From Your Pastor: Seasons under the Heaven


“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…” (Eccl. 3:1-2a)

There are two seasons that we have absolutely no control over: 1) When we are born, and 2) When we die. That we are born; that we die; these are two very experiential realities. Birth is a joyous season; we laugh; we celebrate. Death is often a very sad season; there is confusion; mourning; separation; loneliness; fear. Why is there death? Though it is a “normal” season under the heavens, it is far from normal; it is quite unnatural. We must never say death is just “part of life”. Not true! God is life. He created us for life. Death doesn’t “fit” our design, because we were made for life with God. Then you ask: “Why do we die?” Especially, “Why do I fear it so much, and don’t want to think about it?” The Bible’s answer:

“…Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” (Rom. 5:12).

Our sin is the cause of death (Gen. 2:17; cf. Heb. 2:14-16). Sin’s presence and evil is not only the Bible’s teaching, but our experience as well. In fact, the Bible teaches that all men and women are characterized by three truths: 1) We possess eternity in our hearts (Ecc. 3:11-14); 2) We were created upright and to be like God (Ecc. 7:29); And 3) We are mad in our present state (Ecc. 9:3).

How can all three things be true of mankind, of men and women? Well, think of these three things in your own experience. We were made upright but something has gone wrong:

Eternity: You long for things to be right; just; fair; a new beginning; a new hope; new starts; a hope that what Christianity teaches is true. We are not satisfied here in this world. As Aurelius Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in God.” We long for a new and better world! Who wouldn’t want it?? Why do we long for this? Eternity is in our hearts, yet we do not find it…not here anyway. No matter how hard we try, we are simply “not there yet”. Madness: You can’t free yourself from the things you do, that you don’t want to do. You keep doing the same things over and over that bring heartache and sadness in your life, and the lives of others. Our hearts are full of madness. We are walking contradictions; we know that we are not what we should be (“upright”), and we continue oftentimes making the same mistakes, year after year (this is “madness”). For instance, we know experientially that we are created in God’s image, yet we refuse to think further about it in our fallen state:

We know because that there is a God and He is to be worshipped because we are all by nature and experience the desire to worship something/someone, to be completely devoted to people, stuff, things, life itself, etc. We are bent on worshipping something, even if it just ourselves…sadly (cf. Rom. 1:18-32). We know that we should not kill, think evil or malicious thoughts, and we know that stealing, adultery, and being discontented are not the ways we ought to live. We know we ought to lie, but we continue; we do things that we know deep inside our souls are wrong. We all are seeking to rid ourselves of guilt and shame. Why these two things? What have we done?? Why do we fear the worst when it comes to thinking about death? We desire to be honored and loved, and yet we do not show the same honor and love for others, and especially for God!!

This is real madness! Let us admit it. We know what to do (because it is written on our hearts), yet we do not do it (Rom. 2:14-16). Jesus said that those who live like this are slaves and only He can set us free: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” (John 8:36). Jesus came to make us upright again. He came to show us the way to the world that our longings for eternity have been pointing; he came to cure us of madness, to set us from our self-centeredness, and to free us to follow him. How will you respond? If your conscience is still working properly, you know experientially that all these three things are true. If you have ears to hear, then you know that it is time for a change, and God is calling you to it today. What is your hope? What is my hope? “For as by man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:21).

Christ has come down to live “under the heaven” in our nature, to experience the mourning and the dancing; to experience both the birth and the death…and through His atoning, substitutionary death to make us right with God. To make us upright again before Him, to cure us of self-centered madness, so that we will realize our mission in life to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and to live for all eternity in a new and better world. The Gospel-good news of Jesus Christ, and the reason why we can even mourn with hope, and laugh while we weep at a memorial service or funeral of a loved one is because Christ through His death and resurrection has turned death into a doorway to life—as perfect season that will never end: eternal life. Jesus came to live a perfect life of obedience for all who believe; we get His perfect record of righteousness: Jesus came to die as a curse for sin in place of all who believe; our sins are imputed to Him.

“He who knew no sin because sin for us, so that we might be the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:21). Amen.

