Monday, December 22, 2014

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

I don’t want him to be with me out of obligation.  I want to be chosen.”  Granted this is not a passage of Scripture - it was spoken on a TV program we were watching.  Yet, there was a profound Gospel truth to what was said.  I had to jump up and find a notepad to write down the words verbatim.

The verse of this great anthem of the church came almost immediately to my mind: 

From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

The Groom will not rest until He has gathered His Bride unto Himself. 

What greater motivation could there be than the revelation that the Church is the chosen elect Bride of Christ?  His Great High Priestly Prayer rings eternal in her heart: "I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;” John 17:9.  The fervency of our hope is also fueled by: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” John 6:37 And: "Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one." John 18:9 

The Lamb’s Reward

The Church is the Lamb’s reward for His suffering - presented to Him by His, and our, Faithful Father. Paul writes to the church at Colossae: “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” 1:13 At once this is the initiation and the culmination of the eternal purpose of the Father in the Son of His love. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44

He is under no obligation to respond to us as a result of our choices–nor any rite or ritual we may observe whether evangelical or sacramental. The Son’s only obligation is to gather unto himself those from every tribe, tongue and nation: "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9.  This is the Song of the Bride - the Chosen Wife of the Lamb. It arises from the very depths of her being for she knows that she has been chosen by Him - out of many He has foreordained one. She becomes virginally choice as a result of having been chosen.

Desire of the Bride

As an outcome the desire of the Bride burns with an unquenchable fire for the Groom. Her consummate passion is to be pleasing to Him and she will not hire herself out to another.  She will dress herself with the garments given to her by Him: “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation 19:8.  His purpose in her will not be abated: “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:27 

The following immutable hope exists eternally as a definite atonement for those that the Father has given the Son as His Bride: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30

Delivered from Bondage

From an unknown author of the 12th Century the church’s hope continues to ring forth. 

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave

“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” Revelation 12:9.  There is no liberty. There is no power to choose - until one has been chosen. It is only the One who is the Rod of Jesse who can set free His own from bondage - and He will dress her in the splendid robes of His righteousness.  She will have a new name and nature: “No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah ("My delight is in her,"), and your land Beulah ("Married"); for the LORD will take delight in you,...” Isaiah 62:4 NIV

Delight of Christ

From This Morning’s Meditation (Today!)  by Pastor Charles Spurgeon on Jeremiah 2:2 "I remember thee." ‘Let us note that Christ delights to think upon His Church, and to look upon her beauty. From all eternity "His delights were with the sons of men"; His thoughts rolled onward to the time when His elect should be born into the world; He viewed them in the mirror of His foreknowledge. "In Thy book," He says, "all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" (Ps. 139:16).’

I posted this on Facebook and a pastor friend of mine just replied: “Thank you Ron for sharing this. It's a wonder-full meditation to consider the romance our dear Lord initiates with His own. God bless!” And I would add - what the Lord initiates He brings to completion: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Mark 10:9  The Marriage Covenant is but a mirror image of the relationship that exists between Christ and His Church. From Paul speaking under inspiration: “for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure (chaste) virgin.” 2 Corinthians 11:21 


Finally, at the glorious consummation of the ages: "And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matthew 24:31 

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Heavenly Mansions - Really!?

“Don't let this throw you. You trust God, don't you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father's home.” John 14:2 The Message 

My objective here is not to denigrate the reality of the blessing of a final heavenly abode, but to stress the immediacy of a life after death that has begun the moment the Holy Spirit enters the heart of the elect as a pledge of the present reality of the abiding presence of the Father and the Son.

“In addition, he has put his seal [of ownership] on us and has given us the Spirit as his guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 1:22 GOD’S WORD  ‘Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"’ Galatians 4:6 

The Question - And the Answer

This question was asked of the Son: “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” John 14:22.  The nature of the query clearly indicates the expectation of a present reality and precedes the High Priestly Prayer: “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;...” John 17:9  Once again the actuality of the present hope is anticipated.  

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. John 14:23  Note that this says that He will come to us, not that we will go to Him. And our love for God is the result of the a priori never-failing love of God: “We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 

This answer can be nothing less than a definitive response elaborating on the great expanse of John 14:2: “My Father's home is designed to accommodate all of you. If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that. I am going to make arrangements for your arrival.” The Voice  Yet, unless the wrong conclusion is drawn, we must assert that the place of arrival is the abiding presence of the Father, not merely a celestial imaginative existence.  Although a blessed hope its reality can only exist in the realms of the imagination, escaping all limited and misconstrued attempts to give it definition by the use of temporal finite means. 

The is Plenty of Room - Not Rooms

The noun in 14:2 unfortunately often distorted as mansions, but better represented as ‘a great expanse’ is derived from the verb used also in 14:23 - “‘mone’ - to abide or dwell.”  These are the only two places this word is used in the New Testament.  And having its root in a verb the dynamic reality here cannot be eclipsed by a static misconception. 

