Monthly Archives: June 2013

Gospel Foundations – Covenant Faithfulness

Introduction:
·  (1) What is Covenant Faithfulness?
·  (2) How is it useful to me as a Christian?
(1) What is “CF” – we need to simply look at what Scripture has to say about the concept.
·  Numbers 23:19 (ESV) — 19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
·  Deuteronomy 7:8 (ESV) — 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
·  1 Samuel 12:22 (ESV) — 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.
·  Psalm 105:8–10 (ESV) — 8 He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, 9 the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, 10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
·  Nehemiah 9:6–8 (ESV) — 6 “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. 7 You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.
·  Nehemiah 9:32–33 (ESV) — 32 “Now, therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love, let not all the hardship seem little to you that has come upon us, upon our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and all your people, since the time of the kings of Assyria until this day. 33 Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly.
From these texts, we can see that “CF” involves the following:
·  Keeping and remembering His covenant/oath made with a faithful Abraham.
·  Not forsaking His people with whom He has covenanted.
·  Always acting righteously and faithfully even in judgment.
And from these texts, we can see that God’s “CF” is grounded in His love, His pleasure, His name’s sake, His righteousness, His character – in other words, who He is.
·  The “deeper foundation for covenant-keeping” is “his unwavering commitment…to act for the value of his glory”.
·  “Behind the making and keeping of the covenant, and behind all other divine actions, is this ultimate allegiance to his glory, his holi­ness, his name” – John Piper.
So another way to view “CF” is simply as an expression of who God is in His relationship with those He has covenanted with.
·  But the reverse is also true, as we just saw.
·  “CF” also implies that God will act for His glory towards those who are not in covenant with Him or who are unfaithful.
o   Whether that be the Israelites, as we just saw above.
·  Deuteronomy 9:4 (ESV) — 4 “Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you.
o   Or anyone else.
(2) How is it useful to me as a Christian?
(A) It provides a framework through which to see the sweep of all of Scripture – the OT to the NT.
·  Whether it is the Gospel as a whole, the death and resurrection of Jesus, or God’s action in history on Israel’s behalf, God’s “CF” can connect them all together.
·  N.T. Wright says, for example, “The death and resurrection of Jesus were themselves the great eschatological events, revealing God’s covenant faithfulness, his way of putting the world to rights” – N.T. Wright.
(B) “CF” often can be the answer, or at least the starting point, for the question, “Why?”
·  Why did God redeem Israel from Egypt?
·  Why did God command the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites?
·  Why did God raise up King David?
·  Why did God exile Judah to Babylon?
·  Why did God come in the flesh?
·  Why will believers be resurrected to spend eternity in the age to come?
(C) “CF” can also help us to see the OT for much more than we usually do.
·  Typically, we see the OT as containing the promises and the “NT is seen as the fulfillment or realization of what was formerly promised in the OT” – John Sailhamer.
·  “After the NT fulfillment of the OT promises has been unwrapped, little is left of the OT other than the packaging” – John Sailhamer.
·  This can:
o   (1) Relegate “the OT to a lower status”
o   (2) Reduce “the value of the OT as Scripture”
·  “…viewing the OT as “promise” and the NT as “fulfillment” unavoidably relegates the OT to a lower status. The OT is a preparatory stage awaiting something greater and more complete to happen. The NT represents the arrival or realization of something that until now was only promised. What is “promised” is what is “not yet” or what has been only “partially” realized in the OT. What is “fulfilled” is here now, complete. Far from uniting the OT and the NT, the end result of the many forms of promise theology is a reduction of the value of the OT as Scripture” – John Sailhamer.
Instead of seeing the OT as primarily a promise that looks forward to the “done” work of Jesus Christ, “CF” shows us that the OT contains its own “done”.
·  As we just read from Nehemiah 9:8b, “And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.”
·  The OT writers experienced fulfillment of the “CF” of God not just promises.
·  They had deep and profound satisfaction in the “done” work of God in their behalf.
·  In fact, without the “done” of God’s “CF” in the OT, there would have been no NT.
