A Righteousness That Works

 “We are not to conceive the Christian faith as a bare knowledge of God which rattles around the brain and affects the heart not at all…but it is a firm and solid confidence of the heart by which we securely repose in God’s mercy promised us through the gospel.”

John Calvin wrote these words in his Catechism of 1538. “Ideas” or “information” about God, are not the same thing as faith. Faith is a firm and solid confidence, security and repose. These are not disembodied “ideas.”

Knowledge is nothing, unless it becomes understanding. And understanding is action.

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; (Proverbs 1:8–11).

Parents who instruct their children, are teaching them how to react to the enticement of sinners. Its real-world, right-now, practical – action. Habakuk 2:4 and Romans 1:17 both state it plainly, “the righteous live by faith.” Living is action.

Calvin explains in his Institutes, “The word is not received in faith when it merely flutters in the brain, but when it has taken deep root in the heart, and become an invincible bulwark to withstand and repel all the assaults of temptation.[1]

Turning away from temptation is an expression of faith. Putting the beer down, before it becomes one too many. Closing your mouth when the opportunity to gossip presents itself. Telling the truth. Confessing sin. Putting a filter on your computer. Reinforcing your children’s good behavior instead of yelling at them for their bad behavior. Complimenting your spouse. Taking out the trash. Putting the phone down, to play with your kids. Folding your hands in prayer. Taking up the bible to read. These are all actions of faith and righteousness.

Trust what the Lord has provided and is providentially doing. Do not seek the desires of your fleshly heart. Deny those desires, instead believe that the good and powerful God of the Old and New Testaments, is your God.

C.S. Lewis wrote that for the saved, “‘Works’ have no ‘merit’, though of course faith, inevitably, even unconsciously, flows out into works of love at once. He is not saved because he does works of love: he does works of love because he is saved. It is faith alone that has saved him: faith bestowed by sheer gift. From this buoyant humility, this farewell to the self with all its good resolutions, anxiety, scruples, and motive-scratchings, all Protestant doctrines originally sprang.”[2]

We are not talking about works righteousness. We are talking about a righteousness that works. Obedience is what we all need a great deal more of, at the moment. Let us grab hold of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and continual mediation for us before the Father.

And get to work. 

Prayer

Blessed God! I flee to your almighty power.

You see me surrounded with difficulties and dangers, and stretch out your omnipotent arm to save me.

Today I put myself under your protection. Let me make the shadow of your wings my refuge. Let your grace be sufficient for me, and your strength be made perfect in my weakness.

I dare not say, “I will never forsake you, I will never deny you,” but I hope can truly say, “Lord, I resolve not to do it. I would rather die than offend you.”

Root out the corruption from my heart. In an hour of pressing temptation it might sway me to view things in a different light, and so might betray me into the hands of the enemy!

Strengthen my faith, Lord, and encourage my hope! Inspire me to opposing every thing that blocks my way to heaven. And let me set my face against all the assaults of earth and hell.

If sinners entice me, let me say no. If they insult me, let me ignore it. If they threaten me, let me not fear!

Give me instead a holy and ardent yet prudent and well-governed zeal to see others convicted and turn to you.

Let me never be ashamed to plead your cause against those who oppose the faith. As the psalmist says, “Make me to hear joy and gladness in my soul, and I will teach transgressors your ways, that sinners may be converted to you.”

My fears continue, Lord, but there is no one to blame but myself. I join you in blaming me for my folly.

Keep me, O Lord, now and always. Whatever age or place in life I attain, never let me think I am strong enough to maintain the combat without you.

And even in my young faith, never let me imagine myself so weak that you cannot support me.

Wherever you lead me, let me follow. Wherever you take me in life, let me work there faithfully. Let me fight the holy war against the enemies of my salvation. And let me fall fighting rather than abandon my post.

You are my glorious Redeemer, pioneer of my salvation, the great Author and Finisher of my faith. When I am in danger of denying you, as Peter did, look on me with your majesty and tenderness. Keep me from falling, or quickly lift me back up to God and my duty again!

Show me how to learn from my missteps and to humble myself in even greater diligence and caution. 

Amen.[3]


[1] Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (1845). Institutes of the Christian religion (Vol. 2, p. 139). Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society.

[2] Lewis, C. S.. A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

[3] Doddridge, P. (2019). I Need Your Protection. In R. Elmer (Ed.), Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans (pp. 84–85). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

This is My Body, Broken For You

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

That’s the challenge; understand the will of the Lord and walk and act accordingly. But our flesh likes easy, safe, selfishness.

We have our own desires. We have our own wills, and they struggle against the Spirit and our faith every day. 

The mission of the Lord is others-focused. The love of the Triune God faces out. 

The will of the Father is that His children will lay down their lives for others just like our older brother Jesus laid down is His life for you. 

The calling of the Christian Faith is “This is my body broken for you…”

Husbands, Wives, Parents, Masters, servants, friends…this is your calling. Everyone, this is your calling. This is a calling so heavy only the humble can carry it. It will break the backs of the proud. “This is my body broken for you…”

Author N.D. Wilson wrote, “Lay your life down. Your heartbeats cannot be hoarded. Your reservoir of breaths is draining away. You have hands, blister them while you can. You have bones, make them strain – they can carry nothing in the grave. You have lungs, let them spill with laughter…I can be giving my fingers, my back, my mind, my words, my breaths, to my wife and my children and my neighbors, or I can grasp after the vapor and the vanity for myself, dragging my feet, afraid to die and therefore afraid to live. And, like Adam, I will still die in the end. Living is the same thing as dying. Living well is the same thing as dying for others.

