Benjamin Glaser

A Faith Which Believes

If we know ourselves at all we are fully aware that our sentiments can change like a chameleon’s skin. It is not a good barometer of things. If faith is a tangible reality it cannot be shaken or disturbed either by the winds and rains on the lake or by whatever circumstances may be around us, yet if it is merely a blind ephemeral concept it can never be of much help in the day of trouble. There is much more to be learned in how the Scriptures define the word than what cannot be brought forth by emotional manipulation.

In my devotional time yesterday morning I was reading through Luke 8 when I came to the healing of the women who “…having an issue of blood twelve years” came to see Jesus. Y’all know the story well I am sure, and how at the end our Lord says to her, “…Daughter be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” Every time I read that there are a couple of emotions that well up within me (yes, Presbyterians have emotions). First is just joy. The whole scene is worth its weight in gold. She’s been to doctors, faith healers, the works, yet the simple words of Christ is all that it takes for her to be made whole. The picture here of a poor lady, suffering immensely only by providence to see the consolation of Israel present, running to Him, and being relieved of all her pain and anxiousness, is really the story of all of God’s covenant people, and should move us to see a kindred spirit. Second, is a feeling of loss in a sense. I am sure there were many more people in that crowd who may have had similar needs as this woman, and their answer was right in front of them, however, they did not “see” nor seek that which could be found only by looking in the right direction.
There is some irony of course in that Luke 8 also includes the tale of the disciples on the waters freaking out because of a storm. There after Christ has calmed the seas we hear Him testify to the men, “Where is your faith?”. Talking about feelings again one of the ways in which our religion has been watered down in the past couple of centuries is by how the word faith has gone from being a sure and certain rock to being an emotional state. If we know ourselves at all we are fully aware that our sentiments can change like a chameleon’s skin. It is not a good barometer of things. If faith is a tangible reality it cannot be shaken or disturbed either by the winds and rains on the lake or by whatever circumstances may be around us, yet if it is merely a blind ephemeral concept it can never be of much help in the day of trouble.
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Taking the Form of a Servant

Our natural man within us is very selfish and self-indulgent. We need to be on guard at all times to put to death the inclination to seek our own above that of others, especially when it comes to the difficulties of sinful men and women working together for God’s purposes. We may not always realize how we come off. But if our heart’s goal is to put the Lord’s will above all things we have the assurance that it will all come out in the wash.

As we continue to walk through the Larger Catechism one of the blessings of God’s grace that we see in them is the way in which our Lord has provided for us in His life, death, and resurrection to be strengthened by Him and through Him Alone. Every part of the Christian life is what it is because Jesus is the foundation of faith and the source of our obedience to His word. Whenever we start to talk about the things Christ did in His earthly life it is important for us to remember that there were no wasted movements, words, and actions as He walked and talked for three solid years. Each thing Jesus did in His ministry was for a purpose that had long-standing implications for His mission and for the future of His Church. A key aspect of this for today’s study is His coming to this world from Heaven itself.
The monumental work of the Son of God taking on flesh, the Second Person of the Trinity becoming man is a rich place for us to go in helping us to see more clearly, and worship more distinctly and openly and less selfishly as we put ourselves last, and Christ first. Here are the Q/A’s for this week:
Q. 46. What was the estate of Christ’s humiliation?
A. The estate of Christ’s humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of His glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.
Q. 47. How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
A. Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fulness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with divers circumstances of more than ordinary abasement.t
Q. 48. How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A. Christ humbled himself in his life, subjecting himself to the law, which he perfectly fulfilled; and by conflicting with the indignities of the world, temptations of Satan, and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.
Q 49. How did Christ humble himself in his death?
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Being Honest About Who You Are

It wasn’t until Peter stopped running his mouth that Christ could teach him something. Our own arrogance, and embarrassment, stops us many times in life from learning what we should. It isn’t until we are willing to admit that we don’t know that we can find out what is we don’t know. Seems pretty obvious, but why is that so hard for us to do?

