Childlike Faith – For to Such Belongs the Kingdom of Heaven

March 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Matthew 19:13-14, “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people,but Jesus said, Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Trinity, my little five year old, came to me today and said, “Daddy, I want to live forever and ever. I don’t want to die.” I told her that when you belong to Jesus you will live forever and ever. I told her that’s what God promises her in her baptism. She said, “But Daddy, when I get one hundred years old I will die.” I told her yes, but you will go to be with Jesus, and when he returns he will bring you with him and you will get your body back and will live with him forever and ever. Her eyes got real big and she smiled ever so big and went running through the house saying, “Yea! I get to live forever and ever because Jesus has promised me that I will!”

Why the majority of the Reformed world will not let such a little child as my Trinity come to the communion table and eat the bread and drink the wine where this very promise is renewed each Lord’s Day is beyond me. I marvel at such childlike faith.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

A Thought On The Visible/Invisible Church

March 2, 2010 § 1 Comment

Mathew 13:24&25, “He put another parable before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.” (ESV)

Notice that in the text that the good seed is planted first and the weeds are planted later. It would seem to me that the good seed must take preeminence over the weed. This I believe is obvious from the text. So my question is this. What if the visible/invisible distinction has been expressed exactly backwards? Could we not argue from this text that the good seed is the true visible body of Christ and the the weeds are the invisible false members hidden among the good seed. This is why Christ commands that the weeds not be uprooted to hastily least the good seed be uprooted instead. For it is far more likely that a good plant will uprooted by mistake because the good plant is the prominent visible plant, but the weed is the hidden invisible plant that is difficult to spot. Just a thought.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

The Sermon on the Mount – Matthew Chapter 5, Verses 10-12

August 14, 2007 § Leave a comment

Mat 5:10-12, “10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Jesus told His disciples that if the world hated Him, they would certainly hate them as well. He said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.” To be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven is to declare oneself an enemy of the world and it’s way of doing things. It is to work to bring this fallen world, a world in rebellion against it’s Creator and King, under the dominion of the gospel. As a result when we carry out our marching orders persecution comes, for it is the righteousness/law of the kingdom heaven that the world hates and is in rebellion against. Therefore when the wicked of this fallen world are confronted with this righteousness, as it is being fulfilled in us (Romans 8:4), the light which they hate and refuse to come to, exposes their evil deeds (John 3:19-20). But fear not, beloved, for ours is the kingdom of heaven! Oh what a reward we have! How blessed are we, to have citizenship in Christ’s own kingdom, declared by our baptism to belong to Him, engrafted into His body, embracing His promises by faith! Our victory is assured by the resurrection of our King and Saviour. So, may we with joy endure the persecution that comes upon us. For we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”(Hebrews 12:1-3)

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

The Sermon on the Mount – Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 9

May 15, 2007 § Leave a comment

Mat 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

War and conflict between sinful men is one of the most glaring examples of the consequences of the fall. Mankind is hostile toward God, in rebellion against his Creator. So as a result we have no lasting or true peace with each other, but are constantly at war and fighting over a myriad of things and issues.

Christ Jesus, is called the Prince of Peace. He fulfills this title by making peace for us with God the Father. We by nature are enemies of God, in rebellion against our Creator and at enmity with his law. Christ came as a man and suffered the wrath of God in our place, thus making peace with God possible for the human race.

To be a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven is to be reconciled to God in Christ, to be a new creation at peace with God no longer hostile toward His law, but rather with the law written upon the heart. The expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven is the out working of the reconciliation wrought by God in Christ that the Apostle Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 5:18-21:

