Anticipating the King of Glory

August 19, 2018  ANTICICIPATING THE KING OF GLORY  Ps.24, John 20:11-18                    

While David was living in the cave of Adullam, there seemed to be little hope that he would ever be victorious over his great enemy, King Saul.  David gives eloquent expression to his hopelessness in

I Samuel 27:1 “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines.” His brothers and all the malcontents of Israel had gathered around him like a bedraggled gang of the homeless, huddled in a dark corner of the land expecting to be captured by Saul and probably executed. Sad state of mind from truly sad conditions in their land.

Then in a series of remarkable providences, really acts of God, David was rescued, Saul died in battle and the rightful king came to the throne. KING DAVID!!  He triumphed wonderfully and that seeming gang of THE HOMELESS surrounding him were elevated to positions of prominence, power and rule within the land that had rejected them.  They followed their KING INTO GLORY. Continue reading

GLORY OF THE LORD RISES UPON YOU

3/14/99 Hvl.        THE GLORY OF THE LORD RISES UPON YOU       Is. 60:1

Growing up in rural Kansas, I often worked for my Uncle during wheat harvest.  Temperatures almost always in the 90’s,, sometimes over 100 and after my cousin and I drove a load of wheat to town, the swimming hole on the way back to the farm was absolutely irresistible.  It was especially good if recent rains had swollen the creek to near flood stage.  We would dive into the torrent on one side of the bridge and come up on the other gasping for breath and climb out to do it all over again. Continue reading

Biblical Triumphalism

BIBLICAL TRIUMPHALLISM

 Thoughts on Present Day Triumphalism, II Corinthians 2:14

First: September 5, 2016,

Second: August 9, 2018

There is a place for “triumphalism” in our present Christian experience.

I say this with full awareness of the appropriate objections to the kind of “triumphalism” that exists in some contemporary Christian thought and teaching. There are some who want to preach, teach and live as if they had already experienced the full fruits of the Resurrection of Jesus.  The fact is that at present we have only what might be called a “down-payment” on the fruits of the Resurrection at work in our lives (Ephesians 1:13-14) .  The full fruits await the second coming of Christ, an event of unsurpassable glory that will fill our lives to overflowing with full Resurrection Joy, Triumphalism.

It is nevertheless true, however, that the powerful work of the Resurrection is so surely at work in our sinful hearts even today that we should not entirely eliminate the use of the idea of “triumphalism” from our present experience.  Paul is using it right here in II Corinthians 2:14, this remarkably encouraging passage which surely has the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus in view and is applying these grand redemptive events to the congregation in Corinth.  It is the Rsen and Ascended Christ who is leading Paul’s Corinthian brothers and sisters in “triumphal procession” this very day, and Paul is urging them to enter into this spirit of triumph in Christ.

It is important to notice that this “triumphalism” is a theme that Paul sustains quite clearly from this 2:14 text through the end of chapter 4.  Exultant phrases abound.  The “surpassing glory” (3:10) of his ministering Christ to the world was not “fading away” but is “the glory of that which lasts” (3:11). Then in 3:18 as part of that highly privileged number who “are being transformed into his (Christ’s) likeness with ever increasing glory.”

There is more than a breath of triumphalism in such language.  This is not a triumphalism that fails to take into account the ongoing tribulation that we all suffer in this age.  Along with the rest of us, Paul is suffering profound pain and sorrow throughout his time here on earth.  But I think we are going too far when we eliminate all triumphalist language from our present experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR MISSIONARY WARFARE

June 10, 2018 – Revelation 11:19-12:17

Read only to vs. 12

Summer of ‘42 my father driving us through FORT RILEY, Kansas, when we were stopped by the M.P.’s. Fort Riley was home of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments of the U.S. Army.  We waited by the road for a few minutes and then suddenly about 300 horsemen came charging right across the highway, hooves thundering, banners flying, our whole family watching with mouths agape at this spectacular display of military might. HAVE NEVER FORGOT THAT FASCINATING SPCTACLE!!  Continue reading

THE SON ALSO RISES

 

Isaiah 11:1-6     THE RIGHTEOUS REIGN OF THE “BRANCH”

When the sun starts to come up in the morning we first see only a faint glow in the East.  Then as it appears above the horizon that faint glow becomes a great fire that fills the sky.  In a very short time its radiance is so overwhelming that we cannot look directly at it. How we enjoy both its light and its warmth through another day under its gracious beams! Continue reading