Albeit with a begrudging awareness of the use of the word mansion and a tilt toward a celestial application the following from John Calvin is helpful: “In my Father's house are many dwellings. As the absence of Christ was a cause of grief, he declares that he does not, go away in such a. manner as to remain separate from them, since there is room for them also in the heavenly kingdom. For it was proper that he should remove the suspicion from their minds, that, when Christ ascended to the Father, he left his disciples on earth without taking any farther notice of them. This passage has been erroneously interpreted in another sense, as if Christ taught that there are various degrees of honor in the heavenly kingdom; for he says, that the mansions are many, not that they are different or unlike, but that there are enough of them for a great number of persons; as if he had said, that there is room not only for himself, but also for all his disciples. Christ did not ascend to heaven in a private capacity, to dwell there alone, but rather that it might be the common inheritance of all the godly, and that in this way the Head might be united to his members.” 

In a slight manner of caveat to the above: As W. E. Vine so appropriately puts it, “There is nothing in the word (mone) to indicate separate compartments;...”  “and so room for all,” declares the JFB Bible Commentary.

The Place - My Father and your Father

The Son was about to return to the place from which He had come - the presence of the Father. Only this time, as a result of His sprinkled blood, there would be room for many more. Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” John 13:36 A better translation of the concluding phrase here would be: ‘but afterward thou shalt follow me.' Young’s Literal  After redemption had been made complete the glorified Son would throw open the curtain into the Presence of the Father for all that had believed as a result of His Word.  "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” John 17:6 

The place to which He was going was the place He had occupied from all eternity: “because I go to the Father.” John 14:12.  He was to take them into the Fatherhood of God - heretofore a largely unknown concept in Judaism - no longer behind a veil or up there somewhere, but near and close.  The issue here addressed by the Savior is one of present relationship, not futuristic real estate. May He grant us an abhorrence of any such denigration. 

He stepped back into the Presence of the Father, but he did not step back the same way he stepped forth.  For now he is not only able to say My Father, but your Father as well: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”  John 20:17 One who was and is fully one of us has prepared the way into Father’s presence: “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Son of His love” Eph. 1:6. 

Here - Not There

An oft neglected version of a verse from Amazing Grace expresses this hope that is real and present, not abstract and remote:

When we've been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.

A friend of mine wrote in regard to this interpretation: “I'm down with being here! He is here. Wherever He is I'm interested in that.”

This verse was not written by John Newton but was added by Harriet Beecher Stowe in her great transformational literary work “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”  It had been passed down orally in African American communities for at least 50 years. It was originally one of between 50 to 70 verses of a song titled "Jerusalem, My Happy Home." 

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’”  Revelation 21:2-3 ESV

In conclusion from the commentator Philip E Hughes: “The Lamb is the great bridegroom with whom his bride the church is now united in a state of everlasting blessedness. The saints are the vibrant components of the new Jerusalem in the same way as they are the living stones that form the spiritual temple of which the incarnate Son is himself the chief cornerstone.” 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sola Fide: Faith...

An Offering to God or a Gift from God?

“He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them-- he remains faithful forever.” Psalm 146:6 NIV This passage is the first bookend of this musing. 

Occasionally - fortunately not too often or I might start to believe it - I will be commended for “my great faith.” People see the life of dependence on God that we have lived and want to attribute it to something within ourselves. Honestly I cannot recollect a conscience decision that we made to live this life. I sincerely doubt that if I had been given a volitional choice I would have been able to make the right one. My reply to such well-meaning observations is that “God took both feet and kicked us out of the boat.”  The decision - if we would call it that - arose from Someone who is decidedly outside of ourselves.  George W Bush is known for saying that he was “the decider.” The Christian has come to know the One who is truly The Decider. 

By Faith Alone

“and the life that I am now living in this body I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ISV Please note that this translation along with the KJV uses the preposition of instead of in. This rendering transfers the burden of faith from self’s insecurity to Christ’s full atonement. We live not by faith in our faith, but by the faith of the Son of God.  

“From life's first cry to final breath. Jesus commands my destiny.” In Christ Alone

“How can these things be?” was the question asked of Christ by Nicodemus.  The query arose as a result of hearing these words: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."John 3:8 The born again experience comes not as a result of something pleasing from within ourselves, but as a result of the pleasure of God. As D.A. Carson has written concerning the Christian: “We are chosen not as a result of being choice, but we become choice as a result of having been chosen.” 

Every building block of Nicodemus’ credulity was being challenged - right down to its very foundation.  And so it is - the fortress of our tendency toward self-confidence must - and will - succumb to the Divine Invasion.  Even though we may initially resist, we will wholly and completely be  taken captive: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession...” 2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV

Intrinsic or Extrinsic?

