Some Thoughts on Discipleship

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about the first books that one might hand a new believer (or newly maturing believer). In thinking through this issue, it occurred to me that the topic areas relevant to an immature believer are the same as those for a seasoned follower of Christ – the difference may only be the depth of coverage.

For a model for teaching ‘mature believers’, I consulted the Reformed Baptist Seminary of Grand Rapids Prospectus for prospective students. I noted the theological categories that are used to govern the topics taught to aspiring pastors and have put a few thoughts into how this could make an outline of study for a new Christian.

According to the prospectus, the encyclopedia of theology encompasses:

Encyclopedia of Theology

  1. EXEGETICAL THEOLOGY
    • Interpreting the text of the Bible
    • Understanding the Bible’s background: archeology, history, theology
  2. SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
    • Apologetics
    • Bible Doctrine
  3. PRACTICAL THEOLOGY
    • Pastoral Theology
    • Church Administration
    • How to live the Christian life
  4. HISTORICAL THEOLOGY
    • Church History – Early, Middle Ages, Recent
    • History of Christian Theology

Not every subject touched upon in a Seminary curiculum is appropriate for a discipleship program, but for the Protestant who holds to the priesthood of the believer, the Christian faith is the same faith for the pastor as the parishioner. Perhaps the average Bible student doesn’t need the same depth of study as a man who is specially called to be a teacher of God’s Word, but from the ‘Man in the Pew’ to the ‘Presbyter’, the faith (and that Standard of faith – the Bible) is the same and the same basic core of fundamental doctrines should be understood and confessed.

Theology and Discipleship

Below are a few notes on how these fundamental areas of theology may be used in a discipleship setting:

  1. EXEGETICAL THEOLOGY
  2. Exegetical theology is the science and art of understanding the scriptures in their literal, grammatical, historical, and theological context ( all while understanding that the whole was ultimately written by the Holy Spirit and comprises one whole and complete Word of God).

    Being able to intelligently read and understand the Bible is the supreme area of importance for the new believer. The ability to intelligently read and understand God’s Word is key to growth and spiritual maturity.

    The new believer who is not trained to read the Bible while understanding the larger scope of God’s overall Story of Redemption, and the role any given passage plays in this unfolding story, is confined to a Bible ‘only’ full of disconnected moralistic ‘stories’ and inspiring sayings and maxims.

    Without the ability to understand how each scripture relates to the whole, and how the whole relates to each scripture, the new believer is a victim to anyone who is able to wrap heresy in a few simplistic proof texts. This is the area of theology that sheds light on all the others. If a disciple learns this critical skill, he is on the proper path to understanding the other tenants of theology as well

    As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby…”  (1 Pet 2:2)

  3. SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
  4. Where the exegetical theology student is trying to understand how to read and understand the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, the systematic theology student is trying to understand what the Bible, as a whole, teaches about very important areas of doctrine, such as: Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, the nature and attributes of God, the fallen-ness and sinfulness of man, God’s Plan of Salvation for fallen mankind, angels, demons, the afterlife, etc.

    As exegetical theology teaches the believer how to learn about God, systematic theology answers the question “what do you believe about God?” It is the collection of Bible doctrines that are essential for salvation and growth. It is the church’s and believer’s confession of faith. It is the store of basic Bible doctrine that governs the believers thoughts and actions.

    …be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3:15)

  5. PRACTICAL THEOLOGY
  6. If Systematic Theology is for the believer “what to believe”, practical theology is “how to live in light of that belief.” Practical theology encompasses the majority of books found on the bookshelves of the local ‘christian’ bookstore and encompass areas such as: prayer, overcoming sin and temptation, marriage issues, contentment, joy, suffering, etc.

    Often, these are the first types of books given to new believers, but with solid grounding in Biblical studies and basic Bible doctrine, the new believer is apt to believe anything sprinkled with Bible verses. Much of the Puritan writings are very helpful in this category, most of what is found on tv, radio, and the bookstore is NOT!

  7. HISTORICAL THEOLOGY
  8. History is often neglected by believers, but may be very edifying. History teaches us how we came to be, and how we came to believe what we believe. It gives us a rich appreciation for our Bibles and our faith, and though not as important as the other areas, it is not to be neglected

Relative Importance of the Various Heads of Theology

In looking at the RBS Perspectus, I found the following break-down for the number of hours of classroom teaching in the various categories listed above.

