Second Reformed Church

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday Service Tonight

Join us tonight for our Ash Wednesday Service at 7 PM. We practice the imposition of ashes and anointing with oil during the service. Come, worship the God of Mercy and Forgiveness.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Thursday Night Prayer & Study

Due to continuing problems of various sorts, the Thursday night prayer & study group is being put on hiatus for the time being. After Easter we plan to consider how to proceed with this group.

Monday Puritan

"Mercy pleaseth Him. It is no trouble for Him to exercise mercy. It is His delight: we are never weary of receiving, therefore He cannot be of giving; for it is more blessed thing to give than to receive; so God takes more content in the one than we in the other." -- Robert Harris

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday Sermon

"God is Holy"
[Psalm 99:1-9]
February 18, 2007 Second Reformed Church

We concluded our current look at the Doctrine of the Trinity last Sunday, and today, as a bridge from that topic to the Lenten season, we are looking at a Psalm about the chief attribute our of Triune God: holiness. On this Transfiguration Sunday, we are looking at the revelation that God is Holy. And after these past several weeks, we can say, the Father is Holy and the Son is Holy and the Spirit is Holy.

What does it mean when we call God "holy"? What does "holy" mean? When we say that something or someone is holy, we are ascribing the greatest possible purity, ability, being to it or him. When we say that God is Holy, we are saying that God is the Greatest, Purest, Ablest, Most Perfect, Most -- everything else we can ascribe to God. There is none greater than God and God, in His Greatness, is Most Pure, Most Innocent, Most Everything Good. St. Anselm said that God is "that than which none greater can be conceived" (Cf., "The Ontological Argument for the Existence of God.")

Psalm 99 can be divided into three different verses, of differing lengths. Let us look at each verse of this song separately:

"The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he!"

The Psalmist opens his hymn with the declaration that YHWH is king; God is the ruler. Of what? Of everything. God is the Sovereign Ruler over all. He always was and He will always be. Everything occurs under the banner of His Sovereignty and under His Control. Not an atom can fall out of place, not a sparrow can perish, not a hair can fall from our heads without the Divine Sovereign’s permission and will.

Christian! Is that not good news? Our God, our Triune God, is perfectly, wholly carrying out His Good Plan throughout the universe. Neither the Taliban, nor Al Qaida, nor the Republicans, nor Democrats, can thwart the Hand of our Almighty God. Do not be afraid, brothers and sisters, our God is King!

We do not need to be afraid, but those who do not believe, the Psalmist says that they should tremble before our God, because He is Holy, and all must stand before the judgment seat on that final day, and there is One and Only One Way that anyone can survive, and that is through the Blood of Jesus Christ. It is only through believing in Jesus Christ Alone for Salvation that anyone will survive the judgment.

David Dickson wrote, "Albeit the church be compassed about with enemies, as the lily among the thorns, yet because her Lord reigneth in the midst of her, she hath reason not only to comfort herself in him, but also hath the ground of defying her enemies and boasting against them; ..." (The Treasury of David, vol. 2., 226).

Our God is He Who sits upon, or between, the cherubim, those angels with wings, and eyes covering their whole bodies, with four faces, those heavenly bouncers that were set at the Garden of Eden to keep out Adam and Eve and their children -- forever. God sits above these mighty angels, and the earth quakes, the earth shudders, the created realm has sense enough that when God Almighty, the Holy God appears, that they fall down and shudder in unworthiness, covering their creatureliness before their Creator. Remember how the seraphim covered themselves as they flew in the presence of God as Isaiah looked on and how the very temple itself shook in awe before God her Creator.

Why? Because He is Holy. We have come into the sanctuary of the Holy God this morning. Have we been moved in His Presence? Have we felt anything in this place, before the One God Who reigns? If we haven't felt something emotionally, have we at least understood intellectually, where we are and Whose Presence we have come before?

All peoples are admonished to praise the Great and Awesome Name of God -- it can be translated "the Great and Terrible Name of God." And God is Great and Awesome, or Terrible, for the same reason -- He is Holy.