“18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

As Paul teaches, we have this ministry of reconciliation entrusted to us, the citizens of the Kingdom. We are truly peacemakers. As the sons of God we are at peace with Him, and we bring this peace where ever we go. We offer this peace in the gospel to lost humanity still hostile toward their Creator. We declare to them that the Father has sent his only Son from heaven to take upon himself our human nature, to live among us as one of us obeying God perfectly in all things and then suffering the wrath of God on the cross dying the death we all, as members of the human race, deserve. The death we will surely suffer ourselves if we are found without Christ on the day of Judgment. We implore them to be reconciled to God, to repent and believe on Christ, and in so doing, to become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The lie that this fallen sinful world believes is that they can have peace with one another while remaining hostile toward God, but before we can be peacemakers, we must first be new creations, reconciled to God in Christ, and thus coming under the control of the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14). As citizens of the Kingdom, having the law of the kingdom written on our hearts we not only seek to fulfill the law by loving God with all that we are, but we also seek to love our neighbor as our selves. We seek to live in peace with our fellowman. This first begins in the Kingdom (i.e. the Church) among it’s citizens, Jesus said, “…all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). And as we, as ambassadors of the Kingdom, seek to bring our culture, and by extension the world, under the dominion of the Kingdom of Heaven we bring this peace to them as well. Paul gives instruction concerning this outworking of the Kingdom of Heaven in Romans 12:9-21:

“9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

What a blessing indeed it is to be at peace with God in Christ, and so be a peacemaker in Christ’s stead with our fellowman. What a gift of grace!

Father I pray that we truly fulfill our purpose as peacemakers, that we are indeed called your sons. Work in us for the sake of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to live in peace in this evil world. Let us bring your gospel of peace to this hostile world and by so doing bring it under the dominion of your Kingdom. Make us faithful ambassadors to implore with sinful hostile people be reconciled to God. And work in us to demonstrate the peace of this reconciliation in our dealings with one another in the church, in our homes and with our neighbors we live among. Amen.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

The Sermon on The Mount – Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 8

May 3, 2007 § Leave a comment

Mat 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

What is it the soul, that has seen the purity of the law, compared to which, he clearly knows his own heart and life of wickedness, desires more than that purity himself and the accompanying view of the glory and holiness of God?

The privilege of having the purity that is found only in Christ, imputed to us, the citizens of the kingdom of heaven, is priceless beyond measure. To possess such hope and assurance in the promise of the faithful one, “with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water”(Hebrews 10:22), we are able to draw near to a holy God who is a “consuming fire”(Hebrews 12:29).

Along with the promise of being delivered from the wrath of God, by being accounted as righteous in Christ, is the promise of being transformed into the same image as the one who has secured our ransom by his substitutionary satisfaction of God’s holy law. As citizens of the kingdom of heaven, through the mediation of the greater Moses, i.e. Jesus Christ, we have the “ministry of righteousness” exceeding and far surpassing in glory than the “ministry of condemnation”. We have the promise that the law of God, the law of the kingdom, is to be written upon our hearts. So that our lives will more and more reflect the righteousness of God and be characterized by holiness, for we, who are in Christ, being citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, by the Spirit,”with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another”(2 Cor. 3:18). Oh, to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, to have “shone in our hearts the light” of this knowledge as a gift of grace, what a promise to the pure in heart!

In light of the promise of purity of heart and the vision of the glory of God himself, let us pray with David Psalm 17:15, knowing that in Christ we have this promise given to us.

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. Amen.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

The Sermon on The Mount – Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 7

April 24, 2007 § Leave a comment

Mat 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

In the first 4 “beatitudes”, Jesus describes what is lacking in the heart of the sinner, the truth about himself, that the sinner see so clearly, when he has been effectually brought to Christ and his kingdom. Christ is, therefore, teaching us what we have need of, by showing us our want of anything in ourselves that is good or holy. Thus teaching us to look to him, for that which we are in desperate need. Now here in this text, as Jesus continues teaching, we begin to see the outworking of the spiritual life, of the kingdom of heaven, in the hearts and lives of it’s citizens, i.e. the law of the kingdom being written upon the heart.

Jesus, by beginning with mercy, teaches us that is attitude of the heart found in the citizens of the kingdom, is appropriately, the first to be stimulated by the work of the Spirit, and must certainly flow out of all that has been experienced and made known in the first 4 “beatitudes”. For we, who have seen our poverty, our sin and corruption, our lowly place before God and his law, and thus been given a deep hunger and thirst for righteousness, should surely show to others, that are in the same state as we, the same kind of mercy that is so graciously ours, by the Spirit because of the work of Christ for us, his covenant people.

