Owned by Jesus (Bridges)

Several times in the New Testament we read that God’s people are “owned” by the Lord. For example, Peter writes that Christians are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people of his own…” (NET; emphasis mine). The same theme also shows up in Titus 2:14, 1 Corinthians 6:20, and a few other places. Jerry Bridges did a good job of explaining what it means to belong to Christ, to be “owned” by him:

We have been set apart to be Christ’s own possession. This is the language of ownership. As saints we no longer “own” ourselves in the sense that we are free to live as we please. Rather, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ‘You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.’ A saint is someone who no longer belongs to or ‘owns’ himself. The name on the title to his life is no longer the name he is known by. The titleholder to the life of every Christian is Jesus Christ. This is what it means for Christ to be [our] Lord.

…In today’s Christian culture, this is actually a radical concept, if not an outright offensive one. We regularly talk about how we may choose to give something to God. I give some of my money or my time. The clear implication of this kind of language is not only that all my possessions are my own, but that I, too, belong entirely to myself, and I go through life making choices about how I will invest in my time, my energy, and my resources.

The Bible has an entirely different perspective: none of these things are your own. Indeed, you are not your own. You were bought with a price, the price being the blood of the Son of God shed for your salvation. Having been purchased, you no longer belong to yourself. …Our whole outlook on life should be colored by the fact that, as saints, we no longer belong to ourselves, but to him.

Like the Heidelberg Catechism says so well, one aspect of my only comfort in life and in death is that I belong to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ!

The above quote is found on pages 66-68 of Who Am I by Jerry Bridges.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

The Gospel is Sprinkled Throughout Scripture (Melanchthon)

Philip Melanchthon’s Loci Communes Theologici (Fundamental Theological Themes) was published early on in the Reformation – in 1521 when Melanchthon was only 24 years old. Melanchthon’s Loci is something of a summary of the main Christian themes in Scripture. Martin Luther hailed the Loci more than once and said it should be included in the canon of the church – that is, in the church’s essential theological books. To be sure, it is an excellent piece of Reformation literature that is well worth reading. Below is a section I ran across this morning which I thought was quite helpful:

 So far do I write on the promises [of God], all of which ought to be related to that first one which was made to Eve. It signified to Adam and Eve that sin, and death, the penalty of that sin, would at some time be abolished, namely, when the progeny of Eve should bruise the head of that serpent. For what do the head of the serpent and its cunning signify but the kingdom of sin and death?

If you should relate all promises to this one, you will see that the gospel is sprinkled throughout the whole of Scripture in a remarkable way; and the gospel is simply the preaching of grace or the forgiveness of sins through Christ. And yet as I said a little while ago, all promises, even those of temporal things, are testimonies of the goodwill or the mercy of God; he who trusts in them is righteous because he thinks well of God and has given praise to him for his kindness and goodness.

He who hears the threats and acknowledges the history does not yet believe every word of God; but he does who, in addition to the threats and the history, believes also the promises. It is not merely a matter of believing the history about Christ; this is what the godless do. What matters is to believe why he took on flesh, why he was crucified, and why he came back to life after his death; the reason, of course, is that he might justify as many as would believe on him. If you believe that these things have been done for your good and for the sake of saving you, you have a blessed belief.

Philip Melanchthon, Loci Communes “Justification and Faith” in Melanchthon and Bucer, p. 104-105.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

The Christian’s True Identity (Cruse)

The Christian's True Identity: What It Means to Be in Christ

There are a handful of good books on Christian identity: who we are in Christ. Jerry Bridges wrote “Who Am I,” Melissa Kruger wrote “Identity Theft,” Richard Lints wrote “Identity and Idolatry,” and so on. It’s nice to have good Christian resources for a biblical view of identity!

Here’s another helpful book on Christian identity to add to your list: “The Christian’s True Identity” by Jonathan Cruse. It’s a 150 page devotional sort of book that expounds ten New Testament texts that have to do with our identity “in Christ.” The chapters discuss the NT themes of these aspects of being in Christ: chosen, forgiven, righteous, adopted, secure, and so on. These ten chapters are based on ten sermons Cruse gave on these NT texts. There are also some “for further study” questions at the end of the chapter.

