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A Thanksgiving Meditation: Satisfied!

thanksgiving Ps107

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma. 

A Thanksgiving Meditation: Satisfied!

Meditation on Psalm 65: 4, 11

Blessed is the man whom thou chooseth, and causeth to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even thy holy temple. ...Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.

This year we have seen the bounties of God’s earth. The corn and soybean fields have just been harvested. Already fields are prepared and green for next year with wheat and rye planted. The mighty power of the Creator and the goodness of God’s providence in watering and producing crops teach us that the best gift of all is closeness to God. My mother taught me this when growing up on the farm. In the morning mother would be looking out the window, praying to God for rain for the corn, and dry sunny days for the baling up of the hay.

The Giver is greater than the gifts. Therefore, the greatest benefits in the universe belong to the person whom God chooses, draws near to Himself by the Holy Spirit, and redeems with the precious blood of our Lord Jesus. Oh, how satisfied we are with God’s goodness and holiness! There is nothing sweeter than the sovereign grace of God in Christ Jesus. Sad to say, nothing is more common than for people to enjoy the gifts of creation and providence but have no desire for God. In our gratitude, we must look beyond earthly things to the Giver of earthly and spiritual blessings. Nearness to God is the greatest blessing. The Psalmist says, “we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.”

What does it mean to be satisfied? It means to be full. We have not only a little bit or a taste, but a great abundance so that we are full to the rim. My wife always prepares extra food when we have the children over. After everyone has filled their plate and eaten, we ask, “Would you like to have seconds?” Sometimes the answer comes, “No, I am good!” To which I answer, “No, only God is good. We are depraved.” The children learned quickly to answer, “I am satisfied. I am content. I have had sufficient so that I can have no more.”

Let me apply this to spiritual things. Now I am speaking not about bellies, but spiritual satisfaction that we have with God and the goodness of His house. My heart and soul are full. The opposite is pain and the poverty of sin, being empty spiritually. One who willingly walks in sin is barren and empty. The psalmist says, “Iniquities prevail against me” (vs. 3). These sins overcome me, a multitude of sin from morning to evening. The sins that I repented of yesterday are the sins I find myself falling into again today. The child of God who willingly walks in sin has the experience of the absence of God. God withdraws the experience of His presence for a while. Think of David, after his terrible sin of adultery and murder. His sins unconfessed, David said, “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Ps. 32:3,4). The alternative to satisfaction is the emptiness of sin.

God is His mercy fills our souls. Psalm 65:3 and 4 explains our salvation. “Blessed is the man thou choosest and causeth to approach unto thee.” By His sovereign election, God draws His children to Himself. He forgives all their sins. David writes, “as for our transgressions, thou wilt purge them away” (vs, 3). By His Spirit, He draws us to Himself through the powerful and effectual calling of the gospel. Drawn near, we dwell in His house. This is not merely to church. This dwelling in His house is not only what happens in heaven after our earthly sojourn is over and we see Jesus face to face. What a wonderful day that will be. But now already as we gather as His church on Sunday and for religious holidays and we worship and hear his Word proclaimed. But every day as we live with Him by faith, we walk and talk, and He speaks to us in His Word that lives in our hearts. We know Him day by day. The life that flows in Him flows to us by faith. Already we dwell in heaven because our head, Christ, is there. Dwelling in His courts, we are filled with His goodness: God Himself, His Son, Christ Jesus, and all the blessings of salvation. May the earthly abundance in the field and on the table be to us a picture of the abundance and fatness of our life in Christ Jesus. There is so much spiritual good that our souls are fat with health.

It is not the abundance of the earth that satisfies our need. Our satisfaction is not pinned to our circumstances of life. With the psalmist, we are satisfied with God’s goodness all of our lives, even in hardships, difficulties, set-backs, failures, sickness, and death. We are still satisfied because God has raised our hearts to heaven, He has filled our hearts with himself and our salvation in Christ Jesus. The fruit of this salvation is that we are thankful! Praise waiteth for God in Zion.

Are you satisfied: not only today but every day and in every circumstance? This means that we not only tolerate and put up with our circumstances, but we are glad and full in those days too. Our souls are filled up, and there is no room for more. We have enough with God’s goodness in Christ Jesus! Even as God in creation gives an abundant harvest, God gives us life, abundant life in Christ!

