Month: December 2018

Pastor's Blog

Merry Christmas

“See amid the winter’s snow,
Born for us on earth below,
See the tender Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.

“Hail, thou ever-blessed morn!
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

– Edward Caswell

“‘She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”

  – Matthew 2:21-23, ESV

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“Sit at My Right Hand.”

On Sunday, I mentioned that Psalm 110:1 is quoted in the New Testament more than almost any other Old Testament passage. This verse is so significant because it answers an all-important question: if Jesus is the son of David, then where is He? Answer: right where Psalm 110:1 says we should expect Him to be.

Below, you can read some of the ways that this verse is referred to by Jesus and the authors of the New Testament. Hopefully, this helps you understand even more what King Jesus is doing right now, how important Psalm 110:1 is in helping us understand this, and what this all might mean for us as His subjects.

“Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet‘ “? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?’ And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:41–46. See also Mark 12:36 & Luke 20:42.)

“This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 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.” ‘” (Acts 2:32–35)

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:20–26)

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 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.” (Ephesians 1:16–21)

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:1–4)

“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‘?” (Hebrews 1:13)

“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” (Hebrews 8:1–2)

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:11–14)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1–2)

“Jesus Christ… has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” (1 Peter 3:21–22)

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Christianity and Nationalism

In this past Sunday’s message, I made the statement that “there must be zero tolerance among us for attitudes of racism or nationalism.”

Perhaps you’re unsure of what I meant by that last word—“nationalism.” Maybe you’ve heard it used as an antonym for “globalism,” which is certainly not the sense I had in mind. So what is “nationalism”? The Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as an “ideology based on the premise that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass other individual or group interests.”

Mirriam-Webster defines it like this: “loyalty and devotion to a nation especially: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.”

According to these definitions, I hope it’s clear why Christianity and nationalism are incompatible. As followers of King Jesus, our primary emphasis should never be to promote the culture and interests of our country, but rather the interests of the Kingdom of God. Similarly, our devotion and loyalty to Christ must be greater than all other loyalties—including our loyalty to our country. Because, as Hebrews 11:13 says, God’s people have always been “strangers and exiles on the earth.” Similarly, 1 Peter 2:11 refers to us as “sojourners and exiles.” And Philippians 3:20 reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven.”

And like we heard on Sunday, Christians should have a special interest in those from other nations, because God does, and He’s told us to have the same (Matthew 28:19).

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Christians can’t be patriotic or practice good citizenship. It doesn’t mean that Christians should be apathetic about political issues like immigration policy or state sovereignty.

What it does mean is that the interests of the Kingdom of God should take first place in our heart, and that we view all of these other issues—and all of the individuals represented by these issues—through the lens of the Great Commission, which is to say, God’s heart to bless the nations.

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A Great Name

In Genesis 11, the Babel-builders say to themselves, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).

You just need to read the next few verses to hear how that ended. Short version: not well. There’s humour in the fact that God had to “come down” to see the city and tower (Genesis 11:5), and He was not at all interested in their plans to make a name for themselves.

There’s rich irony, then, in the fact that this chapter ends by introducing us to a man from this very same part of the world (Genesis 11:27-28) who hears the following promise from God: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great” (Genesis 12:1–2).

“I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.’” For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. 

Psalm 75:4–7, ESV.