Andrew Kerr

The Son & The Sabbath

Not only was rest given for the enjoyment of Lord Adam of Eden: the ultimate beneficial reason for the giving of the Sabbath to the human race, was so that when the Word took Flesh, Jesus, Himself, might sanctify this day of rest. From before the world was made, the Logos fully intended to use the Sabbath Day to bring blessing to the world. 

Over the past two weeks, given Christ’s statement in the Gospels, I’ve been mulling over the question of how the Sabbath of Creation connects with Christ as Son.
The Sabbath was Made by The Son.
We are plainly told in Genesis that, having concluded Creation work,  God set Day Seven apart. At this particular junction in divine revelation, Moses is not concerned with the Persons of the Godhead: if explicit mention of the Father, Son and Spirit of Yahweh is held back to the Baptism of Christ, we know from New Testament references that, as The Pre-Incarnate Logos, God the Son was The Agent of Creation who also gave the Sabbath Ordinance.
In all of the external works of God (or opera ad extra), all Three Glorious Persons of the Godhead are active: we must clearly state that if the Father ordained the Sabbath by the Spirit, the Seventh Day of Rest, equally, is the Son’s gift to mankind. Or, at risk of stating the matter in an anachronistic fashion, the origin of the Sabbath can be traced to the now-Enfleshed Word. His sanctifying that day by setting it apart as special could have been intensive (most sacred), factitive (made sacred), or declarative (marked sacred), or perhaps all three. Whatever the precise nuance involved in demarcation of the Seventh Day, let us be very clear that having made that Day, the Sabbath belongs to Him. It is not an exaggeration to call it the Sabbath of the Son.
The Sabbath was Made for The Son.
Not only was rest given for the enjoyment of Lord Adam of Eden: the ultimate beneficial reason for the giving of the Sabbath to the human race, was so that when the Word took Flesh, Jesus, Himself, might sanctify this day of rest. From before the world was made, the Logos fully intended to use the Sabbath Day to bring blessing to the world. Not only did Christ hallow this day of worship growing up, but for 3 three years of Sabbaths, this time was set apart, from the rest of His hectic weeks, for some of His most notable words and works of public ministry among Jews.
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Jesus and the Jews – Part I

Until we accept that human free will does not determine who is saved, we will still remain confused about the place of Israel (Romans 9:14-29). More examples follow as Paul cites Law and Prophets – a most basic fact about the God of Sinai is that He was just and right to raise-up and reprobate Pharaoh in order to display His power & glory. His will alone fixes who is mercifully softened and who is justly hardened. Equally, we must embrace the truth that creatures never have any claim or leverage on the Creator. 

Interpretation
The proper procedure, in settling this question, is to read obscure OT prophecies in light of clear NT texts of Romans 9-12. What is God’s role for Paul’s genetic kin?
Procedure
What I want to do, in this first blog on the subject, without claiming to be an expert, is to lay down some principles to help find answers to this question.
Principle 1 – We will only find right answers if we have the mind of Christ and unceasing anguish in our heart (Romans 9:1-3).
While the language sounds extreme, Paul didn’t fake or lie – in union with Christ, by the Holy Spirit, he acknowledged his debt to his religious heritage & wished he could be crucified to save His fellow countrymen. In our heart, if we care little for Jews or Greeks, it is highly unlikely we will gain insight into this truth. Confess all indifference to perishing fellow countrymen, disregard for Gospel heritage, and sinful antisemitic views.
Principle 2 – We will only grasp the place of the Jews in the plan of God to the extent we understand the Old Testament history of Israel is part of the unfolding Gospel (Romans 9:4-5)
The call of Abram, election of Israel, Red Sea Crossing, Lawgiving at Mount Sinai, Shekinah Presence, Noah-to-David Covenants, trace the progress of God’s eternal, sovereign, gracious, purpose to save a people for Himself. At no point was this purpose jettisoned or blocked. With every step, the relentless will of God advanced with a momentous, messianic, march to the time of Jesus’ birth.
The mistake of many who consider these things is that they drive a wedge and create a disconnect between Abraham and Noah, Moses and Abraham, and David and Moses – a wedge is inserted which (in their minds) dams up the stream of Gospel grace of God. Light will start to shine to the degree that we observe that, form beginning to end, the Bible is One Book with a single, unified, message from start to finish: Divine Revelation in Redemptive History is a progressive, historical, organic, unfolding of the “Seed Promise of Eden” that was given to Adam (Genesis 3:15), which will only be complete when we eat of the fruit of Revelation’s Tree of Life.
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What Really Counts?

