Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the new covenant people

The Lord Jesus Christ is the spring (John 7:37-39; Romans 5:17) from which the


Spirit flows to us. He is the Word from which all grace comes. The law or old covenant was God’s promise through types and shadows pointing to Christ of greater grace that would come when Christ came and made his dwelling among people (John 1:14-16). In Christ the old way of the written code is replaced by the new way of the Spirit (Romans 7:6).

Christ the Word is God’s final revelation (Hebrews 1:1-2). The Spirit took from that full revelation and made Christ known through the teaching of the apostles (John 16:14-15). Jesus is also the Water of life; by faith in him we have a continual supply of the Spirit to make us overflow with the love of God in Christ. He puts Christ-consistent desires in us to tell the good news, to look on others with kindness and compassion, to cheer up the lonely and grieving, to seek to liberate people from oppressive sins, etc.

The Spirit gives us grace from Christ. Here are some suggestions about how he provides us with his help.

  • As the Spirit develops holiness of life in a believer, he tells them that Christ is raised and ascended and they in him, and so they ought to have their hearts and minds set on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-4).
  • When a believer faces the challenges of hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic things of this old creation, the Spirit reminds that in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3) and that we have fullness in Christ (Colossians 2:9-10).
  • When a struggling Christian wonders how they can give with contentment for the benefit of others and the spread of the gospel, the Spirit tells him or her that “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
  • When we have sinned and feel the threatening of a guilty conscience, the Sprit reminds us that we have an advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous one (1 John 2:1).
  • When we would experience fellowship or friendship with God, the Spirit pours out the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:5).

May the Spirit of God make the presence of Jesus our Lord powerful in your life this week!

Grace and peace, David

On the Move

October 30, 2015 we found an apartment in Devon, PA. So, Dave and I have been sorting, packing and preparing to begin life in a two bedroom apartment. That’s a major downsize from a four bedroom home with two garages plus a study in the church building! There have been a lot of decisions and many trips to Good Will to bless others with what the Lord had given to us.

For twenty years I’ve stood at the kitchen window and reminisced on God’s goodness to us. I’ve thanked Him, made requests for family and friends with my eyes open many times. And I have praised Him, rejoicing in the beauty of the morning, gazing out at my garden alive with color in the springtime, or looking out on people sitting at our picnic table under a canopy of trees in the summer, or watching a squirrel scamper across the yard and birds flock in the trees in on a beautiful autumn afternoon, or looking out at the moon on a clear crisp winter night. I remember the Bible verse, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

In the Bible it also says in that verse that HE will be exalted in the earth! So much of His creation goes unnoticed by many, but HE tells us here that HE will be exalted. We are at the end of autumn, and today the wind was blowing leaves down upon us like rain, as we traveled to Devon to take the measurements in our new apartment. I commented to Dave that humanity is much like the leaves before us on the road. Every so often a gust of wind would send much of them scurrying around. It reminded me of people going along, just fine until something came upon them and caused a flurry of emotion, be it a family squabble, a child’s crying and whining, a friend’s misunderstanding, or a church full of people disagreeing about something at a business meeting.

At any of these times we need to remember that God says, to be still. Sometimes it is all it takes to just sit down and talk with a family member, enjoying their presence, comforting an anxious or tired child in your arms, or taking a friend out for tea and finding out just how the misunderstanding started. The church should be a place where God’s word is heeded and obeyed. So, if HE says to be quiet, then we should!

Oh, there’s times when it seems like life is like a frenzy of leaves when they scurry here and there, but God’s word is true. So, sometimes, oftener than I did in my youth, I stand at the window and be still, still remembering God’s goodness, contemplating HIM, and His characteristics, and then my world gets calmer!

I thought today while wrapping up my dishes in bubble wrap, when December 5 arrives and our boxes are all packed, the house is all clean and we turn in the keys to the parsonage and then to settle into our small apartment, and we will have lots and lots to unwrap! Christmas! We will thank God for sending His son, Jesus, to us so someday we can live with HIM! Now that will be “home sweet home.”