You are all dying, right now, by the very fact that you are mortal living creatures. Living well is dying for others. You were given bodies, strength and voices to give away. 

Be as generous as your King. 

Look around. Look around your family. Look around your church. Look around your neighborhood. 

You were not given bodies and redeemed for mere pleasure or self-centered pursuits. Life was poured into you so that you could pour it out in the service of others.  

“This is my body, broken for you…”

It requires prayer and repentance. 

It requires faith and the Lord’s Spirit.

It requires rejecting the easy safe selfishness that our flesh loves so much. 

It requires looking up and looking out. To the condition and welfare of others.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 

Let us confess and ask God to forgive us for our selfishness and ask for the Spirit of God to reveal and lead us in understanding the will of our Lord. 

A Lust For Scapegoats

1 Samuel 14:45 Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die. 46 Then Saul went up from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place. 

So eager was Saul to set himself in the right and gain God’s favor that he determined to put Jonathan to death. Ironically, without Jonathan’s heroics, there would have been no victory, and the rank and file, who had by their silence protected Jonathan, now take matters into their own hands and saved the one who had wrought salvation for the nation, in Hebrew he had wrought yĕšûʿâ, that day. He has wrought with God, they say, acknowledging that the whole episode had been a divine rather than a human deliverance.

The curse of a king, like every other royal utterance, is ultimately the word of a human being and mired in the frailties of creatureliness and the fall. It is not absolute. And we see here the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates, for the royal curse is countermanded by nameless “men” (v. 45) who said “Far from it!” to the king’s demand that Jonathan die. The men thus “ransomed” the king’s son, from the king. Let the hearer understand, the authority and power of earthly kings is limited and bound. It is not absolute. “Shall Jonathan die…as the LORD lives…” The people use the same oath that Saul used in v. 39. They obviously think God spoke much more clearly in Jonathan’s victory than in Saul’s rash oath 

Jonathan’s faith and boldness brought about the defeat of two enemies of Yahweh’s purposes – one external, the Philistines, and one internal, a misguided Israelite king. After Saul was rebuffed by his soldiers, he ended the battle and let the remaining Philistines get away. Though Israel had won a victory on that day, Saul—and consequently kingship—had suffered a humbling defeat

Ultimately, though, this story is about more than human thrones. Saul was chosen king by casting lots, an echo of story about Achan. The process of determining a king and a thief is the same. The other time Israel used the casting of lots, was on the day of atonement to identify the Scapegoat in Leviticus 16. The priest was to cast lots for two goats. One of them was sacrificed for a sin offering while the other was driven out of the camp after the priest laid hands on it, confessing over it the sins of Israel. 

The motif of a creature chosen by God to carry the sins of the people out of an inhabited place to face God’s judgment in the wilderness, reappears several times in the NT, though the image of the scapegoat is never directly applied to Jesus. Jesus is called the sacrifice for our sins (Heb 10:1–18). John the Baptist calls Jesus the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29). And in Hebrews 13:12–13 the point is stressed that Jesus was crucified outside the city. 

Again, the disposal of sin is considered as an almost physical process: sin is loaded onto Jesus; he is driven out of town and given over to God’s curse.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” –  so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith”(Galatians 3:13–14)

Jesus is more explicit when applying Psalm 118 to himself. Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? (Matthew 21:42). This verse points to the expulsion of a single victim and the later reversal that turns the expelled victim into the keystone of the entire community. 

Jesus is the great Scapegoat. The desire of fallen man’s heart. We see this symbolism in Jesus’ Passion.

“But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation” (John 11:49–52).

Pilate’s offer of Jesus and Barabbas was meant to appease the mob, because the shrewd Pilate knew they wanted someone’s blood. Pilate’s trial of Jesus was a kind of casting lots for a scapegoat. And in this we come to the ultimate struggle of our hearts. Saul desired the complete destruction of the Philistines. In this he was denied. Saul desired Israel to deny its identity and not eat, even the honey flowing in God’s promised land, until Saul had vengeance upon Saul’s enemies. In this he was denied. Saul wanted a word from God. In this he was denied. Saul wanted someone to pay for all of this, under the guise of atoning for sins, he wants a scapegoat. He wants blood. And in this he was denied.

You desire and do not have, so you murder” (James 4:2).

When we can’t murder the one who is withholding our desires we turn to others. To scapegoats. As philosopher Rene Girard wrote,

“The kick the employee doesn’t dare give his boss, he will give his dog when he returns home in the evening. Or maybe he will mistreat his wife and his children, without fully realizing that he is mistreating them as “Scapegoats.” Victims substituted for the real target are the equivalent of sacrificial victims in distant times. In talking about this kind of phenomena, we spontaneously utilize the expression “scapegoat.” The real source of victim substitutions is the appetite for violence that awakens in people when anger seizes them and when the true object of their anger is untouchable. The range of objects capable of satisfying the appetite for violence enlarges proportionally to the intensity of the anger.”

This is called the principle of transference. But this rarely leads to acts of physical violence, it does lead to Psychological violence that is easy to camouflage. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). Hate is emotional and psychological. Jesus told us that we can commit violence toward one another within our hearts.

