Did Jesus Forbid All Divorce?

The Reformed Reader

 Is every instance of divorce sinful in God’s sight?  Did Jesus forbid all divorce?  Does God hate all divorce?  The answer to each of these questions is the same: No.  God himself “divorced” Israel for her spiritual adultery.  Also, I mentioned last week that a good translation of Malachi 2:16 is “If one hates and divorces,” Yahweh, Israel’s God said, “he covers his clothes with crime,” Yahweh of the Armies said.  However, the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels can be confusing because he seems to be saying different things (cf. Matt. 19, Mk. 6, Luke 16).  How do we view these Gospel passages on divorce?  David Instone-Brewer has a helpful solution: by understanding them in light of their Jewish context.

Instone-Brewer notes that some Jews (Hillelite rabbis) believed that they could get a divorce for “any cause” based on Deuteronomy 24:1-4, while other Jews (followers of Shammai)…

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What Is the Gospel Message?

A good explanation worth consideration and practice!

 

By J.I. Packer

In a word, the evangelistic message is the gospel of Christ and Him crucified, the message of man’s sin and God’s grace, of human guilt and divine forgiveness, of new birth and new life through the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a message made up of four essential ingredients.

1. The gospel is a message about God. It tells us who He is, what His character is, what His standards are, and what He requires of us, His creatures. It tells us that we owe our very existence to Him; that for good or ill, we are always in His hands and under His eye; and that He made us to worship and serve Him, to show forth His praise and to live for His glory. These truths are the foundation of theistic religion; and until they are grasped, the rest of the gospel message will seem neither cogent nor relevant. It is here with the assertion of man’s complete and constant dependence on his Creator that the Christian story starts.

We can learn again from Paul at this point. When preaching to Jews, as at Pisidian Antioch, he did not need to mention the fact that men were God’s creatures. He could take this knowledge for granted, for his hearers had the Old Testament faith behind them. He could begin at once to declare Christ to them as the fulfillment of Old Testament hopes. But when preaching to Gentiles, who knew nothing of the Old Testament, Paul had to go further back and start from the beginning. And the beginning from which Paul started in such cases was the doctrine of God’s Creatorship and man’s creaturehood. So, when the Athenians asked him to explain what his talk of Jesus and the resurrection was all about, he spoke to them first of God the Creator and what He made man for. “God…made the world…seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made…all nations…that they should seek the Lord” (Act 17:24-27). This was not, as some have supposed, a piece of philosophical apologetic of a kind that Paul afterwards renounced, but the first and basic lesson in theistic faith. The gospel starts by teaching us that we, as creatures, are absolutely dependent on God, and that He, as Creator, has an absolute claim on us. Only when we have learned this can we see what sin is, and only when we see what sin is can we understand the good news of salvation from sin. We must know what it means to call God Creator before we can grasp what it means to speak of Him as Redeemer. Nothing can be achieved by talking about sin and salvation where this preliminary lesson has not in some measure been learned.

2. The gospel is a message about sin. It tells us how we have fallen short of God’s standard, how we have become guilty, filthy, and helpless in sin, and now stand under the wrath of God. It tells us that the reason why we sin continually is that we are sinners by nature, and that nothing we do or try to do for ourselves can put us right or bring us back into God’s favor. It shows us ourselves as God sees us and teaches us to think of ourselves as God thinks of us. Thus, it leads us to self-despair. And this also is a necessary step. Not until we have learned our need to get right with God and our inability to do so by any effort of our own can we come to know the Christ Who saves from sin.

There is a pitfall here. Everybody’s life includes things that cause dissatisfaction and shame. Everyone has a bad conscience about some things in his past, matters in which he has fallen short of the standard that he set for himself or that was expected of him by others. The danger is that in our evangelism we should content ourselves with evoking thoughts of these things and making people feel uncomfortable about them, and then depicting Christ as the One who saves us from these elements of ourselves, without even raising the question of our relationship with God. But this is just the question that has to be raised when we speak about sin. For the very idea of sin in the Bible is of an offence against God that disrupts a man’s relationship with God. Unless we see our shortcomings in the light of the Law and holiness of God, we do not see them as sin at all. For sin is not a social concept; it is a theological concept. Though sin is committed by man, and many sins are against society, sin cannot be defined in terms of either man or society. We never know what sin really is until we have learned to think of it in terms of God and to measure it, not by human standards, but by the yardstick of His total demand on our lives.

