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Fathers & Mothers
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The US Congress recently introduced the rules for their new legislative session. They struck gendered familial terminology (i.e. father, mother, son, daughter, etc.) from the House’s rules for legislators. The recent events of our nation reveal our void of fathers and mothers. This is just one more effort by the godless to further erode the biblical structure for families.
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:14-15).
“But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXTS
When we think about Fatherhood and Motherhood we need to sweep out the clutter. These roles are not optional add-ons which you can discuss with the dealership. They aren’t social constructs which support the oppression of victims. They aren’t the evolutionary development of our species ability to babble some sounds and then linking them with our immediate ancestors. They aren’t interchangeable parts of machinery.
Your father and mother are earthly shadows of cosmic realities. God is your Father, the Church is your Mother. That is the evident in these two texts from the pen of Paul.
In Ephesians 3:14-15, Paul bends his knee to God the Father; every family derives its name from God’s Fatherhood. You don’t have family without fatherhood, and you don’t have any of it without God the Father and Creator. In Greek, you can’t say family (patria) without saying father (patera). In other words, God’s Fatherhood fills the world and fills our earthly families as the inescapable reality. In Him we live and move and have our being.
Furthermore, God has taken a bride for His Son, our Lord Jesus, and she is our Mother. Paul, while making the case that we are delivered from the bondage to sin which the mosaic Law revealed, he uses the imagery of Hagar and Sarah. Two mothers: one a slave, one a free-woman. Which one is your mother? Mother Kirk is a fertile mother, because she is marked by grace and thus life springs from her; whereas Hagar (the bond-woman/Sinai), brings bondage and death (Gal. 4:26).
CHILDREN OF PROMISE
Children who grow up without parents or with unmarried parents are faced with a deck of statistics stacked against them. With few exceptions, their lifetime income is significantly lower; their education level will not go as high; their likelihood of being abused and then abusing in turn shoots through the roof; their prospects are bleak by almost every metric. Children were not intended to exist in a covenantal void. Scripture is concerned with bastard children, which is why it placed heavy penalties on rape, pre-marital sex, and adultery (Cf. Lev. 18), as well as provision for the care of fatherless children (Deu. 16:11, Ps. 68:5).
So, if you are a father or mother, you must not think of your duty as being in a separate container from your marriage vows, and the consummation of those vows. You are a husband and a wife first. The potency of this covenantal love produces children. Your children are children of a promise, even as believers the whole family are children of the Promise.
COVENANT DUTY OF FATHERS AND MOTHERS
So Fathers are first husbands which are called to be faithful to their promise of loving and cherishing. Mothers are first wives which are called to faithfully fulfill their vow to submit and obey.
A father which exhibits for his children that he doesn’t beam with delight over their mother (Is. 62:5), isn’t attentive to her (1 Pt. 3:7), doesn’t shower her with love (1 Ti. 5:8) will teach them to railroad her (Pro. 10:1). Husbands love their wives practically by full bank accounts, full cupboards, full closets, and full wombs.
Mothers which run down their husband in front of the kids (2 Sam. 16-23), swerving the opposite direction he is leading (Eph. 5:22), or criticizing his leadership at every turn (Pro 21:19) is teaching her children to be lawless rebels. Wives respect their husbands by bearing his name, and being his glory; she demonstrates this respect practically by not being an indecipherable code to get into, but by being ready for him and responding to him in all spheres of their relations (sexually, directionally, financially).
Lazy, inattentive husbands and bitter, nagging wives are teaching the children more than just how to be unpleasant humans. A sin-riddled marriage is presenting a false Gospel, and marred understanding of God the Father, Christ the Son, and His Bride.
It’s vital that we see that Fathers and Mothers are cosmic categories. Husbands show their children how Christ laid down his life for the church. Wives show their children what joyful obedience to Christ should be. Not only are you teaching them about Fatherhood and Motherhood, but also the glorious Gospel of sacrificial love, responded to in joyful response.
