The Task at Hand: Our Work.

“The sanctity of human labor is rooted in the work of God Himself and in His call to us to imitate Him.” Dr. R.C. Sproul

I like to work. I enjoy working. I always have. Maybe this admission reveals a flaw in my character, or even my mental state, but I don’t think so. So, let me repeat myself: I like to work. Why? It is because I enjoy the sense of satisfaction of seeing a task which needs to be done and getting it done.

First of all, what exactly is work? What is meant by this four letter word that many people use other four letter words to express their feelings about the work they do and the jobs, or careers, they have.

Work is, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “the performing of a task or to fulfill duties regularly for wages or salary. It additionally means to perform or carry through a task requiring sustained effort or continuous repeated operations. Finally, work means to exert oneself physically or mentally especially in sustained effort for a purpose.”

The Scriptures present a positive outlook on the subject of work. Work has a purpose. It is rooted in its teaching about God. Unlike other ancient religious writings, which regarded creation as something beneath the dignity of the Supreme Being, Scripture unashamedly describes God as a worker.

Like a manual laborer, the Lord made the universe as “the work of his fingers” (Psalm 8:3). He worked with his raw material just as a potter works with the clay (Isaiah 45:9). The intricate development of the unborn child in the womb and the vast, magnificent spread of the sky both display his supreme craftsmanship (Psalm 139:13–16; 19:1). In fact, all creation bears witness to the Lord’s wisdom and skill (Psalm 104:24). The almighty Creator even ceased from His work (Genesis 2:1–3) and enjoyed job satisfaction when surveying His achievements at the end of the work week (Genesis 1:31).

What is your view of not only work in general, but the work you do in particular? Do you perceive work as God designed it to be perceived, as service bringing honor and glory to Him (Colossians 3:17, 23-24)? I hope so.

It is my goal that we will all have a renewed, biblical, and purposeful perspective on the topic of work as we proceed through this study.

Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: A Man of Poise and Simplicity.

“A man of little stature, thin haired upon the head, crooked in the legs, of good state of body, with eyebrows joining, and nose somewhat hooked, full of grace; for sometimes he appeared like a man, and sometimes he had the face of an angel.”

This is arguably the only information we have from antiquity concerning a physical description of the Apostle Paul. It is found in the Apocryphal book Acts of Paul and Thecla.

The only biblical description of Paul comes from his own words. 2 Corinthians 10:10 says, “For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” The word “weak” (ἀσθενής; asthenes) may mean an individual who has a small and sickly physical body.

However, what Paul may, or may not, have lacked in physical appearance he more than made up for in his spiritual stature. In the December 2000 issue of Tabletalk Magazine, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson had much to share about the Apostle Paul. I submit some selected quotes as an appropriate conclusion to our study on the life and ministry of the apostle to the Gentiles.

Dr. Ferguson submits that Luke’s account of Paul’s life, in the Book of Acts, first of all presents Paul as a man of poise. “Like Jesus, Paul demonstrates extraordinary, indeed otherworldly, poise – a peace that surpasses understanding, a sense that he is immortal until his work is done and the Lord’s time to call him home comes. This is a rare quality a crisis evokes in a well-known Christian. Conscious of living in the presence of God, he or she has a heavenly quality, a certain poise, a faith in holy wisdom that brings its own sense of calm.”

Secondly, Dr. Ferguson submits that Luke presents Paul as a man of simplicity. He was always living for Christ. “Luke gives a delightful illustration of how it comes to expression when he describes Paul emerging, soaked from head to toe, on the beach at Malta. This man who has met the risen Christ, planted so many churches, suffered much, preached everywhere, spoken to governors and kings – what is the first thing he does? He wanders around gathering sticks to put on a fire so that everyone can huddle around and dry off (Acts 28:1-3). He is a man who has learned to do the spiritual things naturally and the natural things spiritually. No complicated complexes about self-image and position here! His Christian life, whether preaching, teaching, praying, debating – or gathering sticks – is one seamless robe worn gladly in loving service of Jesus.”

I like the statement that the Apostle Paul was a man who learned to do the spiritual things naturally and the natural things spiritually. This is the profound truth of biblical poise and simplicity. May we all imitate Paul as he imitated the Lord Jesus Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!    

The Apostle Paul: For to Me to Live is Christ.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 (ESV)

We come to the penultimate conclusion of our study of the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. When I began this study, for both your and my benefit, I wrote that arguably, when a discussion is held regarding who are the greatest theologians in the history of the church, the names of Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, Carl Henry, and J. Gresham Machen, among others, are often listed. Often added to this stellar list are such recent additions including Francis Schaeffer and R. C. Sproul.

However, without a doubt the single, greatest theologian, aside from the LORD Jesus Christ, who has most benefited the church and contributed to its spiritual health, well-being and theological orthodoxy would have to be the Apostle Paul.

This is not only because, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul was responsible for nearly half the New Testament canon. It is also because Paul lived what he wrote and believed. He, while not perfect, was consistently consistent in his walk of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Notice three observations from this simple statement.

First, this was a personal declaration of truth. “For to me.” The LORD had personally impacted the apostle in his entire being. This included Paul’s intellect, emotions and will.

Second, Paul’s entire being was focused on one thing: “For to me to live is Christ.” Paul’s state or personal condition was a present and active trust in, commitment to, dependence upon and worship of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This was his singular focus while living in this world. Paul’s behavior was focused upon Christ.

Third, Paul’s eternal destiny was also singularly focused: “…and to die is gain.” Physical death would bring an eternal benefit and advantage. The expression suggests not just the condition of death, but also the experience of dying. Remember, Paul was under house arrest in Rome while he wrote this letter, along with Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon. The possibility of execution was real.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Paul’s main purpose in living was to glorify Christ. Christ was the essence of his life. Yet Paul knew that if he were martyred, Christ would be glorified through the promotion of the gospel which would result from his testimony in death. And Paul himself would benefit, for death would result in his being with Christ (v. 23).”

May our main purpose in living be to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. May that be the essence, heart and crux of all we are and of all we do.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Pastoral Epistles: 2 Timothy. Part 2.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1–5 (ESV)

What are the theological themes contained in 2 Timothy? It may be that the Apostle Paul had reason to fear that Timothy was in danger of weakening spiritually. This would have been a grave concern for Paul since Timothy needed to carry on Paul’s work (cf. 2:2).

While there are no historical indications anywhere in the New Testament as to why Paul was so concerned, there is evidence in the epistle itself from what he wrote. Paul’s concern is evident when he wrote “fan into flame” Timothy’s gift (1:6); to replace fear with power, love, and a sound mind (1:7); to not be ashamed of Paul and the Lord, but be willing to suffer for the gospel (1:8); and to hold on to the truth (1:13–14).

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Summing up the potential problem of Timothy, who might be weakening under the pressure of the church and the persecution of the world, Paul calls him to 1) generally “be strengthened” (2:1), the key exhortation of the first part of the letter, and to 2) continue to “preach the word” (4:2), the main admonition of the last part. These final words to Timothy include few commendations but many admonitions, including about 25 imperatives.”

Because Timothy was well schooled in Paul’s theology, the apostle did not instruct him further doctrinally. However, Paul did refer to several important doctrines. These included salvation by God’s sovereign grace (1:9–10; 2:10), the person of Christ (2:8; 4:1, 8), and perseverance in the faith (2:11–13). Additionally, Paul wrote the crucial text of the NT on the inspiration of Scripture (3:16–17).

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Westminster Confession of Faith: Providence. Part 5.

We will devote each Lord’s Day in 2021 at hiswordtoday.org to present a portion of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). For those unfamiliar with the WCF, a brief explanation is appropriate. 

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the “subordinate standard” of doctrine (to Scripture) in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

It is to that “most precise and accurate summary of the content of biblical Christianity” that we will give our time and attention to each Lord’s Day in the year of our Lord, 2021. I trust you will be edified and encouraged each week by The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Chapter Five: Providence. Part 5.

6. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden,a from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings and wrought upon in their hearts,b but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had,c and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin;d and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan;e whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.f

  1. Rom 1:24262811:7-8. • b. Deut 29:4. • c. Mat 13:1225:29. • d. Deut 2:302 Kings 8:12-13. • e. Psa 81:11-122 Thes 2:10-12. • f. Exod 7:3 with 8:15; 8:32; Isa 6:9-10 with Acts 28:26-27Isa 8:142 Cor 2:15-161 Pet 2:7-8.

7. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures, so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.a

a. Isa 43:3-514Amos 9:8-9Rom 8:281 Tim 4:10.

Take the time today to read each attribute along with its corresponding biblical reference. You will be blessed and edified.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Pastoral Epistles: 2 Timothy.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1:1–2 (ESV)

The third and last Pastoral Epistle by the Apostle Paul is 2 Timothy. The epistle is the second of two inspired letters Paul wrote to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy (1:2; 2:1). Paul wrote 2 Timothy, the climax of his inspired letters, shortly before his martyrdom (c. A.D. 67).

What is the historical context to 2 Timothy? To begin with, Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment for a short period of time. It was during this period of time that he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus. 

However, the Epistle of 2 Timothy Paul was once again in a Roman prison (1:16; 2:9). He apparently was rearrested as part of Nero’s persecution of Christians. Unlike Paul’s confident hope of release during his first imprisonment (Phil. 1:19, 25–26; 2:24Philem. 22), this time he had no such hope (2 Tim. 4:6–8).

In Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome (c. A.D. 60–62), before Nero had begun the persecution of Christians (A.D. 64), he was only under house arrest and had opportunity for much interaction with people and ministry (Acts 28:16–31). At the time he wrote 2 Timothy, five or six years later (c. A.D. 66–67), he was in a cold cell (2 Tim. 4:13), in chains (2:9), and with no hope of deliverance (4:6).

Paul had been abandoned by virtually all of those close to him for fear of persecution (cf. 1:15; 4:9–12, 16) and he was facing imminent execution. He wrote to Timothy a second time urging him to hasten to Rome for one last visit with the apostle (2 Tim. 4:9, 21). We do not know whether Timothy made it to Rome before Paul’s execution. According to tradition, Paul was not released from this second Roman imprisonment, but suffered martyrdom (2 Timothy 4:6).

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “In this letter, Paul, aware the end was near, passed the non-apostolic mantle of ministry to Timothy (cf. 2:2) and exhorted him to continue to be faithful in his duties (1:6), to hold on to sound doctrine (1:13–14), to avoid error (2:15–18), to accept persecution for the gospel (2:3–4; 3:10–12), to put his confidence in the Scriptures, and to preach it relentlessly (3:15–4:5).”

There is more to come. I urge you to read 2 Timothy. Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Pastoral Epistles: Titus. Part 2.

3 “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” (Titus 3:3–8 (ESV)

Crete remains one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, measuring 160 miles long by 35 miles at its widest, lying south of the Aegean Sea. It had been briefly visited by Paul on his voyage to Rome (Acts 27:7–9, 12–13, 21). He returned there for ministry and later left Titus to continue the work, much as he left Timothy at Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3). It was then that Paul went on to Macedonia. Paul probably wrote to Titus in response to a letter from Titus or a report from Crete.

What are the biblical themes contained in the Epistle of Titus? Like 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul gave not only personal encouragement but also godly counsel to a young pastor who, though well-trained and faithful, faced continuing opposition from ungodly men within the churches where he ministered. Titus was to pass on that encouragement and counsel to the leaders he was to appoint in the Cretan churches (1:5). The Epistle of Titus remains a practical manual for pastors today.

With the notable exception of Paul’s warning about false teachers and Judaizers, the epistle gives no theological correction. This strongly infers that Paul had confidence in the doctrinal maturity of the church members there, in spite of the fact that the majority of them were new believers. Doctrines that Titus epistle affirms include: 1) God’s sovereign election of believers (1:1–2); 2) his saving grace (2:11; 3:5); 3) Christ’s deity and second coming (2:13); 4) Christ’s substitutionary atonement (2:14); and 5) the regeneration and renewing of believers by the Holy Spirit (3:5).

God and Christ are regularly referred to as Savior (1:3–4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6), and the gospel is so emphasized in 2:11–14 that it indicates the major thrust of the epistle is that of equipping the churches of Crete for evangelism. This preparation required godly leaders who not only would shepherd believers under their care (1:5–9), but also would equip those Christians for evangelizing their pagan neighbors.

Citizens of Crete had been characterized by one of their own as liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons (1:12). In order to gain a hearing for the gospel among such people, the believers’ primary preparation for evangelization was to live among themselves with the unarguable testimony of righteous, loving, selfless, and godly lives (2:2–14) in marked contrast to the debauched lives of the false teachers (1:10–16). How they behaved with reference to governmental authorities and unbelievers was also crucial to their testimony (3:1–8).

Several major themes repeat themselves throughout Titus. They include: work(s) (1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:1, 5, 8, 14); soundness in faith and doctrine (1:4, 9, 13; 2:1–2, 7–8, 10; 3:15); and salvation (1:3–4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6).

Please continue reading the Epistle of Titus. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!   

The Apostle Paul: Pastoral Epistles: Titus.

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.” (Titus 1:1–4 (ESV)

The second of Paul’s Pastoral Epistles is Titus. Chronologically, it follows the epistle of 1 Timothy and precedes 2 Timothy.

The Epistle of Titus was obviously named for its recipient, Titus. He is mentioned 13 times in the New Testament (Titus 1:4Gal. 2:1, 32 Tim. 4:10) with nine of those citations found in 2 Corinthians.

Authorship is by the apostle Paul (1:1). Titus was approximately written between A.D. 62–64, while Paul ministered to Macedonian churches between his first and second Roman imprisonments, from either Corinth or Nicopolis (cf. 3:12). Most likely, Titus served with Paul on both the second and third missionary journeys. Titus, along with Timothy (2 Tim. 1:2), had become a beloved disciple (Titus 1:4) and fellow worker in the gospel (2 Cor. 8:23). Paul’s last mention of Titus (2 Tim. 4:10) reports that he had gone for ministry in Dalmatia—modern Yugoslavia. The letter probably was delivered by Zenas and Apollos (Titus 3:13).

Although Luke did not mention Titus by name in the book of Acts, it is probable that Titus, a Gentile (Gal. 2:3), met and may have been led to faith in Christ by Paul (Titus 1:4). This would have taken place before or during the apostle’s first missionary journey. Later, Titus ministered for a period of time with Paul on the Island of Crete and was left behind to continue and strengthen the work (1:5). After Artemas or Tychicus (3:12) arrived to direct the ministry there, Paul wanted Titus to join him in the city of Nicopolis, in the province of Achaia in Greece, and stay through the winter (3:12).

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Because of his involvement with the church at Corinth during Paul’s third missionary journey, Titus is mentioned nine times in 2 Corinthians (2:13; 7:6, 13–14; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18), where Paul refers to him as “my brother” (2 Cor. 2:13) and “my partner and fellow worker” (2 Cor. 8:23). The young elder was already familiar with Judaizers, false teachers in the church who among other things insisted that all Christians, Gentile as well as Jew, were bound by the Mosaic Law. Titus had accompanied Paul and Barnabas years earlier to the Council of Jerusalem where that heresy was the subject (Acts 15Gal. 2:1–5).”

More to come. I urge you to begin reading the Epistle of Titus. Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Pastoral Epistles: I Timothy. Part 3.

20” O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” (1 Timothy 6:20–21 (ESV)

After the Roman government released Paul his first imprisonment (cf. Acts 28:30), he revisited several of the cities in which he had ministered, including Ephesus. Leaving Timothy behind there to deal with problems that had arisen in the Ephesian church, which included such issues as false doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3–7; 4:1–3; 6:3–5), disorder in worship (2:1–15), the need for qualified leaders (3:1–14), and materialism (6:6–19), Paul went on to Macedonia, from where he wrote Timothy this letter to help him carry out his task in the church (cf. 3:14–15).