The lovingkindness of my God is more than life to me; So I will bless thee while I live and lift my prayer to thee. In thee my soul is satisfied, my darkness turns to light, And joyful meditations fill the watches of the night.

My Saviour, neath thy sheltering wings my soul delights to dwell; Still closer to thy side I press, for near thee all is well. My soul shall conquer every foe, upholden by thy hand; thy people shall rejoice in God, thy saints in glory stand. (George Stebbins, Psalter #163, based on Psalm 63)

 

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A Mystery Revealed! (Meditation on Eph.3:3-6)

 This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma. 

A Mystery Revealed!

Meditation on Ephesians 3:3-6

How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.

In Ephesians 3, the Apostle Paul used the word “mystery” four times. He used it already in Chapter 1, speaking of “the mystery of God’s will”, namely to bring all things in heaven and earth together under one head, even Christ (vs. 9-10). Paul will use this word again in chapter 5:32, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” But it is mainly in chapter 3 that he develops this doctrine.

What is a mystery? This word is used today in contemporary English as “something that is unknown.” But this is not the way it was used in Paul’s day. In Greek, the word mysterion refers to something known only to the initiated. It is not that the thing itself is unknown. It is known, but only to those to whom it is revealed. Paul used this word to describe something that was unknown before the coming of Christ but is now revealed fully. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members of one body, and share together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

So in our pericope, the word mystery is used three times, and then again in verse 9-11. “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Quite clearly, the mystery is that the Gentiles should be made partakers along with the Jews of God’s great blessings in the church.

But is this really new? Did not God promise to Abraham that all nations and peoples on earth would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:3)? Does not the Psalmist worship God saying, “Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the peoples righteously, and govern the nations upon the earth. Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee” (Ps. 67: 3-5)? But before the coming of Christ, this could only happen as the Gentiles became Jews through proselytizing. A Gentile could approach the God of Israel , but only as an Israelite. He had to become a member of the covenant people through the rite of circumcision. The new thing revealed to Paul is that this approach was no longer necessary. God in Christ had broken down the wall, making one new people out of two previously divided people. Now both Jew and Gentile approach God equally on that new basis.

What the Holy Spirit says about the mystery of God’s creating one new people in Christ is that Jew and Gentile hold their salvation blessings jointly in Christ’s church. Paul does this in verse 6 using three times a Greek prefix ‘syn’ which means ‘together with’. The NIV translation of the Bible probably brings this out the most effectively because it repeats the word ‘together’. It says, “heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promises in Christ Jesus.” The Philips translation says: “equal heirs with his chosen people, equal members and equal partners in God’s promise.”

What a rich concept was revealed: equal or heirs together of all that a person receives or will receive in salvation. There are not two different groups of people that are saved and blessed as premillennialists teach. Jews are not first-rate people, and Gentiles second-rate. They are made one and inherit salvation blessings jointly.

Jew and Gentile are members together of one body, the church. Christ is the head, and all true believers are His body, mystically united to Christ and to one another. This is something into which the people of God must grow and toward one another strive. How is this to happen? It is to happen only as we grow in the love and knowledge of the One who has brought us together. We are equally sinners. We have been equally brought to the same Savior. We have the same salvation.

We share together in the promise in Christ Jesus. While we have many promises, in our text the word ‘promise ‘ is singular. It refers to the promise of redemption made to our first parents Adam and Eve, and repeated over and over in greater clarity in the Old Testament predictions.

This mystery was revealed to the Apostle Paul, and Paul in his preaching and writings makes this mystery known to God’s people. As the Apostle Paul did, may the church today continue to share it with a great variety of races, peoples, and cultures. We are to make it known to the world. Jesus saves!

We have heard the joyful sound, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Spread the tidings all around, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Bear the news to every land, Climb the steeps and cross the waves; Onward! ‘tis our Lord’s command, Jesus saves! Jesus saves! (William Kirkpatrick)

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Covenant PRC Newsletter - November 2020

CPRC NI building

Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

Ballymena, NI
November 20, 2020

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

Church Growth

2020 has seen significant growth in the CPRC. Three Gould households from Antrim, about 11 miles by dual carriage way from Ballymena, started coming to our congregation at the start of March. Kerryann Gould came across us through our YouTube channel and main website (www.cprc.co.uk). Her three children are Aaysha, Somaya and Yossef. Kerryann spoke with her parents, Billy and Anne Gould, and her sister, Grace, about our scriptural doctrines and church. Key issues for the three Gould households were (and are) the Bible’s teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage, and God’sparticular grace in Jesus Christ.

