Song of the Drunkards


JESUS FACED A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF OPPOSITION FOR HIS HARD WORDS AND UNFLINCHING DEVOTION TO YAHWEH. NO SURPRISE THEN IF WE FIND OUR NAME FESTOONED IN BARROOM BALLADS (CF. PS 69:12).


The Resurrection and Thanksgiving

April 25, 2021 in Bible - NT - 2 Corinthians, Church Calendar, Easter, Resurrection, Thankfulness

2 Corinthians 4:14–15
14… He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

 As we continue celebrating the season of Eastertide, it is fitting to meditate deeply on the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. In our passage today, Paul repeats one of his frequent maxims: He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus… The resurrection of the dead is our hope – not that we will die and be spirits in the sky; not that we will perish and lose all consciousness; but that even as Jesus rose from the dead, we too shall rise. In Paul’s words to the Philippians, Jesus will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body… (Phil 3:21). This mortal body shall become immortal; this corruptible body shall become incorruptible; this weak body shall become strong. Glory be to God!

What this means is that the resurrection is the consummation of all world history. History is inexorably moving to the day when Christ shall return again in glory to judge the living and the dead; inexorably moving to the day when the dead shall arise from their graves – those who have done good through faith in Jesus Christ to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil by ignoring or rebelling against God to the resurrection of death (Jn 5). Creation itself is awaiting this same day. For when we rise from the dead, when our bodies are made new, all creation will share in our glorification. Even as all creation was plunged into death and decay through the rebellion of our first father Adam, so all creation will be renewed into life and glory through the obedience of the last Adam, Jesus the Christ (Rom 8).

And what this means, therefore, for all those in Christ, is that all creation is ours. This is our Father’s world. He has given it to His Son. And He has made us joint-heirs with Christ. We shall inherit all things. The sun, moon, stars, and planets are ours; the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and streams are ours; the mountains and plains are ours; the forests, grasslands, and deserts are ours; all creation is ours. Blessed are the meek,” our Lord Jesus declares, for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt 5:5). We are heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). All things are ours since Christ has risen from the dead, we too shall rise, and all creation with us. It is this hope that lies behind Paul’s words in our text today. Listen again:

… He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

All things are for your sakes – all things: birds, beasts, fruit trees and all cedars, the honey bee and the crocus, the lily and the rose. All things.

Now if this is true – and through Christ’s resurrection it is – what kind of people ought we to be? A thankful people. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.” God has made us heir of all things. So need we envy the gifts that God has given to others? Need we grasp or steal the things that others possess? No. In God’s time and in God’s way, all things shall be ours. Therefore, we can be content, content to trust God and His promises, content to wait upon the Lord. And because His promises are reliable, we can be thankful while we wait. We may not have much now, but God will provide abundantly more than we can ask or think. In other words, Jesus rose from the dead in order that we might escape envy and abound in thanksgiving to the glory of God.

So reminded that, through the resurrection of Jesus, God has made us heirs of all things and that we ought to be the most thankful of people, let us confess that we are often unthankful and envious. And as you are able, let us kneel together as we confess our sin to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

What does Baptism reveal?

April 18, 2021 in Baptism, Bible - OT - Exodus, Children, Church History, Covenantal Living, Depravity, Ecclesiology, Human Condition, Justification, Meditations, Parents, Sacraments, Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:4–6
4“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

This morning we have the privilege of baptizing Samuel Seitz into the faith. As I do so, it is beneficial to consider the meaning and significance of our baptisms. Christ sent His disciples into the world to disciple the nations, baptizing them into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. So what is the significance of these baptisms? Baptism says something about us and baptism says something about God.

First, baptism says something about us. Baptism declares, in no uncertain terms, that we are sinners in need of salvation by Christ. We are dirty and our filth must be washed away. And the baptism of infants announces the sober reality of original sin. On one occasion, the theologian John Gerstner was a visiting preacher and was asked to baptize one of the infants of the church. They explained to him one of their local traditions – prior to the baptism, the minister would give a white rose to the parents. Gerstner, of course, wanted to know why. They replied that the rose symbolized the innocence of the child. In his pithy way, Gerstner replied, “Then what’s the point of the water?” Baptism announces that we all, even infants who are not yet old enough to know their right hand from their left, are born in sin. By nature, we are all subject to God’s just wrath and curse. Baptism, therefore, reveals something about us – that we are sinners in need of salvation by Christ – only He can save us, not we ourselves.