This is a pretty straightforward book that is not too difficult to read. It would make a great ten day devotional for the Christian who wants to study what it means for him or her to be “in Christ.” It would also make a good 10-week study for a book club. I appreciate how “The Christian’s True Identity” basically expounds upon all the blessings we receive from being joined to Christ by faith. Who he is and who I am in him are essential aspects of my Christian identity. This is a faith-strengthening topic for sure and the book is one that helps us focus on our Lord Jesus. Recommended!

Jonathan Cruse, The Christian’s True Identity.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

Jesus, Prophets, and Prophecy (Robertson)

 If you’re looking for a detailed, scholarly biblical resource on the Old Testament prophets, you’ll want to get “The Christ of the Prophets” by O. Palmer Robertson. I’m working my way through it now and am finding out it’s a very thorough and helpful study.  The unabridged volume is long (c. 500 pages) but it’s a book you don’t necessarily have to read through in order or all at once.  I’m thinking of it as a study reference book on the prophets.

Anyway, I appreciate Robertson’s emphasis on how the OT prophets find their fulfillment and consummation in Christ. Here’s what Robertson wrote after discussing the great prophet text in Deuteronomy 18:

The tension created by the establishment of a prophetic mediator at Sinai pointed to the need for ending this separation between God and his people at some point in the future.  God appeared at the top of the shaking, smoking mountain, displaying his awesome glory as he spoke by the trumpet sound of his voice.  The people trembled in fear at the bottom of the mountain and pled with Moses to mediate the words of this awesome God..  While the role of prophetic mediator was essential for the communication of the divine word, this very arrangement made impossible the realization of the central purpose of the covenant, which was to establish an intimacy of fellowship between God and his people.  Somehow this circumstance had to be altered.

This entire scenario encourages the expectation that some resolution of the problem would appear in the future.  God’s purpose in the covenant will not be frustrated.  Unity between the Covenant Lord and his people must be realized.  Indeed, the Lord will not minimize his greatness and his glory as the Almighty.  But somehow the deficiency represented by the mediatorial role of Moses must be overcome.  In this context, the claims of the new covenant scriptures concerning Jesus of Nazareth may be fully appreciated, for at many points the presentation of Jesus as prophet supplies an answer to this limitation of the prophetic office of the old covenant.

Robertson then goes on to talk about Christ as the originator of the prophetic word, the distributor of the Spirit’s gifts, the Lord over the prophetic word, and as the consummative prophet:

“[The long line of] prophets originates with Moses and finds its consummation in Jesus Christ. As a result, all the blessings intended in God’s covenant flow through him.”

O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets, chapter 2.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54002

Music Monday: “Yet Not I but through Christ in Me”

For me, music is one of the greatest blessings in life. I deeply enjoy music in general, but specifically solid Christian music has helped me in my walk with Christ in so many ways at so many different times in my life. Here on this blog in the past I’ve noted various Christian lyrics (from John Newton to Andrew Peterson) and for some time I’ve been thinking about doing a “Music Monday” blog post. I’m not sure I’ll do it every Monday, but from time to time I hope to post the words from some songs that have encouraged me in the Christian faith.

Today’s song is “Yet Not I but through Christ in Me” by CityAlight. I know it’s not possibly to wear out a digital copy of a song, but if it were, I would’ve worn this one out! Here it is:

What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer
There is no more for heaven now to give
He is my joy, my righteousness, and freedom
My steadfast love, my deep and boundless peace

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
For my life is wholly bound to his
Oh how strange and divine, I can sing: all is mine!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

The night is dark but I am not forsaken
For by my side, the Saviour He will stay
I labour on in weakness and rejoicing
For in my need, His power is displayed

To this I hold, my Shepherd will defend me
Through the deepest valley He will lead
Oh the night has been won, and I shall overcome!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

No fate I dread, I know I am forgiven
The future sure, the price it has been paid
For Jesus bled and suffered for my pardon
And He was raised to overthrow the grave

To this I hold, my sin has been defeated
Jesus now and ever is my plea
Oh the chains are released, I can sing: I am free!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

With every breath I long to follow Jesus
For He has said that He will bring me home
And day by day I know He will renew me
Until I stand with joy before the throne

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!

CityAlight, “Yet Not I but through Christ in Me.”

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015