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I came across this and thought it was an insightful point about the genealogies of scripture which we tended to pass over

A key purpose of genealogies in some contexts is to show a divine purpose that moves history to a specific goal. It is easier to see the big picture when a wide-angle lens is used to look at the canon. Genesis begins with Adam, and the storyline quickly progresses through history, using genealogies, until Abraham arrives on the historical scene. The storyline follows Abraham and his descendants, and Genesis closes with Abraham’s grandson predicting that an individual from the family of a great grandson (Judah) would wield a ruling sceptre over all the nations and preside over an astonishingly fertile land (Ge. 49:8-12).

Stephen G. Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible, p. 47-48.

This is not to say every genealogy fits this model, they are different for different contexts. It does, instead, at least instruct us that there are purposes in the genealogies. The authors under the direction of The Author had reasons for putting them in. It is our task and joy to explore and discover what those reasons are.

For the same end, that your hearts may be rightly fitted and framed for the performance of these principal duties, the Holy Scripture directs you to walk in the persuasion of other principal endowments of your new state –

  • as that you have fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3);
  • that you are the temple of the living God (2Cor. 6:16);
  • that you live by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25);
  • that you are called to holiness, and created in Christ Jesus to good works; that God would sanctify you wholly, and make you perfect in holiness at the last (1 Thess. 5:23; Eph. 2:10);
  • that your old man is crucified with Christ; and through Him you are dead to sin, and alive to God; and, being made free from sin, you are become the servants of righteousness, and have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life (Rom.6:6, 22);
  • ‘You are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory’ (Col. 3:3, 4).

Such persuasions as these, when they are deeply rooted, and constantly maintained in our hearts, do strongly arm and encourage us to practice universal obedience, in opposition to every sinful lust; because we look on it, not only as our duty, but our great privilege, to do all things through Christ strengthening us.

-Walter Marshal, Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, p. 86.

From the outset of my Christian walk I have treasured the Book that speaks of the God of ultimate beginnings and ends, and illumines all that falls between. . . . An evangelical Christian believes incomparable good news: that Christ died in the stead of sinners and arose the third day as living head of the church of the twice-born, the people of God, whose mission is mandated by the scripturally given Word of God. The term evangelical—whose core is the “evangel”—therefore embraces the best of all good tidings, that on the ground of the substitutionary death of Christ Jesus, God forgives penitent sinners and he shelters their eternal destiny by the Risen Lord who triumphed over death and over all that would have destroyed him and his cause. That good news as the Apostle Paul makes clear, is validated and verified by the sacred Scriptures. Those who contrast the authority of Christ with the authority of Scripture do so at high risk. Scripture gives us the authentic teaching of Jesus and Jesus exhorted his apostles to approach Scripture as divinely authoritative. There is no confident road into the future for any theological cause that provides a fragmented Scriptural authority and—in consequence—an unstable Christology. Founded by the true and living Lord, and armed with the truthfulness of Scripture, the church of God is invincible. Whatever I might want to change in this pilgrim life, it would surely not be any of these high and holy commitments.

-Carl F. H. Henry quoted in D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge, eds., God and Culture: Essays in Honor of Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 392–93

…you must believe steadfastly that all your sins are blotted out, and that you are reconciled to God, and have access to His favor by the blood of Christ; and that He is your God and Father, and altogether love to you, and your all sufficient everlasting portion and happiness through Christ. Such apprehensions as these do present God as a very lovely object to our hearts, and do thereby allure and win our affections, that cannot be forced by commands or threatenings, but must be sweetly won and drawn by allurements. We must not harbour any suspicions that God would prove a terrible everlasting enemy to us, if we would love Him; for ‘there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; because fear has torment; he that fears is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because He first loved us’ (1John 4:18, 19).

-Walter Marshall, Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, p.85-86

So often the initial reaction to painful suffering is Why me? Why this? Why now? Why? . . .

[God] comes for you, in the flesh, in Christ, into suffering, on your behalf. He does not offer advice and perspective from afar; he steps into your significant suffering. He will see you through, and work with you the whole way. He will carry you even in extremis. This reality changes the questions that rise up from your heart. That inward-turning “why me?” quiets down, lifts its eyes, and begins to look around.You turn outward and new, wonderful questions form.

Why you?

Why you?

Why would you enter this world of evils?

Why would you go through loss, weakness, hardship, sorrow, and death?

Why would you do this for me, of all people?

But you did.

You did this for the joy set before you.

You did this for love.

You did this showing the glory of God in the face of Christ.

