EASTER: HAVE WE LOST THE MEANING?

Jesus Christ’s work on the earth is culminated in His death. This fulfilled God’s divine plan. In our modern society, it is not Christ who is revered and honored, but the holiday and the purchase of Easter eggs.

 

Family Environment

The responsibility of every parent and educator is to know what Christ and His death means, and then to take this meaning and educate our children. It is my observation that each year the eggs become more expensive, and the true meaning of Easter becomes cheaper. In our technological world, we know more about the functionality of our instruments than we do about the reason Jesus died for us.

 

What is the meaning of Easter?

The true meaning of Christ’s death is that Christ is Holy and that closely related to holiness is God’s righteousness. In the full council of God, it was decided that Christ, the Holy Son of God would fulfill the divine plan of God the Father. According to Herman Bavinck, everything derives from God’s will, even suffering.

 

LUKE 22:42

42 saying, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.

 

It was the will of the Father that determined the destiny of God the Son. Also, according to Bavinck, sin was of such a nature that it aroused God’s wrath, and only the atoning death of the God-man could satisfy God’s justice and still that wrath. Christ put Himself in our place; we deserved the wrath because of sin. He became the guarantor of the new covenant.

 

The next time you participate in communion, remember the cup reminds us of God’s wrath that was poured out on His only begotten Son. There are some theological words that have been lost at Easter. Wayne Grudem helps us in understanding them:

 

Propitiation:

A sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end and in so doing, changes God’s wrath towards us into God’s favor.

 

Atonement:

The work Christ did in His life and death to earn our salvation.

 

Expiation:

Our sin is expiated, or taken away, so that we are made clean through Christ, who is our scapegoat.

 

This Easter, let us be thankful that God entered into covenant with Himself, knowing that no human being walking in sin qualified.

 

Isaiah the prophet had this revelation:

 

ISAIAH 53:6

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turnedevery oneto his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The most important event in history is the death, burial and resurrection. This event validated the truthfulness and inerrancy of Scripture. From Genesis to Revelation, the penalty of sin is death.

 

Let us this Easter remember how much it cost Jesus, the Holy Son of God. Our salvation is costly. There is no cheap grace in this salvation. God hates sin, and as a Christian, so should we.

 

God Bless

Dr Steve

 

 

Reference

Bavinck, H. (2011). Reformed Theology. Baker Academic: Grand Rapid, Michigan.

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What made me believe what I believe?

I recognize that I am a recovering antinomianist, Gnostic, pelaegianist, and I even held to the Joachimite heresy. Added to this heresy I was also a prosperity preacher. God have mercy on my soul. While I am in a state of repenting, readers please find it in your heart to forgive me.

You might not be familiar with these heresies as I was until I was confronted with them in studying Church history.

Each one of these heresies have deeply affected the modern day Church and especially the Charismatic Church.

The antinomian would have us believe that grace frees the Christian from the law, so that he finds himself outside of the law. Unfortunately this leads to lawlessness. There is no warrant whatsoever in Scripture for a lawless Christian.

Rushdoony states that the expression,” dead to the law,” is biblical. (Gal.2: 19;Rom.7: 4), but it has reference to the believer in relationship to the atoning work of Jesus Christ as the believers representative and substitute; the believer is dead to the law as an indictment, a legal sentence of death against him, Christ having died for him, but the believer is alive to the law as the righteous of God. The purpose of Christ’s atoning work was to restore man to a position of covenant-keeping instead of covenant- breaking to enable man to keep the law by freeing him from, “the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).  It has been my understanding that the doctrine of atonement has been neglected in favor of a lawless gospel. Salvation belongs to the Lord as Jonah reminds. The law and grace always works together and may not be separated, this is the Gospel.

The whole doctrine of our savior in the atonement upholds the unity of the law, judgment and grace.

The Joachimite heresy has deeply infected the church according to Rushdoony. He also maintains that according to this heresy, the first age of man was the age of the Father, the age of the law. The second age was the age of the son, of Christianity, of the church and of grace. The third age is the age of the Spirit, when men become gods and their own law.

The God we serve found us, elect us transformed us, justified us, Sanctified, and will glorify us. It is all His doing. The Father planned our Salvation. Christ did the work and the Holy Spirit does the regeneration.

I leave with you the first command and the Shema of Israel.

“Hear, o Israel The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you site in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind then as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” This commandment is as relevant today as it was in Moses day. David delighted in Gods law so should we.

Have a blessed Christ centered Christmas.

GOD SPEAKS THROUGH HIS COVENANTS

The God that we serve does speak to us. God speaks to us through His Word, by the Holy Spirit, and also in His sovereignty, providence and in His grace, mercy and love. The speech of God contains His divine attributes. Let’s look at some of these:

God is righteous

PSALM 119:7

I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.[a]

God’s character is the definition and source of all righteousness. Paul the apostle asks the question and states the answer:

 ROMANS 9:14

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!