Love, joy, and peace,


The Messiah and the Holy Spirit

The Bible tells us about God, the Maker, Preserver, and Ruler of everything else. It is God telling who he is, what he likPicture1es, and what he has done, is doing, and will surely do. The infinite God tells us that he is a Three Person Being: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is very hard for us to understand, yet it answers many questions in the story God tells in the Bible. In Isaiah 42:1 we hear God the Father speaking of the One that he calls his “Servant” and which the New Testament Scriptures tell us is his one and only Son. And we hear him talking of Another, whom he calls “my Spirit”, whom he will put on his Servant. So then, in this text we encounter the Three Persons of the Trinity.

But more than that, God the Father tells us through Isaiah the prophet what his Son and Servant, the Messiah, would do. Before he announces the main points of the plan, he exalts the Servant as the one he upholds, his chosen one and the one in whom he delights, and the One on whom he puts his Spirit. We looked at the first three points in a previous post on Isaiah, and now we probe into this fourth point. It is not something in God’s story that we ought to rush past or to forget, because it helps us understand the good news better, as well as the Christian way of life.

Christ, the Servant of God, would have the Spirit as his “inseparable companion”. Consider three stages of the Spirit’s work in the life of Jesus the Messiah.

The Spirit was there at his virgin birth and growth. The Holy Spirit came upon her and his power overshadowed her (Luke 1:35). Though the Spirit enabled many barren women in Old Testament times to conceive and bear children, in making true humanity for the Son of God he works through a virgin woman. This is the first work in the new creation. The first Adam was made from the dust of the ground, but the last Adam comes from the Spirit through a virgin, so that he can be holy, without personal sin, guilt, and condemnation. Consider what John said of Jesus (John 3:31). Since Jesus was truly human, he went through the normal process of human development. In all this the Holy Spirit rested upon him (Isaiah 11:2; Luke 2:40, 52).

The Spirit was with him at his baptism, temptation, and ministry. The Holy Spirit came down from heaven like a dove and remained on Jesus at his baptism. Three lines of OT teaching converge in this coming of the Spirit on him. As the Spirit hovered over the waters of the old creation (Genesis 1:2), so he comes down as Jesus was in the water. Second, as the dove returns with a symbol of new life to Noah (Genesis 8:11), so he points to Jesus as the source of new life. Third, a dove was a sin offering for the poor (Leviticus 5:7), so Jesus would be the sin offering for the poor. This descent by the Spirit also testified that Jesus was the Son of God (Luke 3:22; John 1:32-34). Immediately after his baptism, the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the wilderness to do spiritual battle against the devil (Luke 4:1). When Jesus had defeated Satan, he went from place to place, preaching the good news and doing many miraculous signs by the power of the Spirit of the Lord (Matthew 12:28). All this was evidence that God’s kingdom (saving reign) had come and that the promised time, the year of the Lord’s favor had arrived (Luke 4:19-21). So then, the Lord’s Servant Jesus (Acts 3:13) served God with the joy of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21).

The Spirit acted powerfully at his death, resurrection, and ascension. When our great high priest Jesus offered himself as the final sacrifice for sin, he did it through the eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14). When he rose from the dead, he was declared to be Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4). The age of the new covenant and Christ’s powerful lordship began! And so he poured out the Holy Spirit on his believing people as evidence that he reigns on David’s throne at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:29-36).

In Jesus and his inseparable companion, the Spirit, the age of fulfillment arrived. As Paul says, “Now is the time of God’s favor; now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now is the time for you to be reconciled to God.

Think also about the Messiah and his anointing by the Spirit (Isaiah 61:3; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38). Jesus is our prophet. His teaching forms the basis of our lives. This is what we see first in the Four Gospels. He taught God’s message about his saving reign (kingdom), and his miraculous signs performed by the Spirit testified to him as the great prophet of God. Jesus is our high priest. His atoning work secured our salvation, and his intercession guarantees our forgiveness. The events of his crucifixion and resurrection are the key events of the Four Gospels. His finished work provides righteousness for everyone who believes in him (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus is our king. He rules over us and defends us. In the Four Gospels we see evidence of his authority over all things, and in his ascension we
see that he is Lord and reigning on David’s throne. As Ascended Lord, he poured out the Holy Spirit on his people—those who repent and believe in him.

