28 February, 2009

Sabbath a'Brakel: The Privledges of Sonship

I wanted to let my readers know that I am still here and that I do intend on blogging regularly again. Starting the ministry here in Los Angeles has been very quite time consuming (in a good way). I look forward to being on a more regular schedule and being able to blog again as a part of that schedule. Today, the congregation was together for a planning day (lecture here) and I was encouraged by some in the congregation to take up the 'pen'.

On another, very important note, today marks my and Lydia's 7 year anniversary of marriage.

Sabbath a'Brakel....

(1) God cherishes them as His children with a fatherly love. Oh wondrous love! God, who is love, sets His infinite love in motion to cherish with love such persons who in themselves are hateful, despicable, and condemnable. This love is not generated by the desirability of the object, but it originates within Himself, being desirous to love and to love specific individuals. Observe the following concerning this love: "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee" (Jer. 31:3) [II:421].

(2) God has His eye upon them as a Father, to keep them so that no evil will befall them. "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore" (Psa. 121:3-8). How safely may such a child rest and trust under the shadow of His wings! He need neither fear nor be careful, for the Lord cares for him (1 Pet. 5:7) [II:421].

(3) Since He preserves them, He cares for them in all that they need according to body and soul, so that they need not be concerned as to what they shall eat and drink and wherewithal they shall be clothed, for their heavenly Father knows what they stand in need of. He who feeds the fowls of the air and clothes the lilies of the field with more glory than even a Solomon, will He not provide food and clothing for His dear children? The Lord Jesus impresses this upon us in this convincing manner in Matthew 6:25 (II: 422).

(4) God has compassion and pity with them in all their bodily and spiritual ailments. It pleases the Lord to lead His children to heaven through many adversities and tribulations, in order that they may thus learn to know and feel their sins, be kept humble, be weaned from the world, be stirred up to prayer, be motivated to trust in Him, to attentively acknowledge His help and His preceding grace, to give all things into His hands and to be satisfied with His government (II: 422).

(5) Since they are children, God hears and answers them as their loving Father. As children they take refuge to their Father in their perplexity and by reason of this relationship they call Him, "Abba, Father!" In an intimate manner they bring their needs before Him, and with teary eyes they tell Him what their sorrow is. They cry out, "My Father, the cross is so heavy and it is so very painful for me; it lasts so long and I do not see my way through. Thou art able to help me, however, for Thou hast promised it and Thou dost indeed have compassion with me. Therefore, my Father! help me, support me, and deliver me!" The Lord looks upon such children in love, and is pleased with their childlike complaints and their taking refuge to Him. He shall most certainly answer them and deliver them at His time and in His manner. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 11:13); "How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" (Mat. 7:11) [II: 423].

(6) Since they are children, they are free (II: 423). [1] They are free from the covenant of works. [2] They are also free from the old ceremonial administration. [3] They are free from the power of Satan, who will neither have power nor dominion over them as he did prior to their conversion (2 Tim. 2:26). [4] They are free from the dominion of sin. [5] They are free from eternal condemnation (II: 423-424).

(7) Since they are children, they are also heirs of God, that is, of all the temporal, spiritual, and eternal benefits of the covenant of grace. "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). What an unspeakable inheritance this is! They may indeed exclaim, "The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage" (Psa. 16:5-6); "Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee; which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men!" (Psa. 31:19) [II: 424).

10 February, 2009

Jesus' Creative Joy

When thinking about Jesus' relationship to the Church we do not often think of his 'creative joy' in creating, sustaining, and loving a church. His relationship to us should also be reflected in our relationship with the Church and with the outside world. The Church is also to be a place of creative joy where we live joyful Christian lives.

The joy of Jesus is the joy that arises from the sense of a finished work. It is a creative joy, like the joy of the artist. It produces a sense of unexausted power for fresh creation. This joy in the heart of Jesus is both the joy of victory , and the sense of having brought His Church into being. It is an inspiring thought that Jesus calls his followers into that joy. The Christian life is not some shallow, insipid, following of a traditional pattern. It is a life characterized by unexausted and inexaustable power for fresh creation. (New International Commentary on the New Testament, John, p.598.)

07 February, 2009

Sabbath a'Brakel: My God, In Christ

It is essential that one considers God to be His God in Christ. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is to be found in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Outside of Christ, God is a terror, and can only be viewed as terror, and can only be viewed as a consuming fire. In Christ, however, one may have liberty; and God reveals Himself to such who approach unto Him in that way. Then one will be able to better endure the light of God’s countenance, rejoice in it, and therein glorify God. One ought to be cautious, however, of becoming too free and irreverent when considering God as Father in Christ and in the contemplation upon His perfections which are unveiled by the covenant of grace (I: 138).

02 February, 2009

Sermon Audio

The Los Angeles Reformed Presbyterian Church has launched a Sermon Audio site. Sermons will be posted, Lord willing, soon after they have been preached. You can check it out here. You can also see a number of other RPCNA congregations here.