Three saints from continental Europe have moved to Ballymena to join us. Tibor Bognar from Hungary made confession of faith on 26 July. His mother, Boglarka, arrived in our country on 9 September. Ivan Ortu from Sardinia, a large Mediterraneanisland west of mainland Italy, came on 10 October.The Lord used the Hungarian and Italian translations on our website (to which Tibor and Ivan have also contributed) and the British Reformed Fellowship conferences, amongst other things, to bring them to our church.

Two families from the Limerick Reformed Fellowship have relocated to Northern Ireland. Sam and Anga Watterson were received as members on 26 July, along with 3 of their children: Jason, Eleanora, and Jonas. The next Lord’s day, their 3-month-old daughter, Lara, was baptized. Manuel and Emily-Kate Kuhs and their 4 children (Sebastian, Penelope, Felicity,and Elizabeth) moved here in the middle of October.

This, of course, not only manifests itself in increased attendance at both the Sunday services but also in catechism, for we now have 15 students in 4 classes. This growth also benefits the fellowship at our Tuesday morning study on “Saving Faith: A Biblical and Theological Analysis” and our Wednesday night class on the Belgic Confession, which recently concluded its treatment of “Anabaptist Political History and Theory” (Art.36) and began “Eschatology and Time” (Art.37) (www.cprc.co.uk/belgic-confession-class).

We produced a new CPRC address, telephone,and email list (8 November) but not in the foolish spirit of David’s numbering the people in II Samuel 24. We are mindful and thankful that it is the sovereign Christ who builds His church. He does so at the time and in the manner of His choosing (Matt. 16:18), sometimes in ways that are unexpected or tinged with sadness, as with our brothers and sisters coming to us from our (closing) mission field in Limerick.

Coronavirus Restrictions

In order to maintain social distancing during these days of Covid-19, we roped off every other pew in our main auditorium. However, even with this loss of seating and the addition of new people, we are still able to accommo-date all who want to come to our services, though it is getting tighter.

Our church building, which was completed in the summer of 2010, was designed to admit a fair bit of growth. We have added chairs in appropriate places in the auditorium, plus we have a cry room, a balcony (where Tibor translates the sermon into Hungarian for Boglarka) and a narthex. Thankfully, with some planning, a seating chart, and the cooperation of all our people, we have not had to divide the congregation (for example, with half coming to the morning service and the other half to the evening service) and no one has been turned away. The Covid rules and the greater attendance have meant that our Tuesday and Wednesday classes, which formerly were held in the Bible study room, now meet in the (significantly larger) balcony area, for which we have purchased a whiteboard. The catechism classes are now held in various locations in our church building to avoid having to clean one room between each of the classes.

The pandemic made things especially complicated for those who moved country to join us, something that is never easy at the best of times.They had to navigate the coronavirus regulations in Italy, the Republic of Ireland, or Hungary, while putting their own affairs in order, and leaving their homes and jobs, etc., and then settle into a new church, home, job,and land, with its different form of Covid restrictions.

Sometimes even the coronavirus situation in a third country was a factor. Ivan Ortuhad to rearrange his flight route from Sardinia so that he no longer passed through the Netherlands, after the UK added that country to its “blacklist,” for he wanted to avoid a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Northern Ireland.

Fellowship between the people of God is crucial, as the saints build and maintain relationships with each other, giving and receiving support and encouragement in the Lord. This is especially important for new people, particularly those from other nations, but occasions for face-to-face communion outside church meetings have been severely curtailed in the present climate.

Currently in Northern Ireland, the regulations only permit people from one other specified household into one’s own home. Membership classes, which, in the CPRC, typically take place in the home of either the family or the minister, have been put on hold. Even a relatively simple transfer of membership is more difficult, since ordinarily it is our policy for an elder and the pastor to meet with the individuals or families in their homes.

We even decided to forego holding a Reformation day lecture this year (and a wonderful subject had been planned for it!) since, in these coronavirus days, we anticipated having far fewer visitors. Instead, on 28 October, we had our Annual General Meeting (with reports on the congregation’s audio-visual witness, finances, evangelism, etc.), which we had not been able to hold at its usual time in May or June.

