Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Excellent Name of God

Psalm 8

Dr. Edwin P. Elliott

I. God Is the Greatest by Any Standard

A. David raises the question which comes to any mind which considers God. “To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1)

B. History repeatedly demonstrates the greatness of God. “His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.” (Psalm 72:17-19)

C. Grace is a mighty work and a wonder. “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Isaiah 29:14)

D. Wisdom cannot function or endure apart from a foundation in God. “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:19-24)

II. Mankind Is Evidence of God’s Greatness

A. Tiny children demonstrate God to the watching and accusatory world; children saw in Jesus what the religious leaders of the day could not see. “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:2) “And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Matthew 21:15-16)

B. People can only be happy when seeking God; man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever. “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;” (Psalm 63:1)

C. Little children often understand God better than the wise folk who have learned not to believe. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” (Matthew 11:25)

III. Space with Stars and Planets Glorifies God

A. The universe testifies to the Creator and to His character. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;” (Psalm 8:3) “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;” (Hebrews 7:26)

B. Patterns displaying the Creator’s marks appear at all levels of reality. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20)

IV. Man Is the Most Instructive Evidence of God’s Greatness

A. Something about humanity interests God and that in turn tells something about God; as Calvin suggested, the study of God leads to man and the study of man leads to God.What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:4)

B. The incarnation of Christ and His death on the cross reveal the marvelous mind of God; the interpretation appears in Hebrews. “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Psalm 8:5) “But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:6-9)

C. Man’s spreading dominion over creation speaks more of God than of mankind; creation is structured, integrated, and purposeful. “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:” (Psalm 8:6)

D. Every individual item of creation entrusted to mankind points back to the Creator and His inexhaustible mind.All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.” (Psalm 8:7-8)

V. The Study of God Leads from Him to Him

A. By any measure God is above all. “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9)

B. Every genuine investigation of reality ultimately returns to God. “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.” (Psalm 104:24)

If, Then

Romans 8:31-39

Dr. Edwin P. Elliott

I. Election Establishes Logical Propositions

A. Knowing the process of redemption gives the redeemed courage to boldly obey God. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)

B. Because God has done the greater, He can be expected to do the lesser, and there is no greater gift than the substitutionary atonement. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:6-10)

C. God’s atonement triumphs over every sin and failure. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” (Romans 8:33) “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 54:17)

D. With the Savior on the throne of all reality, no one is in a position to bring charges against any believer. “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34) “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14)

II. For God’s People, Life’s Great Terrors No Longer Frighten

A. God’s demonstrated love is more powerful than life’s great difficulties.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35) “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

B. Christians boldly do what paralyzes non-believers because God’s promises are more certain than life’s disadvantages.As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” (Romans 8:36) (from Psalm 44:22)

C. In Christ, believers triumph over every problem confronting them. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

III. Examine Personal Terrors in the Light of Sovereign Grace

A. Paul lifted each of his challenges up for examination in the light of grace. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,” (Romans 8:38)

B. Nothing is great enough to undo God’s love in Christ. “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

C. Redemption from Egypt is the great pattern which illustrates how God works His purpose against the greatest force the world has to offer; God raised up pharaoh to put him down as a demonstration of Heaven’s concern for God’s people. “And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go?” (Exodus 9:16-17)

D. The unity of God the Father and Christ the Savior is too great for anyone to undo; the Redeemer, not the redeemed, guarantees eternity. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:28-30)

Life Can Get Better

Psalm 115:1-18; Ephesians 4:1-31 / Psalm 94:1-23

Dr. Edwin P. Elliott, Jr.

I. God Demands New Life

A. Saved people must distinguish themselves from lost people. “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,” (Ephesians 4:17)

B. The unredeemed are unable to understand reality; the minds of such people do not process truth. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18)

C. When people lose the categories necessary for perception, they simultaneously abandon their fear of consequences and carelessly grow increasingly evil. “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:19)

D. The saved and the unsaved function with conflicting mental operating systems so that unbelievers place the wrong meaning on what they experience.They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:18-20)

II. God Causes New Life

A. God changes the way the Christian functions; grace reverses the effects of the fall incrementally. “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)

B. God takes away old thought processes and replaces them with new ones.Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

C. Jesus explicitly called on His disciples to give up what had failed, face the cost of faithfulness, and pattern after Him. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

