Are You Protesting?

There are silly protests—and profoundly important ones. Do you think of yourself as a protester? Why is this church a Protestant church? Protesting involves setting yourself over against some other position—likely an entrenched position. Paul does that in Romans 1:16-19. In a real sense Luther, though he had no intention of starting a movement, much less another church, when he nailed his 95 Theses to the chapel door, Luther was following Paul. Although it was not until 1530 that the term Protestant came to describe what Luther started, Luther was protesting 500 years ago this week.

Do not be ashamed of the gospel. Where are you tempted to be ashamed of the gospel? Paul is explaining his eagerness to come to Rome and speak about the good news. He packs his reasons one inside the other. Paul’s culture considered the gospel foolishness and offensive. So does ours. Where do you face challenges regarding the good news? Paul understood that the issue at Rome affected the heart of the gospel. Can you be right with God by your works or not? Although initially Luther was only protesting abuses of the indulgence system, he came to see that the approach into which the Medieval church had fallen undercut the heart of the gospel. The studying and preaching Luther had been doing in Psalms and Romans was shaping his thinking. Continue reading “Are You Protesting?”

The Glory of the Lord

You’ve worked hard on a project. It’s finally finished—and turned out as well or better than you had hoped. How do you react? Exodus 40:34-38 shows you how God responded to the completion of building the Tabernacle and its furnishings.

Give thanks for the presence of the Lord of Glory. The Lord blessed the completed Tabernacle with his presence. Do you remember that as Israel left Egypt, the Lord showed his presence in the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night? With the Tabernacle finally complete, the glory cloud descends on the Tabernacle and fills it. God was truly with his people. As God created, he paused at the end of several of the creation days and called his work good. In Genesis 1:31, at the end of the creation week, he surveyed the entire creation and pronounced it very good. And then God entered his rest, not because he was weary, but he entered it with the purpose of humankind also entering it. Of course Adam sinned, and instead of sharing God’s rest, instead of moving beyond the time of testing in the Garden to whatever exalted fellowship with his Creator would have resulted, he and Eve were expelled from the Garden. Some of the construction of the Tabernacle reflects the motif of Eden. Now, with it complete, God comes down in the cloud, fills the Tabernacle, and dwells in the midst of his people. It is not only a sign of God’s presence—he is truly with his covenant people. Continue reading “The Glory of the Lord”

Giving from Willing Hearts

Is it true that churches talk about money all the time? Unfortunately, that is sometimes true. But the Bible does have some important things to say about giving (and it does not involve dunning people for money), as Exodus 35:29 makes clear.

Giving flows out of fellowship with your God. The giving in Exodus was for a place for God to live in the midst of his people. The generous giving described flows out of realization that God’s people are forgiven. They have received grace. They deserved the destruction that was threatened for worshiping the golden calf, but now Moses has interceded for them, and for his sake, but especially because of the intercession of One greater than Moses, God is still willing to dwell in their midst. Gratitude is the motive for giving, both here at Sinai, for the Corinthian church, and for you. This Tabernacle that they were building was the Lord’s house. It was not a house for them and God, but rather, it was God’s house. Yes, they could be invited guests, and, as the priests were representatives of the people, they entered it. But the house belonged to him. “The tabernacle, then, represented not merely symbolically the indwelling of God among Israel, but actually contained it. . . . [T]he holy place, no less than the holy of holies, is the place which Jehovah owns alone. At the same time, it must be maintained that the people are received into God’s house as his guests. . . . In the ideal covenant-fellowship, here portrayed, the divine factor is the all-controlling one. Man appears as admitted into, adjusted to, subordinated to, the life of God. Biblical piety is God-centered.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, pp. 170-171). You and I cannot build a house for God, because the time when he was present in the Tabernacle, or later the Temple, has passed. He has a far better temple today, one made of living stones, you his church. A basic reason for the Thank Offering, which will be received in OPC churches next month, is so that this living house of God can be expanded, so that his name will be glorified by many more coming to worship him in Spirit and in truth. Continue reading “Giving from Willing Hearts”

A Radiant Face, a Veil, and the Spirit

When was the last time you saw a man wearing a veil? Exodus 34:29-35 describes Moses wearing one because the people could not bear to see the light radiating from his face.

Moses’ radiant face was veiled. The face of Moses shone with the glory of God. Israel had sinned deeply—to the point that God threatened to destroy them and to make a new nation from Moses. But Moses had interceded, offering even to have his name blotted form God’s book, if possible. Of course, Moses was incapable of redeeming his people, but for the sake of the prophet greater than Moses, the Lord forgave them. Again Moses went up the mountain, saw the glory of God, and received a new engraving of the Commandments, the covenant document. The face to face encounter with God left the face of Moses radiant. The glory of God shone from his face, making the people afraid until he called them near. With his face unveiled he repeated to the people the commands the Lord had given him on the mountain. Instead of destroying his people, God forgave them. He still would bring them into the promised land. He still would be their God. Continue reading “A Radiant Face, a Veil, and the Spirit”