From Your Pastor: The First Commandment (WSC 45-48)

WSC 45: Which is the first commandment? A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exod. 20:3).

WSC 46: What is required in the first commandment? A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly (1 Chron. 28:9; Deut. 26:17; Matt. 4:10; Ps. 29:2).

WSC 47: What is forbidden in the first commandment? A. The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, (1) or not worshipping and glorifying the true God as God, (2) and our God; (3) and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone. (4) (1) Ps. 14:1 (2) Rom. 1:21 (3) Ps. 81:10,11 (4) Rom. 1:25,26.

WSC 48: What are we specially taught by these words [before me] in the first commandment? A. These words [before me] in the first commandment teach us, That God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other God. (1) (1) Ezek. 8:5,6; Ps. 46:20,21.

Memory Verse: “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” (Matt. 4:10)

An Explanation: As we continue through the Ten Commandments in the next few questions and answers from the Shorter Catechism, let us keep an illustration in mind. The Law of God can be likened to a mirror as you might find in an enchanted land. The mirror can be seen in, but it can also be seen through. We look through the mirror of God’s commandments to see the wonderful and perfect character of our God, and His perfect holiness and righteousness. We look into the mirror and see the reflection of how we are living in light of His character and righteousness. As we look through the mirror, so we see a gracious and forgiving God who provides all the grace and power we need to live holy lives. As we look into the mirror and see our own reflection, we learn where we specifically need to repent of our sins, and seek in Christ the grace and power to live holy lives. Through the mirror to behold the happy and joyful life we were created to live; in the mirror to behold the progress we may be making in living before Him but also to be aware of the ongoing need of repentance and forgiveness we need in Christ Jesus!

How do you see God and His character in questions 45-48? How do you see Christ? What is your need of change? Use the Shorter Catechism exposition of the Law to focus your sights on God, His glorious Christ, and your need of ongoing repentance and faith!

Prayer: Father, let me live my life before you, seeking to please you in all I do and say by your grace (2 Cor. 5:9). Teach me your ways, and let me demonstrate my love for you in joyful obedience, as my Savior before me has shown to me! (John 15:9-11).

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

From Your Pastor: A Gracious and Holy God (WSC 43-44)

WSC 43: What is the preface to the ten commandments? A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Exod. 20:2).

WSC 44: What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us? A. The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, That because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments (Luke 1:74,75; 1 Pet. 1:15-19).]

Memory Verses: “…That we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (ESV Luke 1:74-75).

An Explanation: Zechariah’s song of praise in Luke 1:74-75 summarizes how we are to think of and live out our lives before God as His beloved children: God has delivered believers “from the hand of our enemies” so that we might serve Him without fear “in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days”! Believers are to live out their lives before the face of God, in fearless, courageous, holy, and righteous obedience to His commands. Why? Because God is Lord and King, and in Jesus Christ, He has become our Redeemer and Father!

Before God reveals the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, He reveals His saving love, grace, and power for believers, so that we might remember that we need His love, grace, and power from His Spirit in order to live the holy and righteous lives He has called us to in Christ. Without grace, not one sinner could ever please God and perfectly keep God’s commandments in our words, thoughts, and/or deeds.

Yet the Law revealed in the Ten Commandments is a revelation of the character of God and the will of God, and because we are God’s creatures, we should all seek to honor Him by glorifying Him and enjoying Him through obedience. Because of our sinfulness, we need God’s effectual call by His Spirit to make us alive and bring us by His grace into the light, granting us His immeasurable power so that we might truly desire to obey and enjoy Him!

