Read — Psalm 111:4-5
Message Alan Burke
Driving down the M2 on the way into Belfast or the way out of Belfast you may have noticed the Thompsons animal feed factory just by the York Road Train Depot. Most of the time I pass it without a second thought, just like the train station, I’m too busy trying to negotiate safely through the traffic. Every now and again though I am exported back to my childhood, not though a by a ring or thought a wardrobe like in CS Lewis’ Narnia stories, rather by a smell that comes form the Thompsons Factory. It recalls to my memory shovelling meal into the auger at milking time. Smells, songs, conversations, call all recall something from memory.
Here as the psalmist speaks of how the LORD has caused his wonders to be remembered it is more than recalling from memory (4), it is an intentional act, but it is more than simply to call to our minds the wondrous works of God, remembering also means to proclaim his wonders. That means announcing to one another an to all what the LORD has done so that his wondrous works may never be forgotten that they may always be remembered and that as they are understood that he may be praised. Throughout the history of his people, the LORD had done many wonders, he had redeemed his people time and again, not only in the events of the Exodus. And for his people it is only appropriate that they respond not only to his work of creation, but also what he has done for them, treasuring up the truths that he has revealed. For he is the one who has throughout the history of his people supplied their needs (5), but also how he continues to supply the needs of all of his creation. And he remembers, not like we do, or we do when we call something to mind but ever on his mind his covenant, the promises that he has made, of how he will never leave or forsake his people, how he will never leave or forsake those who are his (Deut 31:5, Heb 13:5). For the LORD in spite of his peoples faithlessness has been faithful to all the promises that he has made throughout the generations. Knowing this should give us great confidence in Him!
His covenantal bond assured his people in the day of the Psalmist and it should assure us today of his continuing loyalty, that just like the Israelites, when they failed, when they messed up that their security wasn’t dependant on them but it was dependant on the LORD. When we fail, when we mess up, what we need to remind myself off is that that salvation doesn’t depend on us but in the LORD in his covenant. For Christians these words are assurance that the covenant has been confirmed in Jesus and that the faithfulness and justice of the heavenly Father are so much more true today, his covenant is forever, Paul assures us that no adversity can separate the elect from the Love of God in christ Jesus as he works his purposes on the earth (Rom 8:28-39). This day, give praise to the Lord, with your whole heart (1), giving thanks for your salvation is not dependant on you but on the covenantal God who remembers his covenant forever (5).
Westminster Shorter Catechism
What is required in the first commandment?
The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; (1 Chron. 28:9, Deut. 26:17) and to worship and glorify him accordingly. (Matt. 4:10, Ps. 29:2)
Read - Psalm 2
Message - Scott Woodburn
I'm not sure where she bought them but my late grandmother seemed to have a never ending supply of royal family plates. There were plates from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, plates celebrating the birthday of the Queen Mother and plates from the various royal weddings in the 1980s. Plates, tea towels and trinkets all celebrating the House of Windsor who at one point in time called themselves the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As I write, Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-serving female head of state in world history, and the world's oldest living monarch, longest-reigning current monarch, and oldest and longest-serving current head of state. That's quite an achievement I think you'll agree, but there is another King whose throne is stronger and greater.
Jesus is our prophet, priest and king. He is the One spoken of in Revelation 19v16 "On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords." He is the One predicted in Isaiah 9v7 "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."
Jesus is the king who as we read in Psalm 2v6 has been set on Zion, God's holy hill. David ruled from the earthly Zion that is Jerusalem, Christ reigns today from the heavenly Zion. Jesus comes in the line of David, but only Jesus is God's begotten Son (v7). The nations will be Christ's heritage and the ends of the earth His possession (v8). Today the Gospel continues to sound around this earth and today multitudes are receiving Christ by faith. Heaven will be filled with people from every corner of this globe, all of whom are secure under the care and keeping of Christ the King. He restrains and defeats His enemies and His church will be kept from destruction (v9).
Should we make a plate to celebrate? Should we paint Jesus on a white horse on a gable wall? No. Our response to Christ the King must be submission. We are to "kiss the Son" (v12), we are to bend our knee to Jesus, we are to receive Him by repentance and faith lest we be destroyed by His wrath (v12b).
Much is made of Harry and Megan these days. They've either escaped from a racist and ungrateful country, throwing off the shackles of the House of Windsor or they've made a selfish and foolish decision in pursuit of financial gain. Make up your mind and take your choice but either way lose no sleep. Royal families and famous houses never stand the test of time and yet Christ's reign will never end, "blessed are all who take refuge in Him." (v12c).