COVERED IN SAWDUST & FLOUR
These covenantal duties are not pie-in-the-sky intangibles. Rather, these spiritual duties are earthy, and are covered in sawdust and flour.
In Scripture, fathers name; a fathers’ word carry great weight. Fathers provide and protect. Fathers represent God to their families and their families to God. Father’s correct and teach. Fathers sacrifice and intercede. Fathers rule and lead. Fathers head their home.
Mothers respond to this headship by being fruitful. Indeed without the Father, she cannot bear fruit. As the one who bears and nurtures new humans she is to be held in high honor. They are to be fountains of the sort of wisdom which might be worn proudly around the neck of their offspring (Pr. 1:8-9). They are to be industrious, and laugh at all the troubles which are around the bend (Pro. 31:25). Mothers give glorified life and nourishment that is provided by the Father.
ADOPTED AS JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST
In Reformed theology we generally emphasize justification and sanctification. We blast through the mega-phone that you are not saved by your works of righteousness, you are justified in God’s sight only because of Christ’s righteousness and death in your place. We exhort each other to holiness and growth in sanctification because God has set us apart to be a holy people. But we must not gloss over the fact that one of the terms which is frequently included in NT descriptions of salvation is adoption (Gal 4:4-7).
>God the Father, by the redeeming work of His Son, has delivered you from bondage to the law of sin and death. This isn’t like one cruel slave-master defeating another cruel slave-master, and your just caught in the crossfire. Rather, Paul tells us that you are no more a servant, but a son. In other words, you now have a share in the inheritance which belongs to Christ Jesus: resurrection life, everlasting joy, unending glory. You have been adopted as sons. Your Father in Heaven has given to Mother Kirk the Bread of Life and the Wine of Relief, and she has spread a table for the nourishment of her children. The children of grace and glory.
1 John: Love
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Everyone agrees that love is a good thing, and nobody is against it really. The problems arise when we try to define what we mean by it. For our purposes here, love is what Christ reveals His Father to be like (John 14:9), as that love is mediated to us by the Holy Spirit, shed abroad in our hearts, as He ministers the Word to us. “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5). But even this must be teased out further.
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:7–12).
Summary of the Text
As believers, we summoned (as in, required) to love one another. The reason for this is that love is of God (v. 7). If someone loves, this shows that he is born of God, and that he knows God (v. 7). A person who does not love does not know God (v. 8). It is that simple because God is love (v. 8). This love of God was manifested toward us when God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him (v. 9). Love is defined, not by our love for Him, but rather by His love for us—as marked and measured by propitiation (v. 10). And if God loved us like that, how much more should we love one another like that (v. 11). No one has ever seen God except as God dwells in those who love each other, and are seeing His love grow to perfection in us (v. 12).
God is Love
We have already seen that God islight (1 John 1:5). We see in two places in 1 John that God islove (1 John 4:8,16). We see it most clearly with love, but we must understand that God is not separable from His attributes. All that is in God is God. It is not as though a certain percentage of the divine nature is love, another percentage is just, another percentage All that is in God is God, and that is in God is holy, holy, holy. We speak of different attributes of God, and look them up under different headings in our Bible dictionaries because of the nature of our little finite minds. But keep in mind that God is a personal Lover, a personal Beloved, and personal Love, all three, and this triune God is the one eternal God.
As Finite Creatures Imitate It
Our love for God is exclusionary because no one can serve two masters. We have already considered what love for the world is, but we must also note what it drives out. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
And if we see, really see, what the Father has done for us, in calling us His sons, we will come to understand why the world is so bewildered by us.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (1 John 3:1).
Love is Obedience
When God loved the world, He did something (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9). So also, when we love we must act. Love is not mere sentiment.
“For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11).
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:2–3).
Faith in Christ leads inexorably to action. Love your brothers and sisters as though you were not concerned at all about being accused of being in a cult.
“And this is his commandment, That we should believeon the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (1 John 3:23).