Is faith intrinsic or extrinsic? Where does faith come from - within ourselves or outside of ourselves? If from within ourselves it will be recognized as a personal attribute that will quite naturally seek its own validation with the resulting adulation. 

Faith originates in God, passes through the Cross of the Son, is energized in the life of the believer through the Spirt and returns to the Father as a fragrant offering. We give to Him what He has given us to give Him. “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;...” 2 Corinthians 2:15 

Christ Himself who is the author and perfecter - the beginning and end - of faith came from the Father and returned to Him.

Look unto Him, ye nations, own
Your God, ye fallen race;
Look, and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.   Charles Wesley 

Sola Fide

(The following paragraphs are from an internet publication that I can no longer find. What is said is said so well that I cannot find a means by which to parse it.) 

Sola fide (by faith alone) was the war cry of the Reformation. It was radical then. It is just as radical now. The Reformation was dynamic. Sola fide was not the slogan of a delicate, cloistered piety. It was the ensign of a movement of blood and fire. (And I might interject here - the Blood of Christ and the Baptism of the Fire of the Holy Spirit.)

What does "faith alone" mean?  "Faith alone" is a confession that all which is necessary for our acceptance with God has been done by God Himself in His redemptive act in Jesus Christ. It is an acknowledgment that Christ Himself, in our name and our behalf, met all our obligations before the bar of eternal justice. This redemptive act was so complete and perfect that we cannot add anything to it. Nothing needs to be added to it. Sola fide means that we cannot in the least contribute to our salvation, but that we must submit to what God has already done—fully and completely. That is the meaning of "faith alone."

"Faith alone" does not mean that faith itself will make us pleasing and acceptable to God. Only One is righteous, One is pleasing.

We in faith flee from our own acts even of repentance, confession, trust and response and take refuge in the obedience and faithfulness of Christ—"Lord I believe, help Thou mine unbelief." That is what is meant to be justified by faith. — Thomas F. Torrance, "Justification," Christianity Divided (New York: Sheed &Ward, 1961), p.293.

"Faith alone" is mighty. It is mighty because in itself it is nothing. What makes it mighty is its mighty Object. Like John the Baptist, it points away from itself to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. "Faith alone" lets {demands that} God be God and man be man.


“Whosoever will?” This phrase has become part of our evangelical mantra. Yet when we use it we are often inadvertently indicating intrinsic goodness. This usage flies in the face of scripture and subsequently the doctrine of original sin. 

“And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him.” Mark 3:13  Out of a great multitude Christ calls His church. “but reader be it thine to rejoice that Jesus calleth whom He wills.” Charles Spurgeon

It is only the will and pleasure of God that can overcome: “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world;...” Revelation 12:9 If left to the “free will” of man - man would forever remain in the bondage of deception. “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19 

Whosoever the Savior calls to Himself will come! “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” John 6:45b.  Everyone who has heard and learned comes - everyone! Faith comes only as a result of grace - “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;” Ephesians 2:8 Grace is the means of faith - faith comes no other way. Again, it is the gift of God - “not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” 2:9 This is the faith that is pleasing to God for it acknowledges His Son as its author and perfecter. True faith strikes the death knell of all boasting - “That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:29 KJV

Did we in our own strength confide, 
our striving would be losing, 
were not the right man on our side, 
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?  
Christ Jesus, it is he; 
Lord Sabaoth, his name, 
from age to age the same, 
and he must win the battle.  Martin Luther

And for our final bookend: “Our faith may fail, his never wanes— That's who he is, he cannot change!” 2 Timothy 2:13 ISV 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Eschatology is Doxology:

The Presence of the Future 

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.

These words are the last two lines of the English version{1} of the Gloria Patri. It is a confessional prayer that has its origins in the Second Century undoubtedly linked directly to the original Disciples of the Lamb of God. Particularly in mind would be Polycarp of Smyrna{2} (69-160AD) a disciple of the Apostle John.

Divine Harmony

What is the “it?”  It is the Glory of God.  God was glorified in His creation and He will be glorified in His re-creation.  The Divine tension of these two anchor points sustain and direct all that goes on in the interim.  So to speak, the harmonic tune is set and all else conforms to its pitch–thus accentuating the fact that every seemingly finite transaction traces its origin to the Decree of the Infinite: “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” Acts 4:28 

The first lines of this doxology read:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;

If we even have a modicum of understanding of the Divine process, we will be apprehended by the realization that the course of our own lives are also so ordained. “But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased...” Galatians 1:15 May we not neglect the fact that this is that which is pleasing to God. And from Isaiah: “Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother's womb he has spoken my name.” Could anything be any more unalterable? 

