Hear the Instruction of Thy Father, and Forsake Not the Law of Your Mother

Yesterday I wrote something for the local paper (we will see if it actually runs) that talked a short bit about the difference between seeking out counselors that confirm already held beliefs about ourselves and the world around us and instead that we should be wisely resting in the guidance provided previously by God Himself in the Holy Scriptures. This week has begun as a completely new chapter in the life of our family, especially for my sainted wife and kids, as we began the process of homeschooling our children. As part of that new chapter we have started having family worship in the morning as well as in the evening. Through prayer and study it was decided that the book that would receive the first focus in this early devotion was the book of Proverbs. Now Solomon, before he violated most of the principles he lays down in this work, and confesses that sin in the following material found in Ecclesiastes, writes Proverbs for his son and the opening chapter expresses a basic truth for all Christians, that it is unwise to allow ungodly relations and friends to lead you into sin and the misery that follows. In verses 7-10 Solomon writes:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

Now what does he mean by “hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother”? Well to be certain Solomon means more than just a bare obedience to the 5th Commandment. No, Solomon is grounding that obedience into something much stronger and much more certain than the instruction and laws of a mother and father. The advice of parents is only as good as it remains in contact with the knowledge that comes from the wisdom of God. So what Solomon is getting on about here to his son is that what mom and dad have to teach you is not from the wells of their own mind, but from the revelation of the LORD, which they are mediating to him by God’s will. This is of course one of the main functions of parents in the lives of their children. Our doctrine of infant baptism comes with it a promise from father to child that covenantally they will raise their offspring up in the fear and the admonition of the LORD, not to create anger or cause them to hate the things of God, but to learn what true love means and looks like in the context of the grace of Jesus Christ. (Eph. 6:1-4).

To step back for a second there is another part of this passage worth meditating on for a moment and that is the foolishness of those who despise wisdom and instruction. Looking at this passage from the covenantal child’s perspective it is likely that at 7 or 9 the average young person is not going to intuitively understand the long term effects of sinfully neglecting the mercy of God in being raised under the covenant promises of baptism. This is where the practice of reading and teaching the fear of the LORD in the gracious gift of the Word of God comes into play. In Reformed circles much is often made of the means of grace, and for good reason. When the apostle Paul is writing to Timothy for a second time he begins that letter by commending the work of his grandma and mom, Louis and Eunice, for teaching him the Scriptures. In doing so they prepared him (in the blessed providence of God) through this work for a lifetime of ministerial service to Jesus Christ and His Church. It is unlikely Timothy was aware of the plans of God in his life and that is not why Louis and Eunice read the Bible to him. They performed this action because of their abiding trust in the promises God had and continues to make to His people. It was in reading about Samson and Delilah, the sins of Achen, the countless examples of the kings of Israel and Judah who continued in the sins of their fathers, and ultimately the unbelief of Judah, despite all their outward blessings, which led them into exile that young Timothy learned what Solomon warns his son about in this opening passage from the book of Proverbs. This is what it looks like in basic terms to raise your children up so that they can gain an appreciation for the consequences of failing to listen when their mothers and fathers graciously provide them with the knowledge of the LORD, which as Solomon so beautifully puts it, this wisdom will be “an ornament of grace unto thy head”. God works in and through His Word to prepare His Church for the next generation.

 In closing, Christian parents and children must never forget that it is a testimony to the work of Christ in His Word through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit alone that any of us come to a right understanding of the truth of redemption and salvation and thereby grow in our sanctification by His grace. These promises made in the Covenant of Baptism, both with the parents and the children, are fulfilled not by the works of the flesh, but by the consummator of that covenant who is the great Triune God. As noted before Solomon himself would fail miserably to heed the counsel he provides in this passage. He did not listen to the words of his father David, and it can rightfully be said that David, who was faithfully taught the 6th and 7th Commandments by his father Jesse, fell short of the glory of God as well. Teaching and preparing our children in the righteous fear and the knowledge of His Truth is not a recipe for sinlessness. But a right communication of the nature of God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible is a process for raising covenant children who understand the forgiveness of God in Christ, of resting and trusting in Him Alone for eternal life. What better way to communicate the whole counsel of God, from Creation to the Second Coming, to our children than by using the means that same LORD has granted to us in His Word, so that our young people know that the word they receive in instruction from their father and the law provided by their mother comes not from their fallen hearts, but from the perfect and glorious hand of Almighty God?

