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“Looking Unto Jesus” – A Thought From The Past by John Newton

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“I still reflect with pleasure on the opportunities I was favoured with among you; and if, as I hope, my little visits were not unacceptable to each or any of you, let us not lose a moment in apologies or compliments to each other, but refer the whole praise where it is wholly due. Salvation, in its whole extent, and in each particular step, is of the Lord. Though we can but lisp a little word about his goodness, yet when he is pleased to be near us, his presence and blessing can work by the meanest instruments, and cause our hearts to burn within us. On the other hand, when he withdraws, we can no more help each other than we can help ourselves: then, the very best of us prove miserable comforters, fruitless teachers, and blind guides. Could I bring my heart to this point, to regard myself as insufficient to think one good thought, or to speak one profitable word, any further than is influenced by that enlivening Spirit which Jesus is exalted on high to bestow, I should be well; but, alas! I am often hurt by a fond desire of being or doing something considerable, and this, so often as it prevails, like a sudden fatal blast, spoils my fairest blooming prospects of comfort and usefulness. It is a great point to be constant and diligent in the use of all appointed means, and yet to have our souls waiting only upon God, in a deep persuasion that neither the best means, nor the closest attendance upon them, can do any thing for us in themselves; and that nothing short of renewed communications from him, can either satisfy or sanctify our hearts.

The best advice I can send, or the best wish I can form for you, is, that you may have an abiding and experimental sense of those words of the apostle, which are just now upon my mind,—‘Looking unto Jesus.’ The duty, the privilege, the safety, the unspeakable happiness, of a believer, are all comprised in that one sentence. Let us first pray that the eyes of our faith and understanding may be opened and strengthened; and then let us fix our whole regard upon him. But how are we to behold him? I answer, in the glass of his written word; there he is represented to us in a variety of views; the wicked world can see no form nor comeliness in the portraiture he has given of himself; yet, blessed be God, there are those who can ‘behold his glory as the glory of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth;’ and while they behold it, they find themselves, ‘changed into the same image, from glory to glory,’ by the transforming influence of his Spirit. In vain we oppose reasonings, and arguments, and resolutions, to beat down our corruptions, and to silence our fears; but a believing view of Jesus does the business. When heavy trials in life are appointed us, and we are called to give up, or perhaps to pluck out, a right eye, it is an easy matter for a stander-by to say, ‘Be comforted;’ and it is as useless as easy;—but a view of Jesus by faith comes home to the point. When we can fix our thoughts upon him, as laying aside all his honours, and submitting, for our sakes, to drink off the bitter cup of the wrath of God to the very dregs; and when we further consider, that he who thus suffered in our nature, who knows and sympathizes with all our weakness, is now the Supreme Disposer of all that concerns us, that he numbers the very hairs of our heads, appoints every trial we meet with in number, weight, and measure, and will suffer nothing to befall us but what shall contribute to our good;—this view, I say, is a medicine suited to the disease, and powerfully reconciles us unto every cross. So when a sense of sin prevails, and the tempter is permitted to assault us with dark and dreadful suggestions, it is easy for us to say, ‘Be not afraid;’ but those who have tried, well know that looking to Jesus is the only and sure remedy in this case;—if we can get a sight of him by faith, as he once hung between the two thieves, and as he now pleads within the vail, then we can defy sin and Satan, and give our challenge in the apostle’s words, ‘Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again; who also maketh intercession for us:’ (Romans, 8:34.) Again, are we almost afraid of being swallowed up by our many restless enemies? Or, are we almost weary of our long pilgrimage through such a thorny, tedious, barren wilderness? A sight of Jesus, as Stephen saw him, crowned with glory, yet noticing all the sufferings of his poor servants, and just ready to receive them to himself, and make them partakers of his everlasting joy, this will raise the spirits, and restore strength; this will animate us to hold on, and to hold out; this will do it, and nothing but this can. So, if obedience be the thing in question, looking unto Jesus is the object that melts the soul into love and gratitude, and those who greatly love, and are greatly obliged, find obedience easy. When Jesus is upon our thoughts, either in his humbled or his exalted state, either as bleeding on the cross, or as our nature by all the host of heaven, then we can ask the apostle’s question with a becoming disdain, ‘Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?’ God forbid. What! Shall I sin against my Lord, my Love, my Friend, who once died for my sins, and now lives and reigns on my behalf; who supports, and leads, and guides, and feeds me every day? God forbid. No; rather I would wish for a thousand hands and eyes, and feet, and tongues, for ten thousand lives, that I might devote them all to his service: he should have all then; and surely he shall have all now! Alas, that in spite of myself, there still remains something that resists his will! But I long and pray for its destruction; and I see a day coming when my wish shall be accomplished, and I shall be wholly and for ever the Lord’s.”

John Newton, “Letter I: Letter To Miss M****, September 10, 1760,” in Eighteen Letters To Several Ladies in The Works of John Newton, Vol. 6, ed. Richard Cecil. (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 3–6.

Christ’s preciousness – A Retro-post by C.H. Spurgeon

Friday, September 8th, 2017

“To every sinner who feels his sin, Christ is precious; to every child of God who is saved, the Saviour must forever be fairest among the fair; to every heir of heaven who has experienced the sweetness of his saving grace, Christ must appear to be ‘the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely.’ A world destroyed I see if it had not been for a Saviour born; a world for ever cast into hell I see if it had not been for a Saviour dying on the cross. As a Saviour, O earth, thou as yet knowest not his preciousness; as a Saviour, O heaven, thou canst not reach the full merit of his praise. He is precious, then, if you think of him as he is, as God and man, and as a Saviour, in which office the two natures are combined in one.

Brethren, Christ is so precious that he cannot be bought. If a man should give all the substance of his house to purchase an interest in Christ, it would be utterly contemned. Rich men might gather together all their goodly things, yea, India might be exhausted of its wealth, Peru drained of its silver, and California of its gold, but no part nor lot in Christ could be bought, even with sapphires and diamonds. He gives himself away right freely, according to the riches of his grace, but he is utterly unpurchasable, for he is so precious that he cannot even be priced. A whole world can never weigh against him any more than a single grain of dust would weigh against the universe. There is no measuring line with which to form a unit for calculation, with which to measure him; he is infinite, and finite judgments will never be able to comprehend his unutterable value. He is God’s unspeakable gift. Heaven itself is nothing as compared with him, and if a man had to wade breast deep through a thousand hells to come at Christ, it were well worth the venture, if at the last he might but say, ‘My Beloved is mine, and I am his.’