1) COVENANT FAITHFULNESS AND EXODUS – A “DONE” OF “CF”
When we study Joshua, we will learn in depth about the fulfillment of God’s “CF”.
·  But, because it is an obvious example, I do want to mention one “done” of “CF”.
·  And this is the Exodus.
From Exodus to Micah, the Exodus is spoken of over 100 times.
·  Exodus 12:51 (ESV) — 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.
·  Deuteronomy 26:8 (ESV) — 8 And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders.
·  1 Samuel 12:6 (ESV) — 6 And Samuel said to the people, “The Lord is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.
·  1 Kings 9:9 (ESV) — 9 Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lordtheir God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.’ ”
·  Nehemiah 9:18 (ESV) — 18 Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies,
·  Psalm 80:8 (ESV) — 8 You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.
·  Ezekiel 20:10 (ESV) — 10 So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.
·  Micah 6:4 (ESV) — 4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
The Exodus was a past act of God on behalf of the Israelites that gave them a reason to be sure that God is faithful to the covenant he made with Abraham.
·  Therefore, the Exodus gave them a present hope.
o   It was a “done” of His “CF”.
·  And yet, it also gave them reason to have a future hope for a complete fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham.
o   Just as the past resurrection of Jesus gives us a present and future hope.
2) COVENANT FAITHFULNESS AND THE SEED OF ABRAHAM – A “DONE” AND A “NOT YET” OF “CF”
Genesis 12:1–3 (ESV) — 1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 15:5–6 (ESV) — 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring [seed] be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 22:18 (ESV) — 18 and in your offspring [seed] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
God’s “CF” to the Abrahamic covenant is a large thread that finds expression and fulfillment throughout the OT – the “Done” of God’s “CF”.
·  And, culminates in Jesus Christ…the OT’s not yet.
·  Galatians 3:16 (ESV) — 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.
So how does God’s “CF” to His covenant to Abraham find fulfillment in the OT?
·  It starts in the Pentateuch and goes throughout the OT.
·  John Sailhamer argues that, “the author of the Pentateuch understood and trusted in God’s covenant pledges to his forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob). In light of those pledges, and based on God’s faithfulness, the author lays into full view a new future for ancient Israel”.
·  So God’s “CF” is seen as sort of a present fulfillment/future hope.
·  It is both/and.
·  And, “…at the center of that hope is a king whose reign is described in the…Pentateuch (Gen 49; Num 24; Deut 32/ 33)” – John Sailhamer.
Genesis 49:
“…in days to come…” (vs. 1) “Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s cub (vss. 8 & 9a).
·  “Judah’s “saying” [8-12] stresses the ideal kingship promised to his house. It is a vision of a victorious king whose reign encompasses all the nations. His coming will be accompanied by a restoration of the abundance of the garden of Eden” [washed garments, dark eyes, white teeth] – John Sailhamer.
Numbers 24:
“…in the latter days” (vs. 14) Water shall flow from his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters; his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. God brings him out of Egypt and is for him like the horns of the wild ox; he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries, and shall break their bones in pieces and pierce them through with his arrows (vss. 7 & 8)…he lay down like a lion (vs. 9).
·  The author of the Pentateuch speaks “of the restoration of the Lord’s garden and the rise of a future king” – John Sailhamer.
Deuteronomy 32/33:
Deuteronomy 33:4–7 (ESV) — 4 when Moses commanded us a law, as a possession for the assembly of Jacob. 5 Thus the Lord became king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered [this is at Sinai], all the tribes of Israel together. 6 “Let Reuben live, and not die, but let his men be few.” 7 And this he said of Judah: “Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him [the king] in to his people. With your hands contend for him, and be a help against his adversaries.”
·  “Moses speaks of a king surrounded by his loyal subjects, the tribes of Israel. Then, addressing Judah (Deut 33: 7), Moses calls on God to fulfill his promise of a king from Judah” – John Sailhamer.
So the seed/offspring of Abraham, the one that Abraham trusted God to provide, is throughout the Pentateuch alluded to as a future king from the tribe of Judah.