What we have to grasp, then, is that the bad conscience of the natural man is not at all the same thing as conviction of sin. It does not, therefore, follow that a man is convicted of sin when he is distressed about his weaknesses and the wrong things he has done. It is not conviction of sin just to feel miserable about yourself, your failures, and your inadequacy to meet life’s demands. Nor would it be saving faith if a man in that condition called on the Lord Jesus Christ just to soothe him, and cheer him up, and make him feel confident again. Nor should we be preaching the gospel (though we might imagine we were) if all that we did was to present Christ in terms of a man’s felt wants: “Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Do you want peace of mind? Do you feel that you have failed? Are you fed up with yourself? Do you want a friend? Then come to Christ; He will meet your every need”—as if the Lord Jesus Christ were to be thought of as a fairy godmother or a super-

psychiatrist…To be convicted of sin means not just to feel that one is an all-round flop, but to realize that one has offended God, and flouted His authority, and defied Him, and gone against Him, and put oneself in the wrong with Him. To preach Christ means to set Him forth as the One Who through His cross sets men right with God again…

It is indeed true that the real Christ, the Christ of the Bible, Who [reveals] Himself to us as a Savior from sin and an Advocate with God, does in fact give peace, and joy, and moral strength, and the privilege of His own friendship to those who trust Him. But the Christ who is depicted and desired merely to make the lot of life’s casualties easier by supplying them with aids and comforts is not the real Christ, but a misrepresented and misconceived Christ—in effect, an imaginary Christ. And if we taught people to look to an imaginary Christ, we should have no grounds for expecting that they would find a real salvation. We must be on our guard, therefore, against equating a natural bad conscience and sense of wretchedness with spiritual conviction of sin and so omitting in our evangelism to impress upon sinners the basic truth about their condition—namely, that their sin has alienated them from God and exposed them to His condemnation, and hostility, and wrath, so that their first need is for a restored relationship with Him…

3. The gospel is a message about Christ—Christ, the Son of God incarnate; Christ, the Lamb of God, dying for sin; Christ, the risen Lord; Christ, the perfect Savior.

Two points need to be made about the declaring of this part of the message: (i) We must not present the Person of Christ apart from His saving work. It is sometimes said that it is the presentation of Christ’s Person, rather than of doctrines about Him, that draws sinners to His feet. It is true that it is the living Christ Who saves and that a theory of the atonement, however orthodox, is no substitute. When this remark is made, however, what is usually being suggested is that doctrinal instruction is dispensable in evangelistic preaching, and that all the evangelist need do is paint a vivid word-picture of the man of Galilee who went about doing good, and then assure his hearers that this Jesus is still alive to help them in their troubles. But such a message could hardly be called the gospel. It would, in reality, be a mere conundrum, serving only to mystify…the truth is that you cannot make sense of the historic figure of Jesus until you know about the Incarnation—that this Jesus was in fact God the Son, made man to save sinners according to His Father’s eternal purpose. Nor can you make sense of His life until you know about the atonement—that He lived as man so that He might die as man for men, and that His passion, His judicial murder was really His saving action of bearing away the world’s sins. Nor can you tell on what terms to approach Him now until you know about the resurrection, ascension, and heavenly session—that Jesus has been raised, and enthroned, and made King, and lives to save to the uttermost all who acknowledge His Lordship. These doctrines, to mention no others, are essential to the gospel…In fact, without these doctrines you would have no gospel to preach at all.

(ii) But there is a second and complementary point: we must not present the saving work of Christ apart from His Person. Evangelistic preachers and personal workers have sometimes been known to make this mistake. In their concern to focus attention on the atoning death of Christ as the sole sufficient ground on which sinners may be accepted with God, they have expounded the summons to saving faith in these terms: “Believe that Christ died for your sins.” The effect of this exposition is to represent the saving work of Christ in the past, dissociated from His Person in the present, as the whole object of our trust. But it is not biblical thus to isolate the work from the Worker. Nowhere in the New Testament is the call to believe expressed in such terms. What the New Testament calls for is faith in (en) or into (eis) or upon (epi) Christ Himself—the placing of our trust in the living Savior Who died for sins. The object of saving faith is thus not, strictly speaking, the atonement, but the Lord Jesus Christ, Who made atonement. We must not, in presenting the gospel, isolate the cross and its benefits from the Christ Whose cross it was. For the persons to whom the benefits of Christ’s death belong are just those who trust His Person and believe, not upon His saving death simply, but upon Him, the living Savior. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” said Paul (Act 16:31). “Come unto me…and I will give you rest,” said our Lord (Mat 11:28).