EXEGETICAL THEOLOGY: 42 HOURS
SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY: 31 HOURS
PRACTICAL THEOLOGY: 22 HOURS
HISTORICAL THEOLOGY: 10 HOURS

Not surprisingly, ministers of the Word of God spend most time studying how to study and teach the Scriptures. Next, they are indoctrinated in the core beliefs of their faith. Next, practical issues related to the Christian life and leading a local church. Finally, they study historical topics related to the history of doctrine, the church, and their denomination.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a good discipleship syllabus would include, first of all, some basic teaching on the structure of the Bible as a whole and how to read and understand it in light of what it reveals about God’s Plan of Redemption. A good curriculum would include, of course, basic teaching on those Bible doctrines that are of fundamental importance – those which define the essence of Basic Christianity. It would include some solid practical aspects of particular importance to the growing, maturing believer. And, it would include a brief Christian history primer that gives a broad perspective on what God has done for our over 2,000 years of church history.

“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations…”  (Matt 28:19 ASV)

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. ”  (2 Pet 3:18)

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Denault on the Sinai Covenant

Some notes upon re-reading Chapter 3 of Pascal Denault’s “The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology”…

The Covenant concluded between God and Israel in the Sinai desert was a progression of the covenant of circumcision [i.e. the Covenant of Promise with Abraham]. The Sinaitic Covenant was specifically concluded with the physical posterity of Abraham for the accomplishment of the carnal land/seed promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. The natural posterity of Abraham was to inherit the Promised Land and the Sinaitic Covenant was made to this end.

But, did the Covenant serve a fuller purpose?

Why Was the Old Covenant Given?

Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; …But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Gal 3:19-24)

According to the Apostle Paul, the law (i.e. the Covenant made at Sinai) was given to guard against sin until the Promised Seed of Abraham would come. The Old Covenant had a distinct role in preserving and keeping the Hebrew people separate so they could fulfill their mission of bringing the Messiah into the world.

Paul also states that the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Jesus Christ. The law teaches us our failures and short-comings. The law teaches the justice of God and our need of a sacrifice, a priesthood, and a mediator. By giving the Hebrews a picture of the offices and roles of Christ, it taught them to weary of their rites and sacrifices and to despair of the priesthood and to seek mercy and grace, no longer under types and signs, but in its fullness in Christ.

Does the Sinai Covenant Continue?

The Apostle continues…

But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

(Gal 3:25-29)

Now that the Gospel of Grace has been revealed, we no longer require the ordinances, types, and shadows of the Old Covenant. There is no longer a distinction between Jew and Greek required. The Promises made to Abraham are not to be passed from generation to generation through the physical seed of Abraham. The Seed of Abraham has come and fulfilled the promise and received all it’s blessing. Those that are united to Christ are heirs of the promises, and with Christ, the heirs/seed of Abraham.

Denault’s Analysis

Brother Denault’s analysis, from his reading of 17th Century Particular Baptist works, is that the historic Baptist position is that goal of the Sinai Covenant was achieved in three ways:

  1. It preserved the Messianic lineage (Gal 3:16-29, Rom 9:4-5).
  2. The Old Covenant pointed typologically towards Christ – Priest, Mediator, Judgement, Sacrifice, Atonement, Deliverance, etc.
  3. It Concluded all under sin, so that faith could only be by faith in Christ (Gal 3)

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Countdown to Resurrecton Sunday

Given that Resurrection Sunday is 3 weeks from today, it might be a good time to be reading from the gospels as you meditate on the Atonement and Resurrection over the next few weeks.

Since we have 21 days until the celebration of the resurrection, and since the Gospel of John has 21 chapters, you could commit to reading a chapter a day!

Following this schedule, you will read about Jesus triumphal entry just a few days before Palm Sunday. And between Palm Sunday and Easter, you will read about the last supper, upper room discourse, Jesus and the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ high priestly prayer, the betrayal, arrest, trial, beating, and Crucifixion. On Good Friday you will read of the empty tomb and on the day before Easter you will read of Jesus showing himself to his disciples and his ascension to glory.