Been an exciting few days around these parts. Between the holidays and a wedding there is much reason to be thankful for the mercies of the Lord. This next coming Sabbath Day we’ll be going back to our walk through the Sermon On the Mount at Bethany. Our first dab back into those waters is a little on the interesting providential side, Christ’s teaching on divorce from Matthew 5:31-32. Seems a bit daft to have that be next on the rotation, but God’s providence is always correct. The following passage after that is a word from our Redeemer on the question of vows, which of course have a lot to do with marriage and the responsibilities and duties which follow from it. So for today’s worship and prayer help we are going to take a moment to meditate on what a man’s word means and why it matters for all areas of life, regardless of your marital status.
Of all the things that grant us solace in the Christian life there is probably no greater comfort than the knowledge that God is a God of truth. There is no deceit in the throne room of grace. If Jehovah tells Daniel that he is going to see the day of the return to the promised land regardless of what designs Belshazzar or Darius had for him he was going to see that day. As Robert Burns would say, “The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley. An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!” Or as Jesus tells it, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” So much of the trouble we face, if we are honest, is of our own making. It often is sourced from the fact that we seek to find wisdom in the cart before the horse. If Darius, for instance, had merely taken counsel from the words of Isaiah then he would have surely known his folly. One of the reasons why Christ in His mercy quotes so much from the Old Testament is to witness to us of the inestimable value of knowing that what is to be known is already revealed for our benefit.
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The Destructive Nature of Bitterness

Both Esau and Jacob were members of the covenant family of God, it was not as if these two men were from different parts of the world, they were literally crib brothers. Of course we have to remember that Jacob was obviously not without his own sin. The scheme drawn up by Rebekah is something else, but irrelevant to the situation. Esau is responsible for himself. In one sense it’s not Jacob’s fault that Esau takes the route of allowing the trial of the moment to change the direction of his life. That comes precisely because Esau had allowed the bitterness of his own heart to make everything be seen through that lens of rage and animosity. 

Whenever the Apostle Paul lists out the “vices” in Ephesians or in another one of his letters a particular item which always strikes me as being in some sense the most personally damaging to the soul of an individual is without a doubt: bitterness. Yet the place where it really stands out to me when I am reading God’s word can be found in Paul’s sermon in the epistle to the Hebrews.
There in chapter twelve he says:
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
It’s instructive that when Paul is looking for an example to help the people understand what he is getting on about here he goes back almost to the beginning of the history of Israel, the brother of Israel himself. Those familiar with the story know that Esau was hungry. Ironically the great hunter had no food to eat. So, what does he do? Entreat his brother to make him some stew and the price, which in hindsight is more precious than gold, is something which he felt like he did not need at the time. Take a second and think for a moment why this would be an image a Bible writer like Paul would turn to… For it really shouldn’t take much time to see the wisdom here. What Esau did was not just silly in the moment, it was self-defeating in the long term. His hatred of God manifested itself in the way he considered Jacob, and himself.
The larger context of what the apostle is writing about here is the way the believer deals with suffering in the Christian life. His particular concern is that the lover of Jesus recognize that to be embittered towards those who are persecuting them only gives the tormentor power over them. While it is true to say that we are to rise above pettiness that is definitely one of those truths that is more easily said than done. Our minds are not necessarily drawn towards grace as people we are in conflict with are engaged in doing the kinds of things that really get our goat. Of course, no one reading this in America is really going through any kind of real persecution.
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The Uniting Together of Heaven and Earth

Christ in His humanity could not bear the weight of all the transgressions of the world because the finite cannot handle the infinite. If against God and God alone have we sinned, and if one break of the law is as if we broke the whole of the commandments then our Lord needed to atone for an infinite infinite amount of demerits. That’s why again to fulfill the proper works Jesus had to be first of all born of a virgin, that is without the stain of Adam’s unrighteousness, and of the Holy Spirit so that divinity could take on flesh and be the right sacrifice that we need to be saved from eternal death.

