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Ten Things You Should Know about Chaos and Cosmos in God’s Creation (via Sidney Greidanus at Crossway)

Anything by Sidney Greidanus is helpful.
His contribution to Crossway Blog’s 10 Things You Should Know… series is true to that promise.
Point 1 starts in Genesis, Point 10 ends in Revelation, with the rest of redemptive history overviewed throughout.
Here’s point 7 as a sample:

7. Jesus, the light of the world, shines in the darkness.
In the fullness of time Jesus, the victorious Seed of the woman, was born. The New Testament uses some of the same words for chaos as does the Old Testament, but it focuses especially on the contrast between darkness (skotos) and light (phos) and various synonyms. Moreover, it centers the chaos – cosmos theme primarily in the battle between Satan, the Prince of Darkness, and Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5).
In the beginning, God created light to drive back the darkness of chaos (Gen 1:3–4). The New Testament pictures Jesus as the light that drives back the darkness of chaos at the microcosmic level, healing the sick and demon-possessed. Describing the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Matthew quotes Isaiah 9:2, “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” The parallelism indicates that darkness and death are synonyms, each referring to chaos. Matthew continues, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt 4:16–17). Matthew links the dawning of the light with the kingdom of heaven (cosmos) being at hand.
John writes, “In him [the Word] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:4-5, 9). Jesus himself said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness [chaos], but will have the light of life [cosmos]” (John 8:12).
With Christ’s first coming the light began to penetrate the darkness but there still remains much darkness (chaos) in this world. In terms of the light, this is the time of the “already” and the “not yet.” It’s like the dawn of a cloudless day: still somewhat dark but with the certain promise of full sunlight. Only at his second coming will the light (cosmos) completely displace the darkness.

Read Greidanus’ complete list at Crossway.


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Fullness Of Joy That Lasts Forevermore (via Stephen McAlpine)

With the seasonal observations of the euphoria that is experienced by winning football teams and their supporters, Stephen McAlpine reflects on how a joy that seems so complete will fade so quickly (pre-season training will probably commence well before Christmas) contrasts with a joy that is more complete and which will never diminish.
I’m a long way into a set of Bible studies on the book of Ecclesiastes at the moment and these thoughts are very relevant to the theme of that part of Scripture.
From his post:

When people ask the question “Can you be happy without God?”, I say, “Of course!” I don’t buy it when apologists say “no” to that question.
I don’t believe that you cannot be happy without God. Because lots of people – especially in this rich Western world – patently are.
But it won’t last. It will fade. It will die – probably before they do. For if someone dies without having experienced severe suffering, or deep unhappiness, then they are a rare beast indeed.
Die they will, and the joy of a premiership flag will not go with them. Nor the joy of sex, the joy of work, the joy of leisure, the joy of anything outside of the joy of God.
Christians are often described as “kill-joys”. We don’t need to be that. In fact our one true Joy was killed, then raised again so that our joy could go on forever.

Read the whole post here.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 19

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 19

50.
Q. Why is there added: “And sits at the right hand of God”?
A. Because Christ ascended into heaven so that he might manifest himself there as the Head of his Church, through whom the Father governs all things.

51.
Q. What benefit do we receive from this glory of Christ, our Head?
A. First, that through his Holy Spirit he pours out heavenly gifts upon us, his members. Second, that by his power he defends and supports us against all our enemies.

52.
Q. What comfort does the return of Christ “to judge the living and the dead” give you?
A. That in all affliction and persecution I may await with head held high the very Judge from heave who has already submitted himself to the judgment of God for me and has removed all the curse from me; that he will cast all his enemies and mine into everlasting condemnation, but he shall take me, together with all his elect, to himself into heavenly joy and glory.


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On Praying That God Would Bring In People Not Like Us (via Daniel Darling)

Daniel Darling on church being a snapshot of God’s grace and not homogeneous unit management principles:

Sometimes, in our quest to create cutting-edge churches, we sacrifice our long-term futures for short-term benefits. I’ve often felt this way as I’ve walked into vibrant, well-known churches or as I attend popular evangelical conferences. It seems that we are often creating a church for the young, hip, and sexy. It’s as if we want our message to the world to be something like, “See, church is the place where the cool people gather on Sunday.”
But the kingdom of God takes the opposite approach.
Jesus said it is the poor, the downtrodden, and the marginalized who have a prominent place in the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:3, 20:16). Paul reminded his churches of the shocking ordinariness of God’s people (1 Cor. 1:26). James scolded those in the church of Jerusalem for their tendency to favor the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poor (James 2:1-13).
Do our congregations look like outposts of this radical kingdom? Do people enter our congregations and wonder to themselves, How did these disparate people get here? What possible thread unites people so vastly separated by age, race, political affiliation, and class? Why is it that old and young, black and white, disabled and able-bodied, rich and poor, prominent and anonymous gather together every Sunday?

source


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For Our Stories of Greatest Grief (via Scotty Smith at Heavenward)

Another day at the graveside with those who are grieving.
This prayer for saddened hearts from Scotty Smith is apt.

Jesus wept. John 11:35
Lord Jesus, though it’s the shortest verse in the Bible, these two words bring immeasurable comfort. Your hot tears, shed outside Lazarus’s tomb, are one of the greatest showers that ever kissed the face of the earth. You wept a waterfall of mercy, a river of compassion, a reservoir of grace.
You knew that within moments, your friend would breathe again, and walk out of his tomb. You knew you’d enjoy Lazarus’ company very soon. And yet you wept full-heartedly, as you allowed yourself to feel the harsh reality of his death. Those who witnessed your sacred fury and fierce sadness, offered this commentary. “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36). Indeed, no one loves like you, in life and in death.
Jesus, today we’re thankful you’re such a tenderhearted Savior, because many of us are in the agony of grief. Some of us have lost a friend, a parent, a spouse, or most painfully, a child. Others of us are coming upon the painful anniversary of great loss. Thank you for validating the pain and emptiness, the confusion and sadness we feel. We grieve with hope, but we really do grieve.
At times, like Martha, Lazarus’ sister, we cry, “Lord, if only you’d been here,” assuming you could have done more. You don’t respond with a lecture on sovereignty, rather you say with great understanding, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). No one hates death more than you, Jesus. No one grieves death’s ugly violation more deeply. No one is more looking forward to the day of “no more death” (Rev. 21:4) than you. And no has done more to put death to death than you.
Today we rest our sobered, saddened hearts on your shoulder, trusting you for the peace and comfort we need. Jesus, we honor you as “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Death, the “last enemy,” will soon be a long-gone enemy (1 Cor. 15:26). Because of your resurrection, we sing in advance of ours, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). We praise, bless, and adore you, as we rest our heavy hearts in your loving hands. So very Amen we pray, in your grave-robbing name.

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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 43

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 43

Chapter 26 – Of the Communion of the Saints
I. All saints that are united to Jesus Christ their head, by his Spirit and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as to conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
II. Saints by profession, are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offers opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.
III. This communion which the saints have with Christ, does not make them in any wise partakers of the substance of the Godhead, or to be equal with Christ in any respect: either of which to affirm, is impious and blasphemous. Nor does their communion one with another as saints, take away or infringe the title or property which each man has in his goods and possessions.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 42

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 42

Chapter 25 – Of the Church Cont. (Paragraphs 4-6)
IV. This catholic Church has been sometimes more, sometimes less, visible. And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.
V. The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error: and some have so degenerated as to become apparently no Churches of Christ. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to his will.
VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalts himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.