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In reading some of AW Pink’s The Divine Covenants tonight, I found the following note under Section III of Part 5: The Sinaitic Covenant.

For much in the early paragraphs of this chapter we are indebted to an able discussion of the character of the Sinaitic covenant by Robert Balfour, which appeared in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review of July 1877.

After much searching, I was able to find this particular journal article, linked below, at archive.org. The article begins on journal page 511, which is roughly page 521 of the scan. Give it a read to find out what brother Pink found so remarkable.

Balfour, Rev. R. G. (1877). The Sinai Covenant. The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, XXVI, 511-526.

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Sinaitic Covenant, part 2

Notes on Sinaitic Covenant from my own thought after reading some of AW Pink’s Divine Covenants

The covenant with the Hebrew people made at Mount Sinai:

  1. Was built on the Abrahamic Covenant
    • It was a carnal and temporal fulfillment of it
  2. It was preparatory for the coming of the Messiah and the ushering in of the New Covenant
    • It was intended to be temporal – see Gal 3:19
  3. It was conditioned on obedience –
    • Promised outward blessing for the chosen people in the chosen land
    • Promised cursing and calamaties if the people rejected the rule of Jehovah
    • Blessing and cursing for the whole of Israel was based on obedience to the law; but the salvation of individuals was all of grace through faith as in every age, irrespective of the sin/obedience of the nation as a whole (Heb 11)

Hebrews 8

6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry [Christ has a more excellent ministry than Moses], by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant [The New Covenant is better than the Old (Sinaitic Covenant)], which was established upon better promises [The promises of the New Covenant are eternal - those of the Old Covenant were temporal]. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. [Jeremiah 31:31-34] 13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

Analysis

This passage is a great corrective to Reformed Covenant theologians and Dispensationalists alike.  The Covenant Theologian must take note that the New Covenant is founded upon better promises and is “not according to the covenant” that was made with Moses.  It is not merely a new administration of one covenant, it is entirely new and distinct from the old and temporary one.  Also note that every member of this New Covenant is converted – a regenerate church is assumed.

The Dispensationalist must note the passing of the levitical priesthood and the temple.  These have no future in God’s plan.  They were a “shadow of heavenly things“; that is types to serve until the anti-type has come.  Also note with whom the Covenant will be made – Israel.  Jehovah has dis-regarded the disobedient Hebrews, but He has found favor in one Hebrew – the Messiah.  Those that are Messiah’s are the people of God, a holy nation (1 Pet 2:5), fellow citizens of Israel (Eph 2:19), and en-grafted ‘unnaturally’ into the tree of Israel (Rom 11).

Says AW Pink:

Observe carefully what is said in Hebrews 8 to be the characteristic difference between the new and the old economies: “I will put my laws into their minds and write them in their hearts” (v. 10). No promise in any wise comparable to this was given at Sinai. But the absence of any assurance of the Spirit’s internal and effectual operations was quite in keeping with the fact that the Mosaic economy required not so much an inward and spiritual, as an outward and natural obedience to the law, which for them had nothing higher than temporal sanctions. This is a fundamental principle which has not received the consideration to which it is entitled: it is vital to a clear understanding of the radical difference which obtains between Judaism and Christianity. Under the former God dealt with one nation only; now He is manifesting His grace to elect individuals scattered among all nations. Under the former He simply made known His requirements; in the latter He actually produces that which meets His requirements.

 

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The Sinaitic Covenant, part 1