From Whom Should We Seek Counsel?

Submission to one of the local papers ~500 words

One of my favorite Bible passages comes from the book of 1st Kings. In that portion of God’s Word there is a continuing war against the people of Israel by their enemies the Syrians. The king of Judah, who at that time is named Jehoshaphat (of jumping fame), has come down to meet with Ahab, king of Israel to speak about what they can do together about the problems they both face. In those days it was common for someone seeking the LORD’s wisdom to go to a prophet and discern what it was that God had in mind for them. The kings could not agree on which prophet to seek, Ahab only wanted to talk to a prophet that would give him good news and Jehoshaphat wanted a prophet who had been approved by God. Compare the words of the kings. Ahab says, “There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD, but I hate him for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” while Jehoshaphat states, “Is there not here a prophet of the LORD?” (1 Kings 22). Notice the difference in their focus. Ahab does not want someone who will speak the truth to him, but only a person that will confirm his already held beliefs. He had no interest in what God had to say.

Now, there is a lot to be learned from the words of these two kings. In fact, this is precisely the problem that Jesus Christ our Lord ran into during His public ministry. The Pharisees and the Zealots were looking for a Messiah that fit what they wanted and not what the Bible taught He would be. They longed for an earthly king that would rid them of the Romans and not the humble shepherd who laid down His life for His Sheep and brought in a greater kingdom than they could possibly imagine. In fact the King of Kings did rid them of the Romans, just not in the way their wicked hearts wanted Him to. Rome was taken down not by a sword of steel, but by the double-edged sword of His Word.

Another case of this seeking a false comfort from men who please our preconceived notions is from a warning the Apostle Paul gives to his young student Timothy. In his second letter Paul counsels Timothy that in the days to come the people to whom he preached the Gospel would no longer be satisfied with the truth of Christ’s redeeming work, but would seek out teachers who tickled their ears and shouted peace, peace where there was no peace.

In all three of these biblical examples the common thread is a denial of who God is and a wrong comprehension of who we are. The wisdom of man is folly, but the understanding of God is right and true. While we do not have prophets in this day, we do have the perfect Word of the LORD given to us in the Bible. Let us be sensible not to hearken unto the words of men who tell us what we want to hear, but to be found prudently resting and trusting in what our gracious heavenly Father has provided in the all-sufficient testimony of His blessed Word.

Rev. Glaser is the Pastor of the Ellisville Presbyterian Church, ARP

Decisions About Textual Variants

I want to start this off by noting that in no way shape or form do I consider myself an expert or even a son of an expert when it comes to doing textual work in the Hebrew and Greek. I was a poor Hebrew student (C- on my best days) and passable at Greek (B+ on average). So the tendency when I am beginning to preach a passage is to just translate the verses under consideration and slavishly trust my lexical apparati more than one probably should. That being said when it came time to preach on 1 John 5:6-9 it became apparent that this approach was not going to best serve me or the congregation. There is too much controversy and too many serious questions surrounding the text to trudge along without humbly dealing with some honest study concerning, as it is popularly known, the Johannine Comma.

I was asked on facebook to give a short analysis as to why I came to the conclusion of accepting its authenticity. The following bullet points are not meant to be exhaustive in any sense and will likely leave out some important material, but shall merely be a short listing of key points in no particular order.

  1. Methodological Concerns 

At the root of this question is how do we come to see what the text of Holy Scripture is and what methods do we use to determine that. I am fully aware that my own negative biases have probably ruined me from the Critical Text school and I am willing to own that. In other words I probably let my experience in a liberal school and the way that the CT was taught to me and the effect of that teaching, turning broad evangelical students into theological liberals and destroying their faith in the unity of the Bible, overly influence my consideration of the whole question surrounding this passage (and others to a lesser degree). This being noted a reason to accept the comma is due to one’s approach to deciding what manuscripts, uncials, etc… are going to receive more weight and after study I remain convinced the methods and procedures behind accepting the “Byzantine family” is due more consideration than the “Alexandrian”. An article I find useful in this regard is by Jakob Van Bruggen.