I Timothy is a practical letter containing pastoral instruction from Paul to Timothy (cf. 3:14–15). Since Timothy was well acquainted with Paul’s theology, the apostle had no need to give him extensive doctrinal instruction. This epistle does, however, express many important theological truths, such as the proper function of the law (1:5–11), salvation (1:14–16; 2:4–6); the attributes of God (1:17); the fall (2:13–14); the person and work of Christ (3:16; 6:15–16); election (6:12); and the second coming of Christ (6:14–15).

Other controversial chapters in I Timothy includes the identity of the false teachers (1:3) and the genealogies (1:4) involved in their teaching. Also, what is meant by the phrase “handed over to Satan” (1:20)? I Timothy also contains key passages in the debate over the extent of the atonement (2:4–6; 4:10).

Other contentious issues include Paul’s teaching on the role of women (2:9–15), particularly his declaration that they are not to assume leadership roles in the church (2:11–12). Additionally, what does Paul mean when he says women can be saved by bearing children (2:15)? Also, when Paul says an elder must be “the husband of one wife” does this then exclude divorced or unmarried men (3:1)? Does Paul refer to deacons’ wives or other women who serve as deaconesses (3:11).

Those who believe Christians can lose their salvation cite 4:1 as support for their view. There is also a question about the identity of the widows in 5:3–16—are they needy women ministered to by the church, or an order of older women ministering to the church? Does “double honor” accorded to elders who rule well (5:17–18) refer to respect or money?

These are but a few of the questions raise in the I Timothy. Have a blessed day as you continue to read and meditate upon the Word of God.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Pastoral Epistles: I Timothy. Part 2.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:1–5 (ESV)

Many critics of God’s Word revel in attacking the plain statements of Scripture. For no good reason, they deny that Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles (1, 2 Timothy, Titus). They ignore the testimony of the letters themselves (1 Tim. 1:12 Tim. 1:1Titus 1:1) and that of the early church (which is as strong for the Pastoral Epistles as for any of Paul’s epistles, except Romans and 1 Corinthians). Unbelieving critics maintain that a devout follower of Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles in the second century.

As proof, there are supposedly five categories of supposed evidence: 1) the historical references in the Pastoral Epistles cannot be harmonized with the chronology of Paul’s life given in Acts; 2) the false teaching described in the Pastoral Epistles is the fully developed Gnosticism of the second century; 3) the church organizational structure in the Pastoral Epistles is that of the second century, and is too well developed for Paul’s day; 4) the Pastoral Epistles do not contain the great themes of Paul’s theology; and 5) the Greek vocabulary of the Pastoral Epistles contains many words not found in Paul’s other letters, nor in the rest of the NT.

In response to the critics’ arguments, the argument of historical incompatibility is valid only if Paul was never released from his Roman imprisonment mentioned in Acts. But he was released, since Acts does not record Paul’s execution, and Paul himself expected to be released (Phil. 1:19, 25–26; 2:24Philem. 22). The historical events in the Pastoral Epistles do not fit into the chronology of Acts because they happened after the close of the Acts narrative which ends with Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome.

Second, while there are similarities between the heresy of the Pastoral Epistles and second-century Gnosticism, there are also differences. The false teachers of the Pastoral Epistles were still within the church (cf. 2 Tim. 1:3–7) and their teaching was based on Jewish legalism (1 Tim. 1:7Titus 1:10, 14; 3:9).

Third, the church organizational structure mentioned in the Pastoral Epistles is, in fact, consistent with that established by the Apostle Paul (Acts 14:23Phil. 1:1).

Fourth, the Pastoral Epistles do mention the central themes of Paul’s theology, including the inspiration of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:15–17); election (2 Tim. 1:9Titus 1:1–2); salvation (Titus 3:5–7); the deity of Christ (Titus 2:13); his mediatorial work (1 Tim. 2:5), and substitutionary atonement (1 Tim. 2:6).

Fifth, the different subject matter in the Pastoral Epistles required a different vocabulary from that in Paul’s other epistles. Certainly a pastor today would use a different vocabulary in a personal letter to a fellow pastor than he would in a work of systematic theology, like Romans or Galatians.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The idea that a “pious forger” wrote the Pastoral Epistles faces several further difficulties: 1) The early church did not approve of such practices and surely would have exposed this as a ruse, if there had actually been one (cf. 2 Thess. 2:1–2; 3:17). 2) Why forge three letters that include similar material and no deviant doctrine? 3) If a counterfeit, why not invent an itinerary for Paul that would have harmonized with Acts? 4) Would a later, devoted follower of Paul have put the words of 1 Tim. 1:13, 15 into his master’s mouth? 5) Why would he include warnings against deceivers (2 Tim. 3:13Titus 1:10), if he himself were one? The evidence seems clear that Paul wrote 1 Timothy and Titus shortly after his release from his first Roman imprisonment (c. A.D. 62–64), and 2 Timothy from prison during his second Roman imprisonment (c. A.D. 66–67), shortly before his death.”

More to come. Please continue to read I Timothy. Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!  

The Apostle Paul: Pastoral Epistles: I Timothy.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Timothy 1:1–2 (ESV)

I Timothy is the first of two inspired letters Paul wrote to his beloved son in the faith. Timothy received his name, which means “one who honors God,” from his mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois), devout Jews who became believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 1:5). They taught Timothy the OT Scriptures from his childhood (2 Tim. 3:15). His father was a Greek (Acts 16:1) who may have died before Timothy met Paul.

Timothy was a citizen of Lystra (Acts 16:1–3), a city in the Roman province of Galatia (part of modern Turkey). Paul led Timothy to Christ (1 Tim. 1:2, 181 Cor. 4:172 Tim. 1:2). More than likely, Timothy’s conversion occurred during Paul’s ministry in Lystra on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:6–23).

When Paul revisited Lystra on his second missionary journey, he chose Timothy to accompany him (Acts 16:1–3). Timothy was very young (perhaps in his late teens or early twenties, because about 15 years later Paul still referred to him as a young man, 1 Tim. 4:12).

Timothy had a reputation for godliness (Acts 16:2). He would become Paul’s disciple, friend, and co-laborer for the rest of the apostle’s life, ministering with him in Berea (Acts 17:14), Athens (Acts 17:15), Corinth (Acts 18:52 Cor. 1:19), and accompanying him on his trip to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4).

Timothy was with Paul in his first Roman imprisonment and even went to Philippi (Phil. 2:19–23) after Paul’s release. In addition, Paul frequently mentions Timothy in his epistles (Rom. 16:212 Cor. 1:1Phil. 1:1Col. 1:11 Thess. 1:12 Thess. 1:1Philem. 1). Paul often sent Timothy to churches as his representative (1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10Phil. 2:191 Thess. 3:2). The Epistle of 1 Timothy finds the young man on another assignment, serving as pastor of the church at Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3). According to Heb. 13:23, Timothy was imprisoned somewhere and released.

More to come. I encourage you to read I Timothy today. Have a blessed one.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Westminster Confession of Faith: Providence. Part 4.

We will devote each Lord’s Day in 2021 at hiswordtoday.org to present a portion of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). For those unfamiliar with the WCF, a brief explanation is appropriate. 

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the “subordinate standard” of doctrine (to Scripture) in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

It is to that “most precise and accurate summary of the content of biblical Christianity” that we will give our time and attention to each Lord’s Day in the year of our Lord, 2021. I trust you will be edified and encouraged each week by The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Chapter Five: Providence. Part 4.

5. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they be humbled;a and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support unto himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.b

a. 2 Sam 24:12 Chron 32:25-2631. • b. Psa 73 throughout; Psa 77:1-1012Mark 14:66-72 with John 21:15-172 Cor 12:7-9.