Jesus is so precious that he cannot be matched. There is none like him. The fairest of the fair are uncomely and deformed when compared with him. As Rutherford would say, ‘Black sun, black moon, black stars, but, O bright, infinitely bright Lord Jesus.’ ‘He is the express image of his Father’s person, and the brightness of his Father’s glory.’ Ye shall find none that can be likened unto him, if ye ransack time and space. Miss him as your Saviour, and you have lost the only salvation possible; gain him, and you will want no other, for he is made of God unto you ‘wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption,’ and all your souls can want; yea, he himself is all. If heaven and earth were sold, ye could not match Christ in any market if ye gave the price of heaven and earth for his like. If you search eternity, and ransack immensity, there shall ne’er be found one fit to be second to him, he is so precious.

Precious, brethren, he is to us, because he cannot be lost. All the precious things in this world are loseable. The jewels may be stolen, the house may be broken into by the thief, and the casket may be taken away, but Christ is such a jewel that even Satan himself can never rob the soul of him when once it hath him. My heart evermore rejoices in that precious truth. Let Jesus Christ be once mine as the gift of God, I am safe, for ‘the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.’ The Lord never repents of what he has done, he never plays fast and loose, or takes back a boon which he has once bestowed. Is not Jesus a priceless, precious jewel, since he cannot be lost!

And what is equally as delightful to remember, he cannot be destroyed. Even the diamond can be dissolved; bring but sufficient heat to bear upon it, focus upon it the full rays of the sun, and the sparkling crystal dissolves into a little gas; but though men have tried to focus all the heat of persecution upon the Christian, they have never been able to separate him from the love of Christ; and though earth and hell have stirred up their malice, and the furnace has been heated seven times hotter, and the child of God has been tossed into it, and apparently deserted to the fury of his enemies, yet never in a single case has the precious gem of Christ Jesus in the heart been destroyed, nor the believer’s interest in it; for Jesus and his servants have lived together, according to the glorious promise, ‘Because I live, ye shall live also.’ See the preciousness, then, of Christ, the intrinsic preciousness, the essential preciousness of Christ, because he cannot be bought, he cannot be priced, he cannot be matched, he cannot be lost, he cannot be destroyed. Happy and rich beyond expression are they who can truly say, ‘Unto us Christ is precious.’” C.H. Spurgeon, “Three Precious Things,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 16. Originally preached on May 8, 1870. (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1870), 278-280. [Italics original.]

Scenes Of God’s Glory From The Cancer Ward

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted.” Psalm 25:16

*

Authentic Christianity – a living relationship with Christ by faith – is built for real life with all its trials and difficulties. I was practically reminded of this during a recent visit to a believing friend who is currently fighting cancer. Although she is in the hospital in a state far from our home, we were in her area for the preaching of God’s Word, and so decided to visit and encourage her. Even as I type that last phrase, I’m smiling, for what occurred was that my wife, Naomi & I, were the ones who were encouraged. Seeing the reality of the faith of this suffering sister and her devoted husband demonstrated afresh the reality of the Lord’s mercies in the crucible of pain.

From Anger To Praise

Our friend’s cancer was diagnosed shortly after her husband lost his job. Like many of us, this brother was initially dismayed and angry: Why would God allow this to happen now? As he recounted his past bitterness, I thought to myself: “Brother, I’m certain I would’ve harbored hard thoughts too.” Yet our Father “knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14.) It turned out, that the severance package was generous and in God’s good providence, the family insurance continues for a year. What seemed at first to be a major blow, turned out to be the Almighty’s gracious supply for His children’s needs. In addition, the husband was set free from normal working responsibilities in order to care for his wife. Truly, “a man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9.)

Praising From The Sickbed

From her sickbed, this sister repeatedly spoke of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Her husband agreed and could only lament his former doubt. He spoke with the quietness of conviction, affirming that the Lord is to be trusted and is doing all things well. How can people going through such a severe trial praise the Lord? The answer is that it is nothing short of supernatural!

In times of stress and difficulty, Christ’s people have a decided advantage:

  • The Lord promises to never leave or forsake them (Hebrews 13:5.)
  • He died to remove their sins and rose again to give them eternal and abundant life (1 Cor. 15:3-4; John 10:10.)
  • His Spirit lives within them and empowers them to glorify God from the fiery furnaces of this world (John 14:16-18.)
  • They also have the settled assurance that the Lord providentially works all things for good (Rom. 8:28-30.)
  • God works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11) and that will is directing history toward the inexorable enthronement of His glorified Son, Jesus Christ, as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16.)
  • Part of that will also dictates that His people will be eternally with Him, sharing in His glory and serving in His heavenly administration (John 17:24-26; 2 Tim. 2:11-13.)

As Isaac Watts put it:

Plunged in a gulf of dark despair
We wretched sinners lay,
Without one cheerful beam of hope,
Or spark of glimm’ring day.

With pitying eyes the Prince of grace
Beheld our helpless grief;
He saw, and, O amazing love!
He ran to our relief.
[i]

Glory, Glory, Glory

Present sufferings cannot compare with believers’ future glory (Rom. 8:18.) The Holy Spirit used Paul to write these words. By his own experience, he was an authority on human suffering. Sorrow may endure for the night time, but for the believer, joy cometh in the morning. The great eternal morning when the Lord will come to receive His saints to Himself (John 14:3.) Bodies that are now afflicted with diseases like cancer, will then be clothed with immortality (1 Cor. 15:42-55; 2 Cor. 4:17-5:8.) Spirits that are plagued by the inward struggle against sin will enter into the glorious liberty of the sons of God (Rom. 8:11, 15-23.) As Robert Murray M’Cheyne poetically envisioned it:

When I stand before the throne

Dressed in beauty not my own,

When I see thee as thou art,

Love thee with unsinning heart,

Then, Lord, shall I fully know—

Not till then—how much I owe.[ii]

______________________________________________________________________

[i] Isaac Watts, The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1998).

[ii] Robert Murray McCheyne, The Works of the Late Robert Murray McCheyne, Vol. 1. (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), 360–361.