In the Anointed Jesus, we have every benefit we need. As we start this work week, I ask you, “Are you in the Lord Jesus Christ by faith?”

An Encouragement to Those Telling the Good News

The Scriptures tell us how to minister God’s word (2 Timothy 4:1-4).


Prior to the Reformation people were in error about salvation and the true Christian life, and they were also in error about how the church and her ministers should minister for God. It is always necessary to be continually transformed in ministry according to the Scriptures.

The apostle tells us what to do: Preach God’s word (4:2). The world is not perishing for lack of information, but for lack of correct information about Christ and the good news that is empowered by God the Holy Spirit. A minister must correct, must point out wrong ideas and practices (1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 1:13; 2:15). A minister must rebuke, must tell people to stop continuing in their present, sinful course of life (Luke 4:39, 41; 8:24; 9:42; 17:3). A minister must encourage, he must help people along the right way. He must be a helper for the joy of others (2 Corinthians 1:24).

Next, he tells us how to do this good work (4:2). Do it with great patience—waiting calmly upon God for his action in the hearts and lives of people. He needs to humble himself before the Lord. Do it with careful instruction. The battle is for the souls of people, and the battleground is the mind (1 Timothy 4:11-16). He needs Biblical precision.

Then he tells us why to do this good work (4:1, 3-4). We must preach the word because of the wickedness of people. Evil is the common human condition. We can go “from zero to sixty” in seconds in rebelling against God. But we must also preach the word because of the coming glory of Jesus Christ. Since you know the glory of Christ, read the Scriptures that speak of him, pray in conformity with the word, and tell others the good news.

Grace and peace,


An Important Watchword

We all have short attention spans. After an event, we can quickly ignore any beneficial lessons that our Father in heaven wants us to incorporate into our wFifteenFiveay of life. Reformation Day was last Saturday, and this is a friendly reminder to keep important concepts from the Reformation in your thinking. A watchword is “a word, phrase, or signal given to a guard or the like, used to ascertain whether an unknown person is friendly or hostile… [It is also] a motto, esp. used as a rallying cry or slogan.” When we think of what God has done in the history of the church, there are five important watchwords from the Reformation. We can say that they set forth the essence of Biblical teaching that was learned during that mighty work of the Holy Spirit.

  • According to the Scriptures alone
  • By grace alone
  • Through faith alone
  • In Christ alone
  • To God alone be the glory

In this post, we will look at the first of these five watchwords. Here is an idea to live by: We must always be thoroughly convinced of the absolute authority of the Old and the New Testament Scriptures.

  • Absolute – because it is divinely authored, unqualified, unbending, and final
  • Authority – it is objective fact whether or not people accept it; God said it, that settles it
  • Alone – adding neither human tradition nor experience to it

The Scriptures tell us how we can be right with God (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Prior to the great revival called the Reformation, most people in Europe professed to be Christians, but most were in a condition of deep spiritual darkness, not knowing how to be right with God. They might have had a zeal for God, but it was not according to knowledge.

The Spirit tells us that a correct knowledge of human need and of our only real hope comes through the Scriptures alone. It is certainly true that God has revealed himself in his creation (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-20). But it is only in the Bible that we can learn God’s plan of salvation (Psalm 19:7; 119:55). One of the great blessings of the Jewish people was that the true God gave them his word (Romans 3:1-2). Timothy’s mother and grandmother were Jewish, and they taught him God’s word. The Holy Spirit uses the word of God when he gives new birth to people (1 Peter 1:23; cf. John 3:5-8; Titus 3:5).

We must understand that the mere reading or knowledge is insufficient. We must also have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Hearing without faith lacks any value (Heb 4:2). We ought to pray that the Lord would give the gift of faith to people as they hear the word (2 Peter 1:1; cf. Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:29). Practically speaking, pray for five people you know. “Lord, give my friends the gift of faith!”

The Scriptures tell us how the Lord wants us to live (3:16-17). Since there was so much confusion about the way of salvation, it is no wonder that the lives of the religious were so corrupted before the Reformation. The human heart always runs to one of two extremes—legalism or lawlessness.