Take the time today to read each attribute along with its corresponding biblical reference. You will be blessed and edified.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Pastoral Epistles.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Timothy 1:1–2 (ESV)

Following his two year house arrest imprisonment in Rome, while awaiting his trial before the Roman Emperor Nero (Acts 28:30). Paul was released from prison. This was apparently something he had anticipated happening (Philippians 1:25; 2:24; Philemon 22). Paul’s release probably occurred prior to Nero’s burning of Rome, which he accused Christians of doing (A.D. 64).

References in Scripture would seem to indicate that Paul then traveled to Nicopolis, Greece (Titus 3:12), Thessalonica (2 Timothy 4:10), Crete (Titus 1:5), and the region known as Asia Minor, or modern Turkey. This included the cities of Ephesus (2 Timothy 1:18; 4:12), Troas (2 Timothy 4:13), and Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20). It is even possible that Paul eventually traveled to Spain (Romans 15:23, 24, 28).

The ancient book known as 1 Clement indicates that by about A.D. 67, Paul was once again imprisoned by Nero and eventually executed. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 seems to anticipate Paul’s impending death and home going to heaven.

Following Paul’s first release from Roman imprisonment, and prior to his execution by Nero, he wrote what is referred to as the Pastoral Epistles. These are three New Testament letters written to two pastors: Timothy and Titus. It is to these three epistles that we will give attention to for the next several days.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “One question commonly raised pertains to Paul’s activities after this two-year captivity. What happened? Perhaps no charges were filed in Rome and Paul was released. The Jews would know they had no case against Paul outside of Judea and so would be reluctant to argue their cause in Rome. Probably Paul returned to the provinces of Macedonia, Achaia, and Asia and then turned west to Spain according to his original plans (Rom. 15:22–28). Then he ministered once more in the Aegean area where he was taken prisoner, removed to Rome, and executed. And so it was that the kingdom message under God’s sovereign control went from Jew to Gentile, and from Jerusalem to Rome.”

I encourage you to begin reading the Epistle of I Timothy. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Prison Epistles; Philippians. Part 3.

Satanic opposition to the new church in Philippi quickly arose in the person of a demon-possessed, fortune-telling slave girl (Acts 16:16–17). Not wanting even positive testimony from such an evil source, Paul cast the demon out of her (Acts 16:18). The apostle’s act enraged the girl’s masters, who could no longer financially benefit from her services as a fortune-teller (Acts 16:19). They brought Paul and Silas before the city’s magistrates (Acts 16:20) and pandered to the civic pride of the Philippians by claiming the two preachers were a threat to Roman customs (Acts 16:20–21). As a result, Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned (Acts 16:22–24).

As we have studied, Paul and Silas were miraculously released from prison that night by an earthquake, which unnerved the jailer and opened his heart and that of his household to the gospel (Acts 16:25–34). The next day the magistrates, panicking when they learned they had illegally beaten and imprisoned two Roman citizens, begged Paul and Silas to leave Philippi.

Paul then apparently visited Philippi twice during his third missionary journey, once at the beginning (cf. 2 Cor. 8:1–5), and again near the end (Acts 20:6). About four or five years after his last visit to Philippi, while a prisoner at Rome, Paul received a delegation from the Philippian church. The Philippians had generously supported Paul in the past (Phil. 4:15–16), and had also contributed abundantly for the needy at Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:1–4).

Upon hearing of Paul’s imprisonment, the Philippian church sent another contribution to him (Phil. 4:10), and along with it Epaphroditus to minister to Paul’s needs. Unfortunately Epaphroditus suffered a near-fatal illness (2:26–27), either while in route to Rome, or after he arrived. Accordingly, Paul decided to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi (2:25–26) and wrote the letter to the Philippians to send back with him.

Paul had several reasons for composing this particular epistle. First, he wanted to express in writing his thanks for the Philippians’ gift (4:10–18). Second, he wanted the Philippians to know why he decided to return Epaphroditus to them, so they would not think his service to Paul had been unsatisfactory (2:25–26). Third, he wanted to inform them about his circumstances at Rome (1:12–26). Fourth, he wrote to exhort them to unity (2:1–2; 4:2). Finally, he wrote to warn them against false teachers (3:1–4:1).

Philippians contains little historical material, no OT quotes), separate from the momentous treatment of Paul’s spiritual autobiography (3:4–7). There is little direct theological instruction, with one momentous exception.

The magnificent passage describing Christ’s humiliation and exaltation (2:5–11) contains some of the most profound and crucial teaching on the Lord Jesus Christ in all the Bible. The major theme of pursuing Christlikeness, as the most defining element of spiritual growth and the one passion of Paul in his own life, is presented in 3:12–14. In spite of Paul’s imprisonment, the dominant tone of the letter is joy (1:4, 18, 25–26; 2:2, 16–18, 28; 3:1, 3; 4:1, 4, 10).

I encourage you to read the Book of Philippians today. Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Prison Epistles; Philippians. Part 2.

The Book of Philippians is the fourth and final Prison Epistle by the Apostle Paul. It received its name from the Greek city where the church was located. Philippi was the first town in Macedonia where Paul established a church (Acts 16:11-40). Paul’s authorship of Philippians has never been questioned.

When Philippians was written cannot be separated from the question of where it was written. The orthodox view is that Philippians, along with the other Prison Epistles (EphesiansColossians, Philemon), was written during Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome (c. A.D. 60–62). The most natural understanding of the references to the “imperial guard” (1:13) and the “saints . . . of Caesar’s household” (4:22) is that Paul wrote from Rome, where the emperor (Nero) lived.

The similarities between the details of Paul’s imprisonment given in Acts and in the Prison Epistles also argues that those epistles were written from Rome. For example, Paul was guarded by soldiers, (Acts 28:16; cf. Phil. 1:13–14); was permitted to receive visitors, (Acts 28:30; cf. Phil. 4:18); and had the opportunity to preach the gospel, (Acts 28:31; cf. Phil. 1:12–14Eph. 6:18–20Col. 4:2–4). Additionally, Paul’s belief that his case would soon be decided (Phil. 2:23–24) points to Philippians being written toward the close of the apostle’s two-year Roman imprisonment (c. A.D. 61).

My life’s verse(s) is contained in Philippians 2:12-13, which says, 1Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” 

More to come.

I urge you to begin the Book of Philippians. Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Prison Epistles; Philippians.

The Book of Philippians is the fourth and final Prison Epistle by the Apostle Paul. It received its name from the Greek city where the church was located. Philippi was the first town in Macedonia where Paul established a church (Acts 16:11-40). Paul’s authorship of Philippians has never been questioned.

When Philippians was written cannot be separated from the question of where it was written. The orthodox view is that Philippians, along with the other Prison Epistles (EphesiansColossians, Philemon), was written during Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome (c. A.D. 60–62). The most natural understanding of the references to the “imperial guard” (1:13) and the “saints . . . of Caesar’s household” (4:22) is that Paul wrote from Rome, where the emperor (Nero) lived.

The similarities between the details of Paul’s imprisonment given in Acts and in the Prison Epistles also argues that those epistles were written from Rome. For example, Paul was guarded by soldiers, (Acts 28:16; cf. Phil. 1:13–14); was permitted to receive visitors, (Acts 28:30; cf. Phil. 4:18); and had the opportunity to preach the gospel, (Acts 28:31; cf. Phil. 1:12–14Eph. 6:18–20Col. 4:2–4). Additionally, Paul’s belief that his case would soon be decided (Phil. 2:23–24) points to Philippians being written toward the close of the apostle’s two-year Roman imprisonment (c. A.D. 61).

My life’s verse(s) is contained in Philippians 2:12-13, which says, 1Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  

More to come.

I urge you to begin the Book of Philippians. Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Prison Epistles; Philemon. Part 2.