Today in our look at the Larger Catechism we will be spending time considering more about what it means that Jesus Christ is our Mediator. We’ve defined that word enough to be able now to dig deeper into why it matters and to see how it effects our daily walk and life. Some people like to look down on doctrine, saying things like “it’s a relationship, not a religion”. Yet, the problem with thoughts like that is when you utter it you are standing on the shoulders of men who spent a lot of time in concert with the Church in the blessed work of faith seeking understanding. There’s a bit of Paul’s concern at Corinth and Peter’s general worry to those he is writing to in his first epistle. Milk is good, but it’s not filling, it doesn’t make you stronger. There should be a desire to learn more and more of Jesus and His labors on our behalf. Can you get too deep? Sure, I’ll grant it’s possible in the sense of jumping into a pile of wires can entangle oneself, but unravelling them and finding out which cable is for which purpose has its own reward. As we get into the Q/A’s for this week read them, prayer over them, and let’s examine them in turn:
Q. 40. Why was it requisite that the Mediator should be God and man in one person?
A. It was requisite that the Mediator, who was to reconcile God and man, should Himself be both God and man, and this in one person, that the proper works of each nature might be accepted of God for us, and relied on by us, as the works of the whole person.
Q. 41. Why was our Mediator called Jesus?
A. Our Mediator was called Jesus, because He saves His people from their sins.
Q. 42. Why was our Mediator called Christ?
A. Our Mediator was called Christ, because He was anointed with the Holy Ghost above measure; and so set apart, and fully furnished with all authority and ability, to execute the offices of prophet, priest, and king of His church, in the estate both of His humiliation and exaltation.
In his commentary on these questions J.G. Vos helpfully explains why the Mediator had to be God and man in one person, he says:
Because the relation between the works of each of the two natures required that these two natures be united in one person. A divine Mediator could not experience suffering except through a human nature; a human Mediator could not endure the required suffering, except as sustained by a divine nature.
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Strong Men and Strong Women

There is literally nothing more important in this life than the corporate meetings of God’s people as they prep for the heavenly places in Christ. If your local church is opening the doors for worship on the Lord’s Day morning and evening, holding Sabbath School and/or a Wednesday Night bible study/prayer meeting avail yourself of these things. You’re going to need to be strong in faith as the darkness arises. These moments will be quite important as the day approaches. Be strong in Christ and in His word for your blessing.

Growing up is not always for the faint of heart. Grunts and groans as you get up from a chair or walk up the stairs are met with chuckles, but you know we all get there at some point. A new word that has entered the popular lexicon is “adulting”. Young folks use it to describe the switch from having someone else take care of things like paying bills or getting the oil changed in your car to doing it yourself. It’s an eye-opener. Being responsible for yourself is a big step in life. Yet, at some point in time you don’t really have a choice, unfortunately however more and more folks, whether they be Gen Z, Gen X, Gen Y, or Millenial have decided to take up the old Boomer mantra of “Turn on, tune in, and drop out”. Whether they be the drugs which Timothy Leary popularized through his teaching (and which produced that statement) or just the laziness of refusing to deal our culture is one that promotes in several different ways immaturity and irresponsibility. In today’s worship and prayer help we’ll talk a little bit about how this mindset has infiltrated the Church and affects members of the body of Christ, and why that is bad.
A common complaint of the Apostle Paul is the fact that outside of perhaps Thessalonica so many of the converts to the Christian faith were satisfied to take in the milk, and not seek after meat. 1 Corinthians 3 and Hebrews 6 being the most pertinent examples. The question is why does this matter? Milk is good, especially when it’s mixed with sugar and frozen. Paul gives a couple of reasons why both having to do with maintaining the present faith that one has. Babies are naturally defenseless against predators and also have issues feeding themselves. Infant Christians are no different. However, we don’t expect little ones to remain little ones forever. Eventually they get bigger, stronger, and more and more independent. Though no matter how old you are you are never in a position where you need no one else. We are all dependent on someone, yet the kinds of things we need change quite dramatically. All that is to say that when it comes to the spiritual strength required of the believer we do damage to ourselves and our walk with Christ when we refuse to eat the food God provides for us in His grace.
How do we do that?
It’s pretty simple. We live in an age of easy access to information.
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Giving Priority to the LORD of Glory