Even in gathered churches, hearers must be warned as well as being cheered; the Gospel is always relevant to ongoing life in church; flaws in practice may red-flag faulty profession; the best proof of a state of grace is Christ’s own progressive, inward, spiritual, loving, renewing, life in us.

Sorry Introduction
I recall a few years back having a quiet conversation with a shocked, disappointed, chastened, and influential fellow-pastor. Following the tragic demise of a famous Christian leader, his serious, solemn, words struck an unforgettable note: “Never again,” said added, “will I preach to a church and assume everyone is saved!”
Gospel Battlefield
It takes us to the heart of what the Apostle Paul is saying in his epistle to the Galatians – during one of his missionary visits, occasioned by his own ophthalmic problems, the people welcomed the message and were gathered into God’s Church. Then twisters came along to corrupt free grace with works – conflict was the result.
Distinctive Traits
Two groups are distinguished by paradigmatic statements made in a legalistic context: mere profession may be accompanied by legal rites, religious feasts, pulpit texts, winsome acts, religious pomp, flowery prayers and loud claims, but without new birth, and faith at work through love, there is no justification by saving grace.
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Blessed are Those Who Mourn ..for They Shall be Comforted

The wrath of death make life necessarily brief! Fear of wrath and hope of bliss means, for sinner and saints, there is no more time to waste! Break with guilty past! Seize the blessed hope! Bear fruit while life lasts before you leave to be with Christ!

Psalm 90 in Psalter Sequence
Canonically positioned by Ezra at the beginning of Book IV of the Psalter, it provides a long-term solution to the trauma of the exile and Dynastic kingdom crisis.
The congregation returning from Babylon in the Second Temple Persian period now answers the call of the Prophets of the LORD, and at last turns back to Moses.
Past Anguish v1-11
A heart-rending, broken-hearted, cry of repentance bubbles up from the depths of pain of Israel’s shepherd-man-of-God on the plains of Moab in sight of Pisgah.
The prayer of this penitent, face-to-face, with the Eternal, Holy, God, confesses repeated, rebellious, Covenant breach and fully-deserved, all-consuming, terrifying, deadly, wrath.
For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? – Psalm 90:7-11
For the Generation who fell in sand, before Israel reached the Promised Land, there could be no escape – as Adam found out, there is no such thing as truly-secret sins with God. All is laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
For the Generation who fell by sword, the experience of Jews in Exile was the same – chastened by wrath both now unite, by the Spirit of Christ, to break with their guilt and come back home to God, their true and timeless Dwelling Place.
The stench of the deconstruction of death now gives way to the smile of the reconstruction of renewed covenant life and Israel’s everlasting hope
Present Anticipation v12-17
With selfless intercession, the brother of High Priest Aaron prays for the conquest generation – and by implication, he also supplicates, for the post-exilic remnant he knew would return, sorely-chastened, just as he had predicted.
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Got the Lot?

The marvel of the Gospel is how we come to share such hope! Just like the lost, we, like the rest, deserve to incinerate. “There go I, but for the grace of God!”It is by Sovereign Grace alone, and the Cross of Christ, where fanned-up wrath of the Father’s fire and brimstone scorched, that we, in the end, might, gaze on the bright sight of glory in His face.

When fidelity, honesty, society, morality and true biblical spirituality are turned on their head, and life turns upside down, most stresses and voices yield a counsel of despair.
Yet in David’s day, about 1000 BC, with His Kingdom perched on the brink, and about to slide off the cliff, this “bird in the cage” was not about to concede ground to the impulse of “flight or fight” – instead the Old Testament Christ is resolute in trust.
1 In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” – Psalm 11:1-3
It is the believing visualization of evil’s ultimate lot that brings sanity to the mind, confidence to the heart and endurance of such trials, if we are tempted to give up.
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Dispelling Unbelief

The closing account of the Gospel of Matthew helps us get inside the mind of those who see Christ but remain blind. Five things are mentioned about the report of some of the guards who were stationed at Christ’s Tomb and bore witness to the truth that Jesus had risen from the grave – in their unbiased minds, a terrifying earthquake and petrifying angel, beyond any reasonable doubt, had brought the facts of Messianic death and immortality to light.