* J. Hodgson Lobley, “The Special Surgical Auxiliary Hospital At The Star & Garter Hotel,  Richmond (UK)” (1918): Accessed here.

The Focus Of The Church (A Retro-post by Horatius Bonar)

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

“And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:28

“That God may be all in all’ is the basis of all apostolic doctrine, from which it sets out, and into which it returns, and round which it revolves. ‘Of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things,’ is the refrain of the apostle’s songs; a refrain which the whole early Church took up and sung with so loud a harmony, that the sound went over earth, and pagan nations awoke, startled at the name of the one living and true God, King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only wise God, so different from their Jupiter, their Mercury, and other such false and unclean gods. The burden of these doxologies is: Glory to that eternal Jehovah who worketh all in all, who filleth all in all.

God is the doer as well as the purposer of everything connected with the Christ, and of everything relating to the redeemed and their connection with the Christ, who is the centre of all His purposes and desires. The Church is His creation. Each saint is His creation. There is no religion in a man save that which originates with Him, and is consummated by Him. Religion that is self-made, consisting of doctrines, feelings, rites, self-taught and self-wrought, is no better than ancient paganism. ‘We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them’ (Eph. 2:10): that is, we are His workmanship, not our own (ver. 8); nay, we are His ‘creation,’1 nay, His creation in and by Christ Jesus; and all this for ‘good works,’ for which God had made all this vast preparation, ‘that we should walk in them.’

Thus God is in Christ purposing concerning us; for Christ and the redeemed are inseparable in the eternal purpose of the Father. That purpose embraces both, and embodies the mutual relationship of the one to the other. It contemplates also, and makes preparation for, the holiness of each redeemed one, as well as for the perfection of the whole Church of God; as it is written, ‘Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Tim. 1:9, 10).

Thus God is in Christ working concerning us; for all His operations for us and in us are in connection with the Christ. From the first touch of His hand, when He arrests us in our folly, to the last, when He finishes the glorious work in the resurrection of our bodies, all His doings concerning us are ‘in Christ.’ ‘He created all things by Jesus Christ,’ is as true of the new creation as of the old. He is the former of all things, the Lord of Hosts is His name. Each hour bears witness to the unceasing and unwearied touches of His hand in moulding us anew after His own image. And all this is the working and the purposing of ‘love,’—the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord. And all this to the praise of the glory of His grace, that God may be all in all.

Thus God is in Christ reconciling us to Himself; for the reconciliation comes through this living channel, and this only. God approaches us in Christ, lays hold on us in Christ, looks at us in Christ, makes proposals to us in Christ, links us to Himself in Christ. ‘You hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death’ (Col. 1:22). The reconciliation of the covenant is Christ Jesus our Lord. Save in Him, there is no nearness, no favour, no friendship, no fellowship. The one Mediator is the one reconciler, through whom God says to us, ‘Come unto me;’ and as there is but one mediation, so there is but one atonement, one propitiation, one reconciliation; one cross, one blood, one death, one burial, one resurrection. For in each of these Christ is all. ‘He of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.’”

1 The words ‘creation’ and ‘workmanship’ remind us of the expressions used in reference to the first creation, ‘His work which God created and made’ (Gen. 2:3).

Horatius Bonar, The Christ of God. (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1874), 144–147. [Italics original.]

Death & Life, A Historic Post From Horatius Bonar

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

“Ours is a dying world; and immortality has no place upon this earth. That which is deathless is beyond these hills. Mortality is here; immortality is yonder! Mortality is below; immortality is above. “Neither can they die any more,” is the prediction of something future, not the announcement of anything either present or past. At every moment one of the sons of Adam passes from this life; and each swing of the pendulum is the death-warrant of some child of time. ‘Death,’ ‘death,’ is the sound of its dismal vibration. ‘Death,’ ‘death,’ it says, unceasingly, as it oscillates to and fro. The gate of death stands ever open, as if it had neither locks nor bars. The river of death flows sullenly past our dwellings; and continually we hear the splash and the cry of one, and another, and another, as they are flung into the rushing torrent, and carried down to the sea of eternity.

Earth is full of death-beds. The groan of pain is heard everywhere,—in cottage or castle, in prince’s palace or peasant’s hut. The tear of parting is seen falling everywhere; rich and poor, good and evil, are called to weep over the departure of beloved kindred, husband or wife, or child, or friend. Who can bind the strong man that he shall not lay his hand upon us or our beloved ones? Who can say to sickness, Thou shalt not touch my frame; or to pain, Thou shalt not come nigh; or to death, Thou shalt not enter here? Who can light up the dimmed eye, or recolour the faded cheek, or reinvigorate the icy hand, or bid the sealed lip open, or the stiffened tongue speak once more the words of warm affection? Who can enter the death-chamber, and speak the ‘Talitha Cumi’ of resurrection? Who can look into the coffin, and say, Young man, arise? Who can go into the tomb, and say, Lazarus, come forth?

The voice of death is heard everywhere. Not from the bier alone, nor the funeral procession, nor the dark vault, nor the heaving churchyard. Death springs up all around. Each season speaks of death. The dropping spring-blossom; the scorched leaf of summer; the ripe sheaf of autumn; the bare black winter mould,—all tell of death. The wild storm, with its thick clouds and hurrying shadows; the sharp lightning, bent on smiting; the dark torrent, ravaging field and vale; the cold seawave; the ebbing tide; the crumbling rock; the up-torn tree,—all speak of dissolution and corruption. Earth numbers its grave-yards by hundreds of thousands; and the sea covers the dust of uncounted millions, who, coffined and uncoffined, have gone down into its unknown darkness.

Death reigns over earth and sea; city and village are his. Into every house this last enemy has entered, in spite of man’s desperate efforts to keep him out. There is no family without some empty seat or crib; no fireside without a blank; no circle out of which some brightness has not departed. There is no garden without some faded rose; no forest without some sere leaf; no tree without some shattered bough; no harp without some broken string.

In Adam all die. He is the head of death, and we its mortal members. There is no exemption from this necessity; there is no discharge in this war. The old man dies; but the young also; the grey and the golden head are laid in the same cold clay. The sinner dies; so also does the saint; the common earth from which they sprang receives them both. The fool dies; so also does the wise. The poor man dies; so also does the rich. ‘All flesh is grass.’