Desire is the source of sin; whose wage is death (Romans 6:23). Our fallen desires lead to death. They require death. There will be blood. But whose blood? The injustices we commit, our quarrels and our conflicts are a matter of the heart, and unchecked they lead to homicide. And all homicide is actually deicide, for man is the image of God. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6). When our desires are unfilled who is ultimately thwarting us? But we can’t kick God, can we? Like Saul, our desires are unsatisfied and this leads for a lust for a scapegoat, someone who will pay. Saul could get his hands-on innocent Jonathan, but who was his hate and rage really directed toward?

Ultimately, we want God to pay for his will, his providence, his autonomous sovereignty. Who bestows on us our body type? Our quantity of children? Our vocations? Our temperaments? But we can’t get our hands on Him, so we murder those to whom he erroneously bestowed his gifts instead of us. Our bodies deteriorate. Our bodies can’t carry babies to full term. We aren’t what we want to be.  Life is harder than it should be. We are broken and so we want to break. But God’s neck is too big to fit our hands around. So, we go to work on one another.  And then God descended from heaven amongst us. And what did we do to Him? What we do to one another every day. We murdered him. Our utmost desires grew up to maturity and when God came in the flesh, within our grasp, we went to work on Him.  And like Jonathan, Jesus said “Here I am, I will die.” 

Our desire for this violence, this punishment for our unmet desires is death – our eternal death and until that desire is satisfied, man will remain in his sins, dead. This is a simple truth, which once accepted, sets us free. Jesus fulfills the deepest desire of our heart to murder God for what he has denied us and what he has done to us. For that thing we want and can’t get – an apple, a slim waistline, a promotion, sex, respect, more children, tenderness. For His telling us no. For his silence in the face of our desire. For this, He will pay. And so, He did. And thereby secured our freedom from these desires. 

We no longer have need to murder one another, the mere image of God, for we have murdered God Himself. There is no one left to blame, there is no one left to punish. Be free. When you covet or lie, or your anger breaks forth, when we fear man more than God, when we lust and unsatisfied, loathe. When we steal and bow down over idols to whore with them. We know the filthy desire of our hearts. We must confess it. We must Cry out to God that murder lies in our hearts. 

And from this, our only hope is to look upon his Son on the cross and be satisfied. There is no one left to murder. The Lord Jesus has fulfilled the one desire at the center of our hearts that keeps us from Him. Because His will is greater than ours. He rose up form what we did to him that we might be free for new desires, holy desires, that we might be his today, forever.

A Lust for Murder

The ten commandments were given on two tablets. The first tablet covers how to love God. The second tablet covers ho to love our neighbor. The 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th commandments are simple and brief and they prohibit the most severe acts of violence we commit against one another, beginning with the most severe; you shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness. 

The tenth and final commandment is distinguished from those preceding it in both length and object. Instead of prohibiting actions, it prohibits a desire. It is directed toward the heart of man. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17). The verb covet means desire. This Hebrew word is used to describe Eve’s desire for the prohibited fruit, the desire that instigated the original sin. This covetousness, this desire, is not reserved for special hardened sinners. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6).

Desire is at the heart, literally, of every human sin. “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:16–17). 

The desire prohibited in the 10th commandment is the desire of every human heart. It is the overarching commandment of the second table of God’s law because we unceasingly desire our neighbor’s goods and our neighbors, themselves. This rivalry is at the heart of human social relationships. Our desires, unmet, endanger the harmony and survival of all human communities, marriages, homes, businesses, neighborhoods, churches and nations. 

Look at the news with its unceasing power struggles, the social justice movement, the Marxism, the politics of envy and identity – people desire what others have. This desire, unchecked, is the cause of our strife with one another. Look at your own anger, you own actions toward spouse, children, neighbors, co-workers and fellow Christians, even strangers. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:14–15). But this death doesn’t just consume the individualit leads to violating the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th commandment. 

This is the fundamental reality of fallen man and of men and woman being sanctified by the Lord Jesus. Yet, it is contrary to our self-image and understanding and humiliating to admit, so we prefer to deny it outright. The tenth commandment prohibits desiring our neighbors and their goods, attempting to prevent a host of sins that follow these unmet desires – violence we commit against one another. Everywhere we go we find neighbors. They are the model for our desires. Their marriages, their bodies and their belongings. Their emotional, spiritual, economic and social realities are the source of our fleshly desires. When our desire for someone else, something more, someone else’s –  is thwarted  – instead of accepting it and moving on, our desire resists our authority over it and intensifies our longing, expanding into actual violence. What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? [2] You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1–2).

If we ceased to pursue the desires of this world, we would cease to desire the good of our neighbors, then we would never commit murder or adultery or theft or false witness. If we obeyed the 10thcommandment, the 6th -9th would be superfluous. I want to close with this. You are probably struggling to see this reality of this in your own lives. The framework I’ve described is death to self. We flatter ourselves, knowing that we are not actual perpetrators of real violence. But our Lord stated this reality in clear terms. “And [Jesus] said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. [21] For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, [22] coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. [23] All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20–23). And Jesus’s standard is the very heart of man, for he knows that our self-deception runs deep enough to satisfy ourselves in our righteousness because of externals, instead of judging the heart. “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

The desire in our hearts for our neighbor and their goods is not mere death for us, unchecked, it is death to them as well. And we can do this violence to one another in the comfort and hidden place of our hearts. We have to realize how Jesus deals with this fundamental desire of our flesh, that Christ might set us free to have new desires. 