In the preface to the Ten Commandments, we see, as Dr. Joel Beeke has written, that in the time of the law there is grace; in the time of grace, there is law. In justification, law and grace are opposed; in sanctification, law and grace are friends (Rom. 8:1-4). God teaches believers that our deliverance is all because of His grace—nothing that we have done, merited, or earned—all of grace: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you…out of the house of slavery” (Ex. 20:2). Salvation is a deliverance from slavery, and not merely a slavery of the real, physical bondage of Egypt, which was typical for the Old Covenant Church, but of the spiritual bondage and oppression of sin and the evil one. Once delivered from that terrible bondage, believers are brought into a state of grace (Col. 1:13-14), so that we are obligated (privileged!) to live holy and righteous lives before God, displaying to the world how man was created to live. This way of freedom in Christ is a life of holiness and righteousness that is particularly revealed in the Ten Commandments.

As we go through the Ten Commandments in the next few questions and answers from the Shorter Catechism, let us keep an illustration in mind. The Law of God can be likened to an enchanted mirror. The mirror can be seen in, but it can also be seen through. We look through the mirror of God’s commandments to see the wonderful and perfect character of our God, and His perfect holiness and righteousness. We look into the mirror and see the reflection of how we are living in light of His character and righteousness. As we look through the mirror, so we see a gracious and forgiving God who provides all the grace and power we need to live holy lives. As we look into the mirror and see our own reflection, we learn where we specifically need to repent of our sins and seek in Christ the grace and power to live holy lives. We look through the mirror to behold the happy and joyful life we were created to live, and in the mirror to behold both the progress we may be making in living before Him and the ongoing need of repentance and forgiveness in Christ Jesus!

Prayer: Father and God, thank you that you have delivered me from slavery and bondage to sin and Satan. Let me live before you all the days of my life in holiness and righteousness, serving you without fear.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs

From Your Pastor: “We Need a King”

 

Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-23.

King Jehoshaphat of Judah reigned over Israel faithfully, but not perfectly (2 Chr. 20:32-33). Through Moses, God had charged all of his kings to lead His people in righteousness, specifically according to His Word (Deut. 17:14-20). It was through faithfulness to the Word of God that Israel would be blessed and enjoy God’s dwelling in their midst, bringing peace to all of the people. At the time of Jehoshaphat, Israel’s peace was being threatened by attacks from their enemies (2 Chr. 20:1-2).

As Israel’s king, Jehoshaphat leads Israel to the throne of God for help revealing many wonderful truths for us to meditate and reflect upon.

Main Thought/Theme: By God’s power and wonderful steadfast love, Israel’s peace is secured through victory by a King who who conquers and comforts God’s people by trusting in God and His Word.

We as God’s people need a king. “And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly…” (2 Chr. 20:5a). We often forget that we as people are tainted by sin in a way that makes us overly self-sufficient and selfishly individualistic, and we are in need of a brave and courageous leader who will lead us faithfully to the Promised Land according to God’s Word. We are taught in the Old Testament that one of the reasons for Israel’s defeats and falls into sinful misery was because they had no righteous king to lead them according to God’s Word (“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” – Judges 21:25).

We as God’s people are often spiritually attacked by God’s and our enemies, threatening our peace in God’s presence. “A great multitude is coming against you…We are powerless against this great horde…” (2 Chr. 20:2,12). In a world of sin and misery, on pilgrimage to the Promised Land, we have yet to fully realize the permanent peace that has been promised for us who live in God’s presence. We need a leader who can protect and defend us against all forms of evil attacks. We need a leader who can bring us permanently into a state of peace and into God’s presence. God in His sovereign rule ordains for our spiritual enemies to attack us so that we might be humbled, and utterly depend upon Him alone. In ourselves, we are proud, but when attacked by our enemies, we are reminded of deep indwelling sins and weaknesses that still remain within our hearts, and our need to be constantly watchful and sober, trusting God and His Word. We as God’s people long for God to give us “rest all around” (2 Chr. 20:30b).

We as God’s people need a king to teach us to seek God for His power and grace. “…O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you…We will stand before…you…and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save” (2 Chr. 20:6,9). In ourselves, we are sluggish to do good, and we are slothful in spiritual matters (“The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak” for God’s people). We need a king who will pray for us, one who will live to lead us regularly into God’s presence, and will seek the power of God on our behalf so that we can stand and be delivered.