Obeying an impersonal list of rules is not the way to assurance, but is rather the way to a screaming lack of assurance. Works righteousness and legalism breeds either pride or despair. But the obedience of love is a different thing altogether—it leads straight to assurance.
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14).
In short, we know because we love.
“But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:5).
In short, if we keep His word about love, His love is perfected in us, and this also leads to assurance.
So Love Is More Than Big Talk
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16–18).
Bring It Back Around
The apostle John tells us an enormous amount about the love of the Father in this very short letter. Remember, the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life remove you from the love of the Father. This lands you in the midst of a tangled cluster of lies. But God brings us to life in His Son through the gospel, and His life is not dark but rather light. Put it all together, and you discover that God has ushered you into His everlasting love.
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:16–21).
Psalm 110: The Priest/King at God’s Right Hand
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This psalm is the most frequently quoted passage of the Old Testament in the New Testament. The verses quoted have various applications which we will consider as we work through the psalm.
“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lordshall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The Lordhath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: Therefore shall he lift up the head” (Ps. 110:1–7).
Summary of the Text
Jehovah said to Adonai, sit at my right hand (v. 1). He is told to remain seated there until His enemies are reduced to being His footstool (v. 1). While He is seated there, Jehovah will send out the rod of Adonai’s strength from Zion, with the result that He will rule in the midst of His enemies (v. 2). The seat of His authority is in the heavenly places, while the extension of it is from Zion—His people will be willing in the day of His power (v. 3). They will be arrayed in the beauty of holiness, they will be an army of priests (v. 3). As Spurgeon put it, “in brightness, then, as well as in multitude, did they resemble the glittering drops of the morning dew” (v. 3). Jehovah has taken an oath, and He will not turn back from it—Adonai is a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek (v. 4). Adonai, there at the right hand of Jehovah, shall strike down kings in the day of His wrath (v. 5). He will judge among the goyim, and many of them will be killed (v. 6). He will slake his thirst from the brook after the battle, and will lift up His head (v. 7).
A Davidson on the Throne
Why should it be thought remarkable for the throne of David to be established in the heavenly places? A sonof David is there. Why should His throne not be there?
In this famous exchange with His adversaries, the Lord asked a question that pointed out an incongruity in their doctrine of the coming Messiah. The Christ, whose son would he be?
“And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lordsaid unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Luke 20:42–43; Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36)
So he would be David’s son, they replied. That is correct, Jesus said, but have you never noticed that David addresses the one descended from him as his ultimate superior? David calls a Davidson Lord. How can that be? The only way to answer this question satisfactorily is through the doctrine of the Incarnation.
The Great Melchizedek
This is a psalm about a great king, one seated at the right hand of Almighty Jehovah. But this king is also described as a priest, and so it is fitting that another king, Melchizedek, would be mentioned as a type of the coming Messiah. But this Melchizedek is a type in more than one way. He is also a king—and whata king.
“For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace” (Heb. 7:1–2).
He was a priest of the most high God, but he was also a king in different sense. He was the king of Salem (probably Jerusalem), which means king of peace. His name means king of righteousness. This is why his antitype belongs at the right hand of Jehovah.
“As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 5:6; 7:17, 21).
Enemies a Footstool
The first chapter of Hebrews is dedicated to showing that the Christ is vastly superior to the angels.
“But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” (Hebrews 1:13).
And in the book of Acts, we are told that this has reference to someone other than David himself. The reference must be to the Christ.
“For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lordsaid unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.” (Acts 2:34–35).
This should be very straightforward. When was Christ seated at the right hand of His Father? When did that happen? We are told that it happened at the Ascension.
“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20).
“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 8:1, ESV).
So He has been seated there for the last two thousand years. How long will He remain seated there? He will remain seated at the right hand of power, ruling from the midst of our Zion, until all His enemies are under His seat. The only enemy that will be destroyed by His Second Coming will be the last enemy, death. Every other enemy will be subdued prior to that, through the ministry of the gospel (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
“For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:25–26).
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