On the contrary, we are rather to believe that in these days there shall be no lack either of those who fall away from, or of those who attach themselves to the Church; but there shall be such resoluteness, both in parents to seek baptism for their little ones, and those who shall then first believe, that they shall conquer that strong one, even though unbound—that is, shall both vigilantly comprehend, and patiently bear up against him, though employing such wiles and putting forth such force as he never before used; and thus they shall be snatched from him even though unbound. The City of God, book 20, chapter 8
The Mosaic covenant, while being an administration of the covenant of grace, was a “legal administration.”
This means that it came along with a rigorous reapplication of the law of God broken in Eden, and many
statutes and commandments intending to teach the people of God “under age” as minors, so to speak, not to look for salvation in their
own works, as if the commandment had never been broken in Eden, but to look to Him who was to come. The
Judaizers in Paul’s day were misusing the Mosaic law by trying to make it a way of salvation, which it
was never intended to be, since Israel at Sinai had already broken God’s law in Adam, and in many other sins.
Now the Church has reached a mature stage compared with the Church at Sinai. We do not need all the “picture books”
and ceremonies. But looking back, we nonetheless see that the Mosaic covenant was one and the same with the New
John 1:16 nkj And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
These verses do not describe a difference in kind between the covenants of Moses and Christ, but an increase in degree of the same kind of thing. “grace for grace”
Now there were among the Hebrews three outstanding offices of dignity, which made the nation famous, firstly the kingship, secondly that of prophet, and lastly the high priesthood. The prophecies said that the abolition and complete destruction of all these three together would be the sign of the presence of the Christ. And that the proofs that the times had come, would lie in the ceasing of the Mosaic worship, the desolation of Jerusalem and its Temple, and the subjection of the whole Jewish race to its enemies…The holy oracles foretold that all these changes, which had not been made in the days of the prophets of old, would take place at the coming of the Christ, which I will presently shew to have been fulfilled as never before in accordance with the predictions.” (Eusebius, Demonstratio Evangelica VIII)
169 Let my cry come before You, O LORD;
Give me understanding according to Your word.
170 Let my supplication come before You;
Deliver me according to Your word.
171 My lips shall utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.
172 My tongue shall speak of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.
173 Let Your hand become my help,
For I have chosen Your precepts.
174 I long for Your salvation, O LORD,
And Your law is my delight.
175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;
And let Your judgments help me.
176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
Seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments. Psalm 119 nkj
The psalmist cries to the LORD for help, but in what? He asks God to teach him His statutes. There is a teaching through the ear. When we hear the word of God, like when it is preached, we are being taught. Likewise also when we read it. But there is an inner teaching of the Holy Spirit as well, that all those who are born again (from above) enjoy. We notice 5 things mentioned by the Psalmist:
- He has sinned against God terribly and possibly often. (v176a)
- He remembers God’s commandments. (v176b)
- Despite his sin, he desires to follow the law of God and delight in it. (v174, This is a characteristic of those who are born again of the Holy Spirit.)
- He prays a fervent prayer for the inner teaching of the Holy Spirit to make him to understand and keep the law of God–to go and do good instead of sin, obedience instead of rebellion. (v169, 170)
- He praises God for the answer to prayer, when he is enabled to keep His commandments.(v175)
Let us follow the example of the psalmist. We are sinners. If you can relate to the confession, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep,” you’re like every other Christian. If we hear, read, and delight in God’s law, as all those who are born from above will do, then let us pray fervently to ask God to give us understanding to keep it: His statutes and commandments, and to give us victory over sin in our life. And praise Him for the gift of repentance that He gives in answer to prayer.
This brings us to the end of Psalm 119. If you’ve been blessed by these posts, send me a message and let me know, as I consider whether to continue with other Psalms. You might also consider subscribing to this blog by entering your email address in the widget on the right side of this page to receive new posts directly.
161 Princes persecute me without a cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your word.
162 I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.
163 I hate and abhor lying,
But I love Your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.
165 Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
166 Lord, I hope for Your salvation,
And I do Your commandments.