Our Websites

We have been live streaming our Lord’s day services by video on Sermon.net since October, 2013. Several months ago, this company from Oklahoma added a function enabling us to simulcast on YouTube and Facebook. With our Sunday services being streamed on three websites, many more people are watching live.

At the recommendation of a lady in our congregation, we now also live stream in audio only (www.cprc.co.uk/live-streaming). This is useful for God’s people who are blind or have limited bandwidth, etc. Jacob Buchanan assembled a new and better, yet cheaper, computer for the live streaming of our services on the Lord’s day. The old one did the job for over seven years before failing.

The CPRC YouTube site has now surpassed ⅓ million video hits (www.youtube.com/user/CPRCNI). Stephen Murray has put in many hours of work, uploading 2,414 videos over the last 11½ years.

 Mary installed a free SEO (search engine optimization) plug-in on our main website (13 June). Besides creating a site map, the SEO plug-in alerts us to, and suggests, minor changes that we can make to advance our rankings in the various search engines. It has resulted in a noticeable increase in people coming to our website through searches.
Another major improvement to www.cprc.co.ukis the addition of push notifi-cations. A good number offolk havesub-scribed already and so will be notified whenev-er we add anything new to the website.
In the 5⅓ months since my last letter (9 June), we have added 151 translations (www.cprc.co.uk/languages). Over ⅔ of these are the 107 Burmese items by Rev. Titus in Myanmar, which we received through a memory stick from John Van Baren. The 18 Spanish translations include all the chapters of Saved by Grace by Prof. Ron Cammenga and Rev. Ron Hanko, as well as materials on God’s covenant and the errors of Charismaticism. The others are 9 Hungarian, 5 Indonesian, 4 Urdu (from friends in Pakistan), and 3 Odia, plus 1 each in French, Romanian, German, Portuguese, and Tamil (Church Order of Dordt).
Other News
On 25 June, I was interviewed on Iron Sharpens Iron Radio on “Regeneration: God’s Gift of a New Heart.” This audio and the earlier interview on “Supernatural and Infallible Regeneration: Most Delightful, Astonishing, Mysterious and Ineffable” are atop our regeneration resources page, which also contains articles, sermons,and quotes on this beautiful subject (www.cprc.co.uk/resources-on-regeneration).
CPRC NI pallet books 2020A pallet of excellent RFPA books and other Protestant Reformed literature, well packed by Alex Kalsbeek, arrived at our house on 29 June. Over the next few days, we attached CPRC Bookstore stickers to the hundreds of items, and put them on shelves and on the floor of the book room at the manse, and in the book cabinet at our church building. Both the number of titles and the amount of stock are larger than they have ever been before.These superb materials will keep us going for some time and benefit a lot of people!
 
Several major improvements were made to the manse and its grounds over the summer. The three youngest Buchanan boys, helped by Colin, their father, replaced rotted posts and planks in two fences, and tightened the sheep netting. My brother, Douglas, painted all the outside of the house. Julian Kennedy and Tommy Duncan help me to spread tons of topsoil and sand to level and improve the manse’s lawns. After spending 14 days quarantining on Northern Ireland’s beautiful north coast, Rev. Ron Hanko and Nancy were able to visit the CPRC during their last week in our province. It was great to see them both again and hear our former pastor preach to us at both of the services on Sunday, 27 September.
 
After recently celebrating his 90th birthday and having written excellent articles in all or almost all of the previous 421 issues, Prof. Hanko decided that the time had come for him to lay aside his work for the Covenant Reformed News (www.cprc.co.uk/covenant-reformed-news). With the October installment, his son, Rev. R. Hanko, who produced almost all of the first (fortnightly) 200 issues, graciously resumed writing for the (now monthly) News after a hiatus of almost 20 years.
 
Yesterday, we posted the new British Reformed Journal(BRJ) to people in the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Canada, India, Germany, Eritrea, Australia, Brazil, etc., as well as a bulk mailing to the RFPA building in Michigan. Paula Roberts of the RFPA is kindly helping to keep our international postage costs down by passing on copies of the BRJ to subscribers in the PRC. Among the current issue’s six articles is “Common Grace in Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism” by Bálint Márk Vásárhelyi, our main Hungarian translator. New subscribers are always welcome (www.britishreformed.org/journal/subscribe).
 