Before lockdown I had started preaching every week in a local nursing home. I would read, preach and then we would sing. One wee lady would answer every question by telling me her name and sharing that her church was called "Christ the King". If I heard it once, I heard it ten times, but you know something? I look forward to hearing it again.
Christ the King! Christ the King! He is for me! Christ the King!
Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q47 What is forbidden in the first commandment? The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshipping and glorifying, the true God as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.
Read — Psalm 111:6-10
Message Alan Burke
The United Kingdom can trace its sovereignty back to 519 AD, its current form of governance came much later in 1801. There are only two countries in Europe that can trace their sovereignty back earlier, France in 481 and Italy in 476. The top three world superpowers the United States can trace its sovereignty back to 1776, Russia back to 882 and China 1250 BC. Before any of them became sovereign states, the Lord God was at work, at work in the history of the world through his people.
God had shown his people his power (6), he had made himself known to them, not only in his actions towards them and on their behalf, displaying it before their very eyes, in redeeming them from Egypt, in destroying their pursuers, providing for them in the wilderness, subduing the canaanites, giving them the promised land, giving them an inheritance of the nations, but also by providing an explanation of what he had done (Deut 7:1-6). Not one of his promises ever failed (Josh 23:14), in all his works towards them, his providential care showed that his word is true, that all his promises would to pass for all he has done revealed his faithfulness and justice, revealing the very character of the LORD to his people, and his word is to be the foundation of all and to be relied upon (7). For the Lord is abounding in love and faithfulness, (Ex 34:6), they had known first hand this to be true, for all his works, his precepts, are trustworthy, they are steadfast forever and ever. His relationship with his children toes not fluctuate with their fickleness, he himself is faithful (8). For in it all he had been working his purposes throughout this history, redeeming his people (9a), so that they could be a light, not only remembering covenant (5), but ordaining it (9b). In closing the Psalmist reminds us how the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (10), not fear of great or terror, rather filial fear, that of a child towards a parent. This is a to be filled with reverence for him, his law, his word, a desire not to offend him.
What can we take away form this? The Lord God and his word and works will remain forever, long after the United Kingdom, France, Italy and world superpowers like the United States, Russia and China are reconciled to the pages of history. His great principles of truth and righteousness will stand, they will endure forever even though the nations plot, they try to throw off his truth, we know they do so in vein (Ps 2:1). Also the way of wisdom is to fear the Lord, we should desire to live for him even though our nations move away from this truth, for his precepts are trustworthy, they are established forever (8). Finally the covenantal nature of the Lord should assure us for in the LORD has commanded his covenant (9) forever, He has ordained or appointed it. It as all things are under his control, and we can know his assurance of favour though faith in Jesus. He will overcome all in his way, nations will fall before him as he works his purposes out on this earth for Holy and Awesome is his name, it is to be venerated, feared, for he has shown in all that he has done that he is holy and that he is the LORD.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
What are we specially taught by these words [before me] in the first commandment?
These words [before me] in the first commandment teach us, That God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other God. (Ezek. 8:5–6, Ps. 44:20–21)
Read — Ps 119:105, Rom 1:19-20, Heb 1:1-3
Message Alan Burke
It’s not a nice feeling when we are left fumbling about in the dark, when the electricity goes off and we have to find a torch or a candle to give us light. Today most of us have a phone in our pockets that we can use as a torch so were not stuck but likely you can remember a time that you were left in darkness after a power cut and there wasn’t a torch to be found and after finding a candle the problem was you couldn’t find any matches. In life there can be times that we feel like we are fumbling about in the dark not knowing what were doing, where we are going but we shouldn’t because God hasn’t left us in this life fumbling about he has given us his word as a lamp to our feet and light to our paths (Ps 119:105), He has revealed himself to us in two ways, firstly in everything that surrounds us, this is called ‘General Revelation’ as ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork’ (Ps 19:1).
God has made it so that the entire natural order bears witness to Him through its beauty, complexity, design, and usefulness. That what is meant when God uses the apostle to says ‘For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.’ (Rom 1:19-20) All of creation though, is, ‘not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation' (WCF, I.1). General revelation does not reveal Jesus Christ or His work of redemption for sinners.