Paul Epistle to Philemon provides a valuable historical context into the early church’s relationship to the institution of slavery. Slavery was widespread in the Roman Empire (according to some estimates, slaves constituted one third, perhaps more, of the population) and it was an accepted part of life. In Paul’s day, slavery had virtually overcome free labor. Slaves could be doctors, musicians, teachers, artists, librarians, or accountants; in short, almost all jobs could be and were filled by slaves.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Slaves were not legally considered persons, but were the tools of their masters. As such, they could be bought, sold, inherited, exchanged, or seized to pay their master’s debt. Their masters had virtually unlimited power to punish them, and sometimes did so severely for the slightest infractions.”  

By the time of the New Testament, slavery was beginning to change. Realizing that contented slaves were more productive, masters tended to treat them more leniently. It was not uncommon for a master to teach a slave his own trade, and some masters and slaves became close friends. Even more so when both master and slave were believers in Christ.

Dr. MacArthur writes, “While still not recognizing them as persons under the law, the Roman Senate in A.D. 20 granted slaves accused of crimes the right to a trial. It also became more common for slaves to be granted (or to purchase) their freedom. Some slaves enjoyed very favorable and profitable service under their masters and were better off than many freemen because they were assured of care and provision. Many freemen struggled in poverty.”

The NT nowhere directly attacks slavery. However, Christianity undermined the evils of slavery by changing the hearts of slaves and masters. By stressing the spiritual equality of both master and slave (v. 16Gal. 3:28Eph. 6:9Col. 4:11 Tim. 6:1–2), the Bible did away with slavery’s abuses.

The rich theological theme that dominates Philemon is forgiveness, a featured theme throughout NT Scripture (cf. Matt. 6:12–15; 18:21–35Eph. 4:32Col. 3:13). Paul’s instruction here provides the biblical definition of forgiveness, without ever once using the word.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Prison Epistles; Philemon.

The next Prison Epistle of the Apostle Paul to examine is the Book of Philemon. Philemon was a prominent member of the church at Colossae (vv. 1–2; cf. Col. 4:9). The church met in his house (Philem. 2). The letter was for him, his family, and the church.

Paul is clearly the author (vv. 1, 9, 19), a claim that few in the history of the church have disputed. Philemon’s close connection with Paul’s letter to the Colossians, which Paul wrote at the same time (c. A.D. 60–62; cf. vv. 1, 16), brought an early and unquestioned vindication of Paul’s authorship by the early church fathers. These include Jerome, Chrysostom, and Theodore of Mopsuestia).

Philemon had been converted under Paul’s ministry, perhaps at Ephesus (v. 19). He was wealthy enough to have a large house (cf. v. 2), Philemon also owned at least one slave, a man named Onesimus (lit., “useful”; a common name for slaves). Onesimus was not a believer at the time he stole some money (v. 18) from Philemon and ran away. Like countless thousands of other runaway slaves, Onesimus fled to Rome, seeking to lose himself in the imperial capital. Through circumstances not recorded in Scripture, Onesimus met Paul in Rome and became a Christian.

Paul developed a great love for the runaway slave (vv. 12, 16) and longed to keep Onesimus in Rome (v. 13), where he was providing valuable service to Paul in his imprisonment (v. 11). However, by stealing and running away from Philemon, Onesimus had both broken Roman law and defrauded his master. Paul knew those issues had to be dealt with, and decided to send Onesimus back to Colossae.

It was too hazardous for him to make the trip alone (because of the danger of slave-catchers), so Paul sent him back with Tychicus, who was returning to Colossae with the epistle to the Colossians (Col. 4:7–9). Along with Onesimus, Paul sent Philemon this beautiful personal letter, urging him to forgive Onesimus and welcome him back to service as a brother in Christ (Philem. 15–17).

More to come.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Westminster Confession of Faith: Providence. Part 3.

We will devote each Lord’s Day in 2021 at hiswordtoday.org to present a portion of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). For those unfamiliar with the WCF, a brief explanation is appropriate. 

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the “subordinate standard” of doctrine (to Scripture) in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

It is to that “most precise and accurate summary of the content of biblical Christianity” that we will give our time and attention to each Lord’s Day in the year of our Lord, 2021. I trust you will be edified and encouraged each week by The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Chapter Five: Providence. Part 3.

4. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men,a and that not by a bare permission,b but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding,c and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends;d yet so as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.e

a. 2 Sam 16:1024:1 with 1 Chron 21:11 Kings 22:22-231 Chron 10:413-14Acts 2:234:27-28Rom 11:32-34. • b. Acts 14:16. • c. 2 Kings 19:28Psa 76:10. • d. Gen 50:20Isa 10:6-712. • e. Psa 50:21James 1:13-14171 John 2:16.

Take the time today to read each attribute along with its corresponding biblical reference. You will be blessed and edified.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Prison Epistles; Colossians. Part 2.

The church at Colossae began during Paul’s three-year ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19). Its founder was not the Apostle Paul, who had never been there (Col. 2:1). However, Epaphras (1:5–7), who apparently was saved during a visit to Ephesus, most likely began the church in Colossae when he returned home.

After the Colossian church was founded, a dangerous heresy arose to threaten it—one not identified with any particular historical system. It contained elements of what later became known as Gnosticism: that God is good, but matter is evil; that Jesus Christ was merely one of a series of emanations descending from God and being less than God (a belief that led them to deny his true humanity); and that a secret, higher knowledge above Scripture was necessary for enlightenment and salvation.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The Colossian heresy also embraced aspects of Jewish legalism, e.g., the necessity of circumcision for salvation, observance of the ceremonial rituals of the OT law (dietary laws, festivals, Sabbaths), and rigid asceticism. It also called for the worship of angels and mystical experience. Epaphras was so concerned about this heresy that he made the long journey from Colossae to Rome (4:12–13), where Paul was a prisoner.”

Paul composed the Epistle to the Colossians from prison in Rome (Acts 28:16–31) sometime between A.D. 60–62 and is, therefore, referred to as a Prison Epistle (along with EphesiansPhilippians, and Philemon). It may have been composed at the same time with Ephesians and initially sent with that epistle and Philemon by Tychicus (Eph. 6:21–22Col. 4:7–8).

Paul wrote this letter to warn the Colossians against the heresy they faced, and sent the letter to them with Tychicus, who was accompanying the runaway slave Onesimus back to his master, Philemon, a member of the Colossian church (4:7–9; Philem. 23), perhaps to receive further instruction from Paul.

Colossians focuses on several key doctrines of theology, including the deity of Christ (1:15–20; 2:2–10), reconciliation (1:20–23), redemption (1:13–14; 2:13–14; 3:9–11), election (3:12), forgiveness (3:13), and the nature of the church (1:18, 24–25; 2:19; 3:11, 15). It also refutes the heretical teaching that threatened the Colossian church (ch. 2).

I encourage you to read the Epistle to the Colossians today. Have a blessed one.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Prison Epistles; Colossians.

Today we examine Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. This is due to the commonality this epistle has with Ephesians.

The Epistle to the Colossians is named for the city of Colossae. This is where the church to which Paul wrote was located. It is also evident that the epistle was also to be read to a neighboring church in the city of Laodicea (4:16).

The Apostle Paul is clearly identified as the epistle’s author at the very beginning (1:1; cf. v. 23; 4:18). This was customary in Paul’s letters. The testimony of the early church, including such key figures as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius, confirmed that the opening claim was genuine.

Additional evidence for Paul’s authorship comes from the book’s close parallels with Philemon, which is universally accepted as having been written by Paul. As previously noted, both letters were written (c. A.D. 60–62) while Paul was a prisoner in Rome (4:3, 10, 18Philem. 9, 10, 13, 23. Additionally, the names of the same people (e.g., Timothy, Aristarchus, Archippus, Mark, Epaphras, Luke, Onesimus, and Demas) appear in both epistles. This is a strong evidence that both were written by the same author and at about the same time.

Colossae was a city in Phrygia, in the Roman province of Asia (part of modern Turkey), about 100 miles east of Ephesus in the region of the seven churches of Revelation 1–3. The city lay alongside the Lycus River, not far from where it flowed into the Maender River. The Lycus Valley narrowed at Colossae to a width of about two miles. Mount Cadmus rose 8,000 feet above the city.