The Scriptures benefit those who are in Christ. They provide the “blueprints and specifications” for the true Christian way of life. They do this by telling us God’s story in Christ, and our place in it as Christ’s people. Knowledge of the blueprints and spec book is essential in construction, if the building is to please the owner. Positively, teaching tells us what a believer’s life is to look like. It presents the characteristics of Jesus Christ that we are to imitate. Negatively, rebuke tells us what to avoid—if you do these things, you are not showing the pattern of Christ in your life.

They provide material for the actual construction. When Jesus saves us, the Holy Spirit begins the task of renewing our lives. He gets involved in transforming our ideas, thoughts, and attitudes, and he also starts to transform our words and actions. Again, there is a negative and a positive side to what the Spirit does through the word. Negatively, he uses the word to correct us. For example, we might be used to talking with destructive speech (Ephesians 4:25-5:7). As Isaiah realized when he saw the Lord, he was a man of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5). In many ways we were under the control of sinful patterns of thinking and action. Positively, the Spirit uses the word to train us. He tells us that we show the newness of Christ in specific ways.

So then, let’s grasp the purpose or the goal of the Scriptures. The idea is that we might be properly outfitted (1 Peter 1:13-2:3). If you are going to run or walk, you need the right shoes and clothing for comfort and safety. The desired object is that we might do good works (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14). God wants us to bear fruit (John 15:5)! As God’s priests and temple, we are to bless others by acting with God’s kind of goodness. The teachings of the Scriptures and of Reformation theology are not entertainment for our minds. They are to be obeyed and lived (Matthew 28:20).

Look to God’s Son


Many people, activities and things beg for our attention. Think of our family members, fellow Christians, friends, neighbors, ads for new products, stuff on sale, recreational activities, political issues, the troubles of life, etc. It DSCN0334seems like our days and weeks have less available time as more parts of life call out, “Pay attention to me!”

Since the true and living God is our all-knowing and all-wise Creator, he knows where we need to concentrate our limited time and energy. He made us as people that are responsible to him for what we ought to do. For example, each of us must invest part of our time with our family and friends. Yet God desires that we focus on his Son, who alone is worthy of our foremost devotion. The truth of our text is like God putting a spotlight on his Son. He calls us to look up from our misery and despair! It can be too easy to concentrate on our sin and guilt. It is also too easy to minimize our sins and our problems, to apply some religious goo to our spiritual pain, and to assume we can work our way back to respectability on a legalistic and pious treadmill. God the Father says to you, “Why do you put so much value on your own righteousness and religious performances? Here is my Servant!”

Our Bible passage (Isaiah 42:1) is from the opening of the first of what are called the Servant Songs (Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-7; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12; and 61:1-3). In each of these, God the Father presents his Son as his Servant who will carry out all his will. May the Holy Spirit of God give us grace to fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ! The Spirit gives us three reasons we should fix our minds and hearts on Jesus Christ.

First, we should fix our attention on him because he is God’s servant (cf. Ac 3:13).

The Son of God came with a humble appearance (Philippians 2:6-8). The great Creator took on created humanity. No one can comprehend what it was like for him to descend from the glories of heaven to the lower, earthly regions, to be born of a virgin and rest in her arms, to be cared by for her, while he still held all creation together (Colossians 1:17). Who can understand how very rich he was? Yet he was born in poverty and lived the humble life of a carpenter, until he became a penniless teacher, dependent on the gifts of others.

While he lived among mankind, he faced mocking and opposition. He experienced being forsaken by the crowds, once they realized what he was saying, and finally he was denied and betrayed by his closest friends. Then there was the cruel death of the cross, and what it more, it was his Father’s will for him to suffer this way (Isaiah 53:10). “For lordship to submit to service, for God to be man, the blessed God to become a curse, here is a matter of wonder indeed” (Sibbes, Works, Vol. 1, p. 7).