This being so, one thing becomes clear straight away: namely, that the question about the extent of the atonement, which is being much agitated in some quarters, has no bearing on the content of the evangelistic message at this particular point. I do not propose to discuss this question now; I have done that elsewhere. I am not at present asking you whether you think it is true to say that Christ died in order to save every single human being, past, present, and future, or not. Nor am I at present inviting you to make up your mind on this question, if you have not done so already. All I want to say here is that even if you think the above assertion is true, your presentation of Christ in evangelism ought not to differ from that of the man who thinks it false.

What I mean is this: it is obvious that if a preacher thought that the statement, “Christ died for every one of you,” made to any congregation, would be unverifiable and probably not true, he would take care not to make it in his gospel preaching. You do not find such statements in the sermons of, for instance, George Whitefield or Charles Spurgeon. But now, my point is that, even if a man thinks that this statement would be true if he made it, it is not a thing that he ever needs to say or ever has reason to say when preaching the gospel. For preaching the gospel, as we have just seen, means [calling] sinners to come to Jesus Christ, the living Savior, Who, by virtue of His atoning death, is able to forgive and save all those who put their trust in Him. What has to be said about the cross when preaching the gospel is simply that Christ’s death is the ground on which Christ’s forgiveness is given. And this is all that has to be said. The question of the designed extent of the atonement does not come into the story at all…The fact is that the New Testament never calls on any man to repent on the ground that Christ died specifically and particularly for him.

The gospel is not, “Believe that Christ died for everybody’s sins, and therefore for yours,” any more than it is, “Believe that Christ died only for certain people’s sins, and so perhaps not for yours”…We have no business to ask them to put faith in any view of the extent of the atonement. Our job is to point them to the living Christ, and summon them to trust in Him…This brings us to the final ingredient in the gospel message.

4. The gospel is a summons to faith and repentance. All who hear the gospel are summoned by God to repent and believe. “God…commandeth all men every where to repent,” Paul told the Athenians (Act 17:30). When asked by His hearers what they should do in order to “work the works of God,” our Lord replied, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (Joh 6:29). And in 1 John 3:23 we read: “This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ…”

Repentance and faith are rendered matters of duty by God’s direct command, and hence impenitence and unbelief are singled out in the New Testament as most grievous sins. With these universal commands, as we indicated above, go universal promises of salvation to all who obey them. “Through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Act 10:43). “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Joh 3:16). These words are promises to which God will stand as long as time shall last.

It needs to be said that faith is not a mere optimistic feeling, any more than repentance is a mere regretful or remorseful feeling. Faith and repentance are both acts, and acts of the whole man…faith is essentially the casting and resting of oneself and one’s confidence on the promises of mercy which Christ has given to sinners, and on the Christ Who gave those promises. Equally, repentance is more than just sorrow for the past; repentance is a change of mind and heart, a new life of denying self and serving the Savior as King in self’s place…Two further points need to be made also:

(i) The demand is for faith as well as repentance. It is not enough to resolve to turn from sin, give up evil habits, and try to put Christ’s teaching into practice by being religious and doing all possible good to others. Aspiration, and resolution, and morality, and religiosity,[15] are no substitutes for faith…If there is to be faith, however, there must be a foundation of knowledge: a man must know of Christ, and of His cross, and of His promises before saving faith becomes a possibility for him. In our presentation of the gospel, therefore, we need to stress these things, in order to lead sinners to abandon all confidence in themselves and to trust wholly in Christ and the power of His redeeming blood to give them acceptance with God. For nothing less than this is faith.

(ii) The demand is for repentance as well as faith…If there is to be repentance, however, there must, again, be a foundation of knowledge…More than once, Christ deliberately called attention to the radical break with the past that repentance involves. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me…whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Mat 16:24-25). “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also (i.e., put them all decisively second in his esteem), he cannot be my disciple…whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luk 14:26, 33). The repentance that Christ requires of His people consists in a settled refusal to set any limit to the claims that He may make on their lives…He had no interest in gathering vast crowds of professed adherents who would melt away as soon as they found out what following Him actually demanded of them. In our own presentation of Christ’s gospel, therefore, we need to lay a similar stress on the cost of following Christ, and make sinners face it soberly before we urge them to respond to the message of free forgiveness. In common honesty, we must not conceal the fact that free forgiveness in one sense will cost everything; or else our evangelizing becomes a sort of confidence trick. And where there is no clear knowledge, and hence no realistic recognition of the real claims that Christ makes, there can be no repentance, and therefore no salvation.