Many of us are very familiar with this hymn of praise - others maybe not so much - yet the question is still begged: “Do we really believe what we have been confessing?”  The Glory of God is that which has always been and always will be. A world without end always has its course determined by this consummate disposition. Annihilation of His creation has no place in the epilogue of the Song of the Lamb: "Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!” Revelation 15:3 

Continuing in this vein: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1:16{3}  How is it possible that that which was created not only by Him, but also for Him, could ever cease to exist?  And how does that influence our message? Are we only trying to save souls for a heavenly abode or is our eternal hope a company of transformed beings inhabiting a transformed creation? We must concur with the last word of the Gloria Patri: “Amen!”  That is to say, “So be it Lord!” 

The Presence of the Future 

Eschatology is a big word and is subject to much speculation. To many it only points toward that which is to come.  I believe it is much more expansive than that.  It looks back to what once was - the original intent -  while pointing toward that which will be–thus determining what is. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:8  

Gleaning from N.T. Wright: “So when I (and many others) use the word eschatology we don’t simply mean the second coming, still less a particular theory about it; we mean, rather, the entire sense of God’s future for the world and the belief that that future has already begun to come forward to meet us in the present.”{4}

Pan Out?

Many of a well-meaning disposition eschew the whole proposition by saying something like, “Well, it will all just pan out in the end.”  Undoubtedly this attitude has come as a result of the controversy often arising when such matters are discussed.  However, the unintended result is a diminution of the purpose and plan of God.

In response we must assert, “Does God have a plan or not?”  With the emphasis of this treatise being the proposition that He does we then ask, “How does He allow us to be privy to it?” The finality of our rejoinder can only be, “By His Word!”

A word of caveat would be appropriate at this point. I am not intending to advocate a particular position in this musing.  After forty years of preaching, teaching and study of the Word of God, I have not emphatically landed on any one perspective. I am more sure of what I cannot countenance while looking forward with continued expectancy to that which is to be revealed. In this journey I am becoming more and more apprehended by the Glory of God and am thus propelled onward. 

The Revelation 

Many turn to the Book of the Revelation for answers to what seems to be an insurmountable puzzle. Yet, when this seminal panorama is viewed only through futuristic lenses the result is to be dragged down even deeper into a quagmire of befuddlement. The Revelation is that of Jesus Christ who we have already seen is He who was, who is and who is to come–encompassing all of eternity from beginning to end. Please do not call this book Revelations - at least not in my presence. It is like the scratching of fingernails on a chalkboard. As the purpose of God is solely singular in the Son so is the Revelation of God.

Another great disservice to the Revelation is to refer to it as the apocalypse with the denotation being the final destruction of all things.  Some things are to be destroyed indeed, but that which is eternal is only purified. Wood, hay and straw are consumed while gold, silver and jewels are refined–becoming even more glorious. The book is apocalyptic indeed for the word means the revelation of the divine purpose.  The connotation of widespread disaster is the weakest definition possible and should be relegated to the dustbin of misnomer.  


So then, why does it matter?  My conviction is that a solely futuristic perspective of the consummation of all things - or a disinclination toward an authentic Biblical understanding - provides no energy or focus toward societal transformation. Thus the eschatological hope of Paul is conveniently - should we say comfortably - set aside: “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. That the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” Romans 8:19, 21

Looking again to N.T. Wright: “In his appearing we find neither a dualist rejection of the present world nor simply his arrival like a spaceman into the present world but rather the transformation of the present world, and ourselves within it, so that it will at last be put to rights and we with it. Death and decay will be overcome, and God will be all in all.”{5}


This malaise of unfocused fervor has only crept into the evangelical church in its somewhat recent history - early 19th Century - resulting in an abdication of its societal obligations into which other organizations full of altruism, but devoid of eternal consequence have flooded. Many of these organizations by their very names or emblems indicate their original connection to eternal purpose - yet the glory has departed. 

When message and method are no longer linked the witness becomes incredulous with confusion being the result. Genuine seekers are faced with a bewildering dilemma in their search for authenticity. Some of whom are labeled as postmodernist are those involved in just this pursuit.


There must be a return to historic relevance such as found in the Gloria Patri for the church to fully execute her mission in the earth and to be presented to her Lord and Savior without spot or blemish.  I see our Faithful Father raising up just such a company who are rejecting the recent faddishness - modernity - of the church in their quest for relevance. Some are too quick to say that they have left the church - might not the truth be just the opposite? 

The following stanza which will serve as our benediction is one of the most comprehensive eschatological statements I have ever read–succinctly summarizing all that I have been saying..

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.
Maltbie Babcock - 1901

And for our concluding amen

“On that day the church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering and triumph of Christ, all sin purged and its wretched effects forever banished. God will be all in all and his people will be enthralled by the immediacy of his ineffable holiness, and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace.” The Gospel Coalition 

{1} Book of Common Prayer edited by Thomas Cranmer in 1552 representing the Reformed perspective of faith. Archbishop Cranmer was later burned at the stake for the unswerving faith that had gripped his soul - ushering him into eternity and the fulness of the Gloria Patri. 

