No Separation ~~~~~~

God sent His Son
God’s Son sent His Spirit
God’s Spirit lives in us

We find these truths throughout the Word of God, and Romans 8 expounds on the work of the Trinity. From the planning to the inception God is sovereign; in control; and bringing to pass His plans for our salvation; made before the foundation of the world.

The power of the gospel that brings about the obedience of faith in all nations (1:5; 16:26) is the working of the Holy Spirit since the completion of Christ’s work (1:4); and will be finished as He has planned.

Connecting the Dots
The Holy Bible is a precious book; a canon; a volume of many books; but more than anything else, it is a workbook, which we must use for all time and endurance of life. It identifies the author, His work, and His workers. We go through, looking for God. He permeates the whole book. We find Him in the beginning and the end. We find Him in Jesus Christ. We find Him in the Holy Spirit. We see Him working in His creatures; in His creation and His redemption. All is His.

Sarah Roap Romans 8-26When we come to the book of Romans we go a little deeper in our understanding of truth that has been hidden from some because of the change in the teaching and preaching of the gospel in the last century.

It is only as we see that God has full control to work what He has planned from the foundation of the world; before the world began (Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9) that we can be assured of “no condemnation” and “no separation.” We cannot save ourselves from God’s wrath; or keep ourselves through the suffering and temptation of this world.

This chapter connects these truths to each of the Trinity. They are united in this great plan for the power of the gospel for our salvation. As we meditate we look for the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In all study of the Bible we find Christ at the center; all things connecting to and pointing from and to Him for all things.

Treasure, Impact, Assurance
In the halfway mark in Paul’s letter to Romans we need to stop; take a breather; and sit down with this letter that is included in God’s word. I cannot in these notes unpack what has been recorded here for His people. If we take the time to read, meditate, saturate, and absorb what is here we find a treasure box from which God, by His Spirit, brings us to understand the fullness of the truth which we have been given in and through Christ Jesus, our Lord. To understood predestination we need to let God lead us to see the truth of His own work and glory in us.  To get the full impact of the whole book of Romans we must allow the Holy Spirit, that intercedes for us, to lead us and teach us here and through the remainder of Paul’s letter.

In Romans 8:19-39 we can look for these words; meditate on the verses from which these come; experience the impact; and be assured of the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit to accomplish all His work within us ~ for His glory and our joy.

Expectation
Delivered
Liberty
Waiting
Saved
Hope
Patience
Spirit
Intercession
Saints
Everything
Know
Good
Purpose
Foreknow
Predestined
Conformed
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Called
Justified
Glorified
Intercession
Conquerors
Elect
Persuaded
Love
God
Christ
Lord

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Dear Father, we are helpless, except for your life that is given us in Christ. I pray for the authority of your word to be commanded in us by the power of your Holy Spirit; to accomplish all that you have planned for each of us today. In Jesus name I thank you and praise you. Amen.

The Value of the Lord’s Day

The worth of what we have is proven by how we spend it. The person who values the small amount of money that he has will spend it wisely on what is important to him. He, in understanding his needs, will spend his money on necessities before he buys something trivial.

The same is true with the spiritual blessings that God gives us.   The Lord’s Day is one of those blessings and is needful for His children. If this was not so He would not have placed such a high priority on it and in it. If it is so valuable to Him it should also be to us as His children.

“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Who, when he had found one pearl of great price,

went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”  
Matthew 13:45-46

oyster-wound-brings-forth-a-pearlWhere do we find in God’s word the value of the Christian Sabbath? I believe that we discover this in the pattern that was given for the first Sabbath. I have read books that are focused on the Lord’s Day, its ordinances set forth by the Jewish Sabbath, and the transition to the first day of the week as the honor given to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath. I have come to my understanding, by way of prayer and study, to peace and commitment in the value of the Lord’s Day. My conclusion can be summed up in the statements and scriptural references found in the Shorter Catechism. Many have found this as a teaching basis for an introduction to the Christian Faith. Presbyterians and Baptists have used it alike, except for the doctrines on baptism.

Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy
Like many other things of Biblical teaching some things are spoken, but not practiced.
There is more written in the Scriptures and in the Shorter Catechism about the fourth commandment than any other commandment. Does this not prove the value God has placed on it? When he set aside the seventh day he blessed it and hallowed it. We understand this to mean that the Lord’s Day is also blessed because it the day of our Lord’s Resurrection, the day of victory over sin and death for His people. This is the value of the Lord’s Day that is placed on the Christian faith and by His grace given to us. Let me share with you what is derived from God’s word and the doctrine that was established and accepted in the early church, based on the first day as the Lord’s Day and the Christian Sabbath.

Q 60: How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

A: The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

 Q 61: What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?

A: The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

“ If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable: and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.” Isaiah 58:13

Here was the settling point for me, and how I arrived at the value God has placed on the Lord’s Day, in honor of Christ Jesus, His Son, and our Lord. The same value placed on the Jewish Sabbath after God’s work of creation applies to the day that is honorable to Christ, the second person of the Trinity, after His work of redemption.

Commands and Promises
With His commands come promises. If we spend our time as He desires for us, of which He is worthy, here is the promise that follows in verse 14.

“Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

How much more is the importance of sanctifying the Lord’s Day? His purpose for the first day of each week is that we spend our time with Him, in the public and private worship and fellowship of the Father and the Son in Spirit and truth. As He was refreshed after His six-day work of creation (Exodus 31:17) His desire for us is to experience this refreshing after our work week.   This promise was made to the heritage of Jacob. The Israelites were God’s people and so are we, as Abraham’s offspring ~ children of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and the church and body of Christ.

The Lord’s Day is meant to be a delight for us as we spend the whole day on Him, with Him. This is the practice and the preparation for that eternal day with Him. If you have never experienced a whole day with the Lord on His day, I encourage you to pray and seek His guidance for how He wants you to meet Him, in obedience to His word. You will not be disappointed. Your week will take on a different meaning as He causes you “to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feeds you with the heritage of His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ~ the eternal bread of life.

“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious;”
1 Peter 2:7

Dear heavenly Father, as you created and rested; and was refreshed after your labor, teach us how to rest on the Lord’s Day; in you and all that you and your Son and your Holy Spirit have done for us.  Refresh us by your word and your Spirit in all that is holy and valuable to you.  Keep us holy, that we may keep your day holy.  Fill us with your presence and power for the work you have planned for us this week; and bring us to your refreshing in Christ next Lord’s Day.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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elated article: A Summary of John Owen on the Sabbath

Will Christians Be Secretly Raptured?

(I am posting this article from The Gospel Coalition, October 9, for future reference to the subject of dispensationalism.)

This past weekend the eschatological thriller Left Behind left-behind-movieopened in theaters. It joins a flood of Christian movies this year including Exodus, Son of God, God’s Not DeadHeaven Is for Real, and Noah. Okay, let’s not count Noah.

Yet Left Behind stands out among this surge of Christian films, not just because it stars Nicholas Cage, and not just because it’s based on the wildly successfulLeft Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Perhaps more than the other films, Left Behind captures believers’ imagination because it portrays a future, world-changing event: the secret rapture, that moment Jesus suddenly snatches up all Christians to himself years prior to his visible second coming.

As producer and writer Paul LaLonde put it, “It’s a Bible-based movie, it’s a biblical story, it’s a true story—it just hasn’t happened yet.” As a result, it can cause us to wonder, What will it be like when all the Christians suddenly disappear? How close are we to the rapture? Will I be taken or left behind? 

But there’s another question we should ask, one that may surprise you: “Is the rapture taught in the Bible?” It may come as a shock to learn that many Bible-believing Christians today doubt the rapture, and that most Christians throughout history had never even heard of it.

Brief History of the Secret Rapture

The doctrine of the secret rapture emerged during the early 19th century through the teachings of John Nelson Darby (1800–1882). Darby was one of the early leaders of the Plymouth Brethren movement, and his teachings became known as “dispensationalism.”

Darby’s dispensationalism distinguished sharply between Israel and the church. The former was earthly, he believed, and the latter heavenly. God had two distinct peoples and separate plans for each. Thus Darby understood Old Testament prophecies as applying only to Israel, the earthly people of God. Rather than “spiritualizing” such prophecies, he expected a literal fulfillment of God’s promises to literal Israel. So when, according to dispensational thought, would God fulfill his prophecies to Israel? During the millennium (Rev. 20:1–8) after Jesus’ second coming.