Colossae was a thriving city in the fifth century B.C. when the Persian king Xerxes (Ahasuerus, cf. Est. 1:1) marched through the region. Black wool and dyes (made from the nearby chalk deposits) were important natural resources. Additionally, the city was situated at the junction of the main north-south and east-west trade routes. However, in Paul’s day the main road had been rerouted through nearby Laodicea, thus bypassing Colossae and leading to its decline and the rise of the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Colossae’s population was mainly Gentile, yet there was a large Jewish element dating from the days of Antiochus the Great (223–187 B.C.). Colossae’s mixed population of Jews and Gentiles showed itself both in the composition of the Colossian church and in the heresy that plagued it, which contained elements of both Jewish legalism and pagan mysticism.

More to come.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Prison Epistles; Ephesians. Part 2.

What are the historical and theological themes contained in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. The first three chapters are theological or doctrinal, while chs. 4-6 are practical and focus on Christian behavior. Perhaps, above all, this is a letter of encouragement and admonition, written to remind believers of their immeasurable blessings in Jesus Christ; and not only to be thankful for those blessings, but also to live in a manner worthy of them.

Despite, and partly even because of the Christian’s great blessings in Jesus Christ, they are sure to be tempted by Satan to become self-satisfied and complacent. It was for that reason that, in the last chapter, Paul reminded believers of the full and sufficient spiritual armor supplied to them through God’s word and by his Spirit (6:10–17) and of their need for vigilant and persistent prayer (6:18).

A key theme of the letter is the mystery (meaning a heretofore unrevealed truth) of the church, which is “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (3:6), a truth completely hidden from the Jewish OT saints (cf. 3:5, 9). Dr. John MacArthur writes, “All believers in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, are equal before the Lord as his children and as citizens of his eternal kingdom, a marvelous truth that only believers of this present age possess. Paul also speaks of the mystery of the church as the bride of Christ (5:32; cf. Rev. 21:9).”

A major truth emphasized is that of the church as not an organization, but rather a living organism composed of mutually related and interdependent parts. Christ is head of the body and the Holy Spirit indwells each believer in Christ (Romans 8:9). The church body functions through the faithful use of its members’ various spiritual gifts, sovereignly and uniquely bestowed by the Holy Spirit on each believer (I Peter 4:10-11).

Other major doctrinal themes include the riches and fullness of blessing to believers. Paul writes of “the riches of his [God’s] grace” (Eph. 1:7), “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (3:8), and “the riches of his glory” (3:16). Paul admonishes believers to “be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:19), to “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (4:13), and to “be filled with the Spirit” (5:18). Their riches in Christ are based on his grace (1:2, 6–7; 2:7), his peace (1:2), his will (1:5), his pleasure and purpose (1:9), his glory (1:12, 14), his calling and inheritance (1:18), his power and strength (1:19; 6:10), his love (2:4), his workmanship (2:10), his Holy Spirit (3:16), his offering and sacrifice (5:2), and his armor (6:11, 13). The word “riches” is used five times in this letter; “grace” is used 12 times; “glory” six times; “fullness” or “filled” six times; and the key phrase “in Christ” (or “in him”) some 22 times.

Dr. MacArthur concludes, “The general theology of Ephesians is direct, unambiguous, and presents no ideas or interpretations whose meanings are seriously contended. There are, however, some texts that require careful thought to rightly interpret, namely: 1) 2:8, in which one must decide if the salvation or the faith is the gift; 2) 4:5, in which the type of baptism must be discerned; and 3) 4:8, in its relationship to Ps. 68:18.”

My absolute favorite portion of Ephesians is 1:1-2:10. What a magnificent treatise on the sovereign grace of God. I encourage you to read Ephesians throughout the day today. You will be blessed and encouraged.

Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!  

The Apostle Paul: Prison Epistles; Ephesians.

30” He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” (Acts 28:30–31 (ESV)

During Paul’s two year house arrest in Rome, he maintained a busy schedule. Luke records that the apostle welcomed visitors, proclaimed the kingdom of God, and taught about the Lord Jesus. What Paul also did was write four epistles commonly referred to as his Prison Epistles. They include Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. For the next several days we will survey the Epistle to the Ephesians.

Ephesians is addressed to the church in the city of Ephesus, capital of the Roman province of Asia (Asia Minor, or modern Turkey). Because the name Ephesus is not mentioned in every early manuscript, some biblical scholars believe the letter was a circular letter, intended to be distributed and read among all the churches in Asia Minor and was simply sent first to the church in Ephesus.

The Apostle Paul is unquestionably the author. He is indicated as such in the opening salutation (1:1; 3:1). The letter was written from his prison in Rome (Acts 28:16–31) sometime between A.D. 60–62. Ephesians may have been composed almost simultaneously with Colossians and initially sent with that epistle and Paul’s letter to Philemon by Tychicus (Eph. 6:21–22Col. 4:7–8). Due to the fact that Ephesians and Colossians contain similar themes, they are often referred to as the “Twin Epistles.”

The background and setting for Paul’s composition is important and should not be overlooked. As we have seen in our   study of Paul’s life and ministry in the Book of Acts, it is likely that the Gospel was first brought to Ephesus by Priscilla and Aquila, an exceptionally gifted couple (Acts 18:26) who were left there by Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18–19).

Ephesus was located at the mouth of the Cayster River, on the east side of the Aegean Sea. The city was perhaps best known for its magnificent temple of Artemis, or Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ephesus was also an important political, educational, and commercial center, ranking with Alexandria in Egypt, and Antioch of Pisidia, in southern Asia Minor.

The Ephesian church begun by Priscilla and Aquila was later firmly established by Paul on his third missionary journey (Acts 19) and was pastored by him for some three years. After Paul left, Timothy pastored the congregation for perhaps a year and a half, primarily to counter the false teaching of a few influential men (such as Hymenaeus and Alexander), who perhaps were elders in the congregation there (1 Tim. 1:3, 20).

Because of those two men, the church at Ephesus was plagued by “myths and endless genealogies” (1 Tim. 1:4) along with ascetic and unscriptural ideas as the forbidding of marriage and abstaining from certain foods (1 Tim. 4:3). Although those false teachers did not rightly understand Scripture, they propounded their ungodly interpretations with confidence (1 Tim. 1:7), which produced in the church harmful “speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Tim. 1:4). Thirty years or so later, Christ gave to the apostle John a letter for this church indicating its people had left their first love for him (Rev. 2:1–7).

More to come.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Luke’s concluding Words.

30” He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” (Acts 28:30–31 (ESV)

Luke recorded that the Apostle Paul spent the next two years under house arrest, at his own expense. The wheels of justice apparently did not spin any faster than they did in Caesarea (Acts 24:24-27). As we will see, Paul’s letter to the Philippian church was, in part, a thank you for sending financial resources to meet his expenses (Philippians 2:25-30).

Paul welcomed all who came to visit him. The apostle proved faithful to God and to His call by proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. He did with courage and without restriction. Paul’s desire to preach the Gospel in Rome came true (Romans 1:8-15).

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “From A.D. 60-62, Paul was under house arrest preaching and teaching to anyone who wanted to hear. His subject is summarized as the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ. At the end of Acts, Paul had not yet been tried before Nero, as the Lord said was going to happen (Acts 27:24). It appears that Paul expected to be acquitted and released (Philippians 1:25; 2:24; Philemon 22). This must have occurred before A.D. 64 when Nero set fire to Rome and accused Christians of that crime.”  

During this two-year period Paul wrote what are commonly called his “Prison Epistles”—Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians. It is to these four prison epistles that we will survey and give our attention.

No matter where Paul was, or what his living conditions were, he preached and lived out the Gospel. May this be said of each of us.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: The Holy Spirit was Right.

