March 29, 2007 § Leave a comment
“O God, you are the light of the minds that know you, the life of the souls that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you; help us so to know you that we may truly love you, so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430)
March 26, 2007 § Leave a comment
“Be gracious, O Instructor, to us Thy children, Father, Charioteer of Israel, Son and Father, both in One, O Lord. Grant to us who obey Thy precepts, that we may perfect the likeness of the image, and with all our power know Him who is the good God and not a harsh judge. And do Thou Thyself cause
that all of us who have our conversation in Thy peace, who have been translated into Thy commonwealth, having sailed tranquilly over the billows of sin, may be wafted in calm by Thy Holy Spirit, by the ineffable wisdom, by night and day to the perfect day; and giving thanks may praise, and praising thank the Father and Son, Son and Father, the Son, Instructor and Teacher, with the Holy Spirit, all in One, in whom is all, for whom all is One, for whom is eternity, whose members we all are, whose glory the heavens are; for the all-good, all-lovely, all-wise, all-just One. To whom be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
Clement of Alexandria (AD 150-215)
March 23, 2007 § Leave a comment
“Thou God and Father of Thy beloved and blessed Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of Thee, O God of the angels and of all creation and of all just men who live in Thy presence, I thank Thee that Thou hast graciously granted me a portion among Thy people [Polycarp prayed: “. . . Thou hast graciously granted this day and this hour to allot me a portion among the number of martyrs”], among the people of Christ, unto the resurrection of everlasting life: may I be received in Thy sight, as a fruitful and acceptable sacrifice, wherefore, for all this, I praise Thee, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee through the eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son; to whom, with Thee and the Holy Spirit, be all glory, world without end. Amen.”
Polycarp (when he was martyred) (A.D. 69–155)
March 22, 2007 § Leave a comment
“Grant unto us, Lord, that we may set our hope on Thy name . . . and open the eyes of our hearts, that we may know Thee.”
“We beseech Thee, Lord and Master, to be our help and succour. Save those among us who are in tribulation; have mercy on the lowly; lift up the fallen; show Thyself to those in need; heal the sick; turn again the wanderers of Thy people; feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners; raise up the weak; comfort the fainthearted. Let all nations know that Thou art God alone, and that Jesus Christ is Thy Son, and that we are Thy people and the sheep of Thy pasture.”
“We praise Thee who art able to do these and better things than these, through Jesus Christ the High Priest and Guardian of our souls, through whom be glory and majesty to Thee, both now and throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”
Clement of Rome (A.D. 30 – 100)
March 21, 2007 § Leave a comment
Act 17:30&31, “30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
1. What is offered in the command to repent?
Some of the very first words we have recorded of Jesus in the gospels are, “Repent and flee the wrath to come!” Is not the command to repent then an offer of salvation from that wrath to come, that day appointed that God will judge the world? Certainly it is. But how can we be saved? Is it repentance alone that gets us forgiveness and grants us an escape from that awful day? Certainly not. But, rather it is a man that is our salvation. A man that mediates between God and men. The man that Paul is referring to in the text above, i.e. Jesus Christ.
How is it that in this man we can find salvation if we repent? What is it about this man that makes salvation possible to those who are commanded to repent? Paul answers these question this way in Romans 8:3&4,
“3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
This man, who is truly a man, possesses the same nature that is common to all men, sin excepted. So that by this man’s obedience many are made righteous (Romans 5:19). This man obeyed and then suffered the penalty for disobedience on the cross, and then was raised from the dead to demonstrate his power and success in accomplishing this work for a fallen world in need of a savior.
So, the command cannot be viewed as a mere declaration, but as a sincere offer of salvation, from the wrath that is deserved and promised to be poured out on the ungodly, to all that will repent and embrace the work of this man in their place.
2. What is the condition of those who hear the command?
The bible describes for us the depravity of those who hear this command, the wickedness of those to whom this offer of salvation is made. In John 1:11, we read that Jesus came to his own and they did not receive him, even though he is the creator of the world, the world rejects him. In the same book, three chapters later, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:20) Also, In Romans chapter one we read that men have exchanged the glory of God for the profane, that men by nature hate God, and have no fear of him and will not seek him (Romans 3:10-18).
3. What is the result from the command?
So, what is the result in those that hear the command? Paul describes the result in 2 Corinthians 2:15&16,
“15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”
In some it brings life, in others in brings death. In those, that God works effectually in their hearts, to draw them to Christ (John 6:44), it results in their salvation, but in those that are left to their own evil wills, they believe not, their hearts are hardened even more, and will be judged for refusing the “bread from heaven…that gives life to the world.” (John 6:32&33)
Both the saving of some and the hardening of others results from either the embracing or the refusal of that which is suitable or sufficient to save those who hear the command, i.e. the satisfaction of God’s justice offered in the command to repent. This is why the despising of the goodness of God that leads to repentance causes the severity of the wrath to be stored up for the wicked on that day (Romans 2:4).
4. Upon what grounds is the salvation offered in the command?
The command to repent, therefore, is founded upon the suitableness or sufficiency of the means of salvation, i.e. Christ satisfaction. So, even the severity of the hardening of the reprobates heart, resulting from their rebellion against the command, and refusal of the offer of salvation, can only be understood if that means of salvation is suitable/sufficient for them as well.
The world will be judged, on that day of wrath appointed, by that man, Jesus Christ the Son of God, whom the Father sent from heaven as the bread that gives life to the world. Rejection of him is the refusal of that which is provided for the salvation and reconciliation of the whole human race, therefore God commands all men, everywhere to repent.
Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West
March 21, 2007 § Leave a comment
Almighty God and Father, grant unto us, because we have to go through much strife on this earth, the strength of thy Holy Spirit, in order that we may courageously go through the fire, and through the water, and that we may put ourselves so under thy rule that we may go to meet death in full confidence of thy assistance and without fear.
Grant us also that we may bear all hatred and enmity of mankind, until we have gained the last victory, and that we may at last come to that blessed rest which thy only begotten Son has acquired for us through his blood. Amen.
John Calvin (A.D. 1509-1564)
March 21, 2007 § Leave a comment
“Lord, give me grace to hold righteousness in all things… that I may lead a clean and blessed life, and prudently flee evil, and that I may understand the treacherous and deceitful falseness of the devil. . . . Make me mild, peaceable, courteous, and temperate . . . and make me steadfast and strong. And also Lord give thou to me . . . that I be quiet in words [and] that I speak what is appropriate. Amen.”
John Wycliffe (AD 1320-1384)