So in order for God to resume these plans for Israel, Darby believed, God would first need to remove the church from the world. Hence arose the need for the secret rapture. Darby had in effect proposed something new: a two-stage return of Jesus. Jesus would first come to “rapture” the church, and then return again in visible glory.1

Darby’s views spread rapidly, especially in the United States. The dispensational system, including the secret rapture, was disseminated through prophecy conferences and received support from evangelists like D. L. Moody and Billy Sunday. By far the most important boost for Darby’s teaching, however, came from theScofield Reference Bible. Scofield’s work became the English standard for fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians in the early 20th century, and in the process exposed thousands of readers to the secret rapture through his dispensational-informed study notes.

The secret rapture doctrine continued to gain steam in the latter half of the 20th century, and the advent of modern Israel in 1948 seemed a clear sign that God was restarting his plans for Israel. The rapture must be close! Books like Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth and movies like A Thief in the Night further popularized dispensational teaching. And then there are the Left Behind novels, which have sold millions of copies and captured the imagination of a new generation.

The rise and spread of the secret rapture teaching is a remarkable story. In just a century and a half, a previously unknown doctrine has become a central eschatological hope for millions.

(Read the remainder of the article here.)

God’s Covenant of Grace

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“God hath made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things, and sure.

This is all my salvation, and all my desire.”
2 Samuel 23:5

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You have bought me
You have sought me
You have caught me
You have brought me
You have taught me

Today, by the power of your will and grace, make everything in my life YOUR OWN.
In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen.

(Quote for covenant from Heaven Opened ~ The Riches of God’s Covenant by Richard Alleine)

Grace Crowned With Glory

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“By the grace of God I am what I am.”  1 Corinthians 15:10

“Be this my motto, both as to my natural and spiritual life:  how else could I have existed at all.  Had not foreknowledge planned, and wisdom contrived, and power put every atom together, and fixed my scene of action, I had never been here.  Nor is this God of grace less to be seen in every motion of my soul towards him; had not every spring been in him, this table on which I lean had felt as much bias towards him as I. The first check of conscience, the first thrill of fear, the first view of guilt, the first tear of penitence, were all his own; the first drawings of the Spirit, the first sight of Christ, the first dawn of hope, were all his own; every succeeding step in the path of duty, every attainment in grace, every victory over the world and sin, every evidence and token of the safety of my everlasting state, and every sweet interval of communion I have had with him,  were still all his own; and the last labor of love, the last act of faith, and conquest over sin, death, and hell, together with an admission into eternal glory, must and shall be all his own likewise.  The spring is love; the means is Christ; the footing firm, the headstone “shall be brought forth with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it;” and grace shall be crowned with everlasting glory.

Whate’er I am, whate’er I hope,
Proceeds from bounty of rich grace;
Grace makes and holds my body up,
And heals my spirit’s sickly face.
_________
(A Golden Treasury ~ March 10)

Related Post:  Grace and Grace Alone
The Fruit of Grace

The Purpose of the Lord’s Day

 

green-grass-and-blue-sky-landscape-472-Through time and observations we come to conclusions about this life and what comes after. Such has been my experience; and especially of the Lord’s Day. If I were to write the book it would be titled The Lord’s Day ~ It’s Purpose, Program and Practice. Each Lord’s Day has become a means for me to put into words what the day now means to me. It has not always been as it is now, but through the process of time I believe the Lord has led me to conclusions about His day.

I have been back through the channel of time (in God’s word) to see the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments not just as a law given to the Israelites, but also as a pattern of what was to come. It was not just a program for the Jewish worship day, but a vision set for the church that would be established through His Son, Jesus Christ. It was not for their practice alone, but a future plan for all God’s people through His everlasting covenant.

When the Old Testament prophesied the coming of the Messiah it was the purpose and the promise of something greater than what they already had. The Jews had observed the Sabbath as the seventh day. “From the beginning of the world until the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week since then until the end of the world to be the Christian Sabbath.” This quote is from the Shorter Catechism taken from the Westminster Confession of Faith.

When I look back to the quotes of Jesus in the New Testament I see the program that He was establishing. He spoke often of His death in “going up to Jerusalem,” where He will be killed and “shall rise again the third day.” Mark 10:31-34

On the third day He was raised as He said.