25 “And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never receive.” 27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” (Acts 28:25–28 (ESV)

The Jews’ reaction to Paul’s preaching the Gospel was not anything new. Some were convinced of the Gospel’s truthfulness concerning Jesus Christ while others were not. Those who did not believe not only continually disagreed with Paul, they also persistently argued with their fellow Jews. Things have not changed in 2,000 years.

Paul’s response to the Jews’ unbelief was biblical and truthful. He quoted from the Prophet Isaiah: “26 ‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never receive.” 27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ The quotation was taken from Isaiah 6:9-10.

Isaiah’s prophecy concerned Israel’s unconverted and spiritually dull hearts, deaf ears and blind eyes (John 9).Therefore, God would send His salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone to the Gentiles. They would heed the truth of the Gospel.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “These Jews continue to fulfill the prophecy of Israel’s hardening that began in Isaiah’s own time and continued up until the time of Christ (Matthew 13:14) and even up until Paul’s own day.”   

Paul’s declarative statement is the final one which Luke records. He said, “Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

Paul’s words take the form of a strong command when he said, “Let it be known.” His audience are the unbelieving Jews. He stated that salvation, the deliverance from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin, originated with and is sourced in God alone. He is personally and completely sending this message of divine deliverance to the Gentiles.

Paul then prophecies: “They (the Gentiles) will listen.” In other words, the unconverted Gentiles will hear, pay attention to, and receive the good news in Jesus Christ. Two millennia of church history has proven Paul’s concluding recorded words as accurate and truthful.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Westminster Confession of Faith: Providence. Part 2.

We will devote each Lord’s Day in 2021 at hiswordtoday.org to present a portion of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). For those unfamiliar with the WCF, a brief explanation is appropriate. 

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the “subordinate standard” of doctrine (to Scripture) in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

It is to that “most precise and accurate summary of the content of biblical Christianity” that we will give our time and attention to each Lord’s Day in the year of our Lord, 2021. I trust you will be edified and encouraged each week by The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Chapter Five: Providence. Part 2.

2. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly,a yet by the same providence he ordereth them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.b

a. Acts 2:23. • b. Gen 8:22Exod 21:13 with Deut 19:51 Kings 22:2834Isa 10:6-7Jer 31:35.

3. God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means,a yet is free to work without,b above,c and against them,d at his pleasure.

a. Isa 55:10-11Hosea 2:21-22Acts 27:3144. • b. Job 34:10Hosea 1:7Mat 4:4. • c. Rom 4:19-21. • d. 2 Kings 6:6Dan 3:27.

Take the time today to read each attribute along with its corresponding biblical reference. You will be blessed and edified.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Paul Testifies of the Kingdom of God.

23 “When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.” (Acts 28:23–24 (ESV)

The second meeting the Apostle Paul had with the Jews occurred at a pre-appointed time. It also occurred at Paul’s place of lodging. Paul’s residence was not at this time a prison cell of an indeterminate nature, but rather a guest room of a larger house or dwelling place. Luke did not use the word prison, as he had when Paul and Silas were imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16:23).

Additionally, the meeting Paul had with the Jews this time involved a greater number of people than his first encounter (Acts 28:17). The meeting began in the morning and lasted until the evening hours. Paul expounded and explained, from the Old Testament Law and Prophets, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul declared to them the truth of the kingdom of God, that Jesus Christ was the only Savior and Lord. Paul’s method of Jewish evangelism throughout the Book of Acts was to prove from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah (cf. 13:16–41).

The term “kingdom of God” involves the concept of God’s rule and reign over the hearts and lives of His disciples by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is applied to the sinner’s account by grace alone through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

However, the “kingdom of God” also looks ahead to Christ’s literal reign on earth. It is clearly eschatological and future in significance (cf. Acts 1:3–6; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; Luke 1:33; 4:43; 6:20; 7:28; 8:1, 10; 9:2, 11, 27, 60, 62; 10:9, 11; 11:2, 20; 12:31–32; 13:18, 20, 28–29; 14:15; 16:16; 17:20–21; 18:16–17, 24–25, 29–30; 19:11; 21:31; 22:16, 18, 29–30; 23:42, 51).

Ironically, to these Jews the concept of the Messiah dying for sins as an atoning sacrifice, and the teaching of justification by faith as the way of entering the kingdom, sounded strange. It shouldn’t have given the Old Testament Levitical sacrificial system centered not only in the Tabernacle but also in the Temple. It shouldn’t have given the annual Jewish feasts and festivals which pointed to God’s redeeming work; especially through the festival of Passover (Exodus 12).

Some of the Jews began to be convinced of what Paul declared. Others did not believe in the truth of the Gospel at all. These responses to the Gospel remain the same today.

What is your response?

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Paul Ministers in Rome.

17 “After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” (Acts 28:17–22 (ESV)

Romans 1:16-17 says, 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

We have seen throughout Paul’s life and ministry that even though God appointed him to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15) he also was to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Jews. Paul’s pattern on his missionary trips was to preach first in the synagogue and only when the Jews rejected the gospel would he then proceed to the Gentiles.

Paul’s ministry pattern did not change when he arrived in Rome. As today’s text bears out, Paul sought out the local leaders of the Jews and said, ““Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.”

Paul wanted his fellow Jews to know the truth about him and why he was a prisoner of Rome. However, the Jews he spoke to possessed no information about either his arrest or his impending trial before Caesar. They said, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” The stage is set for Paul to present the truth of the gospel to the Roman Jews.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “His (Paul’s) primary objective in calling the leaders was to talk with them about the hope of Israel. This term and concept was used by Paul a number of times in the last part of Acts (cf. 23:6; 24:15; 26:6–7). The hope of Israel was more than a resurrection; it meant fulfillment of the Old Testament promises to Israel (cf. 26:6–7). Paul firmly believed Jesus is the Messiah of Israel who will return someday and establish Himself as the King of Israel and Lord of the nations (cf. 1:6).”

Do you have faith in the hope of Israel: Jesus Christ? If you do, rejoice. If you don’t, repent.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Paul Arrives at Rome.

11 “After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead. 12 Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13 And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found brothers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15 And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. 16 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.” (Acts 28:11–16 (ESV)

Paul and Luke, along with the other passengers and crew of the shipwrecked vessel, remained on the island of Malta for three months in order to wait for winter to pass. When spring arrived, they set sail on a ship that had also wintered in the island.

Luke informs us that the ship in question was from Alexandria, Egypt. It had the twin gods as a figurehead. These would have been Castor and Pollux, sons of Zeus.  In Greek mythology, they both were considered the patron gods of seafarers.

Luke then begins to chronicle the places the ship frequented. These ports included Syracuse, which was located on the island of Sicily. Sicily is just south of Italy.

The ship then arrived at Rhegium and then Puteoli.  Rhegium was a harbor on the southern tip of the Italian mainland. There the ship waited one day for a favorable wind to permit it to sail through the Straits of Messina (separating Sicily from the Italian mainland). Puteoli, known today as Pozzuoli, was located on the Bay of Naples near Pompeii. It was Rome’s main port and the most important one in Italy. Puteoli was also the main port for the Egyptian grain fleet.

It was at Puteoli that Paul and Luke met fellow believers in Christ. They stayed with them for a week. Following their stay, Paul and Luke finally arrived into the city of Rome.

Many believers, who heard that Paul had arrived into the city, came to meet him and Luke. Paul expressed his heartfelt thanks to the Lord.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, At last God was bringing Paul to Rome. And the welcome of fellow believers, whom he had never met, uplifted his soul. So they proceeded on the Appian Way, “the queen of the long roads,” to the city of Rome.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “When he (Paul) wrote to the believers in Rome several years earlier, he anticipated his and their mutual encouragement through each other’s faith (Romans 1:11-12). That anticipation is now fulfilled.”

Soli deo Gloria!    

The Apostle Paul: Publius and his Father.

7 “Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10 They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.” (Acts 28:7–10 (ESV)

God’s providence is defined as the rule of God in both heaven and earth, governing the activities of mankind and of nature. Throughout Paul’s life, particularly during his journey to Rome, God was working; even in the many difficult circumstances the apostle and his companions encountered.