The first Adam died; so also died the second Adam, who is the Lord from heaven. But there is a difference. The first Adam died, and, therefore, we die. The second Adam died, and therefore, we live; for the last Adam was made a quickening spirit; and this is the pledge of final victory over death and the tomb. Thus, the grave is the cradle of life; night is the womb of day; and sunset has become sunrise to our shaded and sorrowful earth. Yet, this is not yet realised. We are still under the reign of death, and this is the hour and the power of darkness. The day of the destruction of death, and the unlocking of sepulchres is not yet. It will come in due time. Meanwhile we have to look on death; for our dwelling is in a world of death,—a land of graves.

If, then, we would get beyond death’s circle and shadow, we must look above. Death is here, but life is yonder! Corruption is here, incorruption is yonder. The fading is here, the blooming is yonder. We must take the wings of the morning and fly away to the region of the unsorrowing and the undying; where ‘that which is sown in weakness shall be raised in power, and death be swallowed up in victory.’”

Horatius Bonar, Family Sermons. (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1863), 416–419.

Christ In Place Of Self – Horatius Bonar on Rom. 14:7

Friday, February 10th, 2017

“For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” Romans 14:7

“It is the Lord Jesus Christ who has come into the place of self, filling up its room. In turning from self we do not leave ourselves without an object to live for, or to die for: we get one infinitely more worthy than we possessed before. Instead of self we get the Son of God; the glorious one. He fills us, occupies us, engrosses us henceforth. He is all to us what self was before. He takes the place of self in everything from first to last, great or small. He is the Substitute for self, first of all, in the matter of our standing before God. As the first thing the Holy Spirit does is to set aside self, in the matter of justification and acceptance, so his next is to present to us the Son of God as the true ground of our acceptance. We no longer seek to be justified by self in any sense, or on account of anything done to self; on account of amended self, or improved self; or mortified self, but solely on account of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us and who rose again. Having taken him in the place of self, we find ourselves at once accepted of the Father, ‘accepted in the beloved,’ accepted, not because self has been improved, but because self has been set aside and the Son of God substituted in its room. And in this Son of God, whom we take as a substitute for self, in the matter of our acceptance, we find an object worth living for, an object that we can carry through everything, through every part of life, into every region of life. We make him our Alpha and Omega, our first and our last. On a sick-bed our object is, that Christ should be glorified whatever becomes of us. On a deathbed our desire is, that Christ should be magnified, and in all that may happen to our name after death, in anticipation either of good report or of bad report among men, our sole wish is, that the name of Christ should be exalted. Thus, in living and in dying, Christ is all. He has come in the room of self, and fills that room entirely. Our life is thus full of Christ, and so is our death; ‘Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: so that living or dying we are the Lord’s.’ You are not your own at any time, nor in any circumstances, but his, his only.

What solemnity is thus thrown over life! All its parts, all its movements, are now consecrated to the Lord. Up till the time when this substitution takes place our life is a wasted one, utterly thrown away. It is dedicated to self, just as some of Egypt’s magnificent temples of old were consecrated to the worship of some reptile. But now that self has been cast out, and Christ introduced, our life has become a sacred thing; every part of it is consecrated,—made ‘holy unto the Lord.’

What dignity this imparts, both to life and death! Let it be the life or death of the poorest, if he be a believing man, a man in Christ Jesus, what a dignity attaches to him; a dignity that attaches to no other being upon earth, not even to its mightiest kings. From the moment that he became a man in Christ Jesus, living not to himself but to Christ, all littleness vanished, all narrowness and meanness were gone, and in the place thereof grandeur, glory, and heavenly magnificence thrown around his person. What a change!

What importance now attaches to life! All triviality has passed out of it. It has now become an important thing either to live or to die. We have got something worth living for, and something worth dying for; and in circumstances such as these, there can be nothing unimportant about life. The end we live for, the end we speak for, the end we act for, raises life up to an importance which nothing else could have done. There can be nothing little now about anything that we think, speak, or do.

What an imperishable character is thus imparted to life! Everything we do, whether in living or in dying, becomes imperishable, now that we live unto the Lord and die unto the Lord. It was self formerly that ruined everything, that made everything connected with us to crumble down and waste away. But now it is entirely different. The Lord has come in to occupy the place of self. He is come in, who is ‘the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,’ and he imparts his immortality to us, in all we are and do. Now nothing dies, but everything lives, and that for ever, for it is done unto the Lord. Every word spoken for him has an eternal being. Every action done for him carries its results forward into eternity; and every step we take, if taken for him, is a step whose effects are immortal, as is our being, and as is the being of him who has, by his oneness with us, attached to all we do his own imperishable character.

What an incentive to zeal this gives us! We have now got something to do that is really worth doing; an object worth living for and worth dying for. There is nothing so heartless as to have no object in life, or a poor object; and, on the contrary, there is nothing so quickening, so animating, as to have a worthy object. How mighty, then, must be the impulse, when we can feel that our life is a life to the Lord, that our death is a death to the Lord.

What a reason for consistency and holiness of life! Everything we do tells, not merely upon our comfort, on our earthly prospects, on our good name, but upon the glory of Christ. We have now become so connected with him that everything we speak or do bears upon him and his cause. The consistency of a holy life honours him, and brings a good report of him to our fellow-men. How watchful, then, ought we to be; how jealous over ourselves, lest self should assume the place that belongs only to the Lord; how anxious to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; how desirous that our life should be a consistent witness-bearing for Christ, that our light should shine before men!” Horatius Bonar, Family Sermons (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1863), 239–243. [Italics original.]

Guest Post by R.P. Amos: 7 Meeting Places of God with His People

Friday, June 27th, 2014

The Lord’s desires to be near His people.  “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Psa. 50:5).  There are 7 places in Scripture where God’s people as a whole habitually meet with Him.  Not just going to a service or a school to learn, but to meet Him.  Three are history from which we can learn. One is present of where we meet with God now.  Three are future of which it gets better.

1. MOSES’ TENT      “Moses…called it the Tabernacle of the congregation”

God had just judged Israel for its golden calf idolatry.  The sanctuary tabernacle with its holy places and altar had not been constructed yet.  Because the Lord was announcing He would not be in the midst of such a hard people, Moses took the tent where God met with him to talk, and moved it outside the corrupted camp of people.  God’s glory cloud then came to that tent (tabernacle) door and now; “every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation [meeting], which was without the camp.”  Now to meet with God, the people had to separate from the popular corrupted encampment and meet the Lord outside it where He was.  Meeting with the Lord would now have feet to it.