Thus there is a need for what is called ‘Special Revelation’. Special revelation is the revelation of the way of salvation, and God has revealed himself though his word. In Hebrews 1 we are told how God throughout human history has been active and involved, he had spoken in many times and many ways, revealing himself with his sovereign word throughout the ages. He did not reveal all about himself at one time, He didn’t simply hand Adam and Eve his autobiography, or a guide book, with all that they needed to know, instead the revelation of himself was progressive, revealing more of himself in stages, throughout the history of his people but now He has spoken by his Son (Heb 1:1-2). Though Christ Jesus the process of revelation is done, completed, finished. God’s continuing disclosure of himself is ultimately expressed in the revelation though his Son, never to be added to. Nothing more is needed, no new books, no new revelation and no need for prophets who point forward for Christ has come. All of what he has given us is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:15).
Westminster Shorter Catechism
What is required in the second commandment?
The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his Word. (Deut. 32:46, Matt. 28:20, Acts 2:42)
Read — Psalm 97
Message - Scott Woodburn
As I write this devotion the last full week of August is upon us. The children are slowly returning to school after a remarkable six months away. Our Prime Minister speaks of getting the country back to work. America prepares herself for an election. The world turns, indeed the world hasn't stopped turning, yet this August feels different. The final weekend of the month is often a last hurrah. We perhaps walk Portstewart Strand for one last taste of summer or maybe we just look forward to an extra hour in bed on the bank holiday. This year though? The sand between our toes feels a little less inviting and the extra hour is perhaps spent with a little more worry.
The pandemic hasn't left us, but I have done my best this summer to point you to Christ instead of Covid. I hope the Messianic Psalms have been a blessing to you. I'm always amazed at how Scripture speaks to Scripture and how the Bible is all about Christ. In the Psalms this summer we have been reminded how Christ was the promised One (Psalm 89). We realise that He is the eternal only begotten Son (Psalm 102). Jesus is the condescending Christ...not a negative...but positive...He took on flesh and willingly lowered Himself to a humble estate (Psalm 8). He is the obedient Christ as He actively and passively obeyed the law (Psalm 40) and He was obedient even unto death on a cruel cross (Psalm 22 & 31). His story was to continue with the glorious declaration "He is risen!" (Psalm 16 & 34) and today we rejoice that Jesus has defeated death and we know where He is. Christ has ascended to the right hand of God and has blessed His Church with gifts (Psalm 68). Indeed this Jesus is no slippery politician, nor is He a temporary monarch, today Jesus remains our Prophet, Priest and King (Psalm 2 & 110).
Read over my last paragraph and allow the scale of it to sink in. From start to finish the Scriptures are about Christ. Before His ascension he reminded His disciples of this fact. In Luke 24v44 Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” The Law, the Prophets and the Psalms...all of it about Christ. The Old & New Testaments connect in one testimony and the message is Christ.
Why would this be the case? Simply because Christ is preeminent. Psalm 97 is Messianic, and we see in verse seven the truth that those who put their trust in idols will be put to shame. Instead the Psalmist encourages these so called "gods" to worship Christ. All the idols of this world will fall before the unsurpassed Jesus. There truly is no one like Him. Later the Apostle takes this verse in Hebrews 1 and applies it directly to Christ, interpreting it as a command to the angels to fall down before Jesus. If you could see the angels today you would be astounded by the beauty and magnitude of such a sight. Elisha prayed that his servant could see the reality of God's host with the young servant blessed by the sight of God's armies encamped around His people (2 Kings 6v17).
Yet even the angelic host bow before Jesus. Why would this be the case? Simply because Christ is preeminent. There is no question that this September will be different, "normal" still seems a long way off but beloved of the Lord I humbly remind you that Christ is preeminent. I pray that my written voice doesn't sound patronising today, you I'm sure need no reminder of the preeminence of Christ. Yet allow me to gently speak to your soul as I do to my own...we are not undone and we will not be shamed. Why would this be the case? Simply because Christ is preeminent, He is outstanding, He is supreme, He is all. September is coming but now, then and always "Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!" (v12).
Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 51. What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his Word.
Read — 2 Tim 3:16–17
Message - Alan Burke
On Monday we thought about how God has revealed himself to us in two ways, firstly in everything that surrounds us, this is called General Revelation and secondly Special Revelation his word the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. General revelation, everything around us, all of creation though, is, ‘not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation' (WCF, I.1). General revelation does not reveal Jesus Christ or His work of redemption for sinners. That is why there was a need of Special Revelation the revelation of the way of salvation, and God has revealed himself though his word.