{2} He has come to be know as The Heretic Fighter - he also suffered martyrdom at the stake. 

{3} The through or by of John 1:3 can just as easily be translated for: “All things were made (for) him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

{4} Wright, N.T., Surprised By Hope, HarperCollins, New York, NY, 2008, p. 122

{5} Ibid, P. 142 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Glory Be To Our Great God!

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

Why do I call myself an evangelical agnostic?  I am totally and unswervingly committed to the Evangel - the Good News in Jesus Christ - for I am held in its firm grasp. Yet I am agnostic as to the means with which we - the modern evangelical church - represent it. This essay is an odyssey into a concern that is a - or even the - central theme of the Evangel which unfortunately is often relegated to the dust bin of ages past - the Glory of God.  And as will be seen, much of my appeal to this splendor will be from voices of previous generations. The peruser may detect an element of redundancy.  It is there for an emphatic purpose. 

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
Fanny Crosby

Why does God rescue even a single one of Adam’s race?  There is ultimately one reason and one reason alone. For His Glory! The purpose of our salvation is not what is in it for us–it is about what is in it for Him. I believe we get this decidedly backwards resulting in ineffectiveness. Many decry rightly, “Why is the church not more effective as salt and light in the world?” It is because we believe amiss–our motivation is constrained in the wrong direction. 

In expositing on "The Lord our God hath shewed us His glory.” Deuteronomy 5:24 Charles Spurgeon addresses this issue. GOD'S great design in all His works is the manifestation of His own glory. Any aim less than this were unworthy of Himself. But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man's eye is not single, he has ever a side glance towards his own honour, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord. 

This is what the Son says concerning those that the Father has given Him: “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.” John 17:10 This could hardly be any more explicit–the very words of the Son to the Father. This is not a wishful petition, it is a declarative injunction–what He has come to restore is being accomplished. That which was lost in Adam is being renewed in the Son - a company of the created ascribing glory to the Creator. The soon to be Exalted Son continues: "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;...” John 17:22

Glory is the providence of God and God only - “That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1Cor 1:29 This is the operation of the Father and the Father alone: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44 Mankind can only be its recipient as result of the a priori action of God the Father. 

That He has a perfect knowledge of all persons and things, and sees them all, even that which is most secret, at one clear, certain, and unerring view. Matthew Henry

Man cannot regenerate himself - he cannot initiate it, sustain it or bring it to completion. This is the charge of the Father in the Son.  Nearing the conclusion of his earthly sojourn Paul desired to bequeath this unfailing hope to his young disciple: “I am convinced (persuaded) that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

The Glory of God draws mankind back into the original relationship - children of God. This is the Adamic blessing and it is what was forfeited - and could only be regained by the One and Only Son of God.  “No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son-- the One who is at the Father's side-- He has revealed Him.” John 1:18 HCS We also read: “The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:3

“the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;” Nicene Creed

The Glory of God comes by a revelation of God given and sustained by God. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30 This is the ultimate and singular purpose - nothing plural here - a company of the elect in the Son glorifying the Father.

At a recent large gathering of evangelicals one of the plenary speakers referred to the preceding verse - Romans 8:28 - “who have been called according to his purpose(s).” I was horrified! There is no accurate translation that makes purpose plural. If it is plural, it is toward the glory of man - if sui generis (unique) it is the Glory of God.

since he is the image and glory of God; 1 Corinthians 11:7

Our current evangelical message is often a setup for ineptitude - for its focus is not on the Glory of God, but on the welfare of man. The ultimate welfare of man is found only in the Glory of God - we must not get these backward.  Even in distress the Glory of God remains our sole hope. When Christ was confronted with the news of the illness of His friend Lazarus He replied: "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it." John 11:4 He was so constrained by the Father’s purpose that He stayed where He was two more days. Upon arrival He was confronted by the grief of Lazarus’ sisters: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” The compassion was so strong in Him that He wept, yet He was never dissuaded from the Father’s sole objective. 

What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. Westminster Shorter Catechism

A similar instance occurred when He along with His disciples encountered a man born blind. Immediately the disciples appealed to the temporal: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:2 The Son was quick to refocus them on His mission: "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:3 He knew He was to glorify the Father by doing the works of the Father - that is, what the Father had told Him to do. “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” John 17:4

Fanny Crosby found her ultimate and complete satisfaction in the Glory of God: It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.