It’s hard to give a defense for the faith that is within you if you can’t give up the things of the world in order to follow Christ. We show the world how we love Jesus a lot more by how we act and prioritize our life than what we say to them in words. If we do not value the things of God then as the example of the Northern Kingdom shows us the Lord will take them away from us, and then where will we be? Our idols can never give what we lose in not having the fulness of Christ in our being and in our soul.

Jet lag is a thing, but I seem to be handling it well and without much trouble. I was a little bit on the struggle bus yesterday for morning and evening worship along with Sabbath School. However, the Spirit was faithful to give me strength and lead me through it all. It helped that we had a luncheon that fueled me with all the great food I may have missed while in Namibia. Bethany folks can cook like no one’s business and the fact that I was honored to receive so many cards and well-wishes for pastor’s appreciation it made it easy to serve. I am truly a blessed man.
Of the many lessons I learned while at the International Conference of Reformed Churches is that the world is at the same time a lot smaller than I once thought and also a lot bigger at the same time. What I mean by that is when I had the opportunity to speak to folks in the local churches in Windhoek they spoke of similar issues (materialism, globalism, busyness, etc…) that our church back in Clover deals with. There truly is nothing new under the sun. Yet, on the other hand the stories I heard from brothers in India, Indonesia, and Northern Ireland reminded me that while we have issues in the United States they pale in comparison to what our brothers and sisters face in Europe, Africa, and Asia. We are truly privileged to experience what little persecution we undergo in North America. That is not to downplay the real troubles we have on the horizon, but we are not quite in the same ballpark as some of our other brothers. In our prayer and worship help today I want to talk a little bit about what we can learn from how they are handling these troubles for when the piper comes calling on our shores.
As I sat and conversated with brothers from South Sudan as an example a thing that one of the men chuckled in jest as he said it was that they have no chaff in their churches. What he meant by that was that in a cultural situation where being named a follower of Christ has fatal consequences in some cases no one is going to pretend to be a believer. He wasn’t communicating that his local congregation was made up of only the elect, but that serious believers made up the totality of the membership.
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A God Who Holds the Whole World in His Hand

All things depend on Him for all of their existence. The fact you are breathing now is because the Lord has so ordered the earth to produce the proper amount and type of air you need in order that your lungs will inflate and deflate to a sufficient degree that your body stays on this side of the grass. A particular actuality that we do not spend enough time mediating on is how much the physical world which we need to survive is held together by its Creator, and how we can do nothing to make the parameters different than how God designed it. 

Today as the divines open our eyes to see the depth of how God works in history and why He does what He does there is an opportunity here to put a plug in for something we are going to begin to do at Bethany ARP Church on Sunday evenings beginning Sunday November 13th. As we close out Ruth the week before we are then going to start a new series in our second service on the Lord’s Day where we’re going to mainly work through this portion of the Larger Catechism. Gaining a better sense of how God operates in His works of predestination and election, and how that plays out in His providence is vital to dealing with the day-to-day troubles we face as believers living in a sin-soaked world. For those of you unable to attend at that time of night for whatever prudential reason they will be recorded and placed on our YouTube channel.
So as not to spend too much more on this let us go ahead and look at the Q/A’s below:
Q. 18. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory.
Q. 19. What is God’s providence towards the angels?
A. God by his providence permitted some of the angels, wilfully and irrecoverably, to fall into sin and damnation, limiting and ordering that, and all their sins, to his own glory; and established the rest in holiness and happiness; employing them all, at his pleasure, in the administrations of his power, mercy, and justice.
Q. 20. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?
A. The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth; putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself; instituting the Sabbath; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.
One of the truths of the Bible as it relates to these questions is the reality that no created thing ever is independent of God. All things depend on Him for all of their existence.
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Man is Greater Than the Angels