How though are we to read and study this word, the scriptures of the Old and New Testament? In truth often we read it drawing moral conclusions of how we are to live or not, we read David killing Goliath (1 Sam 17) and draw the conclusion that God will help us kill our own giants of sin and temptation, we read Jeremiah 29:11 and send it to people to encourage them but we wouldn’t include verse verse 10 in that encouragement that tells us that it will be seventy years before this promise is fulfilled. We need to let scripture speak to scripture, let the Word of God interpret the Word of God, context matters. Go read Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 27:5, Luke 10:37 and John 13:27 all together and ignore the context and you will see what I mean, but before you do that know that reading the Bible as if it were about us, we miss the story that God has been telling.
We need to let scripture speak to scripture, every story, parable and prophecy contained from cover to cover Old and New Testament is telling a story, one story, of One Lord, One Plan, One People all its sixty-six books focus on Jesus, the one Lord who is the terminal point of God’s promises. It is the story of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, ascension, reign, of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Righteous Man who rescues sinners. The Faithful Son who laid down His own life for His friends. The Glorious King who slew the ultimate giant, sin, and death, to redeem His people. Yet we can learn from scripture the good and necessary consequences, here is what I mean; Romans 13:1 tells us to “be subject to the governing authorities”. So if the government tell us to bow the knee an idol every night at 6pm we could argue that it is a necessary consequence of this verse but in many other places scripture forbids idolatry. When we read God’s word we need to let scripture speak to scripture to come to know what it means for us in our lives this day. For All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16–17).
Westminster Shorter Catechism
What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
The reasons annexed to the second commandment are, God’ s sovereignty over us, (Ps. 95:2–3) his propriety in us, (Ps. 45:11) and the zeal he hath to his own worship. (Exod. 34:13–14)
Read - Psalm 45
Message - Scott Woodburn
If you've ever spent much time stuck in traffic in Ballynahinch you've probably had a moment or two to consider the window display at Isabella Paige. I may be wrong in saying this but it seems to me like it changes three times a week! But ladies, before you get yourself down to the 'Hinch for a pair of new tracksuit bottoms, please know that Isabella Paige only seems to stock what I call the "best of gear". Like the famous Marks and Spencers adverts..."Isabella Page doesn't sell ordinary clothes, these are clothes made for only the greatest of days!"
Psalm 45 is about one of those great days...a wedding day. It is a song to be sung at a royal wedding but it finds its fulfilment in Christ. We know this because verses six and seven are applied to directly to Jesus in Hebrews 1v8-9. He is the King, He is the Bridegroom and according to this Psalm He is the One whose throne lasts forever (v6a). He is a good and righteous ruler, His sceptre (a symbol of His power and authority) is one of "uprightness" (v6b), indeed Christ the King loves righteousness and hates wickedness (v7a). He has ascended to the highest place and God has anointed Him beyond all of His companions (v7b). Once more in this Psalm we meet the preeminent Christ.
In response, we as the church, the bride, consider the "pleasing theme" (v1a) of our Saviour. He is our beautiful Saviour full of grace (v2). He rules over us by the sword of His word (v3). He rides forth in victory "for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness." (v4) and none can stand before Him (v5). He is the righteous forever King (v6-7).
Amazingly, the preeminent Jesus cares for His Bride. We fill no lack in Him and we do Him no favours and yet He loves us. The Bride is called to leave behind her father's house (v10) and to bow before her Lord (v11). Here is a picture of saving faith, we know our depravity, we know our lack, we know that there is nothing in this world that satisfies and so we run to Christ and receive Him by faith.
To be part of the Church of Jesus Christ is a greater privilege than having a seat in the front row at a royal wedding dressed in a fancy frock from Ballynahinch. Consider today the preeminence of Christ and then wonder that He has regard for sinners like us. We think we are dressed in the "best of gear" and yet even the greatest of our works are as filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64v6) and still the preeminent Christ stoops to save with grace and mercy. As John puts it "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." (1 John 3v1)
Charles Hodge was an American Presbyterian and the principal of Princeton Theological Seminary. At his funeral his friend Henry Boardman paid tribute to him in this way. "Christ was not only the ground of his hope, but the acknowledged sovereign of his intellect, the soul of his theology, the unfailing spring of his joy, the one all-pervading, all-glorifying theme and end of his life." Without ever meeting Charles Hodge, it would seem that he understood the preeminence of Christ. No one and nothing comes close the majesty of Jesus. May we never forget it.
Q. 53. 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.
Read — Psalm 112
Message - Alan Burke
Over the last couple days we have been thinking about how God has revealed himself to us, through General Revelation what we can see in creation as well as Special Revelation that of the Word of God, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. For although creation declares there is a God and it manifests the goodness, wisdom, and power of God as to leave us inexcusable before him (Ps. 19:1–3, Rom. 1:32, 2:1,14–15), they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation (1 Cor. 1:21, 2:13–14), that is why we need Special Revelation. From cover to cover Old and New Testament is telling a story, one story, of One Lord, One Plan, One People all its sixty-six books focus on Jesus, the one Lord who is the terminal point of God’s promises. As we read it and try to understand it we need to let scripture speak to scripture to come to know what it means for us in our lives this day.
We come now to psalm 112 I hope you forgive me if you feel that you are transported back to school and you are sitting English class with your teacher asking you comprehension questions that you don’t know the answer to, but with Psalm 112 in front of you (open bibles, phones out, tablets etc), ask yourself; who is this psalm about? Is it about me? Is it about the people in my church? Is it about believers?
While preparing I came across one commentator who said “…if you do not experience the truth of this psalm in your life literally, then it is because of your disobedience to God”. If that really is true then I need to start looking for a job so does Scott. Thankfully this psalm is not about me or you or the people in our church or about believers. When we let scripture speak to scripture we see that the only one who has truly lived in this way and inherited these promises is Jesus, remember from cover to cover Old and New Testament is telling a story, one story, of One Lord, One Plan, One People all its sixty-six books focus on Jesus, the one Lord who is the terminal point of God’s promises. This Psalm is fulfilled in Jesus.
So what, what does it mean for us, what are the implications for us as we gather, what are the ‘good and necessary consequences’ that we thought about on Day 157, well thought the blessed man of Psalm 112, we can come with confidence before the living God through faith (Rom 10:9-10). Also we are to be imitators of this blessed man Jesus Christ (Eph 5:1). The Spirit of God works within us changing us as men and women into “sons of glory” (Hebrews 2:10) and We begin to look like the blessed man of Psalm 112. We begin to look like Jesus. So Psalm 112 is who we are becoming in Jesus, as we grow in our knowledge and fear of the Lord, as we delight in his commandments more and more. As we grow we should fear the Lord and delight in His commands more and more (Psalm 112:1). There is are many of his commands that are unpopular in this world but they are there for our benefit, accept them, rejoice in them, no its for our best. Others are blessed though us as we proclaim this blessed man (2), others receive the riches of spiritual blessings we receive in Christ Jesus this blessed man through faith (3). For he is the light of the world and we are to reflect that light, just as the moon reflects the suns light, being imitators of God, showing grace and compassion in all our interactions (4), we are to give freely as we have been given, sharing the good news (5) (Matt 10:28), knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God (6) (Rom 8:31-39), we need not fear for God is in control, trusting in God (7). Our trust in the Lord should deepen and grow (Psalm 112:7). We should become more gracious, compassionate, and righteous (Psalm 112:). Generosity should mark our lives (Psalm 112:9). Finally as it closes there is a warning (10) how God will ultimately deal with the wicked those who have not confessed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and believed in their hearts.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
What is required in the third commandment?
The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’ s names, (Matt. 6:9, Deut. 28:58) titles, (Ps. 68:4) attributes, (Rev. 15:3–4) ordinances, (Mal. 1:11,14) Word, (Ps. 138:1–2) and works. (Job 36:24)
Read - Psalm 118
Message - Scott Woodburn
One of my first jobs was holding my uncle Sammy's ladder as he cleaned windows around Bloomfield. I would do about an hour after school and would receive anything between 20p & 50p for my trouble. As I was holding the ladder one day, a car stopped in the middle of the street and out stepped a fairly average looking man. He called my uncle's name and immediately the chamois was put away and my uncle descended his ladder with a speed I'd never seen before. He greeted this individual as "Van" and told the stranger that I was "Norman's youngest". I acknowledged the man by saying "Alright Van.". The pair of them got into the car and drove away while I was left to watch my Uncle's equipment. It turns out the stranger was Van Morrison who was born and reared in Bloomfield, just like Danny Blanchflower and also my auld da. I told my mother about this encounter and she was disgusted that I greeted Bloomfield's famous son with "Alright Van." although I'm pretty certain he didn't lose any sleep over it.
As we finish our look at some of the Messianic Psalms we take a journey to Psalm 118. It is the final Psalm in a section called the Egyptian Hallel (Psalm 113-118). These Psalms would be sung by the Jews at the Passover as they remembered their escape from Egypt. We know this Psalm is Messianic because it is quoted extensively about Christ throughout the Gospels (Matthew 21v42; Mark 12v10,11; Luke 20v17; Matthew 21v9; Matthew 23v39; Mark 11v9; Luke 13v35; Luke 19v38; John 12v13) and the rest of the New Testament (Acts 4v11; 1 Peter 2v4,7; Hebrews 13v6)
The second part of the Psalm (v19-27) speaks of a procession into the city and to the temple to worship God. It is a time of victory and celebration. The Psalmist wants to come and worship God (v19) who has become his salvation (v21). He sings unto God (v28) and thanks Him that His steadfast love endures forever (v29). What has the Lord done to deserve such praise? He has taken that which was despised and made it preeminent (v22). The rejected stone has become the cornerstone. Peter preaches before the council and he tells them "This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone." (Acts 4v11)
Jesus was despised and rejected by men and yet today He stands in glory. Jesus came to His own and His own did not receive Him (John 1v11), instead they watched as He was discarded at the cross like a common criminal. Yet the same Jesus was raised triumphant from the grave. Truly the rejected stone has become the most important part of the buildings foundations. Jesus is the preeminent Christ, the cornerstone on which the Church rests.
But as we consider this imagery it would be remiss of us not to remember Christ's teaching on verse 22. He reminded the chief priests and Pharisees of this verse and warned "The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him." (Matthew 21v44) Jesus is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to those who are perishing (1 Peter 2v8). Many imagine Christ as the laid back teacher in flowing robes who wouldn't have been out of place in San Francisco during the so called "summer of love". This imaginary Jesus is all peace and love and threatens no one.
The real Jesus is the preeminent One, a precious Saviour to those who have believed and a crushing rock to those who reject Him. Simply put "there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4v12) So how will we greet the preeminent Christ? Like me casually greeting Van Morrsion, with no knowledge of him or concern for him? Or will we marvel at the preeminence of Christ and throw ourselves upon the Rock where we will find mercy, forgiveness and grace?
As Christ's journey to Calvary was almost complete, He sang Psalm 118 with His disciples (Matthew 26v30). It was time for Him to die. The preeminent Christ because our substitute. The rejected stone became the cornerstone. "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!" (v29)
Q55 What is forbidden in the third commandment? The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning or abusing of anything whereby God maketh himself known.
Read - 1 John 1:1
Message Alan Burke
I remember going out with a video camera to ask some questions to those who were gathered outside the City Hall in Belfast, asking questions about what people believed about the Bible, about faith and about Jesus. The most surprising responses came not from those who had no church or faith background, rather they came from those who professed faith, who said they were members of churches. Jesus asked his disciples… ‘Who do you say I am?’ (Matt 16:15) so today I ask, ‘Who do you say He is?’.
Today we begin a series on the First Epistle of John, it’s a letter from a pastor to his people, in one that he shows his concern throughout, even though he is absent from them and he is anxious about them. And what is John most anxious about, their understanding of who Jesus was and is and evermore all be. As John starts he draws our attention to ‘that which was from the beginning’ (1:1a). Not the beginning of this pandemic, not the beginning of your life but from the beginning, that is before all that is. This statement should bring to our minds the opening of the creation account in Genesis 1, how ‘In the beginning’ (Gen 1:1a) as well as the Gospel of John were we read ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (Jn 1:1)
What John wants to draw our attention to is ‘That which was from the beginning… …the Word of life’ (1:1). For before all that is now, there was God and there was Jesus Christ with God the Father because He was and is God. It is from that beginning that the throne of the Eternal Word, the preexisting Jesus has been established (Jer. 12, Ps 93:2). And it is the preexisting Jesus that John brings our focus upon, for not only had John heard, he had seen, he had looked upon and he had touched (1 Jn 1:1, Jn 20:24-29), this word, this Jesus, this is what John wants his readers to have at the forefront of their minds. John wants to leave his readers in no doubt that the same Jesus, the preexistent Jesus is the truth that he now speaks off to them, the Jesus of which he speaks of is the Word of life.
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)