What must you do to be saved from this madness? Believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ who sympathizes with sinners and the weakest in this life. In this season of your life, salvation could come—through your faith in Jesus Christ. Then, laugh, and dance, even while you mourn, because now you mourn with hope that only God can give. You can live knowing eternity is yours in Christ Jesus, and that the madness that is in you is being cured, and you are forgiven of all your sins. Are you being made upright again? Are you right with God? Do you know He loves you? Receive the Lord Jesus Christ!

In Christ’s love,
Pastor Charles

From Your Pastor: The Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Colossians

Summary of Letter to Colossians/Sermon Series: Christ and His Gospel are sufficient to live as saints and faithful believers in this present age as exiles/pilgrims awaiting our heavenly homeland. God’s people are “in Christ” (a very important heavenly identity), and yet “at Colossae” (or located in a particular time and space in history, within a fallen world with threats, temptations, and trials of various kinds). God’s people need “nothing more” than the Gospel for salvation and sanctification. Maturity in Christ is the ultimate goal of believers, or “becoming what you already are in union with Christ” (Col. 1:28; 3:1-4; 4:12).

  • Who wrote it and when? Paul wrote this letter during his first imprisonment in Rome (1:1, 4:18; this is where we left off in Acts 28:29-31, concluding our sermon series on Acts), early 60s AD. The Letter to Colossians written at the same time period as Ephesian, Philippians, and Philemon. This letter is evidence of the boldness of the Spirit, and the unleashed manner that God’s word continued to extend and expand the kingdom (cf. Acts 28:31).
  • Who are the Colossians? Colossians was a church planted by Epaphras (Col. 1:7, 4:12; cf. Philemon 1:23) who had probably been converted to Christianity during the Apostle Paul’s 2-3 years of teaching about the kingdom in the Hall of Tyrannus in Ephesus (Acts 19:9-10). Colossian Church was probably planted in early 50s AD. It was a rather young congregation. Though the believers were faithful and maturing, they were being threatened and tempted to false teaching.
  • Colossae was located in the Lycus River Valley in southeast Asia Minor, what is now Turkey, east of Ephesus, and nearby to two other important early Christian congregations, Hierapolis and Laodicea (Col. 4:13, 15-16; cf. Rev. 3:14).
  • Primary motivation/message of Paul to Colossians? Paul wrote the church to teach the “saints” and “faithful brothers and sisters” (Col. 1:1-2) of heavenly truths and how to live them out in the midst of the earthly realities of threats from false teaching in a fallen world. The Colossians were to know that they were “in Christ” (in union with Christ) and yet were to live out their lives in this fallen world, knowing Christ is sufficient for all life and godliness, and that they were to keep their focus on the hope of the Gospel that they had heard, enduring steadfastly to the end (Col. 1:2, 1:23, 3:1-4).
  • What false teaching were the Colossians troubled with? The Colossian false teaching had two fronts: one had a non-religious, pagan face to it, the other was more of a religious, Jewish face, and perhaps there was a mixture of both (Hellenistic-Jewish syncretism). It’s hard to say what the false teaching was completely with accuracy. What is crystal clear from the letter is that these false teachings were tempting and threatening the young, healthy congregation to seek more than what God the Father had provided them in Christ and the Gospel.
  • Characteristics of the Colossian false teaching: 1. Offering a spiritual “fullness” that had yet to be experienced by believers (cf. Col. 2:10). False teachers were tempting the faithful brethren with a “new spirituality” or “something more” beyond what they already had in Christ. In other words, there was another avenue or way to maturity, and even perhaps free from suffering (“simple Gospel is not good enough, you need something more, etc.”). 2. Though the teachers offered a new “spiritual freedom” or “deliverance” of some kind, it was actually a new form of spiritual “slavery” and could not kill and subdue the sinful flesh (Col. 2:8, 18, 20ff). 3. The false teachers offered insight and special protection from the powers of evil beyond what they already possessed in Christ (2:10, 15). 4. False teachers were impressive in their external religious practices, especially acts of ascetiscm that seemed holy and wise, but was not—rather, was very dangerous. Though it promised maturity, it would actually make for very immature believers (Col. 2:18, 23; 3:5-8). 5. False teachers promised a deeper knowledge of God and more wisdom beyond what they already had in Christ (Col. 2:8-15). 6. False teachers were tempting the saints to go back to old forms of God’s revelation rather than focus on the substance of that revelation, which is Christ Himself (Col. 2:17).
  • An important application of the letter to KCPC today: We are “Ketoctin Covenant Presbyterian Church” (note the location in time and space, as well as the heavenly reality that we are “in covenant” or recipients of the Covenant of Grace “in Christ”). As a congregation “in Christ” “at Ketoctin” or “at Purcellville”, let us learn from the Letter to Colossians that Christ and His Gospel must always have the preeminence in our lives. Christ is sufficient for all of our needs. The Gospel that saved us also sanctifies us by God’s power. Let us remember to keep all of our experiences, our reason, our search for wisdom, and our tradition submitted to the Lordship of Christ and His Word. Pastorally speaking, I see this as a most important primary application and relevant focus for us in the time in which we live.
  • Pray: Paul not only teaches the Gospel, he prays unceasingly (1:9-14; cf. 4:12). While studying Colossians, let us pray for our congregation to hear clearly what Christ would say to us during this next sermon series.
  • Edify/Build Up/Discuss/Ask: As we journey through this letter as pilgrims and exiles, revel in God’s grace in Christ to you, discuss with your family and one another, memorize and meditate upon the truths as much as you can, and bring your questions and answers to our monthly Q&A for more interesting discussion!