Mike Bickle has taught us that prayer is telling God what He has told us to tell Him. In this is God glorified.  The kingdoms of this world cannot stand against the Glory of God. If we ask otherwise, we ask out of futility and our asking will be amiss: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives,...” James 4:3

The authentic Glory can only give expression to the Son - “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11 The test of eternal veracity lies at the feet of this passage. No matter how persuasive the speech, nor the seeming demonstration of the miraculous - if the attention of the hearer or recipient is not rapt upon the Glorious Son of God there is no validity.  Its illegitimacy will fail this proofing every time: “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” 1 Peter 4:14 We must beware adulation for it will betray the testimony of the Savior for it is He that said: “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” Luke 6:26 

Turning again to the insight of Charles Spurgeon: It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted; and this is the reason why He bringeth His people ofttimes into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when He comes forth to work their deliverance. He whose life is one even and smooth path, will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God.

The means of glory is omniscient initiative - “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13 Just heard a Christian radio commentator assert that God has given everyone a freewill and then he went on to pray that God would change the will. What?!  Our message is so confused that genuine seekers find great difficulty in determining its credibility.

The hymnist Fanny Crosby wrote: “Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, And my will be lost in Thine.” 

Modern evangelicalism has largely deserted this call for a self-centered concept of me-ism: What is in it for me.  The glory of the creator has been exchanged for an image of the created.  How often have we heard, “Well, my god would not do that.” By saying this they are creating God in their own image.

The Reformers hit this issue head-on: It is affirmed that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God's glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone. It is denied that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel. Glory to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria)!

The issue of glorious believability will finally be settled at the consummation of all things:  “when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed-- for our testimony to you was believed.” 2 Thess 1:10  On that day the full impact of the High Priestly Prayer of the Son as found in John 17 will be fully realized: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” 17:24

At the last it shall be clearly seen that in every chosen vessel of mercy, Jehovah did as He willed with His own; and that in every part of the work of grace He accomplished His purpose, and glorified His own name.  Charles Spurgeon on Ephesians 1:11 

May we concur with the prayer of A.W. Tozer the answer to which can only be found in the providence of our Eternal God:

“O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”

As a fitting seal of earnest may our amen concur with this confession of timeless truth from the Second Centennial of the Church Age:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.
Gloria Patri - Author Unknown

Friday, July 25, 2014

Glorious Liberty of the Children of God.

Recently I was watching CNN’s morning newscast when I heard co-anchor Michaela Pereira say, “When I was three months old my parents chose me to be their daughter.”  That just went all over me. She went on to remark that her adoption was obvious for she is biracial while her parents are decidedly Caucasians. I would add that she was chosen not because she looked like her parents, but simply because their love was directed toward her. (Church, seekers do not have to become like us before they can be one of us.)

This gives such wonderful expression to this verse from John’s Gospel concerning the children of God: “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” 1:13 The decision is not the warrant of the adopted child. It is the prerogative of the parent alone. “God also decided ahead of time to choose us through Christ according to his plan, which makes everything work the way he intends.” Ephesians 1:21 GOD’S WORD

Chosen - not Choice

The children of God are chosen not a result of being choice, but become choice as a result of having been chosen. Indeed the Word says, “but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,...” 1 Corinthians 1:27. And Paul goes on to say, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,...” 1:30.

“Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:21 What could be more compelling?  It is a debt that could never be repaid, yet one infinitely motivating.  One who has had such a revelation does not “go out and do whatever he/she wants to” nor is such a one “a puppet on a string.”  This one has truly been set free from bondage with a desire to be like the One who alone is the author and perfecter of such freedom. The desire is such that it is irrepressible for it springs forth from the well of Divine love that has no beginning or end. 

In His Grip

These know that they have been “taken hold of” (Hebrews 2:16) by God and they have no fear of Him losing His grip - thus they are free to be His obedient children. As with Paul they are motivated to lay hold of the one that has taken hold of them–thus they are compelled to press onward and upward.

Just returned from a worship service where we shared in the words of this great hymn:

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
Robert Robinson - 1757

Made Alive!

We are dead in our trespasses and sins until God intervenes: “And you hath he quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins;” Ephesians 2:1  Dead is dead! It is not until we have been made alive that we are able to respond - a dead man has no capability of response. We have been made alive by the faithfulness of the Son of God–it is He who has echoed to the Father: “Of Those whom you have given me, I have not lost one.” John 18:9 

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Charles Wesley - 1738

Quickening Gaze

Can the quickening gaze of our Sovereign God fail?  Decidedly not! Once He begins His work, He continues inexorably, immutably, unabatedly until His full singular purpose is accomplished in us as individuals and collectively as His Church–conformity into the image of His Son. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,” Colossians 1:13 

Christ in His earthly ministry could only do what He saw His Father doing. Our rebirth is on the same basis - alone. ‘Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"’ Galatians 4:6 The Father knows those whom He has chosen in His Son before the foundation of the earth and He sends His Holy Spirit into them. Here it is the Spirit that cries out “Abba! Father!” In the parallel Romans account of this verse it is we that cry out “Abba! Father!” and here the Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of adoption” or “the Spirit of sonship.” The divine initiative does not create slaves, robots, automatons or puppets - but children: “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again,...” Romans 8:15 