As that deeper question sinks home, you become joyously sane. The universe is no longer supremely about you. Yet you are not irrelevant. God’s story makes you just the right size. Everything counts, but the scale changes to something that makes much more sense. You face hard things. But you have already received something better which can never be taken away. And that better something will continue to work out the whole journey long.

The question generates a heartfelt response:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of his benefits, who pardons all your iniquities and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion, who satisfies your years with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Thank you, my Father. You are able to give true voice to a thank you amid all that is truly wrong, both the sins and the sufferings that now have come under lovingkindness.

Finally, you are prepared to pose—and to mean—almost unimaginable questions:

Why not me?

Why not this?

Why not now?

If in some way, my faith might serve as a three-watt night-light in a very dark world, why not me?

If my suffering shows forth the Savior of the world, why not me?

If I have the privilege of filling up the sufferings of Christ?

If he sanctifies to me my deepest distress?

If I fear no evil?

If he bears me in his arms?

If my weakness demonstrates the power of God to save us from all that is wrong?

If my honest struggle shows other strugglers how to land on their feet?

If my life becomes a source of hope for others?

Why not me?

Of course, you don’t want to suffer, but you’ve become willing: “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Like him, your loud cries and tears will in fact be heard by the one who saves from death.

Like him, you will learn obedience through what you suffer.

Like him, you will sympathize with the weaknesses of others.

Like him, you will deal gently with the ignorant and wayward.

Like him, you will display faith to a faithless world, hope to a hopeless world, love to a loveless world, life to a dying world.

If all that God promises only comes true, then why not me?

—David Powlison, “God’s Grace and Your Sufferings,” in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (pp. 172-173).

HT: Justin Taylor

He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; (Isa. 53:3)

What untold grief and pain Christ experienced when the most perfect relationship was sundered when he hung lacerated on the cross absorbing all the wrath of the Father. Yet, he did not do it so he could stand over us as our superior. But instead, he comes to us, being able to meet us in the most deepest and wounded areas of our lives with complete sympathy and understanding to minister grace and comfort exactly how we need it.

One of the most foundation doctrines of the Christian life is the reality of the believer’s union with Christ. By the mysterious power of God the believer is united to Christ so that salvific works and benefits of Christ becomes possession of the believer.

I recently listened to Dr. Sinclair Ferguson message where he talks about this doctrine. I would highly recommend this message to you as either a great introduction or a great reminder about this reality.

You can get the audio here.

The patristic fathers are an important group of people for the church to hear. They stand the closest to the Apostles in time and place when it comes to understanding doctrines and Christian beliefs. The Roman Catholic Church even uses their words to create traditions that Christians must follow and believe.

This raises the question for us about how we are to read and understand them. Should they have an authoritative word for us when we think through doctrines? Should what they say be the decisive factor if there is a debate over a certain issue? Are we to assume that they are closer to the truth because of their relative closeness to the early church?

Mark R. Saucy raises an important point about the teachings of the Church Fathers in his article, Canon as Tradition: The New Covenant and the Hermeneutical Question. He states the logical flow of his thesis,

1. The theology of the new covenant is central to the story of the Old and NT and so comprises the canonical tradition.
2. The patristic church did not pay sufficient attention to the canonical tradition of the new covenant.
3. Therefore, by implication, the claims for the patristic church’s necessity and normativity in the hermeneutical question must be moderated accordingly.

He then explores each one of these points. The hope of the bible is placed in the New Covenant planned by the Father, brought about by the death of Christ and activated by the work of the Spirit in the hearts of believers promised in the Old Testament and inaugurated in the New. This is an essential grid to have when coming to the Bible. Without it we miss the grand story of redemption that is portrayed in the scriptures. Dr. Saucy writes ( διαθήκη means “covenant”),

As is clear from this brief survey of the canonical tradition, Johannes Behm’s assessment accurately reflects the view of the NT writers: “Jesus conceived of His Messianic work fulfilled in His death from the standpoint of the fulfillment of prophecy of the eschatological διαθήκη.”(J. Behm, “διαθήκη,” TDNT 2:133. Themelios) In this fulfillment, Jesus truly continues the Great Covenant Story of restoration of the creation promised to Abraham back to the earliest parts of Israel’s Scriptures. But he also advances that Story by moving it beyond and cancelling earlier transitional elements. The final resolution of the sin-problem accomplished in Christ’s cross made obsolete earlier mediated approaches to God in the temple cult. With the life of God’s own Spirit pulsing within, the believer in Jesus has new knowledge of the Holy One of Israel as Father, giving the new, true power of full acceptance and sonship from within that enables obedience and holy living. As heirs of God’s irrevocable promises, the blessing of all flesh could be expected in the future restoration of Israel itself. Here then is the canon of Scripture’s tradition of the new covenant’s continuity and discontinuity that founded the church by the apostles’ inspired witness.