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

From Your Pastor: The Spirit of Holiness

“…Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him…” – ESV Ephesians 1:4

When the Eternal Son of God, the One who is eternally begotten, not made, who is very God of very God, became man, he took to Himself our nature, conceived by the Holy Spirit, from the substance of Mary (Luke 1:31-35). It is hard for us to understand, but the Scriptures teach that the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Redeemer of God’s people, became man, and so was, and continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures (human and divine), and one Person forever (see Shorter Catechism, Q&A 21).

This means that while the Eternal Son did not change in His Being or substance or power as God in the Incarnation (Heb. 1:1-3), by assuming our nature into permanent hypostatic (personal) union with Himself, He did become something He was not before, namely man (Heb. 2:14-18; 4:16-18). As our Redeemer, Jesus Christ serves as our Mediator, and we must seek to honor the One Person, and acknowledge properly and biblically the two natures of Christ.

In considering the Spirit of Holiness, we will focus on the human nature of Christ today. What was done by the human nature was done by the one Person, so that we understand that the Eternal God does not die, yet He who was God did die, as man. The one Mediator died for sinners, the one Mediator between God and man who is both God and man in one Person. Jesus was God-Man. How does the Spirit’s work on Jesus Christ, God-Man, help us understand our holiness before God that we find in Him? Let us understand this in a time when the true humanity of Jesus Christ is begin undermined or misunderstood. While our Mediator was God and Man, He was truly God and truly man.

As a man, he was our representative in permanent-personal union with the Eternal Son, and He had to perform perfect obedience before God as man. There is to be no confusion, or mixture of His divine and human natures, but careful distinctions made. We should want to stress in understanding Christ’s true humanity, that like us He depended upon the Holy Spirit for grace, although He was without sin, He was truly man, dependent as a creature upon Almighty God. As Joel Beeke writes: “Christ’s obedience in our place had to be the real obedience of a human being. He did not cheat by relying on His own divine nature while He acted as the second Adam. Rather, by receiving and depending upon the Spirit, Christ was fully depending upon HIs Father (John 6:38).”

John Owen wrote: “The Lord Christ, as man, did and was to exercise all grace by the rational faculties and powers of His soul, His understanding, will, and affections; for He acted grace as a man….His divine nature was not unto Him in the place of a soul, nor did [the divine nature] immediately operate the things He performed, as some of old vainly imagined; but being a perfect man, His rational soul was in Him the immediate principle of all His moral operations, even as ours in us…. [Christ’s] growth in grace and wisdom was the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit; for as the faculties of His mind were enlarged by degrees and strengthened, so the Holy Spirit filled them up with grace for actual obedience” (John Owen, Works, 3:169-170). Puritan Richard Sibbes  wrote similarly: “Whatsoever Christ did as man, He did by the Spirit” (R. Sibbes, Works, 1:102).