He is Holy and Great; He is to be praised among the peoples, for He is the Ever-Good God. He does no evil. He is not petty. He is not forgetful. He is not lazy. He is not like the other gods.

He is Holy and Awesome, and keep in mind the other translation of Terrible, because God is Holy in the sense that being in the mere presence of His Holy Law exposes our sin, and Isaiah found when he, even the prophet of God, came into God's Presence, he was undone. If we have truly come before God, we have been exposed, our darkest parts have been seen, our secrets have become known, that which we most greatly desire to keep hidden is before His Holy Gaze. "The misery of sin consists not merely in its consequences, but in its very nature, which is to separate between God and our souls, and to shut us out from God, and God from us" (Alfred Edershaim in The Treasury of David, vol. 2, 227).

But, there is hope, for those who belong to this God, as one commentator put it, "The FATHER'S name is 'great,' for he is the source, the Creator, the Lord of all; the SON'S name is 'terrible,' for he it to be our judge; the name of the HOLY GHOST is 'holy,' for he it is who bestows hallowing and sanctification" (Hugo Cardinalis, Genebrardus, and Balthazar Corderius in The Treasury of David, vol. 2, 227).

And He is to be praised at all times. Charles Spurgeon wrote, "Under the most terrible aspect the Lord is still to be praised. Many profess to admire the milder beams of the sun of righteousness, but burn with rebellion against its more flaming radiance: so it ought not to be: we are bound to praise a terrible God and worship him who casts the wicked down to hell" (The Treasury of David, vol. 2, 223).

Hard as it seems, when God strikes us, when God chastises us, when God allows us to reap the rewards of our sin, God is still to be praised. God is not to blame for our sin, nor from giving us justice. In this fallen world, we must endure the fruits of sin, even to the final earthly fruit of death. Still, in life and in death, we have reason to praise God, because He is Holy.

"Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!"

Our Holy God, the Ruler of Rulers, the Lord of the Universe, is the God of Justice and Equity, and He not only desires justice and equity, but He causes justice and equity and righteousness, by bringing them to pass. Charles Spurgeon wrote, "Justice is not merely established, but executed in God’s kingdom; the laws are carried out, the executive is as righteous as the legislative" (The Treasury of David, vol. 2, 223).

God is bringing about justice and equity and righteousness, through His Son and through His Kingdom, as it comes to earth. We will not always live in a world of corruption and deceit. The day is coming when God's Kingdom will fully be among us, when the New Heaven and the New Jerusalem and the New Earth will fully reflect the Glory of God forever and ever. And His will be a Kingdom of Truth and Righteousness. Sin and evil will have been put down, forever to receive their reward. And now we look for it, we ready ourselves for it, we work to make ourselves ready for it by the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit Who is even now readying us, changing us, to the Glory of our Holy God.

Let all creation and every people praise our God for His Government. Let us always praise our God, our King, our Savior, for He is worthy; let us be worthy for Him. Let us worship at His footstool. Let us humble ourselves before Him. Yes, we might come into the Throne Room of God, boldly, as His sons, but not presumptuously, not sinfully, not pridefully. Let us understand that we are creatures, beloved creatures, brothers and sisters of Jesus. Yet, let us bow in heart and soul and mind and strength, if not also in body, before our Holy God, Who calls us and loves us and makes us like His Son, our Savior.

"Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried out to the Lord, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of the cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them. O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. Extol the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy."

God has given us earthly priests, people who speak for God and bring the prayers of the people to God. This does not mean, as some teach, that we can only pray or repent through a minister. No, we all have direct access to God, through Jesus Christ. However, ministers are in a peculiar and special office, as they give the Word of God to the people and lift the prayers of the people to God. Just as God gave priests in the days of the Bible, God also gives ministers, His priests, today. God has given ministers who speak the Word of God, Who bring the Law of God before the people, that they may see it and repent and return to God. And, as then, God will answer our prayers -- in His Time, according to His Will -- and He will continue to speak to us through His Word.

And God will always answer the prayers of His people, and God has given us His Word forever. But God expects more of us than to repent; God expects us to do what is right. We are to repent of our sin, we are to pray to God, we are to receive His Forgiveness, and then we are to know His Word and believe His Word and keep His Word.