2. Use By Christian Authors and Church Leaders

To be honest this section of my study was inconclusive. I am not sure much can be determined mostly because frankly I do not think we have enough on either side to make a definitive statement. There is certainly usage by Tertullian and Cyprian as well as allusions by Gregory Nazianzus and others. That it does not appear regularly in the Trinitarian controversies is a pretty serious stumbling block. However I do think there is a plausible case to be made that the Arian party was successful in scrubbing texts which would account for some of its lack of use, but not all of it. Of the Reformation-era authors Matthew Henry makes a good case for the inclusion of the comma. Another place to go for this argument is Edmund Calamy III’s work.

3. Internal Evidence 

At the end of the day this was probably the strongest evidence to me for the comma’s inclusion. The rules of Greek grammar (which is also mentioned by Gregory Nazianzus and Robert Dabney) and verses 6 and 8 in the traditional text point to the existence of verse 7. I will let Dabney speak:

First, if it be made, the masculine article, numeral, and particle…are made to agree directly with three neuters—an insuperable and very bald grammatical difficulty. But if the disputed words are allowed to stand, they agree directly with two masculines and one neuter noun…where, according to a well known rule of syntax, the masculines among the group control the gender over a neuter connected with them… Second, if the excision is made, the eighth verse coming next to the sixth, gives us a very bald and awkward, and apparently meaningless, repetition of the Spirit’s witness twice in immediate succession. Third, if the excision is made, then the proposition at the end of the eighth verse [and these three agree in one], contains an unintelligible reference… ”And these three agree to that (aforesaid) One”… What is that aforesaid unity to which these three agree? If the seventh verse is exscinded, there is none… Let the seventh verse stand, and all is clear: the three earthly witnesses testify to that aforementioned unity which the Father, Word, and Spirit constitute.”

4. Textual History

For this section I am just going to quote Maurice Robinson. This bullet point ties into the first one I listed:

The Byzantine-priority principles reflect a “reasoned transmissionalism” which evaluates internal and external evidence in the light of transmissional probabilities. This approach emphasizes the effect of scribal habits in preserving, altering, or otherwise corrupting the text, the recognition of transmissional development leading to family and texttype groupings, and the ongoing maintenance of the text in its general integrity as demonstrated within our critical apparatuses. The overriding principle is that textual criticism without a history of transmission is impossible. To achieve this end, all readings in sequence need to be accounted for within a transmissional history, and no reading can be considered in isolation as a “variant unit” unrelated to the rest of the text.

5. Doctrinal and Apologetic Use

As it exists in the text this passage provides a very strong (and confessional) defense of the Trinity. While it is not necessary in the sense that its removal will cause our doctrine of the one ousia and three prosopon to crumble like a house of cards I do think their are larger questions at play, which goes back to the first section of these points that point towards its wise inclusion. This part of my study probably needs the most further work and likely involves no small evidence of special pleading.

In closing, I realize this will not answer many of the questions most have and there are likely many holes in the arguments as I have presented them. I could probably spend more time tightening these up and I might in the future, but I did want to respond to the question that was placed before me in a reasonable time frame  and give a sense of how I arrived at my decision. Hopefully this short post answers some of those.

If God is For Us Who Can Be Against Us?

Those salient words of the apostle Paul in the book of Romans have long been the calling card of faithful Christians in the face of the instruments of the evil one. It is with these words that many a believer has been brought to comfort and peace despite every effort of those who stand against the Bride of Christ.