·  So in the sense of the seed as an individual, God’s “CF” was seen as a future hope.
·  But in the sense of the seed as the Israelite offspring of Abraham, God’s “CF” (as we saw in Nehemiah 9) was seen as fulfilled.
o   Exodus 1:9 (ESV) — 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us.
·  And this fulfillment inspired confidence in the faithfulness of God to bring the future seed/offspring.
Here are some examples of the continued hope in God’s “CF”.
·  1 Samuel 2:10 (ESV) — 10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
o   Hannah’s anointed king.
·  2 Samuel 7:12–13 (ESV) — 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
o   David’s future kingly offspring
·  Psalm 72:1–4 (ESV) — 1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! 2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! 3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! 4May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!
o   David’s righteous and just royal son.
·  Jeremiah 4:2 (ESV) — 2 and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’ in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.”
o   Jeremiah’s righteous and just king in whom the nations be blessed.
3) COVENANT FAITHFULNESS AND THE HEART
One other aspect of the OT that finds its hope in God’s “CF” is the idea of the need for a new heart.
·  I will quickly survey this aspect of God’s “CF”.
Moses knew that the heart was ground zero for disobedience and unfaithfulness.
·  In fact, in his poem in Deuteronomy 31, before his death, he said, “for I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way I have commanded you…you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD” (vs. 29).
It is for this reason he expressed this hope throughout the Pentateuch.
·  Deuteronomy 10:16 (ESV) — 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.
·  Deuteronomy 30:6 (ESV) — 6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
This hope that God, in His “CF” would perform this heart surgery is best expressed in Ezekiel.
·  Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV) — 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Gospel Foundations – Union with Christ

1) INTRODUCTION AND IMPORTANCE OF UNION WITH CHRIST
It is the chief blessingof the Gospel.
·  “Union with Christ, not justification by faith, is the chief blessing a Christian receives from God. The believer’s union with Christ enables him to receive all the benefits of Christ’s work, including justification, adoption, and sancitification” – Beeke and Jones.
Why is it the chief blessing?
·  Calvin makes clear that, “so long as we stand apart from Christ” none of the work He accomplished “can be of use to us” – Beeke and Jones.
·  Similarly, Wayne Grudem argues that union with Christ is the fact through which “Christians receive every benefit of salvation” – Grudem.
·  This is why Puritan Thomas Goodwin says union with Christ is “the fundamental constitution of a Christian”.
·  And Puritan John Owen says union with Christ is the “principle and measure of all spiritual enjoyments and expectations”.
·  He argues that, “union with Christ is the groundof the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers” – Beeke and Jones.
·  Because, “we are united to Christ, His righteousness can be and is imputed to us by faith” – Beeke and Jones.
So to not be in union with Christ, is to be outside of Christ.
·  It is to be outside all the blessings that come from the Gospel.
·  It is to be outside of the very things that even make our participation in the Gospel – regeneration and justification – possible.
They mystery of Union with Christ:
·  There is a great deal about Union with Christ that we simply can’t comprehend or understand.
·  Colossians 1:27 (ESV) — 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
One of those mysteries involves the origins of Union with Christ both in time and action.
·  Puritan Thomas Goodwin speaks of it this way:
·  Union with Christ is “Christ ‘taking’ and ‘apprehending’ the sinner” – Beeke and Jones.
·  “Before the new believer is aware, our Lord unites us to Himself and works in us. The Spirit then regenerates the sinner, who in turn exercises faith toward Christ and completes the union” – Beeke and Jones (summary of Goodwin).
“Before the new believer is aware”?
·  How are we apprehended by Christ “before we are aware”?
Paul alludes to when this “apprehension” begins:
·  Ephesians 1:3–6 (ESV) — 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoptionas sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
And Revelation hints at this also:
·  Revelation 13:8 (ESV) — 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it [the first beast], everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
There is something beautiful to consider at this point.
·  Our Union with Christ can be traced all the way back through the OT to the moment of creation.