167 My soul keeps Your testimonies,
And I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,
For all my ways are before You. Psalm 119 nkj
The word of the Lord is such a blessed thing for Christians, that we have “great peace” because of its commandments and promises, no matter what else life brings, even if the rich and powerful come after us for no reason. The word of God is worthy of perfect praise. Seven is the number of perfection in Scripture. Those who have it have found a great treasure or “spoil” (KJV). Far more than the loot or booty that the world may offer those who seek after it, the word of the Lord brings security and satisfaction to those who trust in Him as He has spoken in it. We are blessed as Christians in America to have a glut of Bibles printed–and not only do we have Bibles, there are still faithful churches to be found, much more than in most other parts of the world, where the Bible is faithfully preached for our learning and understanding. Meditate on God’s word, thank God for it, treasure it, and be at peace today and everyday.
153 Consider my affliction and deliver me,
For I do not forget Your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.
156 Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord;
Revive me according to Your judgments.
157 Many are my persecutors and my enemies,
Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies.
158 I see the treacherous, and am disgusted,
Because they do not keep Your word.
159 Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.
160 The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Psalm 119 nkj
Every word of God is truth. Though the world does not believe this, it is a truth that one day every tongue will acknowledge. The world hates believers because it hates God, and in fact it has a hard time getting along with anyone in general, even unbelievers. The wicked heart of man creates strife and conflict in this world. In the meantime, Christian, in the midst of this unbelieving world, where treacherous enemies and persecutors are many, stick to the word of God. Read it. Hear it. Meditate on it. Read it together with others. This word is your source of strength in a topsy-turvy world. Those who trust in it, because of the Lord who gave it, will have inner life and peace no matter what the world brings. It is a characteristic of those who are on the way of life, on their way to heaven, that they love the word of God. The Holy Bible in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments is our only sure guide that God has given for us to know him and serve him in this life. Know it, believe it, obey it, and rejoice in it. He will deliver all of those who trust in His word.
145 I cry out with my whole heart;
Hear me, O Lord!
I will keep Your statutes.
146 I cry out to You;
Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.
147 I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.
148 My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
149 Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
O Lord, revive me according to Your justice.
150 They draw near who follow after wickedness;
They are far from Your law.
151 You are near, O Lord,
And all Your commandments are truth.
152 Concerning Your testimonies,
I have known of old that You have founded them forever. Psalm 119 nkj
The Christian life is one of a struggle against the sinful flesh. Even as redeemed children of God, trusting in His Son Jesus Christ for salvation, we commit sins daily, and these sins bring consequences. God acts as a loving father to discipline his wayward children, and often it’s the cruel mercies of the wicked that come against us when we have failed to walk in obedience. But the psalmist’s manly and desperate cry for help to God is our expression hope in Him for deliverance in these trials in life. We cannot hope for deliverance from the cruelties of this world, or for victory over the sin that reigns in our bodies, unless we genuinely cry out to God for it. Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6
Be like the psalmist, and cry out for help against sin reigning in your life today and everyday. And go in faith that God will answer your desperate prayer.
The Tender Mercies of the Wicked are Cruel, but the Lord’s Mercy is Good–Psalm 119 Devotional (Ayin)
121 I have done justice and righteousness;
Do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Be surety for Your servant for good;
Do not let the proud oppress me.
123 My eyes fail from seeking Your salvation
And Your righteous word.
124 Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy,
And teach me Your statutes.
125 I am Your servant;
Give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.
126 It is time for You to act, O Lord,
For they have regarded Your law as void.
127 Therefore I love Your commandments
More than gold, yes, than fine gold!
128 Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things
I consider to be right;
I hate every false way. Psalm 119, nkj
The Lord is good. His mercy can be relied upon, but “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” Proverbs 12:10 The world oppresses and marginalizes, especially Christians that it sees as different and other. In the midst of cruelty and oppression, the psalmist cries out to the Lord, where he knows he will find refuge. Are you turning to the Lord with Life’s problems and hardships, or to something or someone else? His hope is that the Lord will right all wrongs, especially violations of His law. It is up to God to punish and not to us. Leave that to Him.