The Son came on the most important mission. God the Father sent him to fulfill two important tasks (Rm 3:25-26). He came to vindicate God’s righteous character. God had forgiven sinners like Abel and Abraham, Jacob and David during the time before Christ’s first coming. But no perfect sacrifice had been offered that could pay the penalty for sinners. Where was the justice of the Holy God? He also came that sinful people who believe in Jesus might be justified or declared right with God. We needed a perfect righteousness that we could never supply, since we all are sinners. People reject God as the True God; they refuse to love him; they rebel against God and his commands. How can such people ever be declared right with God? The Lord Jesus came to provide us with his perfect righteousness.

Right now as you read this, you may turn from your sin and rely on the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and righteousness. Jesus came to save sinners, and he invites you to receive a full and free salvation.

Second, we should focus on him because he is God’s Chosen One. The Father selected him to be Savior and Lord. He is the Savior of all who believe in him, and he is Lord of all, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth whether they want him to be or not. By his death and resurrection he secured his lordship over the living and the dead (Rm 14:9). So I advise you to pay attention to him. Jesus knew he was sent from heaven to earth to accomplish God’s purpose (John 4:34; 5:23; 6:38-30; 12:44-46). The Holy Spirit affirmed this purpose in the apostle’s writings (1 John 4:9-10). People everywhere have their schemes to get back into God’s favor, or perhaps more audaciously, to try to dethrone and to replace God. But all of them are chasing after the wind. God has chosen his Son Jesus Christ to secure our salvation and to be the Judge of mankind (Acts 10:42). We ought to be content with God’s choice.

The Father chose his people for salvation in the Chosen One. We believers share in what Christ is (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:4-9).We had no worthiness in ourselves that God should desire us. Although we were sinners, he chose us to salvation in his Son. This teaching ought to give us joyful confidence. “If God has chosen him, and we have been chosen in him, why would he ever reject us?” Think of this. God has chosen to love you and to embrace you as his dearly loved child in Christ. Believe in Christ and rest secure in the Father’s love. All this should cause us to say, “Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ!”

Third, we should build our world and life view on him because he is the Father’s delight. The Father loved him from before the creation of the world (John 17:24). Here is mystery. We serve an independent God who had absolutely no need to create. All that was necessary for his eternal joy was already found in the perfection of the Holy Trinity. His desire to create and to save is the overflowing of his love and joy. Whenever the Father viewed the Son in what we feebly call “eternity past”, he was filled with joy in what he saw in him.

The Father loved him during his earthly ministry (Matthew 3:17; 17:4-5). God’s unvarying testimony was his pleasure in his Son. The Father was pleased with his Son when he was baptized, when he changed the water into wine, when he cleansed the temple, talked with Nicodemus and the woman at the well, healed the paralyzed man on the Sabbath, fed the five thousand, and walked on the water. God was pleased about how Jesus went up to the Feast of Tabernacles, how he spoke with the Jewish leaders, and how he healed the man born blind. He was pleased with the way his Son answered his critics, with how he raised Lazarus, and that he was anointed with very expensive perfume by Mary. God was pleased with the way his dearly loved Son prayed and suffered and died. And God showed his great pleasure by raising him from the dead! The Father loved him because he laid down his life for the sheep (John 10:17; cf. Isaiah 53:12; Ephesians 5:1-2.)

So then, how should we obey this truth about Jesus the Son of God?

  • If God so delights in Jesus Christ, then so should we (1 Corinthians 16:22). If God has chosen him, then so should we. Have you? “It should shame us therefore when we find dullness and coldness upon us, that we can hear of anything better than of Christ, and arguments concerning Christ are cold to us” (Sibbes, p. 14).
  • If God so delights in his Son, then we may be assured of our own acceptance by God, if we are in Christ by faith (John 17:26).
  • If Christ the Son of God was delighted to serve God, then we ought to be delighted to serve him, too (Philippians 2:1-11). Christ was not infatuated with his own greatness. Though he was equal with God, he became God’s servant. Oh, we should come down from the tower of our self-importance and self-centeredness. The heart of every person by nature is proud; it is a deep well of pride. People think, “What! Shall I stoop to serve Christ?” Instead, we ought to think, “Did God the Son humble himself to the death of the cross, while I remain proud?” Let us humble ourselves before the Lord.