The scripture in many places, (Matt. 18:23-35; Matt. 6:15; James 2:13; Col. 3:13) admonishes us to be merciful and forgiving because of the great mercy and forgiveness we have received for the sake of Christ.

Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

We are truly, as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, people who “stand[s] in a middle point, between a mercy received and a mercy yet needed.”(Richard C. Trench)

Father, I pray that by your, Holy Spirit, we may ever be merciful and forgiving, so that in this way, we my be truly your children, and thus show forth the life of the kingdom that we have so graciously been made citizens of, in Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

The Sermon on The Mount – Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 6

April 21, 2007 § Leave a comment

Mat 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

And so the first three “beatitudes”, of verses 3-5, brings us to this text. Here we see that the glorious and inevitable result, of experiencing one’s utter destitution (i.e. poverty of spirit), and mourning over one’s exceeding sinfulness, which causes the soul of such a man to see himself as truly lowly and humbled before his Holy God, thus recognizing his utter dependence upon Christ for his salvation and life, is to then hunger and thirst for the righteousness that is revealed in the law of the kingdom. Such a one as this can only be satisfied by the “bread from heaven” (John 6:33&35).

Our satisfaction comes first in the glorious truth of the imputed righteousness we have, upon being united to Christ by faith. Knowing that, as citizens of the kingdom of heaven, our sin has been placed upon Christ and that he has accomplished a complete satisfaction of the justice of God by his substitutionary suffering of the wrath of God, i.e. the death which we, as fallen sinners, so deserve.

But, our hunger and thirst goes beyond this, for we also passionately desire that our lives also reflect the glory of our Lord, as the law of the kingdom is written upon our hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit, and so we hunger and thirst to be conformed to his very image, having our hope in the promise that he will be faithful to make us like himself.

We who know our poverty, who mourn over sin, who are humbled before God, can no longer find any satisfaction in ourselves nor the world, but have become as the Apostle Paul, counting all things as loss in light of the worth of Christ, we despair of our own righteousness that comes by our own efforts at obeying the law, but will be satisfied only with the righteousness of God that comes by faith in Christ (Phil. 3:8&9). The kingdom of heaven becomes to us, as citizens thereof, a treasure and a pearl of such worth that we with joy sell all that we have to possess the life found therein (Matt. 13:44-46).

Just as with the previous “beatitudes”, so this one also, is a repetition of that which is found in the old covenant, the promise of which is so gloriously fulfilled in the new covenant. Here again, the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary is quite instructive on this verse.

“But, in so comprehensive a saying as this, it is clearly to be taken – as in Mat_5:10 also – in a much wider sense, as denoting that spiritual and entire conformity to the law of God, under the want of which the saints groan, and the possession of which constitutes the only true saintship. The Old Testament dwells much on this righteousness, as that which alone God regards with approbation (Psa_11:7; Psa_23:3; Psa_106:3; Pro_12:28; Pro_16:31; Isa_64:5, etc.). As hunger and thirst are the keenest of our appetites, our Lord, by employing this figure here, plainly means “those whose deepest cravings are after spiritual blessings.” And in the Old Testament we find this craving variously expressed: “Hearken unto Me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord” (Isa_51:1); “I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord,” exclaimed dying Jacob (Gen_49:18); “My soul,” says the sweet Psalmist, “breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgments at all times” (Psa_119:20): and in similar breathings does he give vent to his deepest longings in that and other Psalms. Well, our Lord just takes up here – this blessed frame of mind, representing it as – the surest pledge of the coveted supplies, as it is the best preparative, and indeed itself the beginning of them. “They shall be saturated,” He says; they shall not only have what they so highly value and long to possess, but they shall have their fill of it.”

Our deepest hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God is indeed satisfied in our new covenant communion with Christ, in our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. For we have come not the the mountain that cannot be touched for fear, but we have come to sit down, with Christ and be taught of him the life of the kingdom of heaven, on Mount Zion!

So let us pray with David, this prayer of Psalm 17:13-15.

Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. Amen.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

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