This was the same ethos that allowed Hezekiah to not fear, despite his own weaknesses, the fancy and fallacious words of Sennacherib. In the 2nd Book of Chronicles you have the chief spokesman for the king of Assyria promising death and destruction to any who would stand in the way of the will of the sovereign leader of his people. There resulted from this a great worry among the Israelites, and as king Hezekiah had a responsibility to defend his land from those who would like to see it laid waste and taken for their own use. Many a leader has faced similar situations, but the response of Hezekiah is instructive for us today. He speaks in 2 Chronicles 32:7-8 in this way:

“Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

This is in keeping with what Christians have sung from the 1650 Scottish Psalter for many years in verses 4 and 5 of Psalm 56:

   3  When I'm afraid I'll trust in thee:
   4     In God I'll praise his word;
      I will not fear what flesh can do,
         my trust is in the Lord.

This post is not directly a defense of Psalm-singing, but it is enlightening to think in this particular case what one of the unique benefits of singing the Word of the LORD is when faced with the enemies of the Gospel of Christ. Just look for a moment at this portion of Psalm 56. The context of the psalm is David fleeing from the persecution of Saul. He is being hounded by someone who is supposed to be protecting him from those who would set upon the people of God for harm. There is something particularly incompatible with a Minister of God (c.f.-Romans 13:1-7) going out of his way, abandoning his duty, to attack the very person he has been called to defend, but that is what Saul is doing to David. However, as is often the case with those caught in similar circumstances the man in whom God will/had placed His mark by His covenantal promises seeks to find respite in the only place he can truly find it, and that is in the nature of the Godhead, in Jehovah God, and what better way to learn and hold in one’s heart this knowledge of the LORD than in the words of God’s own Hymnbook? As good and as biblical a man-made composition might be it will always fall short of the Divine Word given by our King.

Another way of looking at this is that a man or woman who truly believes in the person and work of Jesus Christ will not look outside the means and instruments that their Heavenly Father has granted and gifted to them for their protection from enemies of both the physical and the spiritual kind. The sufficiency of the Psalter and the whole Word of God to accomplish this is especially vital, no less in our day, precisely because as Protestants one of the things we believe is that the Word of God is the Word of God and because of that it alone has the ability to accurately perform the action for which it was given, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 118:5, “I called on the Lord in distress; The Lord answered me“.

Unfortunately what eventually happened to the Israelites to whom Hezekiah spoke those words is that they failed to heed the promise to which the king spoke. They feared men more than God and received the penalty of that unbelief in exile. This is exactly what is going on in the Church in the West today. We have backslidden enormously from the foundations of our faith and have given away our birthright for a mess of porridge. Instead of resting and receiving the mercy of God as He has blessedly provided in His Son, in His substitutionary sacrifice for His Sheep, the perfection of the Word in worship and life, and Christ’s mediatorial reign, we have instead fallen into the same trap as the Israelites and gone after other gods and served the creature rather than the Creator.

In closing, Brothers and Sisters heed the warning of Scripture. Listen to the words of the apostle Paul, if God is for us who can be against us? Let God be true and every man a liar. Do not fear what this World can do to you, but find ease, refreshing, and strength for your weak and wearied souls in the faith once for all delivered unto the saints and especially in the Word our loving Father has graciously provided for us to sing in times of trouble that we may, as the Scottish Psalter expresses so beautifully in the words of David from Psalm 4:

1     Give ear unto me when I call,
         God of my righteousness:
      Have mercy, hear my pray'r; thou hast
         enlarged me in distress.
   2  O ye the sons of men! how long
         will ye love vanities?
      How long my glory turn to shame,
         and will ye follow lies?
   3  But know, that for himself the Lord
         the godly man doth choose:
      The Lord, when I on him do call,
         to hear will not refuse.
   4  Fear, and sin not; talk with your heart
         on bed, and silent be.
   5  Off 'rings present of righteousness,
         and in the Lord trust ye.
   6  O who will show us any good?
         is that which many say:
      But of thy countenance the light,
         Lord, lift on us alway.
   7  Upon my heart, bestowed by thee,
         more gladness I have found
      Than they, ev'n then, when corn and wine
         did most with them abound.
   8  I will both lay me down in peace,
         and quiet sleep will take;
      Because thou only me to dwell
         in safety, Lord, dost make.