Second, baptism says something about God. It announces that God has graciously provided a way of salvation, a way to be cleansed of our sin, cleansed of our corruption – both the original sin with which we are born and the personal sins that we ourselves begin to practice. God has provided a sacrifice to cover the guilt of our sin in the Person of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism reveals something about God – His forgiving grace through Jesus Christ.

And the baptism of infants declares something further about God’s grace. Infant baptism proclaims that His grace is not confined to atomistic individuals but extends itself to families, from generation to generation on those who fear Him. In baptism, God Himself speaks to our children. He promises them that He will be their God and the God of their children after them. Notice our text today:

For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

What is God like? What is His character? He is a God who shows mercy to thousands of generations of those who love Him. So Mary, the mother of our Lord, sang in her Magnificat: “For God’s mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation” (Lk 1:50). In our baptisms, God summons us to believe His Word by loving Him and keeping His commandments.

Baptism, therefore, reveals something about us – our sin; but it also reveals something about God – His abounding grace. And so reminded this morning that baptism proclaims our sinful corruption and our sinful actions and our need for the forgiving grace of God in Christ, let us confess our sin to the Lord. And, as you are able, let us kneel together as we confess. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Habituated to the Contempt of Death

April 12, 2021 in Bible - NT - 1 Corinthians, Church Calendar, Church History, Easter, Meditations, Quotations, Resurrection, Trials

1 Corinthians 15:51–57
51Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Last week we celebrated Easter. But lest we think we can exhaust the glory of Easter with one day of worship, the Church has historically celebrated this period of time as Eastertide – so today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Jesus’ resurrection inaugurates a season for rejoicing! Jesus has risen from the dead! And this means that for all those who believe in Him our bodies likewise will be raised.

It is this theme upon which Paul dwells in our text today. This corruptible body shall pass through the furnace of death and be raised incorruptible; this mortal body shall pass through the furnace of death and be raised immortal. And when this has happened, when at the Last Day Christ has returned in glory and raised us from the dead and transformed us into His own image – righteous, incorruptible, immortal – then shall come to pass the promise of Scripture, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

So what does this mean? It means that we can have immense hope and confidence in the face of death itself and in the face of all death’s minions – sickness, pain, torture, persecution, hardship, trial. None of these things have the last word – the last word belongs to Jesus and to life. As horrible as death is, as devastating as it is, death is a conquered foe. Jesus rose from the dead; Jesus dealt death a death blow. We now live in sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead; because Christ has risen, we too shall rise. As Paul declares, “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It is this confidence in the face of death that enables us to fulfill the twofold task that Jesus has entrusted to us as His disciples. On the one hand, Christ calls us to lead lives of godly sincerity and purity no matter what opposition we may face, no matter what others may think or say. On the other hand, while living this way, Christ does not permit us to retreat into a little hovel but calls us to engage all the nations of the earth with the message of the Gospel, to be the light of the world. He calls us to stand against the world on behalf of the world. So how can we accomplish such a task? The early church historian Eusebius writes:

[To accomplish this twofold task] the strongest conviction of a future life was necessary, that [we] might be able with fearless and unshrinking zeal to maintain the conflict with… error: a conflict the dangers of which [we] would never have been prepared to meet, except as habituated to the contempt of death.

We are called to maintain the truth of God against all opposition with fearless and unshrinking zeal. We can only accomplish this when habituated to the contempt of death. And what is it that habituates us to such contempt? Deep meditation on the resurrection of our Lord. Jesus has died and risen again “that He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14-15). Jesus has risen from the dead to free us from the fear of death. Hence, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). So what should characterize our lives? “A fearless and unshrinking zeal” to maintain the truth of God against all opposition – whether from our own flesh or from the world or from the devil himself. Congregation of the Lord, Christ is Risen! (He is Risen indeed!)

So reminded this morning of the power of Christ’s resurrection but no doubt reminded also that we frequently are fearful and shrinking rather than fearless and unshrinking, let us kneel and confess our lack of faith to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession that is found in your bulletin.