The greatest blessing that the Lord gives to His people, is that He writes his law upon their hearts, His statutes and commandments. Trouble in life is often caused by our own sin. God’s grace teaches us to obey him more faithfully, so that we do not repeat the same sins that got us into trouble. It is a grace from God. Starting your day, pray and ask God to teach you His statutes, and go trusting that he will answer your prayer.
“And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17b KJV
New Testament Greek text:
ὁ θέλων λαβέτω ὕδωρ ζωῆς δωρεάν SBL
My literal translation: “May he who wills receive the water of life for free.”
“May…receive” (λαβέτω) This verb is in the subjunctive tense. It expresses a wish, hope, or desire. The author is expressing a desire that those who are willing will receive the water of life free of charge, IOW without payment.
“the water of life” (ὕδωρ ζωῆς), this is a picture of the grace of God in Christ, that water that Jesus spoke of at the well, which if anyone drinks, he will never thirst again. It’s the promise of eternal life in happiness with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“he who wills” (ὁ θέλων)—In greek this is literally a participle with the definite article, such as you have if it were just like this in English: “the willing.” But of course we don’t write or talk like that in English, so the KJV adds what is implied “whosoever will” and I have supplied, “he who wills”
The idea really isn’t about telling us who has a will to receive, or who is able to have the will, or might possibly have the will to receive what is offered. It’s simply stating that having the will to receive the free gift of the water of life is a condition to receiving it. God has limited the recipients of eternal life to only those who have the will to receive it. No one will get it who does not will to receive it.
This verse does not say that everyone has the will to receive it. This verse does not tell us how those who have the will, got the will to receive it. It doesn’t tell us who is and is not able to have the will to receive it, based on the condition of their own heart. It doesn’t even tell us that only those whom God has chosen and made new then have the will to receive it (although other passages tell us that.) It simply states that it is those who have the will who will receive.
My position is that no one has the will to receive, until the Holy Spirit makes them new in the new birth aka regeneration, a miracle from above, and then and only then do they have the will to receive the eternal life which is offered upon condition of having the will to receive it. This verse just says that those who do receive it, must have the will to receive it, or they won’t receive it. I agree with that, obviously. So this verse is entirely compatible with my definition of free will.
(The foregoing is extracted from an email to a relative of mine)
It was less than a week after Christ was ascended to heaven, where he was seated on the right hand of the Almighty. The apostles and perhaps others gathered on the first day of the week. The narrative is as follows:
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Luke’s narrative in the Acts of the Apostles says that the disciples were gathered with one accord on the feast day of Pentecost. The feast of Pentecost was a Jewish festival marking the LORD’s giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai (Henry), on the 50th day after the Passover, which was the beginning of the Exodus from Egypt. This feast of Pentecost was that feast which Moses had explained to Pharaoh that the LORD had commanded his people to make in the desert. It was to be kept, not with unleavened bread as the Passover, but with leavened bread. It was a festival of thanks for God’s provision, when the new grain of the harvest was to be baked into leavened loaves of bread and waived before the LORD, together with animal sacrifices (lambs, bull, rams, goat) for burnt offerings, a sin offering, and peace offerings.
Leviticus 23:15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord. 17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.n 18 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord. 19 Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. 21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
This was the day on which the nation of Israel was constituted, in which it became a nation constitutionally and was sent out in the name of YHWH to travel to the land of Canaan and conquer in his name. What is the significance of this Jewish feast day to the Pentecost event that occurred in Acts 2? The Old Testament Pentecost is a foreshadowing of the New Testament Pentecost in several ways:
1. At Pentecost the Church of Jesus Christ was constituted as a holy nation unto the Lord.
Christ, in response to a question from some of his apostles as to when the restoration of the kingdom of Israel would be, commanded them to wait until Pentecost, when they would receive power from on high, Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Christ here taught his apostles, in his answer to their question, that there were be a re-ordering of the outward form of the spiritual nation of Israel, which they were to await. At Sinai the covenant of grace was expressed to the children of Israel in terms of God’s gracious deliverance of that nation from slavery in Egypt. Exodus 20:2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. In the New Testament there is a change of the order of things in keeping with the fulfillment of all the Messianic promises. Now the covenant of grace is expressed in more clear terms, since Christ is come and fulfilled the salvation which was promised, though the same covenant had always been the essence and root of the covenant that God made with Israel. In the Old Testament the grace of God in Jesus Christ which gathers his elect people of every nation was prefigured in the types and shadows that God had commanded through Moses, such as the priesthood and feast days when animal sacrifices would be offered for sin and as an offering procuring peace with God. Now at Pentecost the nation of Israel, having as a whole rejected the Messiah and crucified him, was being restored in a new form. Just as the law of Moses was what constituted the gaggle in the desert to be the restored people of Israel fresh out of bondage in Egypt, so the constituted Church of Jesus Christ was formed by the power of the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost event based on the constitution of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which though it had not yet been written down, had been received from his own mouth by those very apostles, in preparation for their task of proclaiming it to all the nations of the world. Significantly, proselytes v. 10 were among those gathered who heard the apostles speak in their tongues. That same spiritual people which had been reconstituted at Sinai in the terms of the law was reconstituted in a new form, now not restricted to ethnic Jews, based on the definitive revelation of God in the gospel. This gospel is the constitution of the Church of Jesus Christ, that which forms us together to be a people for God’s own peculiar possession.
2. At Pentecost the Church of Jesus Christ experienced her first harvest.
Pentecost in the Old Testament was a feast day to give thanks to God for the harvest that had been partially gathered in. It was an acknowledgement of the mercy of God in providing food for the Israelites to eat, of confessing sins committed despite his grace, and procuring his continued favor and blessing. In Acts 2, Pentecost was the first harvest, when around 120 souls (Ewart) received the initial harvest of three thousand souls added to the Church in one distinct blast of the rushing mighty wind which is the Holy Spirit. Imagine one of our little churches growing by a factor of 30 in one day! As amazing as that first harvest was, he is still at work today. It is the Holy Spirit that brings in the harvest of souls, as our Lord had said that the fields were white for harvest. Myriads of people the whole world over are still coming to Christ, despite the all the contempt the world can muster. The harvest continues, wherever the Holy Spirit draws people from every nation under heaven, where the good news of forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God is preached by his appointed emissaries. He feeds us daily of his word, through the Scriptures read and preached. Let us give thanks to God for the harvest of souls that continues to come into the Church of Jesus Christ, for his continual provision of spiritual nourishment, and pray that God will continue to bless this earth with showers of gentle dew preparing the hearts of people all over the world to hear and heed the good news, to repent of their sins and lay hold upon eternal life in Jesus Christ.
3. At Pentecost the Church of Jesus Christ was sent forth to conquer the nations by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The nation of Israel was constituted on Sinai as a conquering nation. It was to travel the long journey from Sinai to the land of Canaan and there wrest the land from its previous inhabitants by the power of the sword and shield. Observance of the feasts is connected with the conquering of the promised land. In Exodus 23 the feast of Pentecost is referred to as the feast of harvest.
Exodus 23:16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.
17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God.
18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning. 19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his other’s milk. 20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. 23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off. 24 Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. 25 And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. 26 There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil. 27 I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. 28 And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.
The command to conquer Canaan has been expanded to include the entire world. That nation gathered at Sinai was reconstituted in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, but no longer are the weapons of its warfare carnal. No longer conquering by sword and shield, the Church of Jesus Christ, which is the New Israel, is commanded to subdue the nations, bringing them to loyal obedience to the King of Kings Jesus Christ by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. That word is nothing else but the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of forgiveness of sins and new life toward God, the covenant of grace which declares freely to all persons of every nation that eternal life is assured them if they will repent of their sins and bow the knee to Jesus Christ our King who sent us to declare his reign. And our success is as assured as it is promised, for the power that conquers is not of our own strength, but of that same rushing mighty wind that brought 3,000 souls to loving subjection to King Jesus on that feast day of Pentecost. If the Holy Spirit be for us, who can be against us? Let us go forth boldly as the Church of Jesus Christ, knowing that victory is assured by him who said, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:20b