Now believers in Christ Jesus (He suffered outside the religious city gate) are told to “go forth therefore unto Him without the camp” [Christless corrupted religion], Heb. 13:13.

2. THE WILDERNESS TABERNACLE   “there I will meet with the children of Israel”

Once the portable tabernacle with its holy places had been pitched, God’s desire was to be in the midst of His people journeying home.  Now his people’s occupation was to “bring an offering [sacrifice] unto the Lord” at “the door of the tabernacle of the congregation [meeting]”.  It was first a place of bringing to God, not to get something.

Now the church is His spiritual house.  We are His holy priesthood that offers up to God (not for ourselves) spiritual sacrifices (praise, good works, charity, service) by Christ.

3. THE TEMPLE      “his habitation shall ye seek, and thither [there] thou shalt come”

Once Israel came into their land, God would choose a permanent place to reside among His people.  God eventually chose Jerusalem and had a permanent temple built by Solomon.  Now there was one holy city on earth where His presence was.  This one place was to be where His people could meet with Him.  All other places with names of other gods were to be destroyed.  Only His Name at His place was the only meeting place.

We learn in the church that God has placed His Name of “Lord” only on Jesus Christ.  All other names of identity are not to be taken by believers.  We are to gather in and call only upon the Name (authority and wisdom) of the exalted Lord Jesus Christ.

4. THE CHURCH    “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ when ye are gathered together”

When believers in Christ gather in His exalted Name and authority – Lord Jesus Christ, He promises to be in the midst of them by His Spirit.  So now in this age there is not one holy place on earth to come to but one holy Name to gather in, no matter where you might geographically be.  God’s Name has gone from Jerusalem to Jesus – the Lord.

So now “all that in every place that call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” constitutes His house, the church.  He is where all believers in any locale on earth continually come together into one place – in the Lord Jesus’ Name.  So now we don’t just “go to church” or to Bible study or to meeting – but to meet-Him.

And it’s His very presence that forms the church’s character:  Glory to be given only to Him (“no flesh should glory in His presence”).  Holiness is to be pursued (separation from the false and not letting sin spread among believers).  Reverence to be present.  Praise led by the Lord Jesus in the midst of the church in the power of His Spirit (not some worship leader or team).  Plurality of gifts involved in a gathering delegated by Him (not one ordained man).  Headship order His way with man and woman having different roles.  Remembrance of the Lord and His death at His Supper is to be the focus (not a human performance).  Word of the Lord is to be heard by His sheep (not using the Bible to prove our ideas but using it to form our ideas).

5. THE MEETING IN THE AIR     “to meet the Lord in the air…ever be with the Lord”

As important as it is meet with the Lord in Spirit on earth, He desires to be physically with His bride-body forever.  And so there is coming a great gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ of every believer in Christ – dead or alive.  He will descend and somewhere in the air between heaven and earth, all will be caught up to meet Him in the air to be united.  And so will we be forever meeting with the Lord Jesus Himself whether in heaven above or the kingdom beneath.  As the hymn writer said: “where Jesus is, tis heaven there”.

6. THE KINGDOM TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM    “all nations shall flow unto it”

The Lord Jesus will return with His united bride to rule on the earth for the thousand-year kingdom.  Once the unrepentant sinner is removed and judged there will be peace, justice and good will toward men.  His headquarters and palace will be out of Jerusalem, Israel with the rebuilt house (temple) of God there also.  Because King Jesus will now be there the name of Jerusalem will be changed to ‘Jehovah Shammah’ – “the LORD is there”.

But since the Lord desires to meet with all believers the door will be open for all nations to come to worship and meet with Him to learn His ways and word.  This will not be a union of all religions coexisting with each other but a “religious unity” where all agree that Jesus is Lord and His Word is right to walk in.  The fruit will be the abolition of war and the military for in the love and the fear of the one Lord Jesus Christ all will be united.

7. THE NEW JERUSALEM  “God himself shall be with them”

Even in the eternal state of the new heaven and new earth where the New Jerusalem descends from heaven, God desires to be with His people.  There won’t be a physical temple there for now the Lord is the worship center as He Himself with the Lamb is living with His redeemed – the bride.  And the Lord in this city will be the gathering center as all the saved nations will come to meet with Him and have their kings bring their glory and honor unto it.  And the door is never shut for no night is there – continual access to meet and fellowship with God Himself and His Lamb – Jesus Christ!

Yes, God desires to be near and meet with His people in His way.  Do you?

{Some Scriptures for the seven meetings.  MOSES’ TENT – Exodus 33:1-17.   WILDERNESS TABERNACLE – Exo. 29:42,43 / Lev. 1:1-3 (Church – 1Pet. 2:5 / Heb. 13:15,16 / Philp. 4:18 / Rom. 12:1).  TEMPLE – Deut. 12:1-14 / 1Kings 11:36  (Church – Philp. 2:9-11 /1Cor. 1, 5:4).   CHURCH ASSEMBLY – 1Cor. 1:2, 3:16, 5:4, 14:23 / Matt. 18:20/1Cor. 1:29-31/2Cor. 6:14-7:1/Psa. 89.7/Heb. 12:28 /Heb. 2:12/1Cor. 14:23-31/1Cor:11:3, 14:34,35/1Cor. 11:16-26/2Tim. 2:15, 4:2.  IN THE AIR – 1Thess. 4:16-18.  KINGDOM ON EARTH – Rev. 17:14/Isa. 2:1-4 / Ezek. 48:35.  NEW JERUSALEM – Rev. 21}

The Heartbeat of Christian Assembling (A Guest-post by R.P. Amos)

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

The Heartbeat of Christian Assembling

What a brain is to a body or a CPU processor to a computer so is the revolutionary truth of Hebrews 10:19-23 to the Christian church.  All worship and service flows from this.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) … Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together … .  Hebrews 10:19-23, 25

How does one come into God’s presence?  Is there legal protocol?  (Could one just show up in the president’s oval office without any authority, clearance or protocol)?  The living God is in the throne-room of heaven with all His holy angels. There are mighty thunderings and lightnings sounding out, burning lamps, winged creatures covered with eyes proclaiming His holiness 24 hours a day, and elders clothed in clean white falling down low before Him.  Let’s consider 7 truths of the gospel way of coming to this God.

