Justification by Faith and Galatians Chapter 3.

 

Are you having a difficult time with understanding justification?  Do you wonder if you have done enough to demonstrate that you are saved?  Do you question whether you are good enough, if there is enough evidence of your faith to be true?  Do you tend to be legalistic with yourself?  One of the dangers of, “navel gazing” (self-examination) is that we become self-absorbed, we lose proper perspective.  We begin to filter incoming information through a set of rules that constantly look at ourselves, and our performance, or lack thereof.

A filter is thing that removes particles from a stream, while allowing the rest of the particles to continue on to their destination.  This can be a data stream, electrical stream, light stream, basically anything that flows.  As we perceive information streaming in through our senses, we employ filters based on our cumulative view of the world (word view).  When that view is built on a solid foundation of objective truth, it will lead us to proper understandings of what has happened, is happening, and will happen.  We will filter out the untrue, and allow the truth to continue.  When our filtration system is built on a false worldview, we filter out some truth, and we look at the world and ourselves through a lie.

God has given us His word, and like Him it is truth.  We on the other hand, are fallible creatures, prone to accepting lies.  Even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and His illumination of the Word of God for us, and to us, we still get things wrong.  This is yet another example of God’s grace towards His elect, we don’t have to get it all right, all the time, from the word go.  None of us die with all the answers in perfect comprehension.  In a sense, even the most spiritually mature Christian you know, will die with notions about God and His word that aren’t perfect.

Our works are tainted, our thoughts are tainted with sin and imperfection.  If you are relying on either of those to get some kind of assurance that you are in, then you are going to find your faith shaken on a regular basis.  Let’s look at Galatians 3 for a moment together.

Galatians 3 :: New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Faith Brings Righteousness

1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Intent of the Law

15 Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 3 makes it clear that it is not our obedience to the law that makes us just, but rather our faith in Christ.  Do you want some assurance?  Believe in Christ and His work.  Trust Jesus alone, and don’t mix in your ability to know more than someone else, or do more.  Because neither of those things actually satisfy the law.  The law is intended to be impossible to satisfy so that you are driven humbly to your knees before Jesus with no defense left but Him crucified, resurrected, and ruling for eternity.  Repent of sin, and trust the Savior.

To Live is Christ.

Philippians 1:21-30

To Live Is Christ

      “21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,26so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.

      27Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”

Paul, while in prison for preaching Christ crucified, wrote this for the Church in Philippi, “For to me, to live is Christ.” Then in v.22 explains what that means, “if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me;” His life was for the glory of God.  He was living, and working to produce fruit.  We know this to mean increasing the Kingdom of God by means of the gospel of Christ, the preaching of the word of God, and the teaching of the word of God. Paul had reason to want to depart this life.  He says, “I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;” Consider from 2 Corinthians 11 how he was suffering for the gospel, and how even now he is imprisoned for it.  “…in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches…”  This was from Paul after being criticized over his Apostleship by the Jewish believers who were welcoming false apostles, but were opposed to Paul due in part to his lack of eloquence.  Paul had suffered for his Lord.  Jesus was His master, and he loved Him.  For him to stay and work was fine, but you can truly understand why he would also want to be with his merciful God.  Paul instructs the Church in Philippi to, “…conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…” in v. 25 and explains why in v. 26, “so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with on mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for the, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God…” As the Church today, we should also follow Paul’s instructions to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  In our testimony to the lost, as we live it out, If it be God’s will, they will also see that we have been, “granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”  If we suffer for Christ’s sake we will share in the suffering of our brother Paul as well as our Lord Christ Jesus, and all martyrs, to this age and beyond until the return of Christ.  Maranatha! 

The Hopelessness of Daily Work, Outside of Christ.

Our sinful attitudes towards God’s judgment.

Ephesians678

Have you been waking up still exhausted, and forcing yourself forward through the drudgery of your morning, and work day? Do you feel despair, hopelessness, and futility? Have you ever thought to yourself, while at the brink of tears, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t keep going to that place, it is killing me a bit each time I go.” Are the only things that keep you going, the thoughts of your obligations to your family, some moral code you learned as a kid, or a, “someday I’ll retire.” Kind of attitude? You’re not alone. All of us have been there, are there, or will be there in the future. It is not uncommon to mankind for us to feel this way, and have these thoughts. I’m not making excuses for them, just explaining that it happens.

We don’t like to hear it, but the reason we feel this way, and have these thoughts is that we are responding sinfully to God’s righteous judgment, and punishment of original sin. God told Adam what his punishment would be in Genesis 3:17-19,

“17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying,

‘You shall not eat from it’;

Cursed is the ground because of you;

In toil you will eat of it

All the days of your life.

18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;

And you will eat the plants of the field;

19 By the sweat of your face

You will eat bread,

Till you return to the ground,

Because from it you were taken;

For you are dust,

And to dust you shall return.”

This punishment that God righteously, and justly applied to Adam, also applied to all his progeny. All mankind is under a curse due to sin, but there is hope in the second Adam, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:15-21,

“15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:22,

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

We must be in Christ for this to apply. Simply put, we must be born again, repent of our sins, and trust in Christ’s work on the cross to justify us with God. When we have done that, we will have the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and we are in Christ. Jesus told Nicodemus what it meant to be born again in John chapter 3,

“1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.””