All Authority Descends From Above

Derived Authority

Why are so many Christians making such a big deal out of having to wear masks? Why are so many Christians talking about defying the government’s orders to not gather indoors for worship? 

They argue that, “Jesus told us to love our neighbor and obey the government, rendering unto Caesar his due.”

These are reasonable questions by well-meaning Christians. Does the government have the authority to limit worship? Does the word of God give unlimited authority to the civil government in every area of or lives? 

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Romans 13:1 “…For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God…”

Jesus was shaping the New Covenant mission of God’s people and taught his disciples that Jesus was the highest authority in heaven and earth, so that the Apostles would be equipped to address the lesser authorities in their evangelism and conflict with pagan cultures. 

Paul understood this, and therefore encouraged the embattled Roman Church in their proper responsibility to authority, even pagan civil authority is derived by God. Authority is always derived and is therefore limited.  

Anyone in a position of authority receives that authority from God. It is similar to Jesus’ instruction about receiving the one whom He sends; by receiving the one Jesus sent, you receive Jesus. If you reject the one Jesus sent, you reject Jesus. 

The same principle applies to authority. Positions of authority are not autonomous, and neither are they to be ignored and scoffed at. God rules a world with hierarchies, therefore, to live faithfully in God’s world, we must avoid both being scofflaws or treating authorities as if they are absolute. 

All authority in heaven and earth is the Lord’s, who appoints people to positions of authority by His sovereign and wise will, who are therefore required to obey His rule.

Some would argue that Romans 13:1-5 makes no qualification to our obedience to authorities and that authority is autonomous and absolute. And that is true, there is no explicit qualification, but an implicit qualification.  We see, by good and necessary consequence, that there is a qualification given in v. 3 “rulers are not a terror to good conduct.” So, what happens if they are a terror to good conduct? Has God left us with no recourse? 

No, our defense for such a wickedness is found in sphere sovereignty; authority is given to different leaders that overlap and correct corruptions, protecting us from one another’s wickedness. Such as fathers and policemen, Congress and the President or State Governors and County Sheriffs. A biblical example of the protection provided by Sphere sovereignty is found in the coup committed by the High Priest Jehoiada in 2 Kings 11. Jehoiada led a violent overthrow of the evil Queen and the installment of the true King of Israel. 

Imagine a Pastor who wants to dictate exactly what his parishioners can and cannot watch on TV or how they must brush their teeth. Both of these are things outside his authority and the elders of the church, and the fathers within the community, should protect those parishioners from that overreach. Imagine a wife whose husband demands his wife wear only red, or dictates who she can and cannot be friends with or he gives her a bedtime – all appealing to his authority as her husband. The elders of their church should intervene and protect her from her husband’s tyranny. These varying authorities are not autonomous or absolute. The overlapping authorities protect us from one another’s wickedness and tyranny.

Currently, civil governments in the United States are violating the Fist Amendment of the Constitution by restricting whether the church can gather for worship or not, whether they can sing or take communion in that service, or not. But the worship of the church is regulated by God’s word and God alone. The authority to determine when, where and how the church worships is delegated to the authority of the Church, not the civil Government. As American citizens, we do not obey men, we obey the Constitution and the elected officials enforcing the constitution. Once those authorities are violating the constitution, then they have become tyrannical. 

As Pastor Trewhella wrote “America’s founders understood that the civil government’s authority was delegated, and therefore, limited. They state in the Declaration of Independence that all men are “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” They understood that rights did not originate from the State, but rather were given to men by God, and it is the Government’s respnsiblity to protect those God-given rights. 

Authority is derived from God. God has appointed different kinds of authority to different governing bodies. Therefore, those authorities must recognize the objective and absolute authority of God and operate submissive to the law of the Land and the Law of God. No authority is absolute or autonomous. 

The Church needs to consider the different spheres of authority and exactly what is within each of their purviews to do and not do. We are commanded by God’s word to respect, pray for, honor and obey all rightful authority. This requires us to know the difference between properly exercised authority and tyranny. 

All authority is derived from God and is therefore not absolute. 

Church Newsletter 2020-8-5

Saints,

Elder Baker’s sermon came at a providential time. God is in heaven and does as He pleases. I think many of us are getting weary over the lockdown/COVID nonsense and are aghast at the chaos and violence that is baring its teeth in the open light of day. 

In Portland, the protestors are burning bibles and crosses now. 

I am in one sense, quite thrilled by this development. The enemy is showing itself for what it truly is. This is not a culture war. This isn’t a mere political imbroglio. This is spiritual warfare. And we serve the victor. After a long peace those crosses and bibles have never meant so much, to a nation devouring itself in an orgy of emotional subjective relativism. Being a man of God and a woman of God has, in this nation, never meant so much, nor been so risky. 

Now is the time to gather. Now is the time to worship. Now is the time to show, not only the world, but so many professing Christians what it means to serve the living and loving Triune God. 

The public schools are being shut down and people are scrambling for alternatives. The idol of entertainment is being toppled. The progressive revolution is beginning to devour its children. 

You were born to live out the gospel here and now. This is what God providentially decreed. You, here, now. COVID-19 is a virus. It is being obedient as what God made it to be. It spreads, it inflicts, and it is healed just as God designed it to be. 

Are we going to be less obedient to our merciful creator than COVID? What does true obedience look like today, for you, in these circumstances? 

