One Faith

It has sometimes been taught that those in the Old Testament had one way of salvation (obedience to the law) while those in the New Testament (as well as for us today) have another way of salvation (trust in the Lord).  But there is only way for anyone to be saved and that is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  There is one body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God and Father for those in Christ (Eph. 4:4-6).  And the author of Hebrews teaches us clearly that the gospel was preached to those in the Old Testament (Heb. 4:2) and that the saints of the Old Testament were declared righteous only by grace through faith in Christ (Heb. 11).  David Murray has an excellent book explaining how we can and are meant to see “Jesus on Every Page” in the Old Testament.  English pastor Charles Bridges makes this truth clear in his comments on Psalm 119:135… 

Indeed whatever obscurity may hand over the question relating to the faith of the Old Testament believers, their confidence at the throne of grace shows them to have attained a far more distinct perception of Christian privilege, through the shadowy representations of their law, than is commonly imagined.  Else how could they have been so wrestling and persevering in their petitions; overcoming the spirit of bondage, and breathing out the spirit of adoption in the expression of their wants and desires before the Lord?  The prayers of the Old Testament church are not more distinguished for their simplicity, spirituality, and earnestness, than for their unfettered, evangelical confidence.  When they approached the footstool of the Divine Majesty, with the supplications — Make thy face to shine upon thy servant, — Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forthit was as if they had pleaded‘Reconciled Father — thou that sittest upon a throne of grace, look upon us — Abba, Father, be gracious to us!'”

Advertisements

Therefore I Love Your Commandments

Commenting on Psalm 119:128, English pastor Charles Bridges describes the love God’s servants in Christ have for the Word of God now by the grace of God:

“Let me attempt to give a reason to myself of the high estimation in which I hold it, as infinitely transcending those things, which the world venture their all — even their temporal happiness — to obtain.

1. Because while the world and my own heart have only combined to flatter me, they [the commandments] have discovered to me my real state, as a self-deceived (Rom. 7:9), guilty (James 2:10), defiled (Rom. 7:14) sinner before God: because they have been as a ‘schoolmaster to bring me to Christ’ (Gal. 3:24) — the only remedy for sin, the only rest for my soul.

2. I love them; because they have often supplied wholesome reproofs in my wanderings, and plain directions in my perplexity.

3. I love them; because they restrict me from that which would prove my certain ruin.

Should I not love them?  Can gold, yea, fine gold, offer to me blessings such as these?  Can it heal my broken heart?  Can it give relief to my wounded spirit?  Has it any peace or prospect of comfort for me on my death-bed?  And what cannot — what has not — what will not — the precious word of God do at that awful season of trial?”

The psalmist goes on to describe not only his love for God’s Word but his hatred for “every false way”.  Surely this is an apt description of Jesus.  And it is a description of the increasing thought and practice of all united to Him by grace through faith.  Bridges goes on to write of the connection between the love of God’s Word and the hatred of sin:

“How beautiful is it to see the leaven of grace pervading the whole man! In the fervor of his heart he loves the commandments even above fine gold; but yet his love will abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment (Phil. 1:9)… If my hatred of sin is sincere, I shall hate it more in my own house than abroad; I shall hate it most of all in my own heart…”

Here is evidence of union with Christ, of the work of the God of grace in a sinner – that he or she loves the Word of God more than anything else and hates everything contrary to it.  It is a work of grace and a matter of faith to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus through the Word of God and to love it more than anything this world can offer, while also growing to hate every false way (Heb. 11:24-26), beginning within ourselves.       

Turn our Hearts

Matthew Henry’s commentary is gold. His understanding of Scripture and his eye on Christ come shining through in every section. In his comments on Lamentation 4:1-12 the Puritan pastor writes concerning “The deplorable state of the nation is contrasted with its ancient prosperity.” Here are both words of rebuke and encouragement for the church today. Henry writes:

What a change is here! Sin tarnishes the beauty of the most exalted powers and the most excellent gifts; but that gold, tried in the fire, which Christ bestows, never will be taken from us; its outward appearance may be dimmed, but its real value can never be changed. The horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem are again described. Beholding the sad consequences of sin in the church of old, let us seriously consider to what the same causes may justly bring down the church now. But, Lord, though we have gone from thee in rebellion, yet turn to us, and turn our hearts to thee, that we may fear thy name. Come to us, bless us with awakening, converting, renewing, confirming grace.