Peter the Apostle explains what it looks like to be born again in 1 Peter chapter 1,

“1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

17 If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,

“ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS,

AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS.

THE GRASS WITHERS,

AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF,

25 BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.”

And this is the word which was preached to you.”

Due to sin, we will survive by toiling, and in that toil is inherent suffering. Daily survival for mankind, whether you are in a technologically advanced society, or one where finding clean water is a daily challenge, will not be easy, pleasant, or comfortable all of the time. If it isn’t the physical struggles to survive against an untamed environment, the elements, and wildlife, it is the often mind crushing struggle against the busy, disconnected, overthought, modern lifestyle. We have subdued parts of the Earth, and brought things that make modern life easier physically. We have sewer systems, agriculture, housing with heating and cooling, clean water, schools, hospitals, light by night, and so on. These advances make life easier physically, but our physical struggles are replaced with new ones. It is impossible to escape the curse of the fall, but we are commanded to strive against human suffering, and the challenges of living.

It is easy for us, looking back, to see Adam’s sin, but do we see our own? Can we see how our pride in possessions has caused us to forsake God for idols? Can we see how our family can become an idol? Can we see how our intellectual musings can be idolatrous? In our hubris, and pride at what we have done in conquering the Earth, we miss that we have left God behind, and become the gods of our own small castles of sin and rebellion.

What can be done? How can we be content in this life? There is hope for our sinful responses to God’s justice. That hope is in Christ. If we have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, repented of our sins, and trusted in the perfect atoning work of Christ, we will no longer be subjects of the flesh, and the sin that is in it. We will become servants, slaves of Jesus. He has given us the power to subject the flesh to righteousness, for the glory of God.

Colossians 3,

“1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

22 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.”

1 Corinthians 10,

“1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. 16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? 19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?

23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?

31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.”

We only know work to be toil, but one day in eternity with Christ our labor will be joyful. We will do His will only, and not sin. Sinful temptations will be gone. Groaning under the curse of toil will be over. For those who are in Christ, we will be with Christ forever. What we do here, we must do to our best ability, and with the motive of bringing glory to God, the one who made us, and who saves us. We must labor for our own sustenance, and provide for our neighbors deficiency. Not because government mandates it. That would be unjust, but rather out of the new heart. With this in mind let us subject the unredeemed fleshly complaints, to what we know about God, and our hope in eternity with Christ. Let us live as though we are already there, loving, forgiving, and working, all for the glory of God.

Have you read Psalm 103 lately?

psalm103

Psalms 103:1-2 (NASB Strong’s) Praise for the Lord’s Mercies.
A Psalm of David.
​  Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,And forget none of His benefits;

As David exhorts his soul to bless the Lord, we have to ask ourselves what it means to bless God. When we think of blessing a person often ideas of gifts or deeds to benefit them come to mind. What can one give to God, the Creator of all things, who knows all things perfectly? The error with that notion is that God is a man to be blessed as a man, but He is not as we all know. To bless the Lord means to speak well of Him. To extol His attributes. We can see in the following verses that is exactly what David does. He also exhorts the angels and all of creation to do so as well.

In verses 3-5 the psalmist asks five rhetorical questions to motivate the hearer (his soul) to recognize the Lord God. The answer to all five questions is obviously God.

Psalms 103:3-5 (NASB Strong’s) Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who 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.

God pardons his iniquities. God heals his diseases. God redeems his live from the pit. God crowns him with lovingkindness and compassion. God satisfies his years with good things so that his youth is renewed like the eagle.

In verses 6-19 we see the psalmist bless the Lord. He lists ways God is in His attributes, and how He is towards man, His creation in light of those attributes. You see when God blesses us, it is for our benefit. He doesn’t speak well of us to bless us. He involves us in relation to Him.

Psalms 103:6-19 (NASB Strong’s) The Lord performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His  sovereignty rules over all.

The closing verses not only exhorts the angels to bless God, but also all of creation, and is a restatement for conclusion of the exhortation at the beginning.

Psalms 103:20-22 (NASB Strong’s) Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

We should likewise bless the Lord from the depths of who we are in Him. Let us speak well of God in reverential awe of who He is, what He has done, and what He continues to do in space-time, and eternity.

Here is an excerpt from A.W. Pink’s commentary on Exodus.

This section is about how the materials of the tabernacle were typological representations of Christ.