Notes on Sinaitic Covenant from AW Pink’s Divine Covenants -

  • Abrahamic Covenant promised the Messiah would spring from Abraham’s descendants
    • This necessitates that Abraham’s line be kept separate
      • The Messiah must trace his unmixed lineage back to Abraham
      • Abraham’s descendants must be separate from the heathen to preserve the knowledge and worship of God
      • Hebrews sheltered in Egypt when they were few and weak
        • Hebrews protected from the gods and inter-marraige with the Canaanites
        • Egyptians despised Israelites (Gen 46:34) – nations kept separate – people and religion
        • Egypt afforded an great opportunity for the Hebrew people to learn writing, building, etc.
        • Hebrews left Egypt with approx 2 million unmixed and faithful to Jehovah
  • God delivered the Hebrews from bondage by the hand of a mediator
  • The people are brought to Sinai where God constitutes them a nation and makes a covenant with them
    • The covenant was a national covenant with the nation of Israel that promised blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience
    • Regarding individuals -> every man (in his natural state) was fallen in his father (and representative head) Adam (by the transgression of the Covenant of Works) or he stood in his Savior and representative head (by virtue of the Everlasting Covenant of Grace) – the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • The national covenant made with the nation of Israel was not for the salvation of individuals
      • It was for the purpose of keeping Israel separate
      • It was a type of the Covenant of Grace between Christ and believers – “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things..” (Heb 10:1)
      • At times, Israel was faithful to God and received his blessing and favor – yet there were unbelieving individuals in it.
      • At times, Israel was unfaithful to God and received his condemnation and wrath – yet there were believing individuals in it
    • The covenant made with Israel was temporal and carnal
      • It was a temporary system of government of religion and government until its purpose was fulfilled
      • It was preparatory for a new and better and unending covenant
        • Preserved God’s word
        • Preserved Abrahamic promise of a redeemer seed
        • Taught the people of God’s holiness, righteousness, justice, patience, mercy, and grace
        • Taught the need for forgiveness, a sacrifice, a mediator
      • The blessings of the covenant were not salvation as a reward for obedience, but rather long life , health, and blessing in the land of Canaan

AW Pink recommends a close reading, and re-reading the words of Thomas Scott on these matters.  He says that the following  quotation “contains the most lucid, comprehensive, and yet simple analysis of the Sinaitic covenant which we have met with in all our reading. It draws a clear line of distinction between God’s dealings with Israel as a nation, and with individuals in it. It shows the correct position of the everlasting covenant of grace and the Adamic covenant of works in relation to the Mosaic dispensation.”

 

The national covenant did not refer to the final salvation of individuals: nor was it broken by the disobedience, or even idolatry, of any number of them, provided this was not sanctioned or tolerated by public authority. It was indeed a type of the covenant made with true believers in Christ Jesus, as were all the transactions with Israel; but, like other types, it ‘had not the very image,’ but only ‘a shadow of good things to come.’ When, therefore, as a nation, they had broken this covenant, the Lord declared that He would make ‘a new covenant with Israel, putting His law,’ not only in their hands, but ‘in their inward parts’; and ‘writing it,’ not upon tables of stone, ‘but in their hearts; forgiving their iniquity and remembering their sin no more’ (Jer. 31:32-34; Heb. 8:7-12; 10:16, 17). The Israelites were under a dispensation of mercy, and had outward privileges and great advantages in various ways for salvation: yet, like professing Christians, the most of them rested in these, and looked no further. The outward covenant was made with the Nation, entitling them to outward advantages, upon the condition of outward national obedience; and the covenant of Grace was ratified personally with true believers, and sealed and secured spiritual blessings to them, by producing a holy disposition of heart, and spiritual obedience to the Divine law. In case Israel kept the covenant, the Lord promised that they should be to Him ‘a peculiar treasure.’ ‘All the earth’ (Ex. 19:5) being the Lord’s, He might have chosen any other people instead of Israel: and this implied that, as His choice of them was gratuitous, so if they rejected His covenant, He would reject them, and communicate their privileges to others; as indeed He hath done, since the introduction of the Christian dispensation”  (Thomas Scott).

This perspective on the Old Covenant steers a path between the Dispensationalists who see the Old Covenant as a way of salvation by law keeping and the Reformed who see it as an administration of the Covenant of Grace.  C

 

 

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Blog Alert

For the last 7-8 years the Particular Baptists have had a strong and growing presence in the blogosphere.  Now the ladies are joining in on the fun!  Introducing Reformed Baptista – a new new blog for “Baptist Women of a 1689 persuasion“. 

A brief welcome below from the “Reformed Baptista” team -


A few months ago I was browsing several Christian blogs. There are outstanding blogs out there written by women, but personally I wanted something that would focus the lens to a Confessional Reformed Baptist viewpoint. Not much appeared on my Google radar, so my husband suggested I start one, thus the creation of Reformed Baptista. My goals for this blog are to work through the 1689, explore a bit of Baptist history, and provide edification and encouragement for women. Links to online sermons, papers, and other media may also pop up from time to time. If there’s anything you would like to read about, let me know.