1. CONTEMPORARY (progressive)            “By a new and living way”

Remember the old way.  Only the consecrated holy priesthood could represent God’s people in the service of God at His house.  So no Gentile man or any woman (even if she were a Levite Jew) could ever eat from the table of bread in the holy sanctuary.  And further, after Moses died, only one man on one day in one way was ever permitted to enter the holiest where God’s glory and presence was.  That man was the high priest, the day was Yom Kippur, and the way was with perfect sacrificial blood.  A solid veil curtain with guardian cherubim woven on it acted as a closed door to keep even priests out of the holiest.  Where the awesome, mighty and holy Lord lived over the ark between the guardian golden cherubim was a forbidden city: the most exclusive area on planet earth.

Now as we will see things have changed; it’s new, progressive and now contemporary!

2. DIVERSITY                                   “Having therefore brethren

Not the professional or the ordained hierarchy or the trained or even the elders are told to enter but “brethren”: the “common” believer.  Now regardless of diversity in nationality, religious upbringing, social class, culture or gender, the door is open for all believers to equally draw near to God Himself – without man’s representation or mediation.

3. LIBERTY (for accessibility)          “boldness to enter into”

In the Bible, liberty is not my right to choose what I want, but being free of restraints so I can do what God desires.  Now the restraint of not being permitted to be in God’s presence and house has been eliminated. So now we have personal access to God Himself to hear His voice from His Word like Moses did.  We all also have access to be actively involved His way in His spiritual holy temple today, the church, in worship and service.

4. HEAVENLY                                   “the holiest”

The holiest in this context is not some holy city or cathedral on earth. The true sanctuary where the Lord Jesus is now serving as High Priest is God-built in heaven, not man-made on earth.  The old temple was just a model of the heavenly reality we operate in now.  We come to the heavenly Jerusalem and we are the church of the firstborn with our names written in the membership of heaven.  Whether a church of believers meets in a home or a cave, they are connected to this golden heavenly glory where Jesus is enthroned.

5. AUTHORITY                    “by the blood of Jesus – and having an high priest”

By what authority do we as God’s holy priesthood dare directly approach Him in communion?  By what authority do all believers now fellowship in partaking of the bread and cup at the Lord’s supper and being actively involved in offering Him praise in congregational singing in the church?  By what authority do we offer Him the worship of our heart (the women offering silently in the church and all the men having the calling to do so orally, as well as teaching according to their gifts)?

The authority has nothing to do with education or ordination but consecration (dedicated).  The Lord Jesus has “by a new and living way, … consecrated for us”.  Our authority in Christ that equally qualifies every believer is the blood of Christ (it has completely cleansed us).  We come through the veil now.  It is open and it opened in two the second the Lord Jesus died for our sins.  If a shut door says ‘stay out’ an open door says ‘come in’.  And we have a high priest in heaven (the risen Lord) now representing every believer before God Himself.  Our authority is nothing less than the gospel!  Don’t let any manmade rule sew the veil back up and steal your liberty in Christ’s gospel.

6. UNITY                                           “Let us draw near”

Notice the words “us” and “our” in our text.  While we are made from diversity, we function as a unity.  The Lord desires not some special group of Christians enjoying this but all together.  Consider the Old Testament tabernacle tent curtain where God first lived on earth.  It was a plurality of pieces (10) and diversity of colors (4).  But each piece was to be cut in an equal measure so they would be exactly the same. Then the 10 equal pieces were first joined together into 2 separate equal sections.  Then the 2 large sections were joined together by 50 golden clasps through 50 blue loops to form 1,“and it shall be one tabernacle”.  God lived and lives in a unity from a plurality and diversity.

Now the church, His spiritual temple, is from a diversity of four: “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation”.  Also a plurality of 10 groupings of people: Greek, Jew, circumcision, uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, male and female – all comprising the two great sections of Jew and Gentiles (nations) now made equally one in Christ by His Spirit which was sent from heaven on the Jewish feast of weeks (50 days – Pentecost).

7. STABILITY                                   “hold fast … without wavering.

This gospel is built on the promises of God in Jesus Christ, for “He is faithful that promised”.  While governments change and people fall out of favor with power, our High Priest lives forever for us and is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever”.  So we have access and nearness to God forever through the living Lord Jesus Christ: stability!

This is what Christian assembling is about and should freely express with reverence and joy.  May we progress with God and not be old fashioned going backwards to legalism.

{Some Scriptures for the seven truths.  CONTEMPORARY – (old way) Heb. 9:1-9 / Exo. 25:21, 22, Lev. 6:18, 24:9 / Num. 18: 1-10.  DIVERSITY – 1Cor. 12:13 / Col. 3:11, Matt. 23:8 / 1Tim. 2:5.  LIBERTY – Exo. 8:1 / Rom. 6:18 / Heb. 4:16, 9:8 / Eph. 2:17 / Rom. 5:2 / 1Cor. 11:26, chapter 14.   HEAVENLY – Acts 7:48 / Heb. 8:1-5, 9:11, 24, 12:22, 23 / Rev. 4, 15:5.  AUTHORITY – 1Pet. 2:5, 9 / Rev. 1:5, 6, 5:9 / Eph. 5:18,19 / 1Cor 11:23-26, 14:23-37 / Matt. 27:50, 51.  UNITY – Eph. 4:13 / Exo. 26: 1-6 / Rev. 5:9 / Col. 3:11, Gal. 3:28 / Eph. 2:13-16 / Lev. 23: 15-17 /Acts 2:1, 33.  STABILITY – Heb. 4:14, 7:25, 13:8}

The Comforter Cometh

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF., CLICK HERE: The Comforter Cometh