God in making us out of nothing for the glory of His name has provided for His covenant children something they could never do for themselves. If that is not worth praising the LORD in worship, in our lives, and by laying all things at His feet than we’ve missed the point of the Gospel.

Today in our lesson from the Larger Catechism we are continuing to learn about the nature of God’s grace in His work of making all things of nothing. I think sometimes we gloss over just how incomprehensible it is that our Lord has taken that which does not exist and made it to be. The very fact you are reading this and I am typing this is wholly because God is God and we are not. Our totality is dependent on the nature of Jehovah. It’s part of why we must be obedient unto Him in love. We owe everything to Him and as Stephen Charnock makes clear we become practical atheists when we sin primarily because we act as if we can live without and against the world He has made. That is why it is vital for the Christian to be grounded in the work of creation and worship at the opening chapters of Genesis as God reveals Himself to us in His labors in the space of six days. Likewise there is an important distinction, as we touched on last week, between angels and man. It is not just false, but demonstrably so that we become angels, for our Lord has constituted a difference between us in the very first moment of our being made. Angels are made to worship, to “execute His commandments”, but they are not made in His image. There are all kinds of ways that reality informs our lives. Why do we protect life for instance? Because all human beings are made in God’s image and worthy of service. Before we get too much more into that let us go ahead and take a look at our LC Q/A’s for today:
Q. 15. What is the work of creation?A. The work of creation is that wherein God did in the beginning, by the word of his power, make of nothing the world, and all things therein, for Himself, within the space of six days, and all very good.
Q. 16. How did God create angels?A. God created all the angels, spirits, immortal, holy, excelling in knowledge, mighty in power, to execute His commandments, and to praise His name, yet subject to change.
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The Strength of the Citadel of God

It is in the congregation of the holy, those set apart by God to be our keepers and brothers and sisters. If we hope to be fat and flourishing in the spiritual things of the Lord than we cannot neglect His presence, or His people. We are stronger together, and strongest when we are together in His House being fed by His table and bounty.

I was recently listening to a sermon by Joel Beeke where he was talking about the burning desire within the heart of the believer for the righteousness of Jesus Christ. His text was Psalm 71:16 and he was speaking concerning the way in which David in the depths of his troubles with Absalom sought the promise and goodness of God as he struggled with the rebellion of his own son. It is a psalm penned in old age and as the Lord’s king begins to recount the many times in life God was faithful to His trust David is comforted despite his current difficulties to know that regardless of what was happening in the world around him there was always safety in Jehovah’s dwelling place. So many times in the Bible is that same image used to describe the peace the believer knows in the grace and mercy of God that it is probably worthwhile for us to pay attention to it. In today’s prayer and worship help we are going to think through a particular way that the comfort that David knew, and still knows in the Heavens, is available to us as we deal with trials and tribulations in our own day-to-day.
Resting in Christ is a regular returning to the place of safety where we are found under the caring wings of our Savior. David in the psalm noted above says, “Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.”. Something worth taking from the way the Psalmist writes those words is the fact that he recognizes that it is not Jesus who moves away and then David needs to find Him again, but the opposite is true. As he becomes untethered either by his own sin or by his lack of faith (think Peter sinking in the sea) David is brought to peace through the fact that he knows that Christ is always present for him to continually resort. God has told his servant where He is going to be and the great peace that we have is knowing that to be the case, having that commandment, or promise from the LORD that can never be shaken or lost. When we say or read the well-known verse in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” we are living out what David is experiencing in Psalm 71.
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