Most of our denominations began because one or both sides of an argument refused to believe what God had said. Most of the arguments in our own denomination occur because one or both sides have refused to believe what God has said. And I have said it before and I will say it again: God, out of His Great Mercy, has given us His Word, in a language that most people can understand most of what is in it, and everyone can understand what is necessary for salvation and life. Yes, there are difficult passages, but most of them are not. "You shall not commit adultery." It doesn't take a PhD in Bible to figure out what that means. "You shall not lie." "No one comes to the Father except through Jesus." "Feed the poor." "Praise God in all things."

We are saved by Jesus Alone, but God has given us work to do and a way to live, and I am afraid that most of the Church has stuck her fingers in her ears and is saying, "la-la-la-la-la," while the Word of God is being preached. We cannot continue to dismiss the Word of God; we cannot continue to neglect the Word of God -- and the doing of it.

"Well, aren't we forgiven of all our sins?" Yes, Pharisee, but how? We are forgiven by Jesus Christ suffering the Wrath of God -- the whole eternity of Hell in a moment -- on a cross. The Psalmist tells us that "you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrong doings." God forgives us in Jesus, but the punishment for sin is still carried out. We cannot do whatever we want and have no consequences. Even if we "get away" with a sin, even if we think we did not suffer for some sin we committed while on earth, Jesus suffered horrifically. How can we continue to sin, unless we are sadists? Unless we enjoy Christ’s suffering, unless we wish we were there to say, "Whip Him again!" -- if we know we caused His Suffering -- that these sins now caused His Suffering...

Thomas Goodwin wrote, "The covenant that is made with us in Christ is not a covenant made with works, but with persons; and therefore, though the works be often hateful, yet he goes on to love the persons; and that he may continue to love them, destroys out of them what he hates, but cutteth not them off. A member that is leprous or ulcerous, a man loves it as it is 'his own flesh,' Eph. V. 29, though he loathes the corruption and putrefaction that is in it; and therefore he doth not presently cut it off, but purgeth it daily, lays plasters to it to eat the corruption out: whereas a wart or even a wen that grows on a man's body, a man gets it cut off, for he doth not reckon it as his flesh" (The Treasury of David, vol. 2, 230). How Great, how Awesome, how Merciful is our God; He is worthy of praise, is He not?

He is Worthy, because He is Holy. "So let us extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy."

Let us pray:
Almighty and Holy God, Sovereign King, we bow before You in awe of Your Holiness and Mercy. How is it that You have chosen us for Yourself? Why do You listen to Your foolish children? Why did You come to save us? Great is the Lord, worthy of praise. Holy God, receive our thanks. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday Puritan (Folowing Three Deaths This Week)

"Pray that thy last days, and last works may be the best; and that when thou comest to die, thou mayest have nothing else to do but die." -- Vavasor Powell

Sunday Sermon

"The Trinity: Three Persons"
[Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19]
February 11, 2007 Second Reformed Church

This morning we heard texts that we have referred to several times already in our look at the main issues or points concerning the Doctrine -- or teaching -- of the Trinity, as we find it in the Scripture.

In our first Scripture, let us notice that we are to baptize in the One Name -- it's singular -- "of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." And as we have seen, all Three are the One God, so this makes sense.

As were look at our second Scripture, it is obvious that there are Three Persons involved, other than John the Baptist. We have Jesus, Who is called "the beloved Son" by the Voice from heaven. We have the Father, Who calls from heaven, speaking of and to Jesus, and we have the Spirit of God Who comes from heaven and "rests" on Jesus.

The Father, the Son, and God the Spirit plainly, obviously, simply, are Three separate and distinct Persons. All Three Persons can be in one place at the same time and known as separate Persons. The Father is not the Son, and the Father is not the Spirit, and the Son is not the Father, and the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father, and the Spirit is not the Son.

But -- and this is where we understand the finitude of our minds -- the Father and the Son and the Spirit are all the One God. The Father and the Son and the Spirit are the Same One Being. They are of the Same Essence. There is One and Only One God, and God is known in the Three Persons of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

How do we wrap our minds around this? It would be easy to say that there is Only One God Who acts in a variety of ways, but that is not what this doctrine is teaching. It would be easy to say that there are three gods, but that is not what this doctrine is teaching. And there is a tendency for us, as humans, to slide toward one of these views or the other, because our mind cannot fully comprehend what is taught in the Scripture about the Trinity. However, God has told us what He has told us in the Scripture, and He wants us to know that much and to know Him, so we teach as the Church has always taught, that there is Only One God, but God exists in Three Persons.

It may help to think about the word "one." [Cf. Dwight Pryor. "One God & Lord." -- thanks, Scott N!]

If we turn back to Genesis chapter one, we find that God created a man, and then in chapter two, verse fifteen, "And YHWH Elohim took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." Verse eighteen: "Then YHWH Elohim said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.'" Verses twenty-one and twenty-two: "So YHWH Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that YHWH Elohim had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man." And verse twenty-four: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

What happens? God creates one man. God takes part of the man and makes one women. Then, God says that the two together make one.

When God created one man, the word that is used, when God says that he is one, alone, the word that is used for one is yahid which means one in the sense of a singularity. But when God says that the man and the woman coming together in marriage makes them one flesh, the word for one that is used there is ehad, which means one in the sense of unity. One can be a plurality when
it is a unity.

When we say that Adam was one man, we understand that he was a singularity -- yahid -- a single man. We do not mean that when we talk about marriage -- when a man and a woman join together in marriage and become one flesh, they do not suddenly melt or fuse or merge together. No, a married man and women are one -- ehad -- a unity of persons.

Ah, perhaps you just thought of a possible connection!

When we look at the word that is used in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord" -- Deuteronomy 6:4 uses ehad indicating that the One God is a unity, similar to the unity of a man and a woman in marriage. Now, the image falls short, because the Three Persons of the Trinity are not different beings who got married; they are the Same One Being, Who exists in as a unity of Three Persons. In a similar way that Adam and Eve were a unity of the same being.

With this, perhaps we are wise to believe what God has said, and say with Job, "Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand over my mouth, I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further" (Job 40:4-5).

Then again, as the joke goes, the biggest lie a minister ever tells is, "And for my final point...."

With all that we have looked at over the past few weeks in mind, let us look at four heretical responses to the doctrine of the Trinity. Remember, a heresy is something that the Historic Church, the Church Universal, the Church throughout the ages, has condemned as being false teaching.

There are four major modern heresies regarding the Trinity:

The first heresy, the first false teaching, is that of the Unitarians and the Muslims. The Unitarians and the Moslems both confess belief in One God; they both confess belief in Jesus as a wise teacher or prophet. But they deny that Jesus and the Spirit are God. In denying that Jesus and the Spirit are God, they have cut themselves off from the truth of Salvation in Jesus Christ Alone.

A second heresy is that of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Again, they believe in One God, but they teach that Jesus is a lesser god, a lower god, a being similar to God, but not the same God as God the Father. They believe that there is One God Almighty, and then there are lesser gods -- beings greater than humans, greater than the angels, but less than God Almighty. Here was have a similar problem to the first heresy: if Jesus is less than the Father, if He is less divine, less holy, less almighty, then, again, they have cut themselves off from the truth of Salvation in Jesus Christ Alone. For, if Jesus was not equal in Being to God the Father, if He was not of the Same Essence as the Father, then He did not survive the crucifixion, or, even if by some chance He survived, He could not have paid the debt for all of our sins, because He is less that the God Who condemns us, and we are still doomed to eternal Hell.

A third heresy is found in Oneness Pentecostalism, which teaches that there is Only One God, but there is also only one person. They teach that God does not exist is Three Persons, we only think He does, and what is actually happening is that God is acting in a variety of modes or manifestations. The heresy here is that they deny that Jesus, the real human being, is God, so again, they have cut themselves off from the truth of Salvation in Jesus Christ Alone. If Jesus was not God, He could not have survived the crucifixion. And if God, somehow, is said to take our place, but is not truly human, then God has violated His Own Word that no one but a human can take the place of a human in punishment. Thus, we would not be saved, but would, rather still be doomed to eternal Hell.

And a fourth heresy is found in Mormonism or the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. Whereas the first three affirm that there is One God and then fall short in their teachings on the Three Persons, Mormons teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are Three distinct Persons because they are three different gods. In fact, they teach that there are many gods, and human beings can become gods. In some senses, this heresy is furthest from Christianity, because Christianity affirms One and Only One God. If there are many gods and we can all become gods, then, despite Mormons claiming to believe the Bible, what the Bible teaches is somewhere between irrelevant and wrong. But, in fact, this leaves them cut off from salvation in Jesus Christ Alone. And, in fact, rather than becoming gods ourselves, we would perish in everlasting Hell.

The Doctrine of the Trinity is not one hundred percent clear in ever way, but it is taught in the Scripture. It is the Truth that was given to us by God that we might know Him and glorify Him and be saved by Him. And we can know and affirm these things:

There is Only One God.

The Father is God.

The Son is God.

The Holy Spirit is God.

The Father is a distinct and separate Person from the Son and the Holy Spirit, and the Son is a distinct and separate Person from the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is a distinct and separate Person from the Father and the Son.

And the Father is not the Son, and the Father is not the Spirit, and the Son is not the Father, and the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father, and the Spirit is not the Son.

There is One and Only One God, and He exists in Three Persons. This is the Truth and the Teaching of God, the Scripture, and the Church Universal. These are the elements of the Doctrine of the Trinity.

Let us pray:
Almighty God and Father, Son Who saved and saves us, Holy Spirit Who has made us and makes us holy, we praise and glorify the Name of the One God. We thank You for the gift of Your Word, for Your salvation, and for Your indwelling of us. We ask that we would continue to know You better. We ask that You would cause us to read and understand Your Word and come to You in Worship and joy more and more. Satisfy us with Yourself. For it is in Jesus' Name we pray, Amen.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Last Sunday's Sermon

"The Trinity: the Holy Spirit is God"
[Luke 1:35]
February 4, 2007 Second Reformed Church

As I begin this morning's sermon, let me remind you that this is only one sermon in a series on the Doctrine of the Trinity. We are looking at one component of the doctrine this morning, that the Holy Spirit is God.

And let us being to understand this by denying two common errors is the church:

First, the Holy Spirit is not the spirit of Jesus or the spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit is not Jesus "living in our hearts." Jesus and the Holy Spirit are two separate and distinct Persons.

Second, the Holy Spirit is not our spirit, perfected, holy, glorified, "Christianized," or whatever else one might say. Our spirit, our soul, is distinct and not the same thing as the Person of the Holy Spirit.

No, the Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is One of the Three Persons of the Godhead Who are the One God. We can see in our Scripture this morning that the Holy Spirit is God:

Mary was a virgin when the angel Gabriel visited her and told her that she would bear the Christ, the Savior. And Mary asked how is was possible for her to be with child since she had never known a man, and Gabriel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her -- He would cause her to be with Child supernaturally by the Power of the Most High -- that is, God. The Holy Spirit has the Power of God. And He will cause the child to be formed in her, such that He will be born holy and will be the Son of God. The Holy Spirit, Who has the Power of God and will cause the conception and birth of the Son of God, is, therefore, God.

If we look back to the Creation, in Genesis 1:2, we see that the Holy Spirit created all that is -- the Spirit of God created all that is. Now, a word about translations: the translation in our pew says, "a wind from God" blew, which tells us nothing about the Third Person of the Trinity. The key word is ruach, which can be translated "wind" or "spirit." Most other translations rightly translated it "spirit" in this context. "And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." The Holy Spirit created the creation, with the Father and the Son.

We have the same parallel in the New Testament, where the word pneuma is used, which can also be translated "wind" or "spirit." "And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:2-4). Here, the translators of our pew Bible translated the word as "spirit," which makes sense. But if they were consistent, they could have translated the text, "and they were filled with a lot of wind and began to speak in other tongues," which makes absolutely no sense. That is the point I am trying to make about translation: there are times when translators translate based on their assumptions, not based on what makes sense contextually. The translators of our pew Bible didn't want the Holy Spirit present at the Creation.

But, in looking at the parallel in the New Testament, we can see that the Holy Spirit is Creator, just as we saw the Father and the Son are Creator. They are the One God Who created everything that is, but they are distinct and separate Persons.

Isaiah prophesied about Judah speaking for God saying, "'Draw near to me and hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be, I have been there.' And now Adonai YHWH has sent me, and his Spirit. Thus says the YHWH, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am YHWH Elohim,'" (Isaiah 48:16-17a). Here we have God the Lord, the Spirit of God, and God the Redeemer.

And Paul writes, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16). Here, the Spirit is identified as the Spirit of God or God, the Spirit. We also see that the Holy Spirit lives in the people of God.

Still, the Holy Spirit is a separate Person from God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit is God -- we are told to baptize in the One Name or the Single Name, "of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19b). But we do not forget that at Jesus' Baptism, we saw God the Father speaking from Heaven, God the Son being baptized, and God the Holy Spirit descending like a dove -- all Three Persons of the One God exist distinctly and separately, as seen in His Baptism.

We understand from the Scripture that God the Holy Spirit -- not the Father, not Jesus -- lives in us and remains within us forever. Paul tells us that "[Christ] has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee [of our election]" (II Corinthians 1:22). "So that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith" (Galatians 1:22). God the Holy Spirit lives in us and guarantees that we are members of Christ, of the Church, of the people of God.

Understand that there is a real, distinct, divine person living in every Christian. The Holy Spirit does not become part of us, He remains a distinct, separate Person, Who lives in us.

"Well, what does He do in there? Why does God the Holy Spirit live in every Christian?"

For several reasons:

First, God the Holy Spirit lives in us to bring us to sanctification; it is the job of the Holy Spirit to lead us into holiness. Peter wrote that the elect are "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for the sprinkling with his blood;" (I Peter 1:2a-b). God the Holy Spirit lives in us to bring us to perfect obedience to Jesus Christ.

Second, God the Holy Spirit lives in us to "teach [us] all things and bring to [our] remembrance all that [Jesus said]" (John 14:26). God the Holy Spirit causes us to understand and remember the Scripture.

Thirdly, God the Holy Spirit lives in us to convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. God works through us to show and prove that the world are sinners, that Jesus ascended to God the Father in Glory, and to show the rule of the Kingdom of God, already on earth, because Satan has lost.

Jesus said, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged" (John 16:7-11).

And Jesus promised that God the Holy Spirit will remain with the Christ forever: "And I will ask the Father, and he will send you another Helper, who will be with you forever" (John 14:16).

Notice the one thing that the Holy Spirit does not do: He does not bring attention to Himself. For this reason, many theologians refer to the Holy Spirit as the "shy" member of the Trinity. The Scripture is clear that the Holy Spirit is equal in divinity to the Father and the Son, and that they exist is Three distinct Persons, but God the Holy Spirit's Work among us is largely to point us to Jesus. The Holy Spirit causes us to believe, understand, and witness to the Salvation of Jesus Christ Alone. Although all Three members of the Trinity are equally the One God, it is the primary work of the Holy Spirit to turn all to Jesus.

As we turn our attention to the table that is set before us, we remember that God the Father sent His Son into the world to be sacrificed for the sins of God’s people. As we receive the elements, Jesus is spiritually with us, and we meet Him, like we have just met Him in the Word, and then, the Holy Spirit applies the Grace of Jesus Christ to us, that we might be strengthened and made ready for the good works that God has set before us that we should do them.

So, let us pray:
Almighty God, One in Three and Three in One, we bow before You in worship and awe. We are amazed at the mystery of Yourself and the Grace that You give to us. We thank You that You brought us to Yourself and use us for Your Glory. We ask that we would remember what You have said in Your Word, and we ask that the Holy Spirit would help us to understand. And now as we come to the table, we pray that Jesus would meet with us and the Holy Spirit would apply His Grace to us. For it is in Jesus' Name we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Monday Puritan (a day late)

"God is the cause of causes." -- Christopher Nesse