The dates for next summer’s rescheduled British Reformed Fellowship (BRF) family conference are 10-17 July 2021. Prof. David Engelsma and Rev. Andy Lanning are to develop the beautiful truth of our union with Christ at Castlewellan Castle, County Down, Northern Ireland (www.britishreformed.org). Those of you who are interested in going to the conference would doubtless appreciate a 100% guarantee that it will go ahead. However, at this stage, given the uncertainty regarding the dissemination of vaccines internationally, foreign travel regulations, Covid rules for large groups in Northern Ireland in the months ahead, etc., we are not in that position. We will let you know as best we can as soon as we can, especially because we understand that you would need to buy transatlantic flights in order to come.
 
I trust that you will understand and be patient. Our Lord Jesus Christ rules from heaven so that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). May His peace guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:7), as well as our steps.
 
Yours by grace,
Rev. Angus & Mary Stewart
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The House of God Being Built (Meditation on Eph.2:19-22)

 This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma. 

The House of God Being Built

Meditation on Ephesians 2:19-22

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

A major theme of Ephesians is the church. What glorious images of the church are presented to us in our pericope! There is the kingdom of which we are citizens. The second picture is of a family, “ye are…of the household of God.” The third picture is the most carefully developed, a building which turns out to be the temple: “in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Later in the letter Paul develops the images of the church as Christ’s body (chapters 4 and 5), and still later as a well-equipped army (ch. 6)

What a rich imagery the first picture was. The kingdom of God is where God rules. Since God rules over all life and over all worldly kingdoms, there is a sense in which the whole world is God’s kingdom. His kingdom prevails. What a comfort that is in the midst of this world’s chaotic conflicts and changes: Covid-19, tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, fires, the election turnout, and the tumult on the streets and in the church. Those who confess God’s kingship are comforted in the midst of all these changes. We are not to be alarmed by them. God is sovereign! God rules over the world in His power. The kingdoms of this world rise and fall. But God’s kingdom is everlasting, established by Jesus Christ. By grace we are citizens together of this spiritual kingdom which is still coming. No longer strangers and foreigners, but now instead the Ephesians believers and we are fellowcitizens of the saints! We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. God rules us in His grace!

Paul’s second picture was of the church as a family. We are members of God’s household. Wonderful as the relationship of a citizen to a strong, benevolent state may be, family ties are more intimate, the bonds tighter. One is either born into or adopted into it. We dwell in God’s house. We have communion with God and intimate fellowship. We are the family of God. How is this possible? Jesus’s teaching to Nicodemus was: “you must be born again” (John 3:7). Peter wrote in his first letter, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (I Pet. 1:23). Being a member of God’s household brings privileges with it. We have the support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have the oversight of elders and deacons. We have the prayers and fellowship of the saints. We have the preaching of the Word and the sacraments. We have the assurance that God will hear and receive us, and answer our requests out of His mercy. Do you love the church?

The most extensive picture of the church in these verses is that of a temple (vs. 21). It is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone! The strength and durability of a building rests upon its foundation, and that is true of the church also. Jesus is the foundation. The apostles and prophets were the appointed and inspired witnesses to Christ in the first generation, and the word they brought forth is still the foundation of what we believe and confess. We are an apostolic church. Isaiah wrote of the coming of Jesus Christ in these terms: Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste” (Isa. 28:16). Peter writes in I Peter 2:5, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” The stones placed into this great structure are chosen and shaped for their position by God. It is His temple: He is the architect. The stones are placed into position in relationship to Jesus Christ, attached to Him. If not, they are not part of this building. The stones are of different size, shape and color, employed for different functions. This brings out the rich diversity in the one church of Christ. The stones are linked together and contribute to a great building in which God is pleased to dwell. These stones keep on being added until all the elect are born and saved. What a great process this is!

There is this amazing truth for us to contemplate: by grace I have been chosen by God and am shaped by God to be a part of this great building. And even greater is the truth that God is pleased to dwell in His church. The Church is the habitation of God! Shall we not sing the following songs?