Historically, we may admire the fruit of God’s grace working in the hearts of His redeemed so that they willingly offered the required materials. Their offering was so spontaneous and full (see 35:21-29) that we are told, “And they spake unto Moses, saying, the people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary, so the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much” (36:5-7). But behind the historical we are to look for the spiritual, and behold here a lovely type of the voluntariness and joy of the Lord Jesus, who freely and gladly became flesh, thus providing God with a perfect Sanctuary as He tabernacled among men! “And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver and brass; and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen; and goats, and rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers skins; and shittim wood; oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate” (v. 3-7). Each of these articles tells forth one of the manifold perfections of Christ. The gold, His Divine glory. The silver, the redemption which He wrought and bought for us. The brass, His capacity to endure the wrath of God against our sins. The blue, His heavenly origin. The purple, His royal majesty. The scarlet, His earthly glory in a coming day. The fine linen, His holiness made manifest by His righteous walk and ways. The goats’ hair, His atonement. The rams’ skins, His devotedness to God. The porpoise skins, His ability to protect His people. The shittim wood, His incorruptible humanity. The oil for the light, His Divine wisdom. The spices, His fragrance unto God. The precious stones, His priestly perfections. We do not now offer proofs for these definitions nor enlarge upon their blessedness, as, God willing, each one will come before us for fuller consideration in the articles to follow. With the above verses should be compared Exodus 38:24-31, where the Holy Spirit has given us the respective weights of the gold, silver and brass. Careful students have estimated there would be fully a ton and a quarter of gold, which at modern value would be worth upwards of one hundred and seventy-five thousand pounds, or eight hundred and sixty thousand dollars, but allowing for present day purchasing values, worth much more. Of silver there would be fully four tons and a quarter, and worth forty thousand pounds or two hundred thousand dollars. Of brass (more likely, copper) there was also over four tons. In addition, there were the textile fabrics, blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen, besides goats’ hair, rams’ and badgers’ skins, and large quantities of shittim wood, the amounts of which are not recorded. Last, but not least, were the precious stones for the breastplate of the high priest. All of this indicates the great costliness of the Tabernacle. At modern values its materials would be worth at least a million pounds or five million dollars. How this, in type, told of God’s estimate of Christ; how it shows us the Father saying, This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!

Incomparable Categories.

puppets

We tend to compare human volition with that of God’s.  I believe this is what causes so much confusion when it comes to understanding sovereign election, and man’s culpability.  We hear comments like, “If God decides who gets saved, and who doesn’t, then it doesn’t matter what I do.  We are just a bunch of mindless robots.”  Now we know that we are not mindless robots, and our choices have consequences.  We also know from scripture that God says we are culpable for our sins.  We also should know, that we as finite, cursed, creatures, can’t know perfectly the attributes of God.  We can only know them as much as we are made able to know them.  That isn’t to say that our knowledge is insufficient for our spiritual needs, it is simply something we must acknowledge before moving on.

I’m not going to go into great detail in this article, as I do think the subject needs deeper, and more thorough treatment.  I plan on writing a larger paper, or book on the topic later.  I’m only going to use a few attributes in this example.  Also, please keep in mind that even though there are attributes that were communicated to us in our creation by God, making us in His image, those attributes cannot be directly compared to them as found in God, as He is incomparable, having no analogous being.

God’s will is informed by His sovereignty, omniscience, and beneficence, to only name a few of His attributes.  How do you think those qualities affect His determining compared to the enslaved, ignorant, malevolently informed wills of human beings?  You see, the will of man cannot be rightly compared to that of God’s.  In eternity past, when God created everything out of nothing, and determined all things, He did so with perfect rights, as owner/Creator.  He did so with perfect knowledge of everything in all times and places, and even of all things not constrained by space-time.  Finally, He did so with perfect goodness, love, and justice, these all being informed by all of His other perfections/attributes.

When man makes a decision it is informed by his enslaved nature.  He is a slave to sin unless he has been born again.  Then he is a slave to Christ Jesus.  Those two facts make an eternity of differences.  His will is also informed by his ignorance.  Man can only consider what he reasons that he knows, when making a decision.  If we consider this honestly, we would admit that compared to God’s omniscience our knowledge is incomparable.  They belong in different categories.  Our wills cannot operate independently apart from our sinful flesh, even when we are born again, due to our residence in the unredeemed flesh.

Since these two wills operate in different conditions, one being eternal/timeless, and the other being confined to finite, unfolding time, and space, the experience of these wills is very different.  I can experience the situation that requires a response, the reasoning through the known options, make a decision, and experience the consequences of my decision as they unfold in my temporal, material, experience of life as a creature.  This doesn’t in any way negate the reality of God’s volition in eternity past.  I, as a result of God’s will in eternity past experience my life as He has determined it.

I know this seems impossible to people.  We are stuck many times trying to compare things that are not in the same categories.  By looking briefly at how different the two wills are, we should be able to accept that there is an aspect of ignorance in our reasoning due to our nature as creatures, that can’t justify fully how we can have a personal volition, and that God can determine all things, without there being a conflict.  Our experiences as creatures are real.  We are culpable for our sins.  We do make choices in the construct in which we reside.  Outside of that small, finite, dark, construct exists the full, luminescent, glorious truth of God.  He is sovereign, omniscient, and good.  We can trust those attributes as we experience the temporal, and eternal consummation of His will.

Romans 9:6-33 (NASB Strong’s) But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “ through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: “AT this time I will come, and Sarah shall have A son.”  And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate MY power in you, and that MY name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?  What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea,
“I will call those who were not MY people, ‘MY people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”
“And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not MY people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved;  for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.” And just as Isaiah foretold,
“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us A posterity,
WE would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.”
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written,
“Behold, I lay in Zion A stone of stumbling and A rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”