We as God’s people need one who can gather us together in a community to stand together. “…All Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children…And all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD” (2 Chr. 20:13,18b). God has created His people as a community, the Church, His holy assembly, so that we might seek after Him together in dependence upon the great king that God has provided to us! God’s people are His chosen race and possession, His holy nation, His royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9). We are called together to be witnesses to God’s great power (“And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel” -2 Chr. 20:29; cf. Acts 5:5b,11; 9:31).

We as God’s people need a king, but one greater than King Jehoshaphat. God has provided His people a king greater than King Jehoshaphat! Though King Jehoshaphat was faithful to a certain extent, He died (2 Chr. 20:31-34), and eventually all of Israel was driven from the Promised Land because of their sins against God. Jehoshaphat could never rescue and deliver God’s people from their spiritual enemies of sin, death, hell, and the devil. But one greater than Jehoshaphat could—and did!

King Jesus came in the fullness of the times to conquer all of God’s and our enemies, and to bring perfect righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit through His eternal rule and reign! (Rom. 14:17). Jesus’s reign is an eternal reign that will never end. In Him, all of God’s people have peace from their enemies, and one who will both conquer and comfort!

In Jesus, we have a perfect king who rules and reigns perfectly according to God’s will, and grants us the grace and His Spirit to acknowledge Him, and to submit to Him in love. One of the great treasures of Christ’s resurrection and ascension-enthronement at God’s right hand is the gift of the fullness of Christ’s Spirit to dwell within His people (Acts 2:33-34). King Jesus subdues our hearts, and gives us strong faith to submit to His rule according to His word. Is your heart submitted to Him? He is so wonderful and glorious as our king (Psa. 45), let us worship and serve Him, giving Him our all!

In Jesus, we have a Savior who has dealt the definitive death blow against His and our enemies, and who continues to rule and reign over God’s people, protecting us from dangers, and upholding us by His Spirit in the peace He has purchased for us with God. When you fear, do you put your focus upon Christ, and remind yourself that you have nothing to fearful about? (2 Tim. 1:7).

In Jesus, we have a Savior, God and man, who sits at God’s right hand in glory, who grants to us His Spirit so that we might seek the Father’s power and grace in our time of need. Do you desire to seek Him, knowing that He truly cares and keeps all of His promises to His people? (Heb. 2:14-18; 4:14-16).

In Jesus, we have one who has gathered us together in a community to stand together as the church. We have been baptized by Christ through His one Spirit into one church and fellowship (1 Cor. 12:13).

Christ-Centered, Application for God’s people: What we learn from 2 Chronicles 20:1-23 in our union with Christ our King and Conqueror:

  • In our union with Christ, let us together as the people of God, seek the LORD in our fears, so that we can find confidence and courage to stand strong in the LORD’s power, not our own (2 Chr. 20:3-4; Zech. 4:6; Eph. 6:10-18; 2 Cor. 12:7-10). This is an important part of putting to death our tendencies to self-sufficiency and individualism. Confessing our fears to the LORD can bring about a strong faith by God’s grace as we turn from them to Him who is our conquering and comforting King!
  • In our union with Christ, let us pray to God, remembering His rule and reign over creation, and especially over every detail of history, and His care for our lives in the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Chr. 20:6-7). Let us be confident that when we come as a congregation to our Heavenly Father through Jesus’s mediation, by His Spirit, He will hear us and save us (2 Chr. 20:9). Let us humbly turn from our weaknesses, to gaze upon God’s strength to us and for us in Christ Jesus, saying with Israel:

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you”

(2 Chr. 20:12; Heb. 12:2a: “Looking to Jesus”; cf. 2 Cor. 3:18).