Such is the evangelistic message that we are sent to make known.

Excerpt From Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God  by J. I. Packer.

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What If No One Responded to the Gospel?

I found this on Monergism.com. Interesting and well presented!
Sun, 03/23/2014 – 11:45 — john_hendryx
To the mass of ill-deserving sinners on earth, God holds out the gospel that any person who looks in faith to the Son will receive eternal life.  But what if no one actually responded to that message? What if not one person took advantage of this opportunity? Because this is the actual condition we find man in – No amount of outward appeals by God to man’s heart or reason will suffice to persuade him to come to Jesus.  Left to himself he is hopelessly given over to darkness. If he refuses to come it isn’t because God is holding him back or coercing him against his will in the way of sin. This is what man wants in his heart of hearts.

Does the love of God allow Him to simply leave all people in the misery of their own stubborn willful choice because to do otherwise would violate their so-called free will? It would certainly be just but God loves His people too much to leave us to our own stubborn will. So out of the mass of ill-deserving sinners he still has a plan to save them in spite of their obstinacy. If people are to come to faith in Jesus they also need mercy to be delivered from themselves – from their own hardened heart. Because it is in man’s heart that sin resides and holds him in inescapable bondage. We need God to give us, not just a way to choose, but a supernatural disarming of our innate hostility to God and an implanting of a new heart which loves God – which sees the beauty truth and excellency of Jesus Christ. (John 6:65, 65, 37; Ezek 36:26′ Rom 9:15, 16)

So the cross of Christ not only provides an opportunity for sinners but delivers them from themselves. Something radical is missing from any message of the bible which sees fallen man still somehow willing to respond to the gospel call without being delivered from man’s self-bondage. But it is only for us [the church] to explain man’s condition, hold out God’s summons to believe, and pray fervently for all that God puts in our path … it not to ascertain who are the one’s God has called. That is why we can confess with Horatius Bonar,

“…We believe in Christ’s redemption of His chosen Church; in the efficacy of His blood and the perfection of His righteousness. We believe in human impotence, in the bondage of the human will, in the enmity of the human heart to God. We believe in the sovereignty of Jehovah, and His eternal purpose. We believe in the absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit’s work, alike before and after conversion. At the same time we preach a free and world wide gospel; we proclaim a free and world-wide invitation to sinners; we present to every sinner a gracious welcome to Christ, without any preliminary qualification whatsoever. We bid no man wait till he has ascertained his own election, or can produce evidence of regeneration, or sufficient repentance, or deep conviction. We tell every man, as he is, to go to the Savior this moment, assured that he will not be cast out or sent away.”

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Praying for the World

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Richard Baxter

Some musings from the pen of Richard Baxter that are worth considering in a time that only 2 -3 percent of professing Christians share their faith.

  “My soul is much more afflicted with the thoughts of the miserable world, and more drawn out in desire of their conversion than heretofore. I was wont to look but little further than England in my prayers, as not considering the state of the rest of the world; or if I prayed for the conversion of the Jews, that was almost all. But now as I better understand the case of the world, and the method of the Lord’s Prayer, so there is nothing in the world that lies so heavy upon my heart as the thought of the miserable nations of the earth. It is the most astonishing part of all God’s providence to me, that he so far forsakes almost all the world and confines his special favour to so few; that so small a part of the world has the profession of Christianity, in comparison of heathens, mahometans and other infidels! And that among professed Christians there are so few that are saved from gross delusions, and have but any competent knowledge: and that among those there are so few that are seriously religious, and truly set their hearts on heaven. I cannot be affected so much with the calamities of my own relations or the land of my nativity, as with the case of the heathen, mahometan, and ignorant nations of the earth. No part of my prayers are so deeply serious, as that for the conversion of the infidel and ungodly world, that God’s name may be sanctified, and his kingdom come, and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven; Nor was I ever before so sensible what a plague the division of languages was which hinders our speaking to them for their conversion; nor what a great sin tyranny is which keeps out the Gospel from most of the nations of the world. Could we but go among Tartarians, Turks, and Heathens, and speak their language I should be but little troubled for the silencing of eighteen hundred Ministers at once in England, nor for all the rest that were cast out here, and in Scotland and Ireland. There being no employment in the world so desirable in my eyes, as to labour for the winning of such miserable souls: which maketh me greatly honour Mr. John Eliot, the Apostle of the Indians in New England and whoever else have laboured in such work.”