D. Interaction with God’s word inevitably transforms people.The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7)

III. New Life Displays Changed Thinking and Behavior

A. Moving from falsehood to truth is an essential first step. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25)

1. Lying traces its family heritage to Satan. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

2. Truth is evidence of the presence of Jesus Who is Truth. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

B. Each bad behavior must be replaced with a righteous one; believers return good for evil.Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9)

C. Part of what the new heart does is to identify what has been wrong in a believer’s life and then move in the opposite direction from vice to virtue.Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Ephesians 4:28)

D. One of the identifying marks of a genuine Christian congregation is the way in which the community fosters this process through its associations. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Managing Put-Down Artists

Psalm 7

I. Slander Demands Self-Examination

A. David composed Psalm 7 after Cush [a name for Saul whose father was Kish] slandered him. “Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.” (Psalm 7:1a) See 1 Samuel 24:4,5; 9-15

B. Rather than rely on himself, David turned to God for help. “O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:” (Psalm 7:1b)

C. David did not expect other people to come to his assistance. “Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.” (Psalm 7:2)

D. David examined the possible justifications for the attack and the evidence that he had done precisely the opposite of what his accuser charged. “O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)” (Psalm 7:3-4)

E. David did not deny that the charges would have merited punishment if they had been true.Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.” (Psalm 7:5)

II. The Lord of Providence Understands Reality

A. God is in charge of justice and ultimately He will dispense it. “Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.” (Psalm 7:6)

B. Individual situations like David’s fit into a larger pattern of God’s protective care for His people; God’s reputation is exposed in the attention He pays to His people. “So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high.” (Psalm 7:7)

C. David appealed to God to handle his defense. “The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.” (Psalm 7:8)

D. It is God’s business to expose wickedness and establish justice. “Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.” (Psalm 7:9) Mind and Emotions

E. Ultimately believers are happy to leave their defense to God. “My defense is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.” (Psalm 7:10)

F. God is personally concerned with evil and will utterly settle affairs with wicked people who do not repent.God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.” (Psalm 7:11-13)

III. Slanderers Self-Destruct

A. Evil thinking is at the root of bad behavior. “Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.” (Psalm 7:14)

B. The traps evil people set ultimately confound their designers.He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.” (Psalm 7:15)

C. Evil ultimately catches up with itself.His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.” (Psalm 7:16)

D. Haman was hanged on the gallows he designed. “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.” (Esther 7:10)

E. David cut off Goliath’s head with his own sword. “So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.” (1 Samuel 17:50-51)

IV. Even Slander Should Result in Praise for God

A. The right response to malicious abuse is praise to God.I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.” (Psalm 7:17)

B. History unfolds according to heaven’s pattern; evil cannot ever be the ultimate determiner of anything.This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (Daniel 4:17)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

From Darkness to Light

Psalm 6

Dr. Edwin P. Elliott

I. David Spoke from the Dark Night of the Soul

A. David began by acknowledging his own part in reaching the distress which was overwhelming him; God had good cause to be angry. “To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David. O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.” (Psalm 6:1)

B. Confession is never the time to hold back from God; explain the problem and note all its features.Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.” (Psalm 6:2) “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;” (Psalm 103:13-17)

C. Pain and sorrow overwhelm time so that people cannot see to the end of their trials. “My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?” (Psalm 6:3) “Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.” (Psalm 31:9-10)

D. Sin may be home-made but help waits in heaven. “Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalm 6:4-5)

II. Grief and Trial Take Many Forms

A. The dark night of the soul stresses people. “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.” (Psalm 6:6) “My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 10:1)

B. Enemies and detractors use the natural struggles of believers for evil purposes. “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” (Psalm 42:3)

C. People who understand sin, sorrow, disappointment, and hope cannot restrain their reactions; people unmoved by the trials of life demonstrate a failure to grasp the issues. “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:37-38)

D. Holding back on life’s trials only compounds the stress. “Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.” (Psalm 6:7) “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.” (Psalm 32:3)

III. The Darkness Makes the Dawn More Beautiful

A. Get some perspective; God, not trouble, is the believer’s context; give enemies of grace the warning they need.Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.” (Psalm 6:8)

B. There is consolation in the realization that a person will have trouble; the question is whether that trouble will display itself in time or in eternity. “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23)

C. God knows all which is taking place. “The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.” (Psalm 6:9) “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Psalm 40:1-2)

D. God answers His people in their need.I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.” (Psalm 118:5)

E. David and Paul preached the same message; human weakness displays heaven’s grace. “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

F. People who do not understand how God governs will be humiliated. “Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.” (Psalm 6:10) “Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.” (Psalm 5:10)

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