  • In our union with Christ, let us be confident that as God’s people, when we gather together as families in the assembly, in God’s special presence for worship, God will be faithful to send His Spirit upon the minister/servant called to make His will known through preaching (as Jahaziel in 2 Chr. 20:13-17). Let us expect as God’s people, assembled as Christ’s Church, especially on the Lord’s Day, that God will speak specifically to us in our situations (see 2 Chr. 20:15-17), and give us specific directions for us as a church corporately, and as individuals, and to all age groups (“…All Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives and their children”– 2 Chr. 20:13).
  • In our union with Christ, let us pray for God’s Spirit to be upon our minister of the word that he would speak God’s words boldly and fearlessly and accurately (2 Chr. 20:15-17; cf. Eph. 6:18-20). May His preaching be God’s very word, focused on God’s power and grace revealed in Christ, comforting our souls with God’s covenantal faithfulness (“Listen…Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed…for the battle is not yours but God’s”– 2 Chr. 20:15).
  • In our union with Christ, let us worship together in gratitude for God’s powerful promises and good word toward His people (“[The people] fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD…”). Let us properly respond to God with praise of His ruling and reigning King Jesus (2 Chr. 20:18-19). In light of Jesus’s complete victory over our spiritual enemies (2 Chr. 20:15b: “…The battle is not yours but God’s”; cf. Rom. 8:34-39), let us offer ourselves in sacrifice to Him, serving Him wholeheartedly in dependence upon His powerful Spirit (Rom. 12:1-2).
  • In our union with Christ, let us ask God for greater faith in His word, in order that the salvation that has been accomplished by Christ our great king will be more deeply understood and believed by us as His people at KCPC. Let the peace of God that passes all understanding, and the joy of the LORD that is our strength be the results of faith in God’s Word, knowing that in Christ that our king says to us exuberantly:

“Here me…[people of God]! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe His prophets, and you will succeed!” (2 Chr.20:20).

  • In Christ, let us give thanks to the LORD, for His steadfast love endures forever! (2 Chr. 20:21b). Jesus Christ has conquered and comforted us through absolute and perfect trust in God and His Word! Glory to our king!

Conclusion: God has been so faithful to us at KCPC by providing to us Jesus Christ, a wonderful and glorious king who has conquered all of His and our enemies, and who sits at God’s hand to provide the fullness of His blessing of comfort and peace to us through His Holy Spirit!

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”ESV Romans 8:35-37

 

From Your Pastor: Making the Best Use of Your Time

Dear Beloved of Christ at KCPC,

We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ so that we will walk wisely, making the best use of our time in this present age. In all we do, we are to seek to be imitators of God as His Beloved children (Eph. 5:1-2).

We are taught:

ESV Ephesians 5:15-17: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

What is the “best use” of our time? Not merely a good use of time, but the best? This calls for wisdom. God promises to generously give His children wisdom when they ask for it:

ESV James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

We are taught clearly in Ephesians 5 that sin is humanity’s biggest waste of time! Why? Because sin is a huge waste of the life that God has graciously given to us, it is offensive against God, dangerous to us, and obnoxious to others, and it is contrary to the purposes for which we were created (cf. Eph. 5:3-14).

What do we do? Let us daily seek to keep Christ in the center, always moving toward Him as our center. (We are no longer the center; we have been redeemed from sinful, wasteful self-centeredness). Let’s ask God for wisdom. One way that might help us is to remember 5 ‘Rs’:

Review.

Each day review your life before Christ’s throne of grace. Knowing He is gracious, forgiving, and full of power to aid you by His Spirit.

Receive.

Each day receive the grace and wisdom through the Spirit that Christ our Mediator is committed to giving to us.

Repent.

Each day seek to hate your sins, particularly the way you waste your time that is a precious gift from God. Mourn, knowing you shall be comforted.

Realign.

Each day seek to put Christ first, seeking His Kingdom. Get the pattern and rhythm of your week focused by keeping the Lord’s Day holy.

Remove.

Each day remove from your life, your already weighed-down cart, things that distract you, and keep you from giving and doing your best for the glory of God!

