Five Points Blog

The Son’s Dying Compassion


While the Son of God hangs upon the cross, brutally scourged, savagely beaten, falsely accused, publicly humiliated, cruelly abandoned and dying, he shows astonishing compassion. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’” (John 19:26).

 If Jesus cares for his natural mother Mary with such great compassion, how much more will he show compassion to all his disciples who hear his Word and obey it? Do you remember Christ’s values displayed when he learned his mother desired to see him? He said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Luke 8:21). If Jesus cares for his earthly mother so tenderly, he will care for his gladly obedient spiritual kin even more!

 And if the Son is full of compassion while suffering the world’s most excruciating death, greater still is Christ’s compassion now that he reigns in power and glory! I can’t but soar with Paul at Christ’s infinite power for his own: "What is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” (Ephesians 1:19)! All such power is released in compassion on those who trust in him.

 And what a holy charge Jesus gives to John: “Care for my mother when I die!” The puritan commentator Matthew Henry observes, “If he who knows all things had not known that John loved him, he would not have made him his mother's guardian. It is a great honor to be employed for Christ, and to be entrusted with any of his interest in the world.”

 Never doubt Christ’s compassion for you as a child of his love, but surge with Christ’s compassion for the grieving he has placed around you. 


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we revel in the compassion Christ has shown us.


What Does Glory Look Like?


How do you know God’s glory rests upon you? The Spirit of God wants you to be confident in your salvation, that the glory of God can be seen in your life. After exulting in the majestic plan of salvation for eleven mighty verses (v.3-14), Paul applies it to real individuals in v. 15-16, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

Inspired by God, Paul knows how important the question is, “How do the Ephesians (and the rest of us) tell for sure if they are among those elect from before the foundation of the world (v.4)?” We only have to look in our lives for the two evidences Paul looked for in theirs: “Because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints.” There they are, faith in the Lord and love for other believers. Those are the two signs that Paul looks for in the Ephesians to confirm that God’s glory rests upon them and that they are saved.

You can tell Paul elevates these two tests, faith and love, up to the level of life assurance because he begins v. 15 with the phrase “for this reason.” Since all these glorious doctrines of grace are true, they therefore have power to effect God-ward change in the lives of those in whom they operate. What change? They produce faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and love for others on whom God has set his glory. 

So pause and ask yourself: Is there within you a deep delight in God through his son Jesus Christ, and a genuine, zealous love for other believers? If yes, his glory rests upon you.


Guaranteed?


Is anything in life guaranteed? Some say only death and taxes. But in reality, neither are. For those who are beloved of God, death has been defanged and taxes are only temporary. What is guaranteed is God himself by His Spirit.

The sealing of the Spirit in the life of each believer guarantees that soul a future inheritance in God’s kingdom. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

That word ‘guarantee’ is a strong word. It refers to earnest money in a land deal. It shows the good faith and commitment of a buyer to follow through with a transaction. The Spirit’s guarantee is of our future resurrection from the dead. Listen to Paul in 2 Corinthians 5, “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5:4-5).

Our future inheritance is not material wealth to be enjoyed after a parent’s death. It is living with the everlasting Father and enjoying His presence, His love and His Son in a place free of need and full of joy. This is what the Spirit guarantees.

How does one enjoy this Spirit-granted guarantee? Paul answers in verse 18 of Ephesians 1, “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…”   Earnest prayer opens heart-eyes to know the hope and riches of our inheritance.  I pray that way for myself, my family and all of you.

 

Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we revel in the God who has guaranteed us life everlasting.


Sealed by the Spirit of God


When the Apostle Paul proclaims we were “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” what does he mean? Ephesians 1:13, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”

 This sealing by the Spirit of God is his giving of himself to dwell personally and experientially within the soul of genuine believers. Evidence that the Spirit dwells within us is that he can be grieved: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). One of the most important effects of being in Christ is being sealed by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

So what does this mean? The Scriptures uses the word “sealed” to convey three related meanings: to guarantee authenticity—like a follower makes authentic a leader’s influence; closing something in—the way Jesus’ body was sealed in the grave; and to protect something precious from being mixed or polluted—the way believers are sealed to show God’s ownership and thus protection from future wrath.