Set Free

It is only by the Holy Spirt that we are able to confess Jesus as Lord: ‘and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.’ And there is no salvation outside of this confession: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  There is no freedom to make this confession - and it is in freedom that we make it - until we are set free in the Son: “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:35-36 

Glorious Liberty

It is the Father who has decided to set us free into the glorious liberty of His Children. It is the revelation of these for which all of creation is longing that this might be fulfilled: "For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.” Habbakuk 2:14 

This is what the Sovereign Lord says that He will do:

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

New Heart

In other words, in the new covenant God promises that he will take the initiative and will create a new heart, so that people are made members of the new covenant by his initiative, not their own. It promises to create faith and love and obedience where before there was only hardness.1

"As true as God's own word is true;
Nor earth, nor hell, with all their crew,
Against us shall prevail.
A jest, and by-word, are they grown;
God is with us, we are his own,
Our victory cannot fail."

Why does He do this?  Here is the reason.

Soli Deo Gloria! For the Glory of God Alone!

1Piper, John (2013-11-10). Five Points (Kindle Locations 501-502). Christian Focus Publications. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sewn Back Up!

“And the veil of the temple - was sewn back up!”

We are all so familiar with the resounding exclamation of Christ on the cross as He fully and completely satisfied the demands of the Law -“It is finished!” This loud cry was so efficacious that the barrier wall between the elect and the Father - symbolized by the veil of the temple - was torn asunder ushering in the new age of sonship.

sewn back up...

What we don’t realize is that the temple observations continued unabated until the final destruction - as all manmade institutions must - of the structure by the Romans in 70AD.  That was approximately 40 years - a generation. For this to proceed the veil would have had to have been repaired - sewn back up!  And to make this vain religious activity even more egregious–there was nothing behind the veil.  The Ark of the Presence was no longer in its chamber since the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians centuries before. 

needle and thread in our own hands...

This seems so utterly preposterous - but do we often have the needle and thread in our own hands? This is essentially what Paul confronted in the Church of the Galatians: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” 3:3 Before we employ the distance of disdain as a tool to separate us from this admonition, let us consider...or should we say reconsider our own state.

A word of testimony might suffice here to aid in delivering us from the realms of shadow into concrete reality.  I was in the midst of a glorious awakening of faith in the early 1970's.  A group that I was a part - and for which I am very appreciative - used a small publication as a tool to spread our faith.  In its concluding pages it addressed those that had begun a new life in Christ with a list of things that were necessary to grow in faith: prayer, fellowship, Bible study and witnessing. All of these are noble and beneficial exercises - yet when they entered into my psyche they were interpreted in this way: If I did not do these things then God would not be pleased with me.  

Having come into a fresh and vital relationship with the Father through the Son, my subsequent attitude was to attempt to close off this new life by the abject futility of works righteousness. If I found myself behind the closed doors of an elevator with another person and did not witness to them - and I never did - I heaped condemnation upon myself for having failed to please God.

a seamster sewing back up the rent veil...

I could so identify with the words of Paul: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Romans 7:24  Having truly been set free by the unmerited favor of God  I was now - through delusion - busy at the occupation of a seamster sewing back up the rent veil. This is not unlike the profession of our original parents in fashioning clothing for themselves to hide their shame from the searching gaze of their Creator.  Guilt - unaddressed by grace - always seeks to cover itself with the garments of self-righteousness. Yet the Word of God will always prevail (pre-veil?) for there is nothing that can be hidden from it: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13

God - in His Faithful Fatherhood - sent a British Pentecostal into our community with the Son-honoring message of the Blood Covenant.  It was as if I was born-again again!  There was nothing I could do to add to the all-consuming veracity of the Son. The encroaching cataractal cloud was removed from my heart’s eye with laser-like precision and I once again beheld Him with an unveiled conscience.  The Divine ophthalmologist had done His work!  I was renewed to the company of those who “with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” 

the thief - sewing basket is in his hand...

There is no other way - He is the only door - to enter into the ultimate purpose of His adopted children. That is conformity into the image of His Son that the Son would be the Foremost of the Company of the First-born (Romans 8:29). The thief will try to come in by another door to steal your liberty–the sewing basket is in his hand, but he is defeated every time by the immutable Word of God: “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Peter 1:23 

Here is a brief account from the life of Augustine of Hippo when the veil over his heart was sovereignly rent. “Whether it was the voice of a boy or a girl I cannot say, but again and again it repeated the refrain ‘Take it and read, take it and read.’ So I hurried back to the place where Alypius was sitting…seized [the book of Paul’s epistles] and opened it, and in silence I read the first passage on which my eyes fell: ‘Not in reveling in drunkenness, not in lust and wantonness, not in quarrels and rivalries. Rather, arm yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ; spend no more thought on nature and nature’s appetites’ (Rom. 13:13-14). I had no wish to read more and no need to do so. For in an instant, as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled.”

the slightest stitch of blinding...