What happened in His resurrection? Before anyone else knew He established Himself as Lord of the Sabbath, Lord of His own day ~ a new day, for a new creation, a new assembly of saints who would practice on this day what He established for eternity.  The same power of the Holy Spirit that raised Him from the dead is the power that gives us new life  in Him and brings us to this worship of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

An eternal life and a new day of worship replaced the old. The new wine, the good wine was saved until Christ came and bled, and died and gave us His own life. This day He brings His people, those whom He has saved by His own life and death, in special remembrance of this union with Him and the Father, reconciling us to Him and making us joint heirs in His kingdom. We are joined this day with other saints here and in heaven, in observance of His suffering and sacrifice for our atonement (remembering His death in the Lord’s Supper). We worship through prayer, praise and His Holy Word as we practice for the celebration of this feast that will take place in eternity.

The purpose and the promise, the program and the practice do not end in a weekly worship service. The Lord’s Day is a full day; its purpose is for a whole day, not just an hour in a church service with other saints. This is the hard part and the unusual part of the practice. We will look in subsequent weeks at the preciousness and value of the Lord’s Day ~ the whole day ~ and how it is to be spent with the Lord.

“But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
Proverbs 4:18

Dear Father, let us live in praise and worship to you today.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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No Condemnation ~ ~ ~ ~

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 In chapter eight of Romans we see the proof of the power of the gospel to deliver us from the condemnation of the old law, which was written on stone, and to bring in the new law which is written on the mind and in the heart by the Holy Spirit. We are no longer under the law of sin and death, living in the state of, and a slave to sin, but lifted by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ to a state of righteousness in Christ. This new law is a new life in Christ, powered by His Holy Spirit, that enables us to turn from walking after the flesh ~ obedience to our own desires and rebellion against God. This new life of the Spirit in Christ gives us His power, in our struggle against the flesh, to desire to please Him and walk as Christ walked in obedience. This new law now governs and enforces, so as to enable us more and more to mortify the deeds of the flesh. This is the obedience of faith that Paul speaks of in chapters one and sixteen.

Romans 8:1-18
This is one of the strongest passages in the New Testament that describes the new, and true life, of the believer. Though not yet perfect we have a relationship to God, as Father, through Jesus Christ ~ no more wrath; all sin is pardoned and we are reconciled to God.   There is now no condemnation ~

1.  To those who are in Christ Jesus
2.  Who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit

There is proof through the power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He has brought us from the depths of our depraved state of sin and death, to be joint heirs of His kingdom. We no longer desire to do our own will; but the indwelling Spirit of Christ leads us more and more in obedience to His revealed will through His word. This is what Peter was speaking of when he said, “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But, grow in the grace and knowledge of our our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:17-18

We are the sons of God, having received the Spirit of adoption, by which we cry, “Abba, Father,” His Spirit bearing witness with ours that we are His children, born of His Spirit for faith and obedience.

Then he brings us to the crux of the whole matter. The power of the gospel in our obedience of faith will prove itself in our suffering for the sake of Christ and the gospel.

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It seems almost ironic that we come into this world under the death penalty, the wrath of God pronounced on the world because of sin.  Then He brings His people, by the power of the gospel, from under His wrath to experience the wrath of the world.  But, there is a difference ~ a great difference!  Those who do not receive the good news of Christ continue under His condemnation here and for eternity.  The power of the gospel, even through our suffering for the gospel, propels us forward and upward, onward and homeward to the glory that awaits us in Christ.

Many have a great testimony of faith until it comes to obedience in times of suffering for Christ. But, for true believers here again we see Paul’s contrasting. As with the power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ over and above man’s sin, there is the glory that we are promised in Christ over and above what we may suffer for the gospel, for righteousness, and His name’s sake.

How do we describe this suffering? Is this always in persecution or does this include the working of the Holy Spirit in us for our sanctification? Is it easy to give up this life for a life in obedience to our Lord and Savior? How do you interpret this suffering in relation to the gospel and walking and being led by the Spirit?

Abba Father, fill us with your Spirit, to know the power of Christ in us; that we may witness to this new law in our hearts and lives as we strive in obedience of faith, and struggle against any remaining sins. By your goodness, bring us to repentance and joy in Christ; the freedom promised to us in the precious gospel that is proclaimed in this and every generation; until you have gathered all into the fold.   In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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