I Have Seen The Lord Almighty

A Sermon Pastor Paul Alexander preached on Isaiah 6:1-13, at REDEEMING GRACE FELLOWSHIP PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH in Owensville, August 7, 2016

I will introduce my message this morning by quoting a Godly Bible scholar, Dr. George Beasley-Murray. In His commentary on the Gospel of John He emphasizes the massive influence of the RESURRECTION OF JESUS over ALL of scripture.  Beasley-Murray emphatically insists “…in John the lifting up of the Son of Man on his cross reaches to the throne of heaven; and as the shadow of the cross marks the entire story of Jesus, so the glory of the Resurrection event suffuses every hour of his ministry, and even reaches back to the morning of creation.  The eschatological glory for which creation was made was brought to actuality in the deeds and words of Jesus.” Continue reading

The Splendor of His Majesty

A Sermon based on Isaiah 2: 5-22, Preached July 10, 2016

In his commentary on the Gospel of John, Dr. G. R. Beasley-Murray, has made an important statement about the way the Resurrection of Jesus affects the rest of the Bible.  I use it here to show how the Resurrection affects the whole of scripture including this particular text in Isaiah, Murray’s words: Continue reading

Born into the Millenium

Letters to Our Dear Children #6

Dear Junia, Charysse, DeAnn and Greg,

            Our family vacation in the summer of 1973 is one of our favorite memories!

            Because I had been invited that summer to speak at a Bible camp in North Dakota, we decided to use the trip to the camp as a launching pad for a visit to the fabled national parks in Alberta, Canada, and northern Wyoming.  So after a week at camp, we set sail in our badly overloaded old station wagon for Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Continue reading

Born into Covenant Nurture

Letters to Our Dear Children #5

Dear Junia, Charysse, DeAnn and Greg,

Perhaps our favorite family excursion when you were children was swimming in Guntersville Lake.  The lake was about a forty-mile drive from our house in Huntsville, Alabama, and we went there with a picnic lunch nearly every Monday during the summer months.  We were gleefully unaware of the alleged vermin filling our “ole’ swimmin’ hole” and enjoyed many hours of rompin’ in the surf.  (And, incidentally, those vermin never made us sick, well, not very sick anyway.)

My suspicion is that you still remember those trips to the lake.  It was the kind of day off that a poor pastor and his family could both afford and enjoy.  And enjoy it we did!  All of us enjoyed the water, and each of you learned to swim and dive with very little coaching.  One of our favorite stunts was for me to take you out neck-deep in the water and then throw you as far as I could.  You would come up from your landing laughing hysterically and asking me to do it again.  So I did, until I was so exhausted I could hardly breathe.

So, what does that have to do with “Covenant Nurture?”  Your mother and I are convinced that it had a whole lot to do with “Covenant Nurture!”  Such play as we so raucously enjoyed on our swimming outings was well designed to help us bond together in loving and joyful relationships – relationships which became the very foundation of Covenant Nurture in our family.

Yes, we also led the four of you in those experiences which are most clearly recognized as parts of Covenant Nurture: daily family worship, Sunday worship at church, family discussions of God and the Bible, singing hymns together on various occasions, reading good Biblical books and magazines.  We even memorized scripture together and the questions and answers of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  You joined us willingly as we led you through those specifically nurturing exercises.

Allow me to use a somewhat technical word at this point, the word “holistic.”  You have doubtless seen that word used by psychologists, educators, doctors, and others who are trying to get us to see the big picture, the whole scope of life.  Unless we are “holistic” in the appropriate sense, we are in danger of focusing narrowly on one little part of life, thus distorting the overall meaning.

Now I am going to insist that the “ole swimmin’ hole” was an important part of the “holistic” picture of the Alexander family.  Without our trips to Guntersville Lake, you would not have been as well equipped either to worship with us on Sunday or to memorize your catechisms.  The idea of human life that emerges from the first two chapters of Genesis is a wonderfully “holistic” picture, showing us Worship, Work, and Wedlock as a beautiful panorama of realities (Letter #3) that only the All-wise and All-loving God could conceive and create.  Pardon the pun on the “ole swimmin’ hole,” but remember that God is the One who is inviting us to plunge into our world with a gusto, discovering the glory and majesty of our God and Savior through all the rest of scripture, which unfolds out of the “image of God” and the Covenant outlined in those first two chapters in genesis.