Luke continues the narrative by introducing a man of Malta known as Publius. Luke called him a “chief man” which means either a prominent or an important individual on Malta. Perhaps he was a government official.

Publius was also a hospitable man for he entertained Paul, and at least Luke, for three days. It was during these visits that Publius’ father became ill with a fever and with dysentery. He suffered from some kind of intestinal illness. One commentator states that Publius’ father suffered from a “gastric fever (caused by a microbe found in goat’s milk) that was common on Malta and referred to as “Malta Fever.” Dysentery, was often the result of poor sanitation, and was widespread in the ancient world.

Paul took the liberty of visiting Publius’ father. He prayed on the man’s behalf, and also laid hands on him and healed him. The man was immediately cured.

This prompted other people on the island who were sick to also come and see Paul. They too were cured.

As a result, the islanders of Malta honored Paul and his companions. It was at this time that arrangements were made to secure another ship bound for Rome, for Luke mentions that the Maltese people provided many supplies as Paul and the others were ready to set sail. Further details about the ship will be forthcoming when next we meet.

While Rome was Paul’s desired destination, he recognized the providence of God in ministering to the people of Malta. So too should we acknowledge that circumstances we might conclude as interruptions, are in actuality divine appointments.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Paul on Malta

After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.” (Acts 28:1–6 (ESV)

The island on which the Apostle Paul and the other passengers and crew who were shipwrecked was Malta. Malta means “refuge.” How appropriate and providential.

Luke records that the native people of the island displayed unusual kindness to the castaways. Remember, the storm was still raging and an autumn cold had settled over the island. The stranded voyagers were in danger of experiencing hypothermia. However, the islanders build a fire by which the passengers could get warm and dry.

Displaying his spiritual gift of helps, Paul gathered a bundle of sticks for kindling. He then put them on the fire. It was at that precise moment that a viper came out of the fire because of the heat and fashioned its jaws upon the apostle’s hand.

The islanders had the common perspective, which remains to this day, that bad things happen to people who are deserving of them (see John 9:1-2). The islanders must have observed that Paul was a Roman prisoner. They concluded among themselves, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” In other words, Paul may have cheated divine justice from the sea, but justice had caught up with him by the snake’s bite.

However, Paul shook off the snake from his hand and threw it into the fire. Astoundingly, the apostle suffered no harm. The natives waited for Paul to begin feeling and showing the affects from the snake bite. None came.

Like the Lystrans (Acts 14:11-12), who proclaimed Paul and Barnabas to be gods, the Maltese people also said that the apostle must be a god. What a drastic change in their perspective. However, Paul was a servant of the One, True God.

The story is told that on one rainy day, a man accompanied by two women arrived at Northfield, hoping to enroll his daughter in D.L. Moody’s school for young women. The three needed help in getting their luggage from the railway depot to the hotel, so the visitor “drafted” a rather common-looking man with a horse and wagon, assuming he was a local cabby. The “cabby” said he was waiting for students, but the visitor ordered him to take them to the hotel. The visitor was shocked when the “cabby” did not charge him, and was even more shocked to discover that the “cabby” was D.L. Moody himself! Moody was a leader because he knew how to be a servant.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Shipwrecked!

39 “Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. 40 So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. 41 But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf. 42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, 44 and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.” (Acts 27:39–44 (ESV)

A shipwreck are the remains of a ship that has wrecked, which are found either beached on land or sunken to the bottom of a body of water. Shipwrecking may be deliberate or accidental.

It has been estimated that there are some 3 million shipwrecks spread across the earth’s ocean floors. There are over 6,000 shipwrecks in the North American Great Lakes, having caused an estimated loss of 30,000 mariners’ lives. It is also estimated that there are about 550 wrecks in Lake Superior alone, most of which are undiscovered.

Some shipwrecks are historically famous such as the sinking of the Titanic (April 14-15, 1912), and the freighter S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald (November 10, 1975). Not only have books, feature films and documentaries been written and produced about shipwrecks, but also about the survivors of the same. From the dramatic to the comedic, stories about survivors of shipwrecks, otherwise known as castaways, abound. These include such titles as Cast Away, Gilligan’s Island, Swiss Family Robinson, Lost in Space, and Robinson Crusoe.

The Apostle Paul, Luke and others aboard the ill-fated cargo ship bound for Rome knew what it meant to be shipwrecked. Luke recorded in today’s text the circumstances leading to the destruction of their vessel. With the ship’s bow striking a reef and running aground, along with the breaking of the ship’s stern by the surf, the passengers abandoned ship and made for land. Some swam to shore, while others floated on wooden planks or other pieces of the ship. All 276 passengers and crew (Acts 27:37) made it safely to shore. This was one of three shipwrecks the Apostle Paul experienced (2 Corinthians 11:25).

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Why did God allow His servant to suffer so, especially to bring him to an island where he would have gone willingly if asked? God’s ways are often mysterious, but Scripture assures us they are altogether righteous.”

Resolve today to not only praise God for His wisdom in your life, but also to trust Him throughout the circumstances of your life.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Westminster Confession of Faith: Providence. Part 1.

We will devote each Lord’s Day in 2021 at hiswordtoday.org to present a portion of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). For those unfamiliar with the WCF, a brief explanation is appropriate. 

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the “subordinate standard” of doctrine (to Scripture) in the Church of Scotland and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

It is to that “most precise and accurate summary of the content of biblical Christianity” that we will give our time and attention to each Lord’s Day in the year of our Lord, 2021. I trust you will be edified and encouraged each week by The Westminster Confession of Faith.

Chapter Five: Providence. Part 1.

  1. God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold,a direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things,b from the greatest even to the least,c by his most wise and holy providence,d according to his infallible fore-knowledgee and the free and immutable counsel of his own will,f to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.g

a.  Heb 1:3. • b. Psa 135:6Dan 4:34-35Acts 17:25-2628; Job 38-41 throughout. • c. Mat 10:29-31. • d. Psa 104:24145:17Prov 15:3. • e. Psa 94:8-11Acts 15:18. • f. Psa 33:10-11Eph 1:11. • g. Gen 45:7Psa 145:7Isa 63:14Rom 9:17Eph 3:10.

Take the time today to read each attribute along with its corresponding biblical reference. You will be blessed and edified.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Apostle Paul: Not a Hair will Perish from any of You.

33 “As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.”  35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) 38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.” (Acts 27:33–38 (ESV)

While in the midst of surging seas, and debilitating despair felt by the crew and others, the Apostle Paul encouraged those around him to eat. The passengers and crew had not eaten anything for two full weeks. This was not only because of the violent storm, but probably also by the accompanying seasickness people were certainly to experience.

Paul prayed for the meal and everyone ate and were encouraged. Luke notes that there were 276 people on board. This indicates that the ship was an ocean going vessel and not a relatively smaller fishing boat one would find on the Sea of Galilee.

Following their meal, the people then threw the rest of the wheat cargo into the sea. This served to further lighten the ship so it would ride high on the surface of the water.

The phrase, “not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you,” was a common Jewish expression. In fact, Jesus used it when He explained to His disciples that they would encounter troubles as His disciples.

Luke 21:12-17 records Jesus, on the night prior to His crucifixion, saying to the disciples, 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.”

One author comments, “How do you explain this promise in light of all the trials Jesus predicts in this chapter. Among other things, he says that the leaders will lay hands on them; persecute them; deliver them up to synagogues and prisons; bring them before kings and governors; delivered up before parents, brothers, relatives and friends; be put to death; and, to top it all off, they will be hated by all for the name of Jesus (Luke 21:12-17). After all of that, Jesus then says, “But not a hair of your head will perish.” How could he say that? Did he not just say that some would die (v 16)? Is Jesus not contradicting everything he said? No, not at all. The life that is promised here is more than mere physical life.”

Whatever you may be facing, do not despair. Do your best, and trust God for the rest.

Soli deo Gloria!