Richard Baxter (1615-1691): Puritan preacher and theologian in the Church of England; his ministry at Kidderminster was marked by a dramatic transformation of the whole community. Well-known author of The Saint’s Everlasting Rest, The Reformed Pastor, A Christian Directory, A Call to the Unconverted, and others. Born in Rowton, Shropshire, England.

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Holy Violence

Let us take these thoughts from the Puritan Thomas Watson and ask ourselves if we are using holy violence to take heaven by storm!

Thomas Watson
Thomas Watson

 “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”   Matthew 11:12

The exercises of the worship of God are contrary to nature; therefore, there must be a provoking of ourselves to them. The movement of the soul toward sin is natural, but its movement toward heaven is violent. The stone moves easily to the center. It has an innate propensity downward, but to draw up a millstone into the air is done by violence because it is against nature. So to lift up the heart to heaven in duty is done by violence and we must provoke ourselves to it.

What is it to provoke ourselves to duty? It is to awaken ourselves and shake off spiritual slothfulness. Let us then examine whether we put forth this holy violence for heaven. Do we set time apart to call ourselves to account and to try our evidences for heaven? “My spirit made diligent search” (Ps. 77:6). Do we take our hearts, as a watch, all in pieces to see what is amiss and to mend it? Are we curiously inquisitive into the state of our souls? Are we afraid of artificial grace, as we are of artificial happiness? Do we use violence in prayer?

Is there fire in our sacrifice? Is the wind of the Spirit filling our sails, causing unutterable groans (Rom. 8:26)? Do we pray in the morning as if we were to die at night? Do we thirst for the living God? Are our souls enlarged with holy desires? “There is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee” (Psalm 73:25). Do we desire holiness as well as heaven? Do we desire as much to look like Christ as to live with Christ? Is our desire constant? Is this spiritual pulse ever beating?

Are we skilled in self-denial? Can we deny our ease, our aims, our interests? Can we cross our own will to fulfill God’s? Can we behead our beloved sin? To pluck out the right eye requires violence. (Matthew 18:9). Are we lovers of God? It is not how much we do, but how much we love. Does love command the castle of our hearts? Does Christ’s beauty and sweetness constrain us? (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Do we love God more than we fear hell? Do we keep our spiritual watch? Do we set spies in every place, watching our thoughts, our eyes, our tongues? When we, have prayed against sin, do we watch against temptation? Do we press after further degrees of sanctity? “Reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Phil. 3:13). A good Christian is a wonder; he is the most contented yet the least satisfied. He is contented with a little of the world, but not satisfied with a little grace.

How violent Christ was about our salvation! He was in agony; He “continued all night in prayer” (Luke 6:12). He wept, He fasted, He died a violent death; He rose violently out of the grave. Was Christ so violent for our salvation, and does it not become us to be violent who are so intimately concerned in it? Christ’s violence was not only satisfactory, but exemplary. It was not only to appease God, but to teach us. Christ was violent in dying to teach us to be violent in believing.

Reference Used: Heaven Taken By Storm by Thomas Watson

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“Free” Will?

Here are some thoughts from Monergism.com with some additions:

We are dependent on God, not only for redemption itself but for our faith in the Redeemer; not only for the gift of His Son but for the Holy Ghost for our conversion.”      ~Jonathan Edwards in a public lecture in Boston July 8, 1731

Can a person come to faith in Jesus Christ apart from the Holy Spirit? Let us see what the Scripture says:

~1 Cor 12:3 “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit

~John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life”

~1 Thess 1:4, 5 “knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake”

If you answer in the negative (with Scripture), then you affirm that if (natural) man is left to himself he has no free will. If the will were naturally free then there would be no need for grace or the Holy Spirit whatsoever… we could simply exert our natural will to obey all of God’s commands, including the command to come to Christ. But in the New Testament Jesus defines freedom as freedom FROM slavery to sin, something, the Scripture declares, only the Son can grant us.