The Spirit of God that Jesus received from the Father is the same Spirit that the Father and the Son have sent to be within His people. What the Holy Spirit helped Jesus to do: live by faith, resist temptation, endure by grace, be a faithful servant, be comforted in affliction, etc. is what the Spirit still does for God’s people united to Jesus. The ministry of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus Christ has tremendous implications for believers’ holiness in Christ (Psa. 133; Isa. 61:1ff).  Jesus is our sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). As theologian Mark Jones writes: “Jesus Christ, in His human nature, is the holiest man ever to have lived on earth. He exercised faith, hope, and love in a manner so extraordinary that if there were millions of worlds of loving creatures, they would not have, combined together, the same degree of love that was in the heart of our Savior. These graces bestowed upon Jesus did not remain on Him alone, but trickled down, as oil on His forehead, to His bride.” Jesus as exalted King poured out His Spirit upon His people (Acts 2:33).

We should understand that there was a twofold mission of the Triune God to secure the salvation of God’s people that are intimately (covenantally!) related, but should be distinguished: 1) The sending of the Eternal Son by His Father to become man and to perform and accomplish as Mediator of God’s people all of the acts of obedience unto death as Prophet, Priest and King; 2) The sending of the Eternal Spirit by the Father and Jesus the Enthroned King at God’s right hand to His people to enable them to follow Him in obedience and suffering and holiness until they would meet safely in heaven, and behold the Son face to face. This is the grace we speak of when we say that we do all things for Christ “because of His grace, by His grace, through His grace, in light of His grace, etc. The grace is particularly the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” given to us by God’s Spirit to enable us (although sinful) to make progress in obedience and holiness (we are saved by faith alone but not a grace that is alone; we are saved to be holy and obedient unto God, Eph. 1:3-5, 2:10; Phil. 1:6, 2:12-13).

John Owen wrote: “If Christ is our mediator, our union with Him means not only that we must be holy (that it is necessary), but also that we will be able to be like Him (and in our motives desire this), and, of course, that we will enjoy being holy (in communion with Him).” The grace we need for sanctification as believers is the grace of God that is given to believers in and through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 13:14). Whatever grace we received for our holiness first belonged to our Savior who is “full of grace” (John 1:16). To be holy is both to look at Christ’s substitutionary work for us in reconciliation, but it is also to labor after conformity to His image because of, and in dependence upon His grace in Christ (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4).

Although Christ was sinless and needed no grace as sinners need grace, nevertheless, Christ Jesus lived by faith in his estate of humiliation. Christ is the holiest man who ever lived and the greatest “believer” (or man of faith) ever to have lived (Heb. 12:2). There has never been, nor will there ever be, a more perfect example of living by faith than Jesus. By faith, He believed the word and promises of God. If Christ had not had faith, His people would remain in their unbelief; if Christ had not been vindicated (1 Tim. 3:16), adopted (Psa. 2:7; Rom. 1:4), sanctified (Rom. 6:9-10; John 17:19), and glorified (1 Cor. 15:35-49), His elect would not receive these blessings!

There is no grace we received by the Spirit that was not first present in Christ Himself, particularly the grace of faith. The Holy Spirit bestows all the blessings of Christ upon the members of His church only because they were first bestowed on Christ. Richard Sibbes wrote: “We have not the Holy Spirit immediately from God, but we have Him as sanctifying Christ first [not from sin, but consecrating him as man to the Father’s will], and then us, and whatsoever the Holy Spirit does in us, He does the same in Christ first, and He does it in us, because of Christ.”

The life of holiness is the life of faith. The way we begin the Christian life with faith is the way we continue in the Christian life until we get to heaven and faith becomes sight. Those who belong to Christ are as dependent upon the Spirit for their holiness as they are dependent upon air to breathe.  Just as Christ lived by faith and depended upon the grace of the Holy Spirit to work on His human nature, so we are likewise to live by faith and depend upon the Holy Spirit to enable us to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs


* For further reading: ‘A Puritan Theology’, ed. Beeke and Jones; ‘Holy Spirit’, S. Ferguson; John Owen, ‘Works’, Vols. 1-4; ‘Hebrews’, Vol. 3; ‘Works’, R. Sibbes; ‘Antinomianism’, M. Jones.