See you on the mountain 

Filling up the Edges

Psalm 18:1–2 I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

David was falsely accused by Saul of treason against Israel. Saul attempted to kill David several times. Saul hunted and conspired against David to destroy him. David led Israel in victory over all of her enemies like Edom and Philistia. All of these events are echoed in the life of Jesus. But both David and Jesus experienced God the Father’s protection and deliverance. Nothing could befall them outside of His will. The Father was their refuge again and again, in every danger and threat. 

The text of the psalm is almost identical to 2 Samuel 22. The two songs differ, however, in their context: Second Samuel 22 is David’s personal expression of gratitude to the Lord, while Psalm 18 is the adaptation of that song for the whole people to sing, because their well-being is now tied to the offspring of David (2 Sam. 7:4–17). 

When God’s people sang this, then, they were to give thanks for the Davidic line and to pray that its heirs would be faithful to the Lord and would be valiant military leaders, so that Israel might carry out its God-given purpose of bringing light to the Gentiles.

As Christians these are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 18 opens with a doxological statement of confidence in the Lord’s exalted position, which provides strength and protection for His people.   

The Hebrew term, Horn of my salvation, indicates a place so high as to be beyond the reach of danger. It is a high rock or crag affording a safe refuge. Hence the figure is not borrowed from the horn of the buffalo as most interpreters argue, but from the summits of mountains, called horns in many languages, as in the Matterhorn in the swiss Alps or the Faulhorn in the Bermese Alps. The horn is frequently the figure of strength and victorious power, yet the reference here is not offensive, but defensive. 

The term is more than geographic, it is covenantal. Psalm 121:1–2 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. In view here are the covenantal hills; Eden, Ararat, Sinai, Moriah and Zion. All the summits where God met Israel’s needs. All the summits where God renewed covenant with Israel out of sheer grace and loving-kindness. The horn of our salvation is the height of God’s Divine Mountain in Heaven, our place of strength and protection – God’s exalted Son – Jesus Christ. 

Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father prophesied and rejoiced that Christ was the fulfillment of this hope, declaring joyously that “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,” (Luke 1:68–69). Our high and sure protection is the exalted Lord Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father on the temple mount in heaven. 

Psalm 18:1-2 could be translated Christologically as “I love the Lord my strength, my foundation, my fortress, my protector and deliverer; I am in Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father, high and exalted – where my help comes from.” 

But if David’s confidence in God is so strong, how do we explain phrases like “How long shall my enemy be exalted over me,” from Psalm 13? Or this statement from Psalm 22; “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare and gloat over me” (Psalm 22:16–17)? 

Are the protection of the Lord and a believer’s suffering mutually exclusive? There is wisdom in the fact that no matter what happens to us, we do not get what we deserve as sinners. Suffering is an integral part of God’s discipline and education of His children. Comfort is not the same thing as safety. Sometimes what is safest for us is not what we would consider safe. Like a father teaching a child to ride a bike, there is calculated risk for the purpose of maturity. 

We have to remember the words of God recorded by the Prophet Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9). This is something the Prophet Daniel knew. God, in his infinite wisdom, may not deliver us from the martyr’s end or from earthly suffering. Daniel knew that God’s ways are above us in wisdom; “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18). Daniel never doubted that God could, it was a matter of whether God would, save them. 

We have to make distinctions between the redemption of the fallen world and our final hope. No matter what circumstances and travails befall us, our enemies do not have the last word. All of God’s enemies will be defeated. We will stand in the flesh and see Christ face to face, victorious, at the right hand of God, the Father. 

1 Corinthians 15:25–26 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 

Even on the pyre of martyrdom, even in the shadow of death, even in the grip of evil men – our present and future security is the exalted Lord Jesus. 

One commentator mentions that “the images, which are most of them of a martial character, are borrowed from the experience of David’s life, and the perpetual struggles in which he was engaged.” 

These analogies are somewhat foreign to us. But the nature of the them is something like our Mother’s lap as a child; a place of security and safety and healing. No matter the booboo, no matter how scary the movie, no matter how uncertain the neighbor’s dog – mother’s lap was always the place to turn for protection. 

Defensive towers dot landscapes the world over, from the Wooden blockhouses of Whidbey Island, WA built by settlers against raiding Indians to the towers like Glendalough and Clondalkin scattered throughout Ireland to protect medieval monks from raiding Vikings. 

The second Amendment is a recognition of our desire to build towers of defense. Since the invention of gunpowder, those small grains of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulfur are a stone tower of sorts, we build in towers of 17 round magazines. When people need protection and safety, strength and refuge – they build high towers, but what tower is higher than King Jesus enthroned on the temple mount in the Highest heavens? 

John Calvin’s comments on this passage are enlivening; “David, therefore, here furnishes the faithful with a complete suit of armour, that they may feel that they are in no danger of being wounded, provided they are shielded by the power of God…Let us, therefore, learn from his example, to apply to our own use those titles which are here attributed to God, and to apply them as an antidote against all the perplexities and distresses which may assail us; or rather, let them be deeply imprinted upon our memory, so that we may be able at once to repel to a distance whatever fear Satan may suggest to our mind. I give this exhortation, not only because we tremble under the calamities with which we are presently assailed, but also because we groundlessly conjure up in our own imaginations dangers as to the time to come, and thus needlessly disquiet ourselves by the mere creations of fancy.”