Our Dutch forefather Willem Teellinck (d. 1629) sets the bar exceedingly high in a poem he wrote on the use of time. But it is worth our consideration to at least consider what was most important to him, and to aspire to greatness in Christ, even though we will not attain this fully until we see Christ face to face (The Apostle Paul also sets a high standard for all Christians who are mature in Philippians 3:9-16).

“Worship our God four hours a day,

Let three for food come into play.

Sleep seven more, less if you can,

Give eight others to the work of man.

And two to help the mind to understand.

If you, this way, your time so use,

You’ll find your soul has none to lose!”

Let’s aim high at KCPC. Let’s soar with the eagles. We are already seated with Christ in the Heavenly Places, so let’s live like it! (Col. 3:1-3; Eph. 2:5-7). Let’s live wisely as God’s dearly loved children, seeking to make the most of our time—each and every day.

ESV Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Write out your funeral eulogy. How do you want to be remembered? How can you best use your time to make this so?!

IN Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

From Your Pastor: Law and Love (WSC Questions 41 & 42)

WSC 41: Where is the moral law summarily comprehended? A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments. (1) (1) Deut. 10:4; Matt. 19:17

WSC 42: What is the sum of the ten commandments? A. The sum of the ten commandments is, To love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves. (1) (1) Matt. 22:37-40

 

An Explanation: The Bible teaches us that God is love (1 Jo. 4:8). Everything that God does is loving (Ex. 34:5-7). All that He commands to His people is loving. The moral law that is revealed in the ten commandments is an expression of God’s love to His people. The moral law is a summary of what real love looks like (Note how often love is defined by the doing of God’s commandments throughout the scriptures: Exo. 20:6; Deut. 11:1; Neh. 1:5; Psa. 119:47, 127; John 14:21; 15:10; 1 Jo. 5:3). When our Lord Jesus was asked, what was the most important part of the moral law, He responded by teaching that it was love for God and neighbor that was most important (Matt. 22:39-40). God revealed the moral law in the ten commandments to teach his redeemed people how to live in a loving way before the world.

Each commandment is useful in teaching God’s people how to live in a loving way as His dearly beloved children (cf. Eph. 5:1-2). The preface to the ten commandments teaches that God chose His people and has released them by His grace from slavery and brought them into His most glorious light to bless them and make them like Him (Exo. 20:1-3; cf. Lev. 19:2). The first commandment teaches us how to love God first, before all other persons and things, so that we might realize the purpose and enjoy for which we were created. The ten commandments are made up of two tables. The Holy Spirit wrote one part in commandments one to four to teach how to love God; He wrote a second part in commandments five to ten to teach how to love others as ourselves.

Though we are fallen and sinful, and most unloving by nature, the Father uses the commandments to teach us of our need of a loving and forgiving Savior. One important use of the ten commandments is to teach us of our need for Christ, and thus to turn us in repentance from our unloving natures to seek by faith the grace and power that is held out for all who believe in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:19-29).

Jesus is the perfect manifestation of God’s love; Jesus teaches us how to love (1 Cor. 13:4-8a). In fact, the Apostle Paul says that the moral law is fulfilled when believers, living in union with Christ, love God and neighbor as themselves sincerely by faith (Rom. 13:8-10). Our Lord Jesus says to us: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This means that when we seek to be obedient by faith in Christ to God’s commandments, in dependence upon His grace, we glorify God, experience Christ’s joy (John 15:9-11), and realize the purpose for which we were created.

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).

Prayer: Teach us to love, dear Heavenly Father. Teach us to love like Christ Jesus. Teach us to love you with all of our beings, and our neighbors as ourselves. Forgive us for our selfish, unloving hearts. Thank you, Jesus, for demonstrating such love for sinners by laying down your life for us to grant forgiveness for our unloving ways. Now, by your grace, we will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge our hearts, O LORD (Psa. 119:32)!

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs