Over the last several weeks we’ve been discussing the biblical warrant for creeds and confessions. We have seen that these short statements of faith are legitimate because the Bible itself contains creeds and confessions. Within the pages of Scripture we find short summaries and synopsis of the faith.
We have look at a couple of them already, and today we look to 2 Timothy 2 to find another.
In verse 11 Paul says, “The saying is trustworthy,” and then he details a few lines of what that saying was. Evidently, this was a common confession among the people of God at the time. It had become a “saying” among the people.
Today, we’ll say something like, “You know what they say,” and then we will quote some cultural proverb or cliché. Maybe something like, “He who hesitates is lost.” That’s just what people “say.”
What do we mean by that? Well, it is what we confess to be true. We believe that hesitating or vacillating on a decision will have a negative effect on your prospects.
That of course isn’t necessarily a biblical confession though. But what we find in 2 Timothy 2 is.
And this is what the early church was saying:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful-- for he cannot deny himself.
We might say that this is an eschatological confession. It is a creed stating their belief in the last things, particularly about the judgment and our eternal destiny.
The first line simply states that those who enter the grave in a believing state will have eternal life. We might even infer what we sometimes call “the doctrine of the intermediate state.” It is the idea that though our bodies die, our soul lives on.
The second line says something about our status in heaven. If we persevere in the faith we will reign with him. In other words, our quality of life will dramatically improve. Believers will become God’s vice regents and we will have dominion over the earth like Adam did in the beginning.
The third line turns, and reminds us of the fate of the unbelieving. Those who deny Christ will be denied by Christ and denied entry into His kingdom.
And the last line further elucidates this thought by reminding us of the unbeliever’s damnation. If we are faithless, he remains faithful. That is, he is faithful to punish them as they deserve.
In all, the creed is a rally call to God’s people, encouraging us to remain faithful to Christ and not to apostatize from our faith.
To put it another way, this creed reminds us of how important it is to hold to our creed.
Today's SCOTUS ruling enacted a tectonic shift in American culture. Some have called it the biggest decision since Dred Scott. I personally would say that it is the biggest since Roe v. Wade. It at least is on par with it in terms of how vile it is.
I hope for bravery among the people of Ashland. First, among our civil leaders. This will be the first place we are tested. Homosexuals will first seek their marriage licenses and go to the justice of the peace to have their wickedness confirmed.
Those holding public office must be willing to uphold righteousness and refuse their requests. Our civil magistrates are not "yes men" for the whims of federal or state officials. They are under no obligation to bow, but rather ought to recognize that they have been placed in their positions by God to protect its citizenry and maintain God's good order.
To this end, I recommend the excellent book "The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates." It details the biblical mandate for "lesser magistrates" (i.e. city & state officials) to stand against the tyrannies of those over them.
God has endowed our mayor, city council, and judges with authority, and He calls them to use their authority for good (and for reformation) now that the federal leaders have abused their powers.
But I also hope for courage among the city's pastors and elders. Now, more than perhaps any other time, men of God will need to demonstrate zeal for Christ's law and not give in to the laws or pressures of men.
In the words of the apostle, "We must obey God rather than man."
Various scholars have noted the centrality of the Gideon narrative for the book of Judges. Scholars have also noted that the Gideon narrative is chiastically arranged. While I agree with this synopsis, I disagree with the exact deliniation or focal point of the chiastic arrangement.
From my research I have found that most scholars place 6:33-7:18 as the center of the chiastism and label it as Gideon's failure to believe. Personally, I find that the central focus of the destruction of the Baal idol.
A Midian’s oppression [6:1-10]
B Gideon’s weakness [6:11-18]
C Faith boosted: Sign from Angel of the Lord [6:19-24]
D Baal idol Destroyed/ Baal's weakness [6:25-35]
C Faith's boosted: Sign of the Fleece [6:36-40]
B Gideon’s weakness (army) [7:1-8]
A Midian's defeat [7:9-25]
The main emphasis of the passage then shifts from focusing on the weakness of Gideon to the weakness of Baal and false religions. The message becomes "False gods are completely impotent. They cannot defend themselves, let alone sustain their followers."
Israel was impoverished because its gods were impoverished. In tearing down the idol the Lord mock's Baal (and perhaps Israel too). He calls them to faith by reminding them that the Lord alone is strength and power.
Yet the strength of the Lord is revealed, not just in the iconoclasm, but also in the fact that the Spirit cloths Gideon. It is a sign that God's messiah has complete power. Though Baal cannot keep himself clothed (i.e. his idol is torn down), God cloths Gideon with power.
Our marriages are to reflect the harmony of heaven. This means we must work diligently to avoid discord and dissension with our spouse.
In this issue of Providence Church's monthly newsletter Puritan counselor Richard Baxter offers six practical tips to reduce conflict and bring about the peaceful, joyous relationship God intends.
Lord, forgive us for our lack of peace. We so frequently let the diverse attacks of Satan disrupt us and set us on edge. Instead of holding to your promises and trusting the firm truth revealed in the Scriptures, we listen to his lies and believe his false accusations.
Lord, we bring our doubts and lack of assurance to you. We know that we are feeble and frail, often permitting our circumstances to dictate our moods. Instead of recalling the many times you have shown yourself faithful and blessed us, we let ourselves fall into despairing thoughts and feelings of hopelessness.
Lord, we have failed to see ourselves in Christ. Indeed we’ve counted the multitude of our sins and have mentally stared deeply into that grotesque pile of wretchedness. Yet we have not stared at Christ and remembered that the books in heaven have been cleared of every sordid sin and shortcoming.
Lord, we pray that our unrest would be put to rest. That we would not dwell on what could be or any other hypothetical situation that we can conceive with our wicked minds, but rather we pray that we would rest in the coming of Christ and the certain triumph of your eternal decree.
Let us, O God, be at peace and strive with all our might to maintain this peace. Let us be diligent to resist the devil and hold tightly to the shield of faith so that his fiery arrows might be extinguished.
Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and may it be lodged there so fully that it never loosen. For we ask this in the name of the Prince of Peace himself. Amen
Assurance: Is. 53
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
The Israelites fail to drive out the inhabitants of the land. They subject them to labor, which is not what the Lord commanded.
· Half obedience is not obedience at all.
· Humanism is thinking that we know more than God. Making the people slaves probably seemed like a great idea. There’s more laborers, so there’s a better economy! But God always knows best. Leaving them in the land would allow them to continue to propagate their evil gods & demonstrate influence on the culture. God says “Purge the evil from among you; do not try to harness it for your profit.” Tweaking God’s commands is never profitable in the long run.
The Cananites “lived among them.” v. 29
· No longer are the heathen slaves; rather they are neighbors!
33 - Beth Shemesh/Beth anath:
· house of shemesh (the sun) anath (fertility god): centers of idolatry.
· The religious hubs were not destroyed, thus allowing a huge influence upon the culture.
34 - Amorites pressed Dannites back! And created a border!
· The influence of the pagans has reached something of a zenith. Faithlessness allows satanic religions to thrive & even control
Joshua 2:1-5 Bokim
· History reviewed: What promises do we see in the recounting of history?
· Israel weeps and worships—but they do not repent! If they were repentant, they would return to the battlefield. Their emotion and religious rites mean nothing since they have no obedience.
The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua
· A good leader keeps the people in check. The righteousness of one who is placed in a position of authority has the power to influence and maintain godliness within his respective society. An elder, mayor, father. Even though people might not be faith filled themselves, their sins may still be kept in check and their overall direction may be directed to good ends when godly government stands over them.
Joshua’s death & burial:
· No doubt Joshua’s burial place would have been a memorial. It’s name was even changed to “place of the sun” most likely as a testimony to the great battle that he fought while the sun stood still. God’s light was with him and people should have been set aflame by the remembrance of his life & work.
10: that generation was gathered to their fathers
· It is interesting how the Bible talks about death. Sometimes it helps us to see that death is not the end. Death, to many, means “game over.” You die and then all is done. But this scripture reminds us that death is not the final say. There is much life to be had after death. That this generation was gathered to their fathers reminds us that God created us to be immortal.
· To be gathered to one’s fathers is to be taken to a place where you will be with them and have some semblance of communion with them. This speaks of what theologins call the “intermediate state.” The body may rest in the grave, but the soul lives on. Upon death you will be transported to either a place of punishment or bliss. You will find yourself with Christ in heaven or with Christ in hell.
· This being said we should consider our life now. Before we are gathered to our fathers, let us be cognizant of our Heavenly Father and the grace he offers us. Let us put our faith in him and produce fruit that is in keeping with true repentance.
11: There arose another generation that did not know
· These are perhaps the most ominous words of Scripture! How did such a thing happen? We confess that the Lord is sovereign in salvation, but we also acknowledge that he ordains means to salvation. These had most certainly been neglected. Parents did not teach them diligently. While fighting the wars against the heathen, they forgot to fight the battles on the homefront. Or, having returned to their inheritance (6), they grew fat and forgot the Lord their God. They became consumed with the creation rather than the creator and failed to tell of the “mighty works of the Lord through Joshua.”
· Our faith takes priority over every area of life. Passing this faith to our children is one of the supreme ways this faith reveals itself. God’s primary way of working salvation is through families. If our children are ignorant of the deeds of the Lord, we should not be surprised when they do not have a relationship with the Lord.
· The angel of the Lord had prophesied that the Cananites would be “thorns in their sides.” (3) The pedogocial void produced by the parents was certainly not without a channel to fill it. The culture had been infected by paganism, and without faithful teaching at home there was no way to keep it from infecting the hearts and minds of the Israelite children.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.