 All three meanings benefit you as you are in Christ. You are sealed to guarantee to yourself and others that you are truly God’s. The Spirit’s sealing closes you with God and keeps you in him. And your sealing proclaims to others, especially your enemies, that you are God’s and so to harm you awakens his glorious envy for his own!

 Can you imagine the fierce intensity of God’s loving ownership over you? Let Paul’s words to the Corinthians seal his sealing for you: “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).


Join us this Sunday for Bible Study Hour at 9:30am and for our morning worship service at 10:45am as we revel in the God who has sealed us by His Spirit.


A Visit to Oxford University


Teaching has existed at Oxford, England since the year 1096. Today, Oxford University is the oldest place of learning in the English-speaking world; it has been a school for 918 years. From its early days, Oxford was a center for lively controversy, with scholars involved in religious and political disputes. John Wycliffe, a 14th-century professor, campaigned for a Bible in the vernacular against the wishes of the papacy. During the Reformation in the 16th century, the Anglican churchmen Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley were tried for heresy and burnt at the stake in Oxford. In the late 17th century, the Oxford philosopher John Locke, suspected of treason, was forced to flee the country. The 18th-century professor of geometry, Edmund Halley, predicted the return of the comet that bears his name, and John and Charles Wesley's prayer meetings laid the foundations of the Methodist Society.

It was at this historic wellspring of scholars that C. S. Lewis schooled, graduated, and later taught in its halls. He was the famous Christian apologist who helped steady the courage of the British people during World War II with his weekly radio program of hope and faith; the famous debater of his time who challenged the atheists with well-reasoned arguments for the truthfulness of Christianity; the author of many Christian-focused fiction and non-fiction books widely read today.

I was privileged to be traveling to this place last October to attend a conference on C. S. Lewis knowing full well that I did not comprehend the impact this school and its graduates have had on the world. I left a week later having had my brain crushed under the weight of trying to absorb a fraction of what was shared on Lewis, his life, his views, his faith, his thinking, and the heights of his intellect which call us upward to a God we will never stop knowing more fully. Among the speakers was Dr. Michael Ward, a research fellow at Oxford and author of The Narnia Code.

Each morning Dr. Ward shared a part of his amazing insight into how Lewis loved myth, lore, and stories of medieval literature (Lewis’ academic focus). One story of Lewis’ life that was shared was how before Lewis was a Christian, his friend J.R.R. Tolkien would share the gospel with him. One day as they walked together, Tolkien—remembering Lewis’ love of mythology—said, “What if one of those myths you love were actually true?” Tolkien talked to Lewis of the story of a person who so loved that he gave himself, so that others might live. Lewis knew this story—it was common in the ancient medieval myths. It speaks to a desire for virtue common to all people. This was the turning point in Lewis’ life, the day he began to realize, “What if one of those myths actually happened?”

Lewis went on to lecture and write on medieval literature in a new way. It was no longer mankind’s existential hope in virtue but now a foreshadowing of the true myth. Lewis would write about how we live in a “shadow land” that is only the weakest of images of what is waiting for us. We live now as vapors full of holes, but then we will be solid for the first time. We go to a reality that will not compare to this world, to a glory that has weight.

The mythological story form Lewis uses in his fiction enables us to identify, to feel, to experience more fully the truthfulness of ideas in our world in a way that speaks to our humanness. God makes us both rational and imaginative—by using both we can know God more fully.

Join us for a two-part event, “A Voyage into Narnia,” that will help you understand and appreciate more of C. S. Lewis, his world of Narnia, and how he intended for us to see God by breathing Narnian air. On Wednesday, May 28, Dr. Michael Ward will join us to discuss the imagery of Narnia that C.S. Lewis used to speak to our souls and draw us to God. And on Saturday, May 31, Joe Rigney, professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary and author of Live Like a Narnian, will apply Lewis’ Chronicles to our call to be and make disciples.


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