ONE MOST IMPORTANT POINT: Each of the four of you came to saving faith in Christ through Covenant Nurture.  Faithful teachers and preachers at Westminster Presbyterian church and teachers at

Westminster Christian Academy joined with us, your parents, in that Covenant Nurture which you received.  In your early teen years, each of you made a profession of faith to our Ruling Elders, thus becoming confessing members of the Body of Christ.

Your dear Mother and I never stop praising our Lord for this great wonder of His amazing grace.  Your continuing faith in our Savior is a beautiful testimony to the effectiveness of Covenant Nurture still at work in your lives (including memories of the “ole swimmin’ hole”).

With all our love,

Mom and Dad Alexander

REFLEXIONS

     Your mother and I had to discover “Covenantal Nurture.”  We were both raised in what might be called a “Revivalist” church culture, a culture in which both adults and children were expected to come to Christ through the kind of evangelistic preaching that always concluded with an invitation to come forward and receive Christ through the appeal of the preacher.  This “Revivalist” culture showed some respect for Covenantal Nurture but primarily emphasized public response to the evangelistic appeal as the real proof that conversion to Christ was genuine. You had to make a public “decision for Christ.” If you did not know the date and hour of that decision made when you went forward to receive Jesus, you probably were not really saved.  That is what the “Revivalist” culture had decreed and your mother and I lived under that decree.

Under the “Covenantal Nurture” teaching that we found for the first time at seminary, we became convinced that such “Revivalist” teaching, such “decisionism,” was a serious problem within the church.  My own father was a pastor/evangelist who had been thoroughly trained in in such Revivalism.  He and a numerous army of his fellow preachers often became expert guilt manipulators, skilled at convincing their congregations that they were such sinners that they should come forward after the sermon either for first-time conversion or for the rededication of their lives to Christ.  The result was that many professing believers went forward frequently in response to such preaching.  They were never quite sure that they had really been saved the last time they went forward and/or could be quite easily convinced that they should at least rededicate their lives by going forward again.

Dr. Buswell’s teaching on the Covenant (Letter #1) and his emphasis on the family nurture that flows out of the Covenant was a wonderful discovery both for me personally and for your mother who happily learned it second-hand through my passing it on to her.  The more we discussed and studied these Covenantal ideas, the more we realized that these truths were not just an incidental part of the Bible but were crucial truths at the very heart of the Bible, truths that bring powerful assurance of God’s love to us lost sinners.  We were delighted to find a growing number of Godly leaders and pastors who led us further into Covenant truths and strengthened us in our growing understanding of Covenant Nurture.

We became convinced that the Revivalism of our early years was in serious error!

Don’t get me wrong.  We know that “revival” is a Biblical idea; Psalm 85:6, for instance, uses this very good and very Biblical word, but we became convinced that this word and related ideas have been misconstrued and badly misunderstood by many who call themselves “revivalists.”  We became convinced that parents are the primary agents for leading their children to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and that “Covenant Nurture” is the primary means that parents must use to accomplish this important goal.  I will refer to two highly respected brothers here to support my position.

Walter A. Elwell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology refers to two famous old nineteenth-century Presbyterian theologians who had experienced Revivalism in their youth.  These two theologians are Dr. Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) and Dr. Charles Hodge (1797-1878).  Their opinions on Revival and Christian nurture reflect Biblical wisdom evident in this quotation from Elwell:

Many Old School men, including Alexander and Hodge, were greatly influenced by revivals in their younger days and acknowledged a continuing need for revival in the church. But they sharply criticized contemporary “revivalists”….They condemned emotional excesses and demanded that revivals be carried out within the church guided by its confessional stance on God’s sovereignty and human inability.  Charles G. Finney’s theology and Lectures on Revivals of Religion (1835) were thoroughly criticized.  Hodge preferred Horace Bushnell’s concept of Christian nurture to revivalism as the primary means of bringing people to faith in Christ.1

I am fully convinced that Alexander and Hodge were right.  Experience in my own family and congregation have further convinced me that parental use of Christian nurture is both the most Biblical and the most effective way of leading our children to Christ and keeping them in Christ.

I will have more to say about this in my next letter.

And I want to hear from you.  This may be controversial with some of you.  Let’s talk!

 

  1. Dr. Walter A. Elwell Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Published by Baker Books, 1984, 1996, Page 794.