There are dangers all around. Some of our own making – the fear of men, anxiety and uncertainty about the future. There is also a pandemic, fallout from our Government’s response to that pandemic. There is social unrest stemming from the brutality and violence of Police officers which has unleashed brutality and violence of mobs. Satan likes to work on our fears to distract us from our calling. From loving God and neighbor. 

We need to remember our rock of refuge and sure foundation. We need to remember our High tower – the horn of our salvation – the Lord Jesus Christ. 

David did not just express need or assurance in receiving something; the gifts and blessings of having Jesus as our fortress. David expressed love. 

David says in Psalm 18:1–2; I” love you, O LORD.” The word is usually used to affirm God’s compassion for people. It implies the need of the one who received the compassion and is associated with a mother’s care for her children. David is expressing commitment to the Jesus, who is David’s source of strength, comfort and sustenance. “I love you,” communicates the intimacy of his relationship with the Lord based on experience. 

Do not merely cry out to God. Cry out to God with endearment, for you know what Christ has done for you and knowing that, you know that you truly have nothing to fear. You know where he sits. You know how far he is willing to go to provide everything you need. You know he isn’t safe, but you know He is good.

Around the web

Pastor Wilson gives us some uch needed aphorisms on liberty. https://dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/aphorisms-on-liberty.html

Devotion

Psalm 5 

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. 

Amen

Fattening Calves for the Slaughter

Christ sat on the temple mount teaching and there were those who did not receive his words, for they relied completely on themselves. They were wealthy; two car wealthy. Some had a house they owned, some they rented, they ate meat every day, had an income. They even owned more than two coats and two pairs of shoes. 

They could get medical service when they needed it. Dental too. They could choose between 5 grocery store chains. Two kinds of Thai, hell, even two kinds of decent fried chicken. Even their burgers came from cows healthier than the average kid born in the southern hemisphere. 

They had never known hunger. The cops came when they called for them, aid cars too. They could play any song, from any era, whenever they wanted, as many times as they wanted. They could vote.

They could buy guns. They could turn the heat up or down. Sit in the shade or not. Plant gardens of whatever suited them. They could even water those gardens as often as they wanted. They could pay neighbor kids to mow their lawn. 

They were wealthy and self-sufficient and therefore, they were hard of hearing. 

One of them in the front row didn’t have a bible, didn’t need to verify what the Messenger said, he was just there to listen. The messenger was probably right, maybe not, whatever. The rich man’s mind wandered. He thought of all those fools at home, going about their day, lost in darkness out in the world, missing out on the Lord’s service. He was grateful he was chosen, special, different.

The Messenger mentioned liberals and it was always funny. Always spot on. Those progressives, they don’t know their ear from a hole in the wall. What morons. “Thank God I’m not an idiot,” thought the rich man.

Jesus got up to pray. Our wealthy friend heard him ask God to give them courage and the rich man chuckled to himself. He had never feared anything. Nothing. God loved him so much and took such good care of him. Not like the loser on the side of the road of the offramp; that addict under God’s judgement, probably a registered sex offender too, just like that filth living under the Aurora Bridge. 

The man’s heart was full of gratitude for being who and what he was. He had a full tithe check in his pocket ready to slide into the box. He was an honest hard-working man who wanted for nothing. He was a faithful husband too – it was all just so overwhelming.  

Further back was another well-to-do rich man. But he lingered just inside the door, clutching his bible, listening from afar. Unable to draw any closer, too ashamed to even lift his head. He knew that all the wealth and worldly blessing were just whitewash. He knew inside, he was as corrupt as a corpse three years in the grave. 

“Mercy,” was his half audible prayer. “Mercy.” 

Only one of these men went home Justified. 

Friendship with BLM is Enmity with God

James, the Lord’s brother, led the first church in Jerusalem and wrote the epistle known as James. He wrote it to the scattered church, intending for it to be a circular sermon read at each house meeting, addressing issues common to all Christians. The content of the letter is a summary of both OT wisdom literature and the Sermon on the Mount, rendered in a uniquely concise and poetic form. James’ overall message is that orthodoxy (right doctrine) must be expressed in orthopraxy (right living). 

An important aspect of that right doctrine and right living is loyalty within the body of the Lord, to the Lord. Wisdom and the tongue are the two things James addresses in 3:1-4:12, which were causing dissension within the body of Christ. More specifically, worldliness expressed in a lack of wisdom and a misuse of the tongue is causing dissension within the body. Worldliness is an extreme form of disloyalty to the Lord and was causing enmity, or warfare, within the body of the Lord. 

If Christians are disloyal to the Lord himself, then they will not have peace with the Lord’s body. James 4:4 says that our unfaithfulness to Jesus his friendship with the world and friendship with the world is enmity with God. Enmity means being at war, the opposite of friendship. It means ill-will, hatred, unfriendly dispositions, malevolence. 

This is an echo of the protoevangelium of Genesis 3:15, where the sons of God were at enmity with the sons of Satan which is a poetic description of Man’s fall and subsequent brokenness and estrangement from God. James is essentially saying that loyalty to the world is an act of war on God and His people. 

Some might say that friendship with the world is necessary for evangelism, because relationship is the best means to live out the great commission and the command to love our neighbors. Especially since Jesus ate with prostitutes and drunks and immoral people, compassionately befriending them in the circumstance in which he found them. But Paul is going beyond mere affection or affinity that constitutes casual, neighborly relationships. 