~John 8:34-47 “Jesus answered them, “ Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “ If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” Jesus said to them, “ If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

~John 6:65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 

~Rom 6:7 “For he who has died has been freed from sin”

~Rom 6:17-18 “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness”

So any time we acknowledge the need for grace, we are acknowledging (along with the Scriptures) man’s bondage to sin and his moral inability in both his affections and his will to come to Christ.

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Studies in the Scriptures : Worship

There are, these days, many who do not make a connection between daily behaviors and the affects they have upon worship. Read on and consider what the Scripture and voices of the past can teach us which is well worth consideration.

The Connection Between Worship and Conduct 

 Scripture Reading : Psalm 15: 1-5

Application from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

“Here is a very serious question concerning the character of a citizen of Zion. It is the happiness of glorified saints, that they dwell in the holy hill; they are at home there, they shall be for ever there. It concerns us to make it sure to ourselves that we have a place among them. A very plain and particular answer is here given. Those who desire to know their duty, will find the Scripture a very faithful director, and conscience a faithful monitor. A citizen of Zion is sincere in his religion. He is really what he professes to be, and endeavors to stand complete in all the will of God. He is just both to God and man; and, in speaking to both, speaks the truth in his heart. He scorns and abhors wrong and fraud; he cannot reckon that a good bargain, nor a saving one, which is made with a lie; and knows that he who wrongs his neighbor will prove, in the end, to have most injured himself. He is very careful to do hurt to no man. He speaks evil of no man, makes not others ‘faults the matter of his common talk; he makes the best of every body, and the worst of nobody. If an ill-natured story be told him, he will disprove it if he can; if not, it goes no further. He values men by their virtue and piety. Wicked people are vile people, worthless, and good for nothing; so the word signifies. He thinks the worse of no man’s piety for his poverty and mean condition. He reckons that serious piety puts honor upon a man, more than wealth, or a great name. He honors such, desires their conversation and an interest in their prayers, is glad to show them respect, or do them a kindness. By this we may judge of ourselves in some measure. Even wise and good men may swear to their own hurt: but see how strong the obligation is, a man must rather suffer loss to himself and his family, than wrong his neighbor. He will not increase his estate by extortion, or by bribery. He will not, for any gain, or hope of it to himself, do any thing to hurt a righteous cause. Every true living member of the church, like the church itself, is built upon a Rock. He that doeth these things shall not be moved for ever. The grace of God shall always be sufficient for him. The union of these tempers and this conduct, can only spring from repentance for sin, faith in the Savior, and love to him. In these respects let us examine and prove our own selves.”

And from Henry Law’s Commentary :

“Here is a beautiful picture of the holy man. Holy Spirit, mold us into this blessed form!

‘Lord, who shall abide in Your tabernacle? who shall dwell in Your holy hill?’

Profession is not always real. Many may cry, “Lord, Lord,” who shall at last be outcasts. Hence it is all-momentous to escape deception, and to know assuredly our state. Here is the question put. Here is the answer given. He who alone reads well the heart, He who discerns the wheat from chaff, hears the appeal and gives reply. Who then maintains communion with the Lord, who talks with God upon His mercy-seat, who shall forever dwell with Him in the new heavens and the new earth, who shall receive the welcome, “Come, you blessed children of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world?” Who will be Zion’s inhabitants when the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and shall be their God? The reply forbids mistake. God’s people are all righteous. Holiness is written on their brow. Holiness pervades their heart. Holiness directs their steps, supplies their words, and is the very essence of their being. They are newborn by the Spirit’s power. The divine nature is implanted. Let not, however, this decisive test mislead. Our holiness presents no title at God’s bar; it blots out no sin; it pays no debt; it arrests not condemnation; it weaves no justifying robe; it presents no shadow of a claim. Christ, and Christ only, justifies; His blood alone can cleanse from sin; His death alone appeases wrath. His pure obedience, placed to our account, is the only robe for heaven. Holiness is not our title, but it is assuredly our character. It is the evidence before God and man that we are really Christ’s. It is the test of union with the Lord; it is the proof that we are one with Him. By faith we have an interest in Christ and all Christ’s work. By works we prove that the gift of faith has been received. With earnest prayer that godliness may be our element of life and fitness for the new Jerusalem, let us now ponder the beautiful portrait drawn by the Spirit’s hand.”

 

 

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