Christian, may we be those of the fixed gaze - that is, those who have been transfixed by His gaze. Our enamor of Him will be so awesome that even the slightest stitch of blinding encroachment will be readily revealed for what it is - a bewitchment. With Paul we shall concur: “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Galatians 2:21 

legalism’s needle and thread far from us...

May the following word from Charles Spurgeon serve to put legalism’s needle and thread far from us–that the unveiled grace of repentance may draw us inexorably into times of refreshing from the Presence of the Lord.

Keep thine eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to Him; when thou liest down at night look to Him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail thee.

"My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name."

ultimate rending...

Returning to the ultimate authority which is more than capable of rending the veil - and keeping it rent: For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6  And we rejoice: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1 

Friday, April 4, 2014

An Abundance of Rain

“...for there is a sound of abundance of rain.”

(What I am about to share begins with rain and concludes with reign.) 

“Why are you going out in the rain?” Nancy asked me. “Because I want to hear what they are saying,” was my reply. That Saturday evening  - the rain pouring down outside - as I listened to several - of varying race, gender, generation and denomination - my thoughts turned to the passage below which I immediately looked up on my electronic tablet. (I am not really that out of touch!)  What they espoused was a hope in God that is impervious to the encroachments of modern culture - no matter how alluring. The siren song of subjectivism - each doing what is right in his own eyes - is effectively silenced. 

"For I have chosen him, so that he may command (direct) his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him." Genesis 18:19 NAS

I am amazed at the stark contrast concerning perspectives on this verse.  For the historic Reformed evangelical it is about God - for the modern it is about Abraham. Abraham is choice among men as a result of having been chosen by God. This majestic principle cannot be relegated to foreknowledge alone.  It must arise out of foreordination. 

Abraham instructs

A faithful God chooses Abraham by divine fiat. As a result Abraham instructs his whole household - possibly to include servants - in the way of the Lord: the doing of righteousness and justice. The ultimate objective being: “so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” This is a blessing that is transcendent of generational restrictions–or any other form of societal constraints.

That is the Lord initiates, sustains and consummates - no greater motivation exists for the children of God. Such majesty gives rise to worship - our highest and eternal calling. “That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:29 KJV Also: “so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11b NAS 

Abraham did not waiver

So when we come to the New Testament it is recorded that Abraham did not waiver in faith - yet the Old Testament story records many waivers.  As John Wimber said, “Ishmael would be a waiver in my household.” May the Holy Spirit grant us - with our finite minds - the ability to grasp such magnanimous truth.

The very thorough Pulpit Commentary reads: “the Divine resolution (is grounded) on the prior fact that Divine grace had elected him to the high destiny described in the language following.”

In the notes of a more modern divine: “This is a bright part of Abraham's character. And this is given as the reason why God would make known to him his purpose concerning Sodom; because he was communicative of his knowledge, and improved it.” 

Abraham improved on what God had given to him!? Please....  I hope not to mean disrespect for this writer, but this might as well be Dr. Phil talking. For him this was only about the coming judgement on Sodom. In reality it is the entirety of the Abrahamic Covenant  - through the Seed of the Promise all of the nations would be blessed: “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.” Genesis 18:18

If - even by foreknowledge - it is the character of Abram that attracted God’s attention, then the Monk Pelagius still lives and the voice of Hippo’s Bishop Augustine is effectively silenced.1 The decent into humanism is then a very swift and slippery slope. If God’s choosing is on the basis of choice - then who be god? Note Augustine's famous prayer: "Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire."

Abraham is a doer 

The operating system of the declaration of God to the two witnesses concerning Abraham is the doing of righteousness and justice settled upon the immutable foundation of the sovereignty of God: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;...” Psalm 89:14a  Please understand that it is the foundation - not foundations less dualism raise its hooded head.

As a caveat before concluding below I want to reiterate my hope of a people - not just one generation, gender or ethnicity - that will resist the subtle seduction of sub-culturism and be lifted up to the mandate of counterculture transformation. Modern evangelicalism - for the most part - has not been able to make this transition. This is why I refer to myself as an evangelical agnostic.

We are worshipers 

Paul - who had no thought of surrendering to Christ until he was apprehended - addresses this issue head-on: 

The NIV subtitles the following passage with one word: doxology.  This word means to honor God as in worship. "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” John 4:23 This worship cannot be constrained by certain times or at certain places.  It is pervasive.

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
35 "Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?"
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Arise True Worshipers and proclaim with one voice: "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” 

1The seminal thought of Pelagius survives today not as a trace or tangential influence but is pervasive in the modern church. Indeed, the modern church is held captive by it. R.C. Sproul