After reading Jason Meyer’s book, End of the Law, I find myself in more and more agreement with this point as I look at the bible. The New Covenant is not an interesting point that the biblical authors refer to now and then. But the reality of God’s actions through the New Covenant is foundational to the Apostle’s understanding of God’s redemptive workings in this world.

Then Dr. Saucy looks the different patrisitc fathers and how they departed from this central point. He lists four main areas of departure,

  • First, dominance of the Christus Victor model of the atonement in the early patristic tradition means that things other than forgiveness of sins occupy center stage.
  • Second, the second-century church tended to dissipate the power of Christ’s cross to other mediating objects and human moral striving.
  • Third,…, the ecclesiology of the church’s tradition developed along vectors alien to the canonical tradition’s new-covenant ideals.
  • Fourth, the growing institutionalization of the patristic tradition also correlated well to a perception of God quite alien to the new-covenant canonical tradition. 
    • Whereas the new-covenant Story climaxes in the unbroken communion between creature and Creator provided in the forgiveness of sins, God the Father in the patristic tradition waxes again strangely distant and becomes shrouded in the mist of absoluteness, impassibility (ἀπάθεια) and apophatic discourse as the maxims of Neoplatonism are enlisted to talk of him and battle pagans.

Now, I do not have the personal knowledge of the writings of the patrisitic fathers to give authoritative backing to what he says. But Dr. Saucy does work through the actual writings of the fathers to back up his points.

What we have with the apostolic and church fathers are men who were susceptible to error like the rest of us. If Saucy’s findings prove true then we see the fathers departing from a central motif of the Scriptures. This should cause us to not treat the patrisitc church as a final authority over matters of doctrine but as simply other righteous voices that we should listen to as we allow the bible to be the final authority on all things. And where they agree with Scripture we should embrace their teaching but where they depart we should depart from them as well.

You can read the article in full if you want the full explanation of backing of all these point.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me…Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

(Philippians 4:11-13; 17-18)

-Contentment is not the ambivalence of what one does not have. Paul knew he was hungry when he was hungry. “and hunger.” 

-Yet, Contentment allows one live as if all needs are met. “Not that I am speaking of being in need.” One is not ultimately dependent upon the things of this world. He has an all loving and wise heavenly Father who knows what he needs and when to give it to him.

-Contentment is needed when one lives in abundance as much when one has little to nothing.  Paul had learned it while in “plenty and hunger.” Finally receiving what you have wanted does not make one content. Like a friend of mine once remarked, “only contented single people make contented married people.”

-Contentment is a  mindset. “I know.” It is about how you think about your circumstances. Are you in a random place in your life where you are not getting what you want? Or are you keeping your mind on the reality of who God is and speaking truth to yoruself?

-Contentment has to be taught to one’s self. “I have learned.” Like all works of the Spirit we don’t immediately obtain them when we become believers. We don’t instantly attain contentment. We have to be trained by grace (Titus 2:11-12) throughout our lives.

-Contentment is not the obvious answer to the ups and downs of life. “the secret.” The obvious answer is to get what you want. But that answer is very false. The secret answer is to not find ultimate joy in what you want.

-Contentment is a consistent mindset through the ups and owns of life. “to be brought low, and I know how to abound.” There are times you will have a lot and there will be times that you think you have little. The circumstance of life might change but contentment is firm throughout, because it looks to the One who is firm throughout.

-Contentment makes you relate to people differently. You don’t build relationships to get from them. Instead you build relationships so that they can get.  “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” When contentment starts to become our mindset our view of people beings to change. People do not become means to our own ends. Instead, because we are not dependent on them for happiness we are free to love and serve them—even if they give nothing back. We build the bridge to the other side regardless if they will build one back or not.

-Contentment is preformed only by being empowered by God. “through him who strengthens me.”  This not not a mindset and way of relating to people that you can get by your own self effort. You are completely dependent upon God for the strength to to this.

-Contentment can be learned because it is empowered by God. “through him who strengthens me.” You are not a lonely soul fighting for sanctification. The Spirit of the living God is within you! You could never obtain it if you were by yourself. But you are not. Sovereign love and power has promised to finish in you what He has begun in you. You can be a content person! For God is for you in all things!

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