I love thy kingdom Lord! The house of thine abode, The church our blest Redeemer saved With his own precious blood. I love thy Church O God! Her walls before thee stand, Dear as the apple of thine eye And graven on thy hand. Beyond my highest joy, I prize her heavenly ways, Her sweet communion, solemn vows, Her hymns of love and praise.” (Aaron Williams)

The church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord; She is his new creation By water and the Word: from heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride; With his own blood he bought her, And for her life he died. Mid toil and tribulation And tumult of her war, She waits the consummation Of peace forever more; till with the vision glorious Her longing eyes are blest, and the great church victorious Shall be the church at rest. (Samuel Wesley)

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Drawn Near by the Triune God! (Meditation on Ephesians 2:18)

 This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma. 

Drawn Near by the Triune God!

Meditation on Ephesians 2:18

 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Look at what the Lord Jesus Christ has done! In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death, we read, “behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matt. 27:51). That the curtain of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom indicates that, as the result of Jesus’ death, sin has been removed as a barrier between God and His elect people. Reconciliation has been achieved, and the way is now open for them to approach God. This is by faith in Jesus Christ and His work. We read in vs. 15 and 16 that Jew and Gentile believers have peace with God and with each other, reconciled to God through the cross.

What is this reconciliation? First, it is a change from a hostile to a friendly relationship. Second, it means that Jew and Gentile are reunited or reconnected. As we are reunited to God through the cross, so also all believers are reunited. There is no more enmity or hostility but complete unity, love, and peace. God has done this through the cross. Because of sin, humanity hated God and hated his neighbor. But as the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom, so reconciliation comes down from above. Before this great work, we were estranged and alienated from God and fellow man. From our end, the situation was entirely hopeless. We could not make reconciliation. Even worse, we would never desire to. But God made reconciliation. God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the full punishment due to us for our sin. He bore it away in His own body by dying on the cross. He came to preach peace: peace with God and peace with fellow believers, those who were afar off and those who were near. He preached peace, that through Him we both have access in one Spirit unto the Father.

Notice, we have the entire Trinity mentioned in our text. In verse 18 we read, “For through him…” This refers to Christ, the Son of God. The access that we have is in the Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. That access is to the Father. Now of course, “the Father” in verse 18 refers to God as Father and as our Father in Jesus Christ our Lord. And that is also in the Holy Spirit. It is to the Triune God we have access. Access means that we can approach God, come near to Him so that we can have fellowship with Him. We have access toward the Father. This results in and has its final purpose in our being near to God and having fellowship with Him. This is the truth of the covenant!

The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ received by Him in His ascension. He is the Spirit that was poured out on the church at Pentecost, poured out on Jew and Gentile Christian. Both have the same Spirit. This is what Peter experienced when he was called to go to the house of Cornelius. The Holy Spirit came upon that house, so there was nothing Peter could do but baptize his household (Acts 10:44-48). This Spirit dwells in all believers. Without that Spirit, we could have no access to the Father. That Spirit is the regenerating Spirit, creating in us new life. That new life is the life of love, love to God and love to one another. It is by that one Spirit that we are inclined to seek access to God. It is by that Spirit that we are enabled to seek access and to accomplish that access unto the Father. What sweet communion we enjoy! Sing then and rejoice with great joy! We are drawn near to God by God Himself, the Triune God. How we need greater love to God! How we need greater love for one another!

All nations are one at the foot of the cross. Despite our tendency to exalt ourselves and judge others based on race or culture, all believers are one and Christ is all. Let us therefore repent of our arrogance and welcome one another! Yes, the gospel demands humility. What have we to boast? Our salvation is entirely due to God’s grace alone. Let us come in meekness before the Lord Jesus, and give all the glory to God! What a story we have to tell to the nations.

Dwell in me, O blessed Spirit! How I need thy help divine! In the way of life eternal, keep, O keep this heart of mine! Round the cross where thou hast led me, let my purest feelings twine. With the blood from sin that cleansed me, seal anew this heart of mine. Let me feel thy sacred presence; then my faith will ne’er decline. Comfort thou and help me onward; fill with love this heart of mine. Dwell in me, O blessed Spirit! Gracious Teacher, Friend divine! For the home of bliss that waits me, O prepare this heart of mine. (G. Berky)

I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice, and it told thy love to me; But I long to rise in the arms of faith and be closer drawn to thee. Consecrate me now to thy service, Lord, by the power of grace divine; Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope and my will be lost in thine. O the pure delight of a single hour that before thy throne I spend, when I kneel in prayer with thee, my God, I commune as friend with friend. Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord, to the cross where Thou hast died; draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord, to thy precious bleeding side. (Fanny Crosby)

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And the Walls Came Tumbling Down! (Meditation on Ephesians 2:14-19)

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma. 