The word that Paul uses is the Greek word for love; Philia – to have love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard – a state of being inclined to help or support someone or something. The Greek word for world is Kosmos – the world system; the people constituting the world whose values, beliefs and morals are in distinction and rebellion to God. We are not called to love the world but hate it. John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Christ has called our hearts, affections, minds and desires out of this world and calls us to focus them on Him, even as our physical bodies remain in this world. We are to be in the world, not of it. The warfare between the kingdom of darkness against the Kingdom of Christ is real and though we fight that war like Christ, we are to seek to save those in the world, without promoting the world’s values and beliefs and morals. 

It’s like neutrality in warfare. A nation cannot say that it is neutral toward both parties of an armed conflict and then sell supplies to one party, aiding them in the conflict. Friendship between nations means lending mutual support. Promoting the welfare and ability of one nation in battle means that you are not neutral, but are friendly – promoting their success, upholding their values, beliefs and morals. Logically, you are not neutral but at war with the third country. 

John Calvin comments that, He calls it the friendship of the world, when men surrender themselves to the corruptions of the world, and become slaves to them. For such and so great is the disagreement between the world and God, that as much as any one inclines to the world, so much he alienates himself from God. Hence the Scripture bids us often to renounce the world, if we wish to serve God.”

Contemporary applications abound. But one prevalent one is the BLM movement. Now, no one can argue with the fact that black lives matter. It is a true statement that ought to be defended. 

However, the organization of the same name is antithetical to Christian values and friendship with God. The BLM creed is social marxism. Marxism is an economic-political theory that the “haves” are oppressing the “have-nots”. The bourgeoise must be toppled and the workers must be ennobled and empowered. 

The BLM form of Marxism is racial rather than financial. Certain races and sexual orientations have all the money, opportunity, power, privilege etc. and they must be toppled, and the oppressed races must be ennobled and empowered. 

It’s a framework for understanding both history and current socio-economic disparities. This social Marxism implores us to see that race is everything, all disparities come down ethnicity.  The social ills of our day are caused by the new bourgeoise – white people. This is the epicenter of the commie revolution in America that is hijacking the real and justified outrage over the death of George Floyd.

The injustice in the world must be remedied. But the heightened outrage is being channeled into support for an organization that is revolutionary and opposed to basic Christian morality. 

Their creed states that are “self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege.” Cisgendered means a sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex. But there are only two genders and those genders depend on one’s sex at birth; “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).” 

The BLM creed states further that they, “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” God gave man the cultural mandate at the beginning of creation and the Word of God places the nuclear family at the heart of society; “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate (Mark 10:5–9).” “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:15). 

The BLM creed closes with this statement, “We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).” This is opposed to biblical morality as we see in 1 Corinthians 6:9; “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality.” 

BLM is at war with God and His Holiness. Their ethos is summed up in Psalm 2:2–3; “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

Promoting the values, beliefs and morals of the BLM movement isn’t neutral. It’s an act of war on God’s holiness. Friendship with BLM is enmity with God. Walking in step with BLM is not right living and promoting their ideology is not right thinking. 

As we seek to right injustices and teach the nations to be disciples of Christ, we cannot compromise with the world and remain neutral to organizations that promote warfare with and hatred of the living God. 

I Don’t Need to Repent of That

A middle schooler sits in PNW history reading, for the first time, about the internment of Japanese Americans during world war II.  He is horrified to learn that 120,000 innocent people were rounded up and imprisoned because some of them might be spies. He thought to himself, “how could the US fight to liberate Europe while simultaneously committing atrocious war crimes against its own people?” 

One of his best friends is a second generation Japanese American. One day after school, at the friend’s house, this young man apologizes to his friend and his whole family, including his grandma, for what Americans had done to their people. 

The family just looks at him in awkward and stunned silence. “but,” his grandmother says, “you didn’t do that…your parents weren’t even alive. And our family was still in Japan, enemies of the United States. But I heard you and my grandson talking about how you were treating your classmate poorly; tomorrow, apologize to him for what you actually did do.” The boys go out to play basketball. 

When we say the United States sinned, what does that mean? The United States isn’t a person. So, who did the sinning? 

When we say that non-Japanese Americans sinned against Japanese Americans who did the sinning? Every non-Japanese american? Against every Japanese American alive then and now? In the case of the Japanese prisoners, US politicians, military officials, local government officials and normal citizens who claimed the businesses and homes of those interred Japanese Americans all participated in particular sins against particular individuals. Specific crimes against Specific people. Who is responsible for those sins? Those war crimes? 

We live in the information age in which we know a great deal about what happened 300 years ago and what is happening 3000 miles away. Meanwhile, we hardly know what is going on 3 houses down our street. When we hear of atrocities, crimes, sins, injustices and wrongs what is our responsibility? 

We are not responsible for the sins of every American or everyone who shares our ethnicity, our language, our creed, etc. 

During the first Crusade, the Christian soldiers marched into the Middle East and promptly slaughtered 30,000 infidels. The problem was, well there are lots of problems with that, but one of them is that they weren’t infidels, they were all Christians who dressed and talked differently than the Germanic soldiers. The first massacre of the first crusade were Christians slaughtering Christians because they looked and talked different. So, you are Christians. Are you responsible for that? 

Does the bible have anything to say about this? Covenantal theology is necessary at this point. A husband is responsible for His wife, a free agent who commits sins. His responsibility does not mean his wife will not answer for her sins, it means he will answer for his sins and her sins. Add children. Add greater and greater spheres of authority and responsibility. 

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. 