·  If God did not choose to create, enter into a covenant with and show a rebellious people a never-failing, covenant faithfulness, there would be no Union with Christ.
·  So when we begin Joshua in a few weeks, much of what we learn will be directly related to our topic today.
So we are apprehended by Christ (brought into union with Him) and His Spirit and made alive – regenerated.
·  Because of this union/apprehension and regeneration, our faith is made possible.
·  We exercise that faith and the union with Christ is complete.
·  “With the union complete, the sinner receives from Christ everything that Christ merited” by His work on the cross – Beeke and Jones.
2) WHAT IS UNION WITH CHRIST?
What is it that we receive from Christ in our union with Him?
·  What is it that Christ merited for us by being in union with Him?
One answer is really to say “everything”.
·  “Union with Christ is an inclusive term for the whole of salvation” – Millard Erickson.
·  To know the thickness and entirety of the Gospel is to know what unity with Christ is.
·  But there are some specific things that receive emphasis in Scripture.
The most often cited are:
·  (1) Union with Christ’s death.
·  (2) Union with Christ’s resurrection.
·  (3) Union with Christ’s suffering.
·  (4) Union with Christ’s righteousness (perfect obedience) – justification.
Paul hits on all of these in Philippians.
·  Philippians 3:8–11 (ESV) — 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my ownthat comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
More on or Union with Christ’s suffering:
·  Romans 8:17 (ESV) — 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him[resurrection].
·  Our union with Christ means that we are heirs of God and with Christ.
·  But, there is a condition placed on us by Paul.
·  We must also “suffer with him”.
·  On account of our union with Christ, we must also suffer for the cause that he suffered!
o   Gospel of Reconciliation
More on our Union with Christ’s death and resurrection:
·  Romans 6:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
·  At conversion, “…the death of Christ becomes ours because we share the benefits of his death by virtue of our incorporation into him” – Schreiner.
·  “Thus the call to live in ‘newness of life’ is grounded in participating not only in Christ’s death and burial but also in his resurrection” – Schreiner.
More on resurrection:
·  1 Corinthians 15:20–23 (ESV) — 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Even more on resurrection:
·  Romans 8:11 (ESV) — 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodiesthrough his Spirit who dwells in you.
More on our union with Christ’s righteousness:
·  2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) — 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
·  Like Philippians 3:9, this text speaks of our relationship to God’s righteousness.
·  In union with Christ, we receive the righteousness “from” God (Phil 3:9)/the righteousness “of” God (2 Cor. 5:21).
·  And speaking this truth to the world, the need for God’s righteousness, is a reason why we will suffer like Paul and like Christ.
·  The world can’t stand the implication of God’s righteousness for the unrighteous.
Implications of this Union with Christ:
(1) Christ is also in us.
·  Galatians 2:20 (ESV) — 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
·  John 15:4–5 (ESV) — 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
·  John 14:23 (ESV) — 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
(2) Our legal status changes.
·  We are imputed with Christ’s legal status.
·  “When the Father evaluates or judges us before the law he does not look upon us alone. God always sees the believer in union with Christ and measures the two of them together” – Millard Erickson.
·  Christ’s works are seen as our works.
·  (See union with Christ’s perfect obedience above.)
(3) Participation in the fellowship of the Trinity.
·  John 17:20–23 (ESV) — 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
(4) New Identity.
·  2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) — 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
·  Galatians 5:24 (ESV) — 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
·  Romans 8:9 (ESV) — 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
·  Ephesians 4:22–24 (ESV) — 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
And in a well-known sanctification passage, Paul freely intermingles the specifics of our Union with Christ and its implications.
·  Colossians 3:1–10 (ESV) — 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
So having quickly explored the huge topic of Union with Christ, a question comes to mind concerning our identity.
·  Who are you in Christ?
Is the truth of your new identity grounded in how you feel?
·  If not, what is it grounded in?
Importantly, is there ever a moment when you are not in Union with Christ?
·  Is there every a moment when the thick foundation of the Gospel and all its blessings are not working in your life?