God’s attributes have often been placed into two categories, namely incommunicable and communicable attributes. God has no parents and He does not experience death. His communicable attributes are omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.  You may well ask ‘Is this God personal and is He approachable?”

Sure He is. He has manifested Him toward us through His covenants and His Lordship.

Michael Horton gives us a great definition on covenant. He states: covenant is “an oath-based union under given stipulations and sanctions”.

The first covenant in the Bible is the Covenant of Works. This covenant was between the Triune Lord and Adam (humanity). Adam was the federal head. He represented all humanity. Through his disobedience, humanity was subjected to death.

GENESIS 2:15-17

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[a] of it you shall surely die.”

ROMANS 5:12-18

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[a] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass[b] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[c] leads to justification and life for all men.

The covenant of Grace and Redemption was different to other covenants, the difference being that it was between the Triune God and Christ as the Mediator and the Church. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. This covenant commenced with God’s promise of salvation to Adam and Eve.

GENESIS 3:15

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[a] and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Then it continues through all the other covenants namely Seth to Noah and on to Abraham and Sarah. This covenant of Grace includes the Davidic and culminates in Christ, with Christ being the Last Adam. Jesus Christ is our Federal Representative in the Covenant of Grace, but also the fulfillment of the Covenant of Redemption. As in the covenant of Grace, the covenant of Redemption is between the triune God. Jesus now is the Mediator of its benefits to the elect. The covenant of Grace as Michael Horton observes, is the basis of all of God’s purposes in nature and history, and is the foundation and efficiency of the Covenant of Grace. For me personally this covenant is God’s working and for God’s glory. The first covenant of Grace was violated by man’s disobedience. In the covenant of Grace and Redemption, man once again will violate the covenant when we think the covenant is all about us. Often when humanity enters the arena of God, it is man that violates God’s plan. Job reminds us that, salvation belongs to the Lord. (Job 2:9).

JOB 2:9

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”

God has truly spoken to us through His Word and His Covenant.

 

 

The covenant of grace. Salvation

“the word grace is used in scripture and in ordinary religion writings in three senses
1. For unmerited love; i.e; love exercised toward the undeserving.
2. For any unmerited favor, especially for spiritual blessings. Hence, all the fruit of the Spirit in believers are called graces, or unmerited gift of God.
3. The word grace often means the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit. This is a preeminently grace, being being great gift secured by the work of Christ, and without which his redemption would not await to our salvation. In all these senses of the word and plan of salvation is properly called a covenant of grace. It is of grace because it originated in the mysterious love of God for sinners who deserve only His wrath and curse. Secondly, because it promises salvation not on the condition of works or anything mysterious on our part, but as an unmerited gift. And, thirdly, because it benefits are secured and applied not in the course of nature, or in the exercise of the natural power of the sinner, but by the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit, granted to him as an unmerited gift.”
Charles Hodge: The covenant of grace.

The Parties

Sometimes Christ is present as one of the parties; at others He is presented not as a party, but as a mediator and surety of the covenant; while the parties are represented to be God and his people.
Christ is called the mediator of a better covenant founded on better promises.

Two Covenant’s

There are in fact two covenants relating to salvation of fallen man, the one between God and Christ, the other between God and his people. These covenants differ not only in their parties, but also in their promises and conditions. Both are so clearly presented in the Bible that they should not confounded. The latter is the covenant of grace, is founded on the former, the covenant of redemption. Of the one Christ is the mediator and surety; of the other ( redemption ) He is one of the contracting parties.

To Covenant To Be Distinguished

This confusion is avoided by distinguishing between the covenant of redemption between the a father and the Son, and the covenant of grace between God and and His people. The later supposes the former, and is founded apron it.
They differ as to the parties, the promises, and the conditions.

The Covenant of Redemption

The covenant between the Father and the Son in reference to the salvation of man.

Committed to Jesus

In our ever-changing world, modernity has had a great impact on our beliefs. The positives cannot be denied. Today we can have quick access to biblical information and resources. However, have we lost the ability to think about what we actually believe? It would seem to me that many have taken the gospel of Jesus Christ and adjusted it to suit modernity. The modern gospel would seem to omit the importance of sin and God dealing with our sin nature. In actual fact this is not new to the history of the church. 

Pelagius was one of the first to make this gospel popular. In essence he believed man has the ability to convert himself. All that man has to do is to be convinced that Jesus is better and that it is a good thing to embrace salvation. Through man’s free will he saves himself. Man can only deal with sin by being persuaded by doctrines, commands, promises and threats in God’s Word. This form of gospel is error, as it does not deal with how the mind is corrupted and depraved by sin.  Man is unable to save himself by his free will.

We need to take a closer look at what Jesus stated in Matthew’s Gospel.