Your pastors will give an account for their own sins and yours. This is federal headship, covenantal headship. FDR will give an account for His own Sins and the sins of his administration for Interring Japanese Americans. Mayors, presidents, generals, husbands, mothers, pastors – anyone who has authority and responsibility will give an account for the sins of those in their care. 

We must repent of our worldly thinking. The false belief that the bible has nothing to say about the most difficult questions that face us right now. God’s word is sufficient for the problems of our age, if we have the courage and humility to study it and apply it no matter how unwelcome in the public sphere, we are people of the word. 

Here is an example. Deuteronomy 21:1–3 “If in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess someone is found slain, lying in the open country, and it is not known who killed him, then your elders and your judges shall come out, and they shall measure the distance to the surrounding cities. And the elders of the city that is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer that has never been worked and that has not pulled in a yoke.

Did the whole town repent? No, the elders and judges of the nearest town repented. How were they responsible? They were covenantally responsible, sice the unsolved murder happened in their jurisdiction. Do we want more justice in our community? Then the mayor and judges of Lynnwood ought to repent, on behalf of the city, for every unsolved murder and cold case on record right now. That is biblical justice. And this is just one example. Let us shape our cries for justice with a biblical standard rather than the standard of academics, sociologists, race-baiting social Darwinists. We have a great deal to learn about how to process the injustices we learn about. Whether through history books or the nightly news. 

The struggle is real though, because our culture does not recognize God, his law or the responsibility leaders owe for the sins of their administration. We are tempted to make justice solely an issue of this age. We want vindication now, but we are not promised vindication now. We ought to cry out against injustice, but all injustice will not be reconciled in this age. We can be neither complacent nor without hope. 

In the age to come all injustices will be dealt with by Christ. If that isn’t our ministry than we have a gospel problem. And if that isn’t enough, then we have a gospel problem. We see here an opportunity to pray for our leaders, but prayer doesn’t seem like enough. It seems futile. We want to grasp the levers of power and reshape this world. 

Being a just person is harder than bewailing the injustice we so readily see in others. There is a great temptation in national or ethical repentance. C.S. Lewis sums it up in his essay on national repentance.

 “When we speak of England’s actions we mean the actions of the British Government. The young man who is called upon to repent of England’s foreign policy is really being called upon to repent the acts of his neighbour; for a Foreign Secretary … is certainly a neighbour. And repentance presupposes condemnation. The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing—but, first, of denouncing—the conduct of others.

National repentance can rob us of the crucial virtue of charity. There is a great deal everyone needs to take responsibility for. But does that include you and I repenting for the trail of tears or wounded knee or the Tuskegee Experiment? Those are all hard and important lessons from history. Those kinds of injustices are happening today and there are covenanted authorities responsible for them. 

How about the Chief of the Minneapolis Police department repenting publicly for the negligent homicide of George Floyd? The Obama Administration repenting for the fast and furious program? Every government official who has supported the murder mills of Planned parenthood? 

Want to address injustice? Pray that those who are in authority would count the cost of their authority and responsibility for which they will give an account? That they would be converted and seek to obey God’s law in their office?  

Pray that we all would stop being distracted by things three thousand miles away and things that happened three hundred tears ago and start concerning ourselves a lot more about what’s going on three doors down the street. 

What are the sins of millennials? Gen X-ers? Baby boomers? Things they actually participated in?  

What are the national idols and what is the spirit of the age with which you and I are actively whoring ourselves with right now? We can’t let injustice across the country distract us from the most important injustices that involve each one of us – those injustices we ourselves commit. Those sins of omission and commission affecting our spouse, children, friend, family, neighbors and our larger communities.

You Are Not Christ’s Plunder

Christ’s present role in glory is referred to as his “heavenly session.” Session means “sitting.” Presbyterian churches have a form of church government led by elders, who collectively constitute the session. The body of elders is known as the session because when they meet to deliberate, to establish policy, and to give supervision to the spiritual lives of the Christians under their care, they sit down and discuss these things. Likewise, when we say that Congress is in session, we mean that our representatives are assembled, and in their seats, ready to transact the business of the United States. The word session is appropriate to describe these situations because it is derived from the Latin sessio, which simply means “the act of sitting.” The most important session of all is the session of Jesus Christ in heaven.

In Psalm 110 God sets the Messiah at his right hand as king and priest—as king to see all his enemies under his feet, and as priest to serve God and channel God’s grace forever. This picture is applied directly to Jesus Christ, who since the Ascension actively reigns in the mediatorial kingdom of God. This was the early church’s confession and framework for Jesus’ rule.

Ephesians 1:20–23 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Acts 2:34–35 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ Hebrews 1:13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 1 Peter 3:21–22 through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

In the NT world the triumphal procession was developed by the Romans to celebrate the occasion of a major victory. The victorious general or ruler in ceremonial dress would drive his captives – usually those of high status – and the spoils of war before him through the outer districts and into the very heart of Rome. When the victor arrived at the god’s temple, the prisoners, or representatives of their number, would be executed. In this processional the glory and power of Rome was celebrated, with the triumphant general playing the role of Jupiter, the god who had blessed the warrior with victory in battle. Then distribute the wealth to his followers. Paul employs the image of the Roman triumphal procession to depict the victory of Christ on the cross. Ephesians 4:7–8 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

How does Paul understand his own Christian life amidst these realities? 2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. Continue reading “You Are Not Christ’s Plunder”