“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and
devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Luke 2:25
In this world of sorrow people yearn for deliverance from life‘s problems and stresses. If only
someone could give them relief from the things that oppress their spirits and make their lives
drudgery, they reason, then their lives would be ideal. First-century Israel was no different, for
the Jews of that day longed for liberation from the onerous yolk of Rome as well as a restoration
of the glories of their independent past. Against this backdrop, a devout man named Simeon
walked into the Temple precincts one day in order to see the fulfillment of ancient prophecy. His
aspirations went far beyond nationalistic sentiments or personal desires for an easier life. Rather,
he awaited the coming of ―the Consolation of Israel‖ – the advent of the Messiah, a person
whose life and actions would have cosmic and eternal effect for Israel and the nations.
Thou Wilt Command Thy Servant’s Consolationi
The translators of The New King James Version rightly capitalize ―Consolation‖ in Luke 2:25,
recognizing that it is a messianic title, and not merely a description of an activity towards Israel.
It is true that the nation will one day be consoled – in addition to many other nations that will
share in the blessing of Christ‘s millennial reign – yet one must remember that this comfort is
bound up in one person: the Messiah Jesus.ii The phrase ―the Consolation of Israel‖ certainly had
technical messianic overtones in other contemporary Jewish sourcesiii, and later Rabbinic
Judaism frequently employed it to refer to the Messiah.iv As one historian notes: ―In Rab.
Judaism the ‘consolation of Israel’ is a blanket term for the fulfillment of Messianic
expectation…‖v Another author agrees: ―…’the consolation of Israel,’ is rooted in the consolation
language which in Isaiah is connected with God‘s eschatological restoration of his people (Isa
40:1; 49:13; 51:3; 52:9; 57:18; 66:10–11).‖vi David Gooding further elucidates the origins of this
expression, saying:
The delightful term ‘consolation of Israel’ suggests that his expectation was based on the
programme enunciated in such passages as Isaiah 40ff. He was looking for the day when
Israel’s warfare and chastisement would be over, and God would ‘comfort his people’.
Nor was Simeon narrowly concerned simply for the future of Israel. Basing himself again
on Isaiah’s predictions (e.g. 42:6; 49:6 etc.) he foresaw the time when the light of God’s
salvation would spread to the very ends of the earth (see 2:31-32).vii
Comfort Ye My People
After all of the awful things that happened to Israel in antiquity, the nation collectively felt
an understandable desire for comfort from their woes. As the land in between competing
2
southern and northern superpowers – Egypt, Aram, Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia to name
but a few – they experienced periodic military invasions. They were also harassed by their
western and eastern neighbors: Philistia, Edom, Moab, and Ammon. At the end of the Old
Testament period, Babylonian captivity successively gave way to Medo-Persian and
Hellenistic domination. The outward assaults were matched by inward spiritual declension,
as the Jewish people repeatedly struggled with departure from the Lord, bringing in idolatry,
perversion, disunity, and spiritual impoverishment. In addition to these national calamities,
individual Israelites felt the weight of personal sin, as well the burdens of living in a fallen
world.viii Yet the Lord spoke of personally comforting His people in the future as their perfect
Shepherd King (Isa. 40.) As two linguists assert: ―Comforting is God‘s proper work. He turns
earlier desolation into perfect consolation both in individuals…and also in the people of God,
cf. Is. 54:11 ff.; 51:19 ff.‖ix Subsequent pogroms, pervasive anti-Semitism, and the horrors of
the Holocaust (ha-Shoah, to the Jews) augment the needed comfort for the Jewish people.
The future time of Jacob‘s trouble – the Tribulation of the New Testament – will turn the
nation‘s eyes to its Messiah (e.g. Zech. 12:1-13:1; Rom. 11:25-29.) The Consoler of Israel
will defend them and usher in His reign among them.
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Luke 2:25 is pregnant with the expectation of what Peter called ―the restoration of all things‖
(Acts 3:21.) Pius believers like Simeon patiently and earnestly awaited personal, national, and
global deliverance from the powers of evil. Messiah‘s kingdom will eventually fulfill all of the
prophecies for Israel‘s restoration and glory, as well as accomplish the ultimate triumph over sin
and evil in the universe. Charles Wesley‘s classic hymn captures the spirit of Simeon‘s rejoicing
heart:
Come, Thou long expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.x
As Woudstra writes: ―Thus in one comprehensive gesture we see all the messianic prophecies
plus all the saving interventions of God in behalf of His people summed up in this one beautiful
phrase: the consolation of Israel.‖xi
God‘s New Creation is centered in the person and work of His glorious Son. This man will
console His redeemed people during His Millennial reign and the eternal kingdom that lies
beyond it (Isa. 66 and Rev. 21-22.) In his inimitable way, J. Vernon McGee straightforwardly
articulates the centrality of Christ in His Father‘s plans for the present and future manifestations
of His salvation: ― God had promised Simeon that he would see the salvation of God. What did he
see? He saw a little Baby. Salvation is a Person, and not something that you do. Salvation is a
Person, and that Person is the Lord Jesus Christ. You either have Him, or you don‘t have Him.
You either trust Him, or you don‘t trust Him.‖xii
3
Things Future, Nor Things That Are Nowxiii
While Isaiah 40:1-2 and Luke 2:30-32 teach that ―the Consolation of Israel‖ will one day
extend His comfort over all the earth, He also presently gives His comfort to those know Him by
faith. This personal Comforter presently ministers for His children before the throne of God (1
John 2:1-2; Heb. 7:24-28.) In their struggles and trials He consoles His people. As James G.
Deck‘s poetry fittingly express this truth in song:
O JESUS, gracious Saviour,
Upon the Father’s throne —
Whose wondrous love and favour
Have made our cause Thine own;
Thy people to Thee ever
For grace and help repair,
For Thou, they know, wilt never
Refuse their griefs to share.
O Lord, through tribulation
Our pilgrim-journey lies,
Through scorn and sore temptation,
And watchful enemies;
Midst never-ceasing dangers
We through the desert roam;
As pilgrims here and strangers,
We seek the rest to come.
O Lord, Thou too once hasted
This weary desert through,
Once fully tried and tasted
Its bitterness and woe;
And hence Thy heart is tender
In truest sympathy,
Though now the heavens render
All praise to Thee on high.
O by Thy Holy Spirit
Reveal in us Thy love,
The joy we shall inherit
With Thee, our Head above;
May all this consolation
Our trembling hearts sustain,
4
Sure — though through tribulation —
The promised rest to gain.xiv
Do our hearts rejoice in the great Consoler ? Like Simeon are we looking for His coming? Or do
the things of this world distract us from our Lord and Savior? Let every saint examine
themselves to ensure that they are currently enjoying fellowship with and trusting in the Lord