It will never cease to amaze me why those so close to text refuse to accept Truth. Is it not a puzzling wonder why countrymen of Christ should deny their own Messiah? The closing account of the Gospel of Matthew helps us get inside the mind of those who see Christ but remain blind.
11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day – Matthew 28:11-15
Five things are mentioned about the report of some of the guards who were stationed at Christ’s Tomb and bore witness to the truth that Jesus had risen from the grave – in their unbiased minds, a terrifying earthquake and petrifying angel, beyond any reasonable doubt, had brought the facts of Messianic death and immortality to light.
First the Testimony of the Guards.
Some of those posted to guard the tomb on pains of death freely testified to the miraculous events and facts of the case – the ground shook, the stone rolled, the angel blazed, the guards froze and the tomb had been vacated by the man who was now resurrected.
Second the Consideration of the Guards.
In response to this report, the Sanhedrin was convened so that the elders of the Jews might formulate a response to this predicted turn of events.
Third the Enticement of the Guards.
A decision was made to make a one-off payment to the guards to bribe them to suppress the evidence of Christ’s case: in addition, firm instructions were given as to what they should inform any inquiring heart that asked.
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Keep it to Yourself?

The Library of the LORD, of course, aims to humble us in the dust; but the Torah’s grand design, once we have recognized our fault, is to elevate the heart, and then recreate and convert, through faith, with a justifying, sin-forsaking, sight of mercy in Christ. Revelation both General, Special and Final? In light of Old and New Creation facts, how can you, brothers and sisters, keep the Gospel to yourself?

How can you keep the truth of Scripture to yourself? This, I reckon, was in the forefront of his thoughts, as the Apostle quotes Psalm 19: initially it referred to General Revelation in Nature – this for Paul becomes theological warrant, and biblical impetus, as he cites this song, to blaze out the truth of Christ.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” ..17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world” – Romans 10:14-18.
After all, he must have thought, are the Holy Scriptures not a far superior mode of revelation than solar radiation that illuminates Creation? The Instruction of Yahweh is light-giving, pure and clear; it is worth investing in infinitely more than gold; it is sweet to taste-buds, and God’s own Spirit-utilized power-tool to do the Redeemer’s work; God’s truth, simply put, is the ultimate, exquisite, delight to rejoice the heart.
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb – Psalm 19:7-10.
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A Model Church

Thank the God of truth for each and every stirring sermon, instructive doctrine, family devotion and private reading – these are Gospel means by which the Holy Spirit brings us to our knees, draws forth earnest prayers, floods our souls with light, so we might be stirred to grow in grace in the knowledge and power of Christ.

If you could get rid of all the traditions and build a church from scratch what would it be like? Do you have one particular blueprint, template or model in mind? Would the principle focus be the pulpit, pew or program? I suspect there are as many different shades of opinion on that question as there are Gentle Reformation readers.
If the most biblically-minded, in seeking answers, tend to gravitate towards Acts, the resounding example Paul gives is that of the Thessalonian Church. He begins his letter with thanks for self-evident, genuine faith: he then continues a confident boast, in the election of these saints, with some marks of God’s “Model Church”. Let me just mention THREE:
Firstly, the Power of the Truth
If, by contemporary standards, Paul’s earthy expressions lacked rhetorical polish, this preacher packed a punch – his message, as 1:5 indicates, was Spirit-empowered, Scripture-unfolding, Christ-portraying, mind-enlightening, conscience-penetrating, guilt-inducing, soul-awakening and salvation-bringing.
Our Gospel came to you not only in word but also  in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
Thank the God of truth for each and every stirring sermon, instructive doctrine, family devotion and private reading – these are Gospel means by which the Holy Spirit brings us to our knees, draws forth earnest prayers, floods our souls with light, so we might be stirred to grow in grace in the knowledge and power of Christ.
Secondly, the Pattern of the Cross
If Silas and Timothy remained for follow-up discipleship, sound foundations were laid in Paul’s initial, intensive, three-week, mission event.
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