The Ministerial Heart and Life

We are beginning a new sermon series at our church going through the Book of Jude. As with many of the epistles in the New Testament it begins with a word of comfort for the readers of the letter. Jude 1:2 says,

“Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.”

Here the apostle wants to both comfort and challenge believers to live in light of the Gospel truth which has been made known to them through the work of the Triune God. These three attributes are especially applicable to the officers of Christ’s Church and in this short post I want to talk about how these characteristics must be a part of the life and message of Ministers tasked to oversee the people of God.

The nature of mercy, similar to its analogous cousin grace, is understood to be unmerited favor. The apostle Paul uses it in this way to talk about the doctrine of election in Romans 9. God has mercy upon whom He has mercy. Just as neither Abram nor Noah had performed any praiseworthy action to earn the approbation of the LORD in being the avenues of His covenant promises, those shod with the feet of mercy must rightly comprehend the immense work that God has called them to in the office of a Minister of the Gospel. This is why it is a vital requirement of any who undertake this work that they truly understand the particular nature of this grace and how it has been shown to them. The manner by which it must light the path of the Minister should be illustrated in the freeness of his preaching of the Gospel of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. To hide the good news of Christ from men and women is as unmerciful an act as can be done. To whom much mercy has been shown, much mercy should be given and there is no more gracious act then the free offer of the Gospel in the preaching of the Word. Calling men to repentance and faith is the particular work the Creator of the heavens and the earth has granted to His ambassadors to the nations of this world. Speaking of the imagery of embassies and the men tasked with talking for the King it leads quite nicely to the second attribute.

The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians is concerned with reminding his readers that a particular labor is done for them in Jesus Christ and they are to act in accordance with that work. One of the illustrations he uses to accomplish this can be found in the fifth chapter. Quoting at length:

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

When Jude talks about peace in the list above he means at least three things by it. The first one, as given by Paul, is the judicial peace of the forensic work in justification. Peace has been made between those in Christ who were in rebellion against the Father. Quite literally the warfare between true believers and God the Father has ceased. They are no longer enemies, but friends through Christ’s fulfillment of the broken Covenant. Second, Jude has in mind the effect of that work upon the heart of the Christian. This enmity that once existed has ended. Peace exists in the heart of believers. Third, the apostle Jude directs this word to the contentment the Christian now has in Christ. Paul speaks of this in the well-known (yet often misappropriated) passage of Philippians 4:9-13. He has learned by the peace of the Gospel of Grace to be content regardless of his outward situation.

The minister of the gospel exhibits this peace in all three examples put forward in the preceding paragraph. He does so, to repeat 2 Cor 5:19, by committing himself to the ministry of the word of reconciliation, which should be the theme of gospel preaching. Preachers must call men and women to peace through the forgiveness of sins by the washing of the blood of the lamb and reinforce that it alone is the manner by which any believer is brought to reconciliation with the Father and can receive both the rest that comes with the knowledge of salvation and by it the contentment of which Christ calls us to in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-6.

Lastly, the third attribute in this opening benediction is love. It is almost a byword that love is one of, if not the most, misused words in the current culture. As with the other two this has more than one reference in the purpose of Jude. The believer, and in the context of this post, the minister must look at the love of God from two different vantage points. First of all the love of God is born out in that any are saved. This ties in with the whole concept of grace as mentioned above. The Lord was not required to provide a means for reconciliation, but in His love for His creation He decreed from the foundation of the world that a substitute would be provided. The well-loved passage from Ephesians is good here:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

The love of God is the source of the election and predestination of God in the sending of His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. This love is the ground of mercy and peace. Going back to the preaching ministry of the Pastor this once more illustrates the beauty of the work Christ who has called them to, in the grandeur of His wisdom, to be able to expound the Gospel of reconciliation. This should at once drive one to the ground in unworthiness, yet should also provide all the incentive necessary to preach without ceasing this beautiful and unequalled labor of love.