Jesus Christ. Those who seek strength and comfort from Him will never be disappointed. As the
Psalmist says: ―When I thought, ‗My foot slips,‘ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When
the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul‖ (Psa. 94:18-19, ESV.)
i Anonymous paraphrase of Psa. 42, ―As pants the hart for streams,‖ found here:
http://nethymnal.org/htm/a/p/h/aphfstrm.htmhttp://nethymnal.org/htm/a/p/h/aphfstrm.htm Accessed on 3/31/11.
ii The terms Messiah (Hebrew) & Christ (Greek) are equivalent, & when not transliterated are best translated
―Anointed One.‖
iiiPlummer affirms that ―Those ‘who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death’ (i.79) need consolation; and the
salvation which the Messiah was to bring was specially called such by the Jews…There was a belief that a time of
great troubles (dolores Messiae) would precede the coming of the Christ. Hence the Messiah Himself was spoken of
as ‘the Consoler,’ or ‘the Consolation.’‖ Alfred Plummer, ICC: A Critical & Exegetical Commentary On The Gospel
According To St. Luke. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903, p. 66. [Italics in the original.]
Farrar adds that ―‗May I see the consolation of Israel!‘ was a common Jewish formula, and a prayer for the Advent
of the Messiah was daily used.‖ F.W. Farrar, The Cambridge Bible For Schools & Colleges: Luke. Cambridge: The
University Press, 1890, p. 72. Compare the Pseudepigraphical work of the first or second century A.D., 2 Baruch
44:7: ―For if ye endure and persevere in His fear, And do not forget His law, The times shall change over you for
good. And ye shall see the consolation of Zion.‖ Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. Edited by Robert Henry
Charles. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004. [Emphasis mine.] For background on 2 Baruch, see
James H. Charlesworth, ―Baruch, Book of 2 (Syriac)‖ in Freedman, David Noel. The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary,
Vol. 1. New York: Doubleday, 1996, pp. 620f.
The Dead Sea Scrolls also evidence this messianic association of ―the consolation.‖ Referring to one of them,
4Q176, Hatina remarks: ―Fragments 1–11 are of greater value for NT studies. They are a fairly well preserved
anthology of biblical texts. Except for the possible reference to Psalm 79:2–3 at the beginning of the first fragment,
all of the quotations are taken from what is today called Second Isaiah, namely, Isaiah 40:1–5; 41:8–10; 43:1–7;
49:7, 13–18; 51:22–23b; 51:23c–52:3; 54:4–10a. The quotations are arranged sequentially and preserved accurately,
which suggests that the compiler read progressively through Isaiah 40–55 and recorded certain texts. While the
fragmentary condition of the document prevents us from understanding the broader significance that the quotations
once had for the Qumran community, an informed inference can be made on the basis of a common theme running
through the quotations. In every quotation Yahweh offers words of consolation or comfort—the meaning of the
Hebrew word Tanḥumim in the title given the scroll—to his people Israel by assuring them that he is a faithful and
loving God who will soon bring restoration to those in despair. Although Second Isaiah was originally concerned
with the release of the Israelites from Babylonian exile, the Qumran community interpreted these texts as prophecies
relevant for their own day.” Thomas R. Hatina, “Consolations/Tanhumin (4 Q176)” in Porter, Stanley E., and Craig
A. Evans. Dictionary of New Testament Background : A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship.
electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
iv Darrel Bock comments: ―In fact, later rabbis will call the Messiah Menahem, or Comforter (Schmitz and Stählin
1967:793; y. Berakot 2:3). It was such deliverance that Simeon expected.‖ Darrell L. Bock, IVP NT Commentary:
Luke. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP, 1994, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.,
PO Box 100, Hiawatha, Iowa.
5
v G. Braumann, “Comfort” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, ed. Colin
Brown. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971, p. 329.
vi John Nolland, Word Biblical Commentary : Luke 1:1-9:20. Vol. 35A. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002, p. 118.
vii D.W. Gooding, According to Luke. pp. 55f. Electronic ed., accessed here: keybibleconcepts.org on 3/29/11.
Morris‘ comments are also helpful: ― The consolation of Israel for which he looked is another name for the coming
of the Messiah (cf. SB). This was expected to be preceded by a time of great suffering (‗the woes of the Messiah‘)‚
so that he would certainly bring comfort. In days when the nation was oppressed the faithful looked all the more
intensely for the Deliverer who would solve their problems.‖ Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary.
Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Vol. 3. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988, p. 104 [Italics
original.]
Other helpful quotes on Jewish understanding of the phrase:
― Simeon had waited for ‘the consolation of Israel’ (2:25), a term used for the hope of God‘s restoration of the
theocracy to that nation.‖ Cleon L. Rogers, Jr., “The Davidic Covenant in the Gospels,” Bibliotheca Sacra Volume
150:600 (Oct. ’93). Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1993, p. 466.
―The consolation of Israel, for which Simeon had waited, refers to the coming messianic age.‖ Mark C. Black, The
College Press NIV Commentary: Luke. College Press Publ. Co., 1998, p. 36 [Emphasis original.]
viii Consider Ecclesiastes and Malachi just to name a few of the ancient laments against sin and injustice uttered by
godly souls. Romans 8:22-26 articulates the groaning of the godly in this fallen world: ―For we know that the whole
creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of
the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But
if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our
weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for
us with groanings which cannot be uttered.‖
ix Otto Schmitz & Gustav Stahlin, “παράκλησις” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Vol. 5. Edited by
Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich. electronic ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964, pp.
789f.
x Charles Wesley, ―Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,‖ Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord (London: William Strahan,
1745), number 10. I quote the first stanza only, found here:
http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/c/o/m/comtlong.htm Accessed on 3/30/11.
xi Martin H. Woudstra, ―Theological Influence On Translation,‖ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume 10. Lynchburg, VA: Evangelical Theological Society, Spring 1967, p. 97.
xii J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 4. electronic ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, p. 254.
[Italics original.]
xiii A.M. Toplady, ―A Debtor to mercy alone,‖ Spiritual Songs, #326 found here:
http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/326 Accessed on 3/31/11.
xiv J.G. Deck, ―O Jesus Gracious Saviour,‖ in Spiritual Songs, #187 found here:
http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/187 Accessed on 3/31/11.

New Year’s Podcast: What people really need

Friday, December 31st, 2010

To listen click here:  KRK.NewYear’sPodcast.12.31.10