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Following Jesus, The Pioneer Pilgrim (via Jonathan Gibson)

A reflection on the longing for the better world which Christians experience, and how Jesus has walked through the darkness of this life to bring us to eternity with himself.
From Jonathan Gibson:

One of the ways in which the Psalms connect to Jesus Christ is in the sphere of typological experience. The psalmist or the person described in the psalm (like the blessed man in Psalm 1, God’s anointed king in Psalm 2, or the righteous sufferer in Psalm 3) is a type of Christ in their experience. That is, the fullest and most perfect expression of their desires, disappointments, and sufferings is found in the life experience of Jesus Christ. In this regard, the psalms are not just about Jesus; they were also experienced by Jesus.
As the true, faithful Israelite, Jesus perfectly experienced the desires expressed in this psalm, especially the vivid, intense pulsebeat for heaven and for God. Jesus was the Son of Man, born of Mary, but throughout his life he never forgot that he was a son of heaven. During his earthly ministry, he wandered from place to place like his patriarch fathers before him. In fact, he didn’t even have a tent to dwell in. “Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). Why? Because for the joy set before him, he endured the cross and then sat down at his Father’s right hand in his presence (Heb. 12:2). This world was not his home, he was just a-passing through.
The life of our Lord is one of those parts of the Bible—like those of the patriarchs in Canaan and those of the pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem—where the affectional pulsebeat for heaven, for God, is pumping strong. Jesus was the pioneer pilgrim, the one who in his earthly life embodied the perfect longing for heaven, the perfect longing for God. And because he perfectly lived out this longing, God looked with favor on him as our Anointed King. When Christ died, the temple curtain was torn in two: God removed the angelic barrier that had stood between him and humanity since the day Adam was expelled from the garden-temple of Eden.

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let his little child come in.

And when God does let us “come in” to his heaven after our earthly pilgrimage, we will find that C. S. Lewis and Augustine were right: we were made for another world, we were made for God. The deep longings we experience now will be met then, fully and finally, not simply in heaven itself, but in God himself.

Read the whole post here.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 32

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 32

86.
Q. Since we are redeemed from our sin and its wretched consequences by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why must we do good works?
A. Because just as Christ has redeemed us with his blood he also renews us through his Holy Spirit according to his own image, so that with our whole life we may show ourselves grateful to God for his goodness and that he may be glorified through us; and further, so that we ourselves may be assured of our faith by its fruits and by our reverent behavior may win our neighbors to Christ.

87.
Q. Can those who do not turn to God from their ungrateful, impenitent life be saved?
A. Certainly not! Scripture says, “Surely you know that the unjust will never come into possession of the kingdom of God. Make no mistake: no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion, no thieves or grabbers or drunkards or slanderers or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God.”


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Trials Of Various Kinds (via Scott Hubbard at Desiring God)

Scott Hubbard writes a short article about how God prepares us to face major trials by taking his people through multiple smaller trials of more mundane significance. How we teach ourselves to react with the smaller will be how we react to the larger seasons of adversity.

The little trials you meet today are not mere letdowns or annoyances. They are invitations from your Father to become more like Jesus. They are the exercises your faith needs, given in just the right size and quantity. They are God’s way of fitting you for glory.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


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He Who Has Said, ‘It Is Finished,’ Will Never Leave Anything Undone (via Charles Spurgeon)

Tomorrow, for those of us who have not been called home, the work of our salvation will continue toward its completion:
From Charles Spurgeon, quoted at Tolle Lege:

If, when we were sinners, Christ loved us so as to die for us, now that He has redeemed us, and has already reconciled us to Himself, and made us His friends and His disciples, will He not finish the work that is necessary to make us fit to stand among the golden lamps of heaven, and to sing His praises in the country where nothing that defileth can even enter?
I believe it, my brethren. He who has said, ‘It is finished,’ will never leave anything undone. It shall never be said of Him, ‘This Man began, but was not able to finish.’

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.

source


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 29

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 29

Chapter 18 – Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation (Cont.) (Paragraphs 3-4)

III. This infallible assurance does not so belong to the essence of faith but that a true believer may wait long and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it: yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure; that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance: so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
IV. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it; by falling into some special sin, which wounds the conscience, and grieves the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation; by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 27

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 27

Chapter 17 – Of The Perseverance of the Saints
I. They whom God has accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
II. This perseverance of the saints depends, not upon their own free-will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; the abiding of the Spirit and of the seed of God within them; and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which arises also the certainty and infallibility thereof.
III. Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalence of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their perseverance, fall into grievous sins; and for a time continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit; come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalise others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.