“On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do mighty works in your name?” And then I will declare to them,” I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt 7:22-23) What was the problem? This man was using the name of Jesus effectively, yet he himself was not regenerated (born again). He possibly influenced many to follow his example; however he himself was not destined to spend eternity with God. Let’s not forget that this man was a man of faith. He operated in the Word of God, yet God had not saved him, so therefore he saved himself. My friend this is not a good place to be in. 

Now that I have identified the problem, what is the solution?

According to the true gospel man cannot save himself. His will is corrupt; he needs to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit. What is regeneration? John Owen assists us with the following explanation:

In regenerating a person the Holy Spirit makes use of the law and the gospel. There’s not only a moral but also a direct nature- changing work of the Spirit on the minds or souls of men in regeneration. This is what we most hold on to, or the glory of God’s grace is lost, and the grace, which comes to us by Christ, is neglected. Unless the Father draws us through the finished work of Jesus Christ we cannot enjoy the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. In regeneration the Holy Spirit deals with our sinful nature and changes us internally to be committed to Jesus Christ as Lord.

 

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS

The question needs to be asked, Is Jesus Lord of my life?

We address Jesus as our Lord. This means that Jesus is the Authority, Controller, Ruler and Master. Paul, the Apostle, reminds us that no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. The lordship of Jesus takes place in the regeneration (born again) process. We must be committed to the Lordship of Jesus. He must occupy the citadel of our very existence. Life is all about Jesus. Self and sin must be crucified on a daily basis. Our responsibility is to believe and to confess that Jesus is Lord. Paul reminds us of this, that “every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:11). It is impossible to be a Christian without the lordship of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to simply state:  “I believe in Jesus Christ”. Peter tells us: “in our hearts we are to honor Christ the Lord as holy (1 Pet. 3:15). Our commitment is to honor Jesus as Lord over our minds, work, pleasure, finance, time and our bodies.

 

Jesus is Lord of our covenant relationship. This includes all authority, power and over every part of human life. When we set Jesus as Lord above everything this encourages others to do so as well. As we make Him Lord we must be doers of what He says. Peter reminds us not to call Jesus Lord only we must do what He tells us (Luke 6:46). Our life demands that Lordship of Jesus is central in our lifestyle and behavior. Peter reminds us that when Jesus is not Lord we build our lives on that which is temporal. Then when the Lordship is challenged our lives fall apart, due to the fact that in our obeying Jesus was never Lord. However, when His lordship is challenged, if Jesus is Lord, our obeying does not fall to pieces. The reason for this is that Jesus is also Lord in our obeying and in our behavior. Thus, Jesus must be Lord also in our obeying. 

THE SIN QUESTION

I have received Jesus Christ and been justified by faith through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Does this mean that I will never have to deal with sin in my life? Let’s take a deeper look into the origin of sin. Adam was given a clear warning in:

GENESIS 2:17
17 
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

 This tree was to reveal whether the future state of man would be good or evil. It would also reveal whether man would allow God to determine for him what is good or evil. The essential nature of sin lies in the fact that man’s will refuses to submit to God’s will. Man should always allow God to determine the course of life. That original sin committed by Adam was transmitted to the entire human race. In the same way God searched for Adam by calling him, God calls us today. If God does not accost our will, our will can never be inclined to God. In his systematic theology Berkhoff states Adam’s sin correctly: “The first sin was a typical character, clearly revealing the essential nature of sin. This lies in the fact that man refused to subject himself to the will of God and to have God determine the course of his life and decided to settle this for himself”. Original sin led mankind into total depravity. Let’s now consider actual sin. This sin is what the Apostle John reminds of us in:

1 JOHN 2:1-2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Christians should always be reminded that when we sin, we sin against God. Actual sin may be sins of the inner life, such as pride, envy, hatred, evil desires and even sensual lust. These sins may also be external such as theft, murder, adultery, and so on. My friend, sin affects our fellowship with God. As Christians surely Christ has taken our sin away at salvation. This is true; however this does not exempt me from being tempted and sinning. This is why Apostle John reminds us about sinning. “I am appealing to you not to sin.” Take note, this is a command given as an exhortation. This is what a Christian does. Paul the Apostle reminds us:

 EPHESIANS 4:22, 24
22 
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

This is something that I have to do. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling:

PHILIPPIANS 2:12
12 
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,

I have to do that. This is not something that God does for me. God works in us to will and to do according to His pleasure. We have to mortify our members while we live on the earth.

COLOSSIANS 3:5
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

I am encouraged to fight the good fight of faith.

1 TIMOTHY 6:12
12 
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

I am not only encouraged to mortify every member; I am also reminded to lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim 6:12), and to flee from sin and to reckon myself “to be dead to sin”:

ROMANS 6:11
11 
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

This process increases my fellowship with God, not forgetting “God is light”:

1 JOHN 1:6-10
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.