sense of the judgment and displeasure of God. Filial fear does not turn away from God, but hates sin above every thing else, and fears to offend God: servile fear is a flight and hatred, not of sin, but of punishment and of the divine judgment, and so of God himself. Filial fear is connected with the certainty of salvation and of eternal life: servile fear is a fear and expectation of eternal condemnation and rejection of God, and is great in proportion to the doubt and despair which it entertains of the grace and mercy of God." So the beginning of knowledge is a filial fear of God. There will be many who roll their eyes at such a statement. Our faith is a source for scorn, trusting Christ seems like foolishness. We shouldn't be surprised. The Lord tells us "the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1.18) The Gospel has opened our eyes, we have received Christ by faith and we have come to realise that in Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians
2.3) So as the Covid-19 storm blows around us, clinging to Christ is the wisest course. Indeed even in the sunniest of days "the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." (1 Corinthians 1.25) It was the Christian missionary Jim Elliot who wrote in his diary "he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Soon Elliot's life was taken by those he was seeking to serve. Was he a fool? Are you? No. There's no one wiser than the one who has called upon Christ. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
Q31 What is effectual calling? Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.