It is an unfortunate bit of history that Reformed ministers are caricatured in works of literature as being dour, gruff, men without an ounce of warmth, but the reality is far different. Likewise must it be with those called to be officers in Christ’s church. Their warmth and tenderness, even when using the crook of the staff, must be evident. A shepherd shall sacrifice even his own life for the sake of His flock. It is no small thing to be called to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in this way. (Hebrews 13:17). His ministry must exhibit the mercy, peace, and love of His God most especially in the content of His preaching, but also in the daily shepherding of the sheep the Great Shepherd has given him to watch over.

In closing, there must always be a weight upon the heart and mind of the minister when considering the scope of the gospel work, yet this burden is greatly relieved when one considers for whom they serve. Can there be a more magnificent, merciful, and beautiful yoke than bearing the calling of the blessed savior to put forth the mercy, peace, and love of the Triune God?

Does What We Mean By God Matter?

This is a short 350-word article I wrote for a local paper

Christians know the names, “Heavenly Father”, “Jesus Christ”, and “Holy Spirit”, use them regularly in conversation, and more or less have a passing familiarity with what they represent.

Or at least they think they do.

In this short article I want to ask the question do we really know what they mean, scripturally. Do we properly understand their place in relation to ourselves and how our grasp of who God is affects our knowledge of Him? A good number of the problems the Church faces in our day can find their start in losing sight of the immensity of God and His Holiness. His Otherness. To put it bluntly God is God and humans are not. When the church turns God into a comfortable grandfather or a deified version of Santa Claus and casts off, intentionally or not, the sacredness of God we greatly err.

The Bible speaks of the Triune God as existing eternally; that is Christianity teaches there has never been a time where God is not. As an example when you look at how God introduces Himself to Moses in Exodus 3 He calls Himself “I AM”, which is a present-tense name. He is constant and the same yesterday, today, and forever. A real life application can be seen when Christians bring our cares and concerns before the LORD in prayer. We do so at the feet of a God who already knows our needs and has anticipated them in His providential love. God is not reactive, but proactive in His mercy. This is why when Daniel humbly stands in the face of Belshazzar and proclaims his coming destruction he can speak with such certainty, because the same God who created the Heavens and the Earth has ordered all things according to His Glory and what He proclaims shall come to pass.

These are but a few examples where our knowledge of the attributes of the Triune God has an immediate effect on our relationship with Him and why knowing God as God is necessary for the Christian Life.

Word of Warning

The Prophet Amos warned of a day when there would be a famine upon the land of Israel. It was not going to be one like Israel had seen in the days of Joseph where the people were starving from a lack of grain, but a famine where the Word of the LORD would be scarce and men and women would find themselves longing for spritual food, yet not being able to find it because they sought it from dead idols. This was partially fulfilled in the days of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He dealt with this problem after the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6. The people had the Word of the Bread of Life in their presence yet longed for the worldy bread that became moldy and stale rather than resting in the blessed nourishment of the good spiritual food of Christ. They did this because in God’s holy wrath He had blinded their eyes from the Truth. In that same chapter in John’s gospel you hear Christ speak of the eternal mercy of God in calling men and women out of this darkness, yet because the heart of men is deceitful above all things it is not in our nature to seek the things of God, especially as presented to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

This problem was also not restricted to the Jews. The Apostle Paul warns his young student Timothy that the day would come and was already here where the people would no longer sit under the preaching of the Word of the Gospel, but would rather flock to those teachers who tickled their ears with soothing words, and not with the stimulating and convicting testimony of God’s wonderful grace, but with the wisdom of the gods of this age. It is certainly the case that the cautionary message of Paul has come to pass in our day. The much-needed preaching of the whole counsel of God in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God for the sins of His people, and the blessed work of the Holy Spirit in calling people out of death and into life, the opening of the eyes of the spiritually blind, has been passed over in favor of the modern idols of self-esteem, materialism, and cultural acceptance. Jesus Christ did not suffer crucifixion so that you could be happy, wealthy, and wise, but so that you would be washed of your sins, both that which you committed in Adam, and have done in transgressing the Law of God in thought and word and deed. He died so that men would be reconciled with their Heavenly Father through the gift and grant of the imputation of the righteousness earned by Christ, given to you by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.