Ultimately I hope this blog will cause you to consider Christ, search the Scriptures, and praise the triune God. To Him be all the glory.

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Hercules Collins Reading List, part 2

Given the recent re-publication of Hercules CollinsOrthodox Catechism, there is some renewed interest in his writings and works. In this light, our friends at Particular Voices have published a small snippet from “The Temple Repaired” which contains Collins’ recommended reading list for “those inclined to the ministry“:

I’ve collected below links to locations where these works can be found today:

(This is part 2 of 2…)

  1. Erasmus Greek and Latin New Testament (Images HERE)
  2. John Tombes’ Works (and baptism catechism)
  3. Andrew Willet – Many commentaries and Synopsis papismi, or, a General view of the papacy (only volume 5 available)
  4. Ussher’s Body of Divinity ($10 at SGCB)
  5. Samuel Newman’s Large and Complete Concordance
  6. Francis Roberts‘ Mysterium & Medulla Bibliorum: The Mysterie and Marrow of the Bible, Viz. God’s Covenants with Man
  7. DuVeil’s Literal Explanation of the Acts
  8. Samuel Clark’s A Mirrour or Looking-glass both for Saints and Sinners, held forth in some thousands of examples
  9. Plutarch’s Morals
  10. Seneca’s Morals
  11. Pliny the Elder’s Natural History
  12. Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History
  13. The Works of Josephus
  14. Peter Heylyn’s Cosmographie
  15. Robert Boyle’s Considerations Touching the Style of the Holy Scriptures
  16. Thomas Blunderville’s The Art of Logic
  17. Adam Smith’s Rhetoric
  18. Elisha Coles’ Latin Dictionary

Well, there’s the list…

I found at least author’s names and full titles to each work. Some authors were just too prolific to list each work here. Many of these, although not all, are presently available for free. With these links, you have at your fingertips a theological library that would be the envy of almost every 17th Century Puritan pastor.

Please feel free to send me your updates and I will continue to update the list.

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Hercules Collins Reading List, part 1

Given the recent re-publication of Hercules CollinsOrthodox Catechism, there is some renewed interest in his writings and works. In this light, our friends at Particular Voices have published a small snippet from “The Temple Repaired” which contains Collins’ recommended reading list for “those inclined to the ministry“:

I’ve collected below links to locations where these works can be found today:

(This is part 1 of 2…)

  1. Poole’s Annotations on the Holy Bible: Volume 1, Volume 2
  2. The Dutch Annotations on the Holy Bible
  3. Joseph Caryl Commentary on Job
  4. The Works of William Perkins (HERE or HERE)
  5. Francis Roberts’ Clavis Bibliorum: The key of the Bible
  6. Edward Leigh’s A System or Body of Divinity (10 Volumes!!)
  7. Wilson’s Dictionary
  8. Works of Jeremiah Burroughs
  9. The Works of Richard Sibbes
  10. The Works of Edward Reynolds
  11. The Works of John Preston
  12. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
  13. William Ames Marrow of Sacred Divinity
  14. Alexander Grosse’s A Fiery Pillar of Heavenly Truth
  15. John Owen’s A Brief Declaration and Vindication of The Doctrine of the Trinity
  16. Bates’ Harmony of the Divine Attributes (SGCB)
  17. Elisha Coles’ Practical Discourse on God’s Sovereignty
  18. Commentaries of James Durham
  19. David Dickson’s Brief Explication of the Psalms
  20. Dickson’s Commentary on Matthew
  21. Hutcheson’s Exposition of the XII Small Prophets
  22. Hutcheson’s Exposition of John
  23. Calvin’s Institutes
  24. Ursinus’ Catechisms
  25. Works of Anthony Burgess (more works HERE)
  26. Ainsworth’s Annotations on Pentateuch and Psalms

Part 2 coming soon…

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    Notes on Hebrews 3:12-14

    Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God1.  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin2. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end3

    • 1. verses 6-11, Ps 95, 4:1-11, 1 Jn 2:19,
    • 2. Eph 4:22, Col 2:8, 2 Thes. 2:9-10
    • 3. Heb 10:23

    Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

    • Here, the writer presents a personal application of the 95th Psalm. This application is a warning against apostasy and falling away.
    • Take heed, brethren – This warning is issued to ‘professing believers’
    • Professors are warned to “take heed”, because we are not yet out of the wilderness of this world
    • Though many profess to believe, in many there is an evil heart of unbelief
    • Those that have an evil heart of unbelief will depart “from the living God” (1 Jn 2:19)
    • Unbelief (Heb 4:11) is the revelation of an evil heart (Tit 1:15) – “unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”
    • Living God – this title applied to the Father in Matt 16:16, applied to the Son in 1 Tim 4:10, and applied to the Spirit in 2 Cor 6:16
    • departing (ἀφίστημι)
      • Thayer: go away, fall away, desert, withdraw, flee, depart
      • In Luke 8:13, the seed which fell on the hard rock ἀφίστανται (fell away)
      • 1 Tim 4:1 – “in the latter times some shall depart (ἀποστήσονταί) from the faith
      • 2 Thes. 2:3 – “ that day [the return of the Lord] shall not come, except there come a falling away (ἀποστασία) first
      • This is the Greek word (ἀποστασία) from which we get the English word “Apostasy”.
      • According to Webster’s Dictionary (1828) Apostasy is “An abandonment of what one has professed; a total desertion, or departure from one’s faith or religion.

    But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

    • Since our hearts are so prone to sin, and since we deceive ourselves with respect to the strength of our faith, we must take heed to exhort one another against the deceiving power of sin
    • It is God’s plan for us that our faith will grow cold unless it is warmed by mutual edification. We ought to:
      • “care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25)
      • “love one another” (John 13:34)
      • “pray one for another” (James 5:16)
      • “comfort one another” (1 Thess. 4:18)
      • “admonish one another” (Rom. 15:14)
      • “edify one another” (1 Thess. 5:11)
    • daily – Psalm 95:7 warns, “Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart…”. The writer interprets this “today” as “daily”. In other words, our faith must be strengthened by mutual edification “every day”, lest we be deceived by sin and our hearts turn hard.
    • deceitfulness of sin – According to the 1828 Webster dictionary, deceit is:

      a catching or ensnaring. Hence, the misleading of a person; the leading of another person to believe what is false, or not to believe what is true, and thus to ensnare him; fraud; fallacy; cheat; any declaration, artifice or practice, which misleads another, or causes him to believe what is false.

    • Sin is a trap that misleads, frauds, cheats an unsuspecting victim and leads him to believe what is false! This is the principle characteristic of sin – it deceives!
      • Lust is deceitful – Eph 4:22
      • The traditions and philosophies of men are deceitful – Col 2:8
      • Satan deceives unbelievers – 2 Thes. 2:9-10

    For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end

    • This concludes the argument begun in verse 12. Paraphrase: Be careful that you don’t get deceived by sin, develop an evil heart of unbelief, and depart from the living God, because only those that hold their faith firmly in Christ to the end are saved.
    • The verses doesn’t say that by persevering in faith we “will be” made partakers of Christ, but rather if we persevere in faith, “we ARE made partakers of Christ”
    • Says the London Baptist Confession:
    • Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions that they are in the favour of God and in a state of salvation, such a hope on their part will perish…
      <London Baptist Confession, 18.1 Assurance of Salvation)

      Those whom God has accepted in the beloved, and has effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they will certainly persevere in that state to the end and be eternally saved. This is because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, and therefore He continues to beget and nourish in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the spirit which lead to immortality. And though many storms and floods arise and beat against the saints, yet these things shall never be able to sweep them off the foundation and rock which they are fastened upon by faith. Even though, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sight and feeling of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet God is still the same, and they are sure to be kept by His power until their salvation is complete, when they shall enjoy the purchased possession which is theirs, for they are engraved upon the palm of His hands, and their names have been written in His Book of Life from all eternity.
      London Baptist Confession, 17.1 Perseverance of the Saints

    • What is it to be a partaker of Christ?
      • “One Spirit” – 1 Cor 6:17
      • “One body” – Eph 5:30
      • “joint heirs” – Rom 8:17
    • “The beginning of our confidence” is the beginning or origin of our faith. See 1 Tim 5:12 – “Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.”

    Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering! (Heb 10:23)

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