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down!

Meditation on Ephesians 2:14-19

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.

The wall has been broken down! No, we are not talking about the house that the foolish man built upon the sand. Nor are we speaking about the Berlin wall that was torn down. And we are not referring to the wall that President Trump is building on our southern border with Mexico. The subject is God. God has “broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” The Apostle Paul wrote about the wall of hostility that existed between the Jews and Gentiles. This was not a literal wall. Paul used a figure of speech. He was describing the Gentile believers in Ephesus. They were once afar off and called the Uncircumcision. They had been without Christ, and were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. But they have been brought near. There is in Christ no separation between Jew and Gentile. The Gentiles were no longer strangers to the covenants of promise. The barrier between Jew and Gentile was erased by the blood of Christ Jesus!

The wall of separation was a wall of enmity. The Gentiles hated Israel when Israel was in the land of Canaan. Think of the many battles of Israel against the Philistines, the Moabites, Amorites, Canaanites, Assyrians, and Babylonians. Oh, there is still bitter enmity. It is not of Gentiles against Israel, but the world against the church of Jesus Christ. This is a enmity that God created after Adam’s fall into sin (Gen. 3:15).

In the Old Testament, God chose to save His people from the line of Seth, and later the line of Abraham. God had a relationship of love and grace only with the descendants of Jacob. Salvation, adoption, glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises pertained to the Israelites (Rom. 9:4,5). Jesus Christ in His human nature, especially on the cross put to naught the law of commandments. In His entire life and especially on the cross He took away the curse of the law. Jew and Gentile had been under the curse of the law because of their sin.

By breaking down the wall of partition, the wall of hostility, God brought peace between the Jews and the Gentiles. The purpose of God was to make one out of the two, to create of the two in Himself one new man, making peace. It is the union of Israel and the Gentiles. The separation between Israel and the Gentiles has ceased, and they have become one. After the blood of the cross, the separation has been taken away. For Christ Himself is our peace. Christ is our peace in relation to God. But that is not the idea of the apostle in our text. Christ has of Jew and Gentile made one new man, so making peace. “One new man” refers to the union of Israel and the Gentiles. They are one in their salvation. As Paul put it in Gal. 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abrahams’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” So Christ in Himself is the principle of the union between Jew and Gentile, making peace, forming out of the two His church. Jew and Gentile are reconciled to God in one body through the cross.

What does this mean? First, that all people are in the state of guilt. Second, it means that we were under the wrath of God and must be punished. Third, there is only one way in which our state of guilt can be changed into a state of righteousness and favor. Fourth, we could never do that ourselves. Only Jesus Christ could bear our guilt and punishment willingly and in love to God. He did that all of His life, but especially on the cross. What a Savior! Bearing the terrible wrath of God in behalf of His people, He reconciled us to God. The cross is the means.

What does Christ now do? He preaches peace to us. This preaching of Christ takes place after His death and resurrection. He came by His Spirit and through the apostles in the ministry of the Word. And this is how He still comes today, preaching peace. How precious then are our worship services in which the preaching of the gospel is central. The subject of the preaching is always Christ Jesus. This is the reason why the church today must do missions. God has His people in every tribe, nation, and culture. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). Are you excited as you behold Christ gathering and building His church from Jew and Gentile?

We’ve a story to tell to the nations that shall turn their hearts to the right, A story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and right, For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noon-day bright, And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, The Kingdom of love and light.

e’ve a Savior to show to the nations who the path of sorrow hath trod, That all of the world’s great peoples might come to the truth of God. For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noon-day bright, And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, The Kingdom of love and light. H. Ernest Nichol

Far and near the fields are teeming, With the sheaves of ripened grain. Far and near their gold is gleaming O’er the sunny slope and plain. Lord of harvest, send forth reapers! Hear us Lord, to thee we cry; Send them now the sheaves to gather. Ere the harvest times pass by.  James Thompson

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