Archives for category: Theological

Before Abraham Was

The crowning moment of Christ’s dialog with the Jews in John 8, and one of the greatest moments in all the Bible, is when He declares, “Before Abraham was, I am.”

This is one of the most explicit declarations of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ in all of the scripture.  It is probably the most significant statement that He ever made proving Himself to be divine.  He here very definitely proclaims Himself to be the God Who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, and also through the use of the term “I am,” or “Ego Eimi” in the Greek, connected Himself to many of the great proclamations of God concerning Himself through Isaiah.  No heretic or cult ought to be able to successfully contest the deity of Christ in light of this incredible verse.


If the Spirit of God is interceding for us in prayer, we know that all shall be well, for the great Searcher of hearts knows the mind of the Spirit.  Conversely, as we find Paul writing to the Corinthians, the Spirit likewise knows the mind of God, for “the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”  This mutual knowledge is not at all surprising to us if we have any understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity.  I acknowledge that it is a deep, tremendous, and inexplicable mystery, yet I think we can at least see that there is a perfect cohesion of knowledge and understanding between the Spirit in us and the Father on the throne, and that this cohesion is at the root of any success we enjoy in prayer.


We ourselves are too often ignorant of the will of God; we are always ignorant of His secret will, but often through our own lack of understanding we fail even to perceive what He has plainly revealed to us.  But the Spirit of God Who seals us unto the day of redemption knows the will of God, and the intercession He presents before the throne is better than any words we could ever form and utter even at our most eloquent.  It should comfort every Christian, when he enters his prayer closet, to know and understand that God, the Father to Whom we pray, knows the mind of the Spirit, and that the Spirit is interceding for us according to the will of God.  With such an ally on our side, we cannot fail to be heard!


In those seasons of great distress, which cause us to yearn so ardently for the coming glory, we often have no idea how to approach God.  When our heart within us is overwhelmed, often we can do nothing but fall down before God and groan.  Sometimes it is not only that we do not know how to express ourselves, it is that we honestly do not even know for what we should ask.  Here is where the blessed intercession of God’s Spirit comes in.  We think much, and properly so, of the intercession of our Lord Jesus, which topic Paul will touch upon again shortly.  But we should not overlook the intercession of the Spirit, which plays such a precious role in our prayer life.  Those groans we utter, out of great distress of mind and a sad ignorance of how we ought to frame our petitions, are interpreted with perfect clarity by the Spirit Who dwells in us at the throne of grace.


With such an Intercessor as this, can there be any doubt that we shall be heard, and receive the assistance needed?  Here indeed is good reason to thank God for the gift of His Spirit, for our prayer life would be almost entirely dead and useless without His great work in this realm.


Paul acknowledges the infirmities under which the believer labors, which infirmities are of course one of the chief reasons he eagerly anticipates the redemption of the body.  Yes, we labor under many infirmities, yet the Spirit of God graciously helps us in them.  Paul doubtless could have brought in any number of ways in which God’s Spirit helps us in our infirmities, yet he here chooses to introduce the Spirit’s role in our prayer life.  Why he introduces prayer here, when prayer has not been a topic as yet in this chapter, is difficult to say, and so perhaps the best thing to do is simply to glorify God for kindly giving to us these very comforting words concerning the crucial matter of prayer.


Paul tells us something that every Christian must acknowledge, that all too often we do not even know what we should pray for as we ought.  We do not receive answer to some prayers because we ask amiss, and we find that our prayers often are inconsistent with the will of God.  But God knows if our heart and desire is right, and He graciously gives to us His Spirit to help us in our infirmities, knowing that the believer prays amiss out of ignorance and weakness rather than rebellion.  If we ever pray aright, and are blessed to receive answers to prayer, then there can be no doubt that it is because the Spirit of God was guiding our prayers.

Waiting long in expectation of a coming boon is not always an easy thing. Perhaps it seems no great difficulty to us because we are so occupied with the affairs of this life that we forget to set our affections upon that world to come as we ought. But if our desires are centered upon the heavenly world, and we are groaning for the day when God will change our vile body and fashion it like unto Christ’s glorious body, then we will doubtless be filled with the same great eagerness that characterized the apostle.


The Christian, as I noted earlier, probably knows more of this during seasons of great pain, conflict, or persecution, than at any other; it is more difficult to long for the final glory when things are going well in this life than when life is full of misery. It is during those times when we must exercise the grace of patience, as we wait for God to reveal the glory He has promised to us.


The Foundation of Marriage

The first sermon introduced the topic of the Seventh Commandment and discussed its parameters; this second message deals with the principle that undergirds that commandment, namely, the institution of marriage.  It goes back to the very beginning, to the creation of Man, as described in the first two chapters of Genesis, particularly dealing with God’s creation of Woman out of the side of Man, bringing them together for the first marriage.  This beautiful scene teaches us many things about what marriage is supposed to be, including the headship of man, his role as a protector, and the unity that is to exist in marriage as husband and wife labor together to fulfill God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, and take dominion over the earth.


It is by this hope that we are saved, or delivered.  Certainly Paul is not speaking of “saved” here in the sense of legal salvation, for that is obtained by justification, which he has already described in great detail, and is preparing to touch upon again.


It seems to me that the deliverance he speaks of here is likely a salvation from despair, into which we would easily fall, did we not maintain that cherished hope of the coming glory.  Our hope looks forward to the time of glorification, even as our faith looks backward for its confirmation to the great scenes of the cross and the rending tomb.  We do not see the resurrection of God’s saints as yet, else it would not be described as hope.  Yet we confidently expect it, and know that God will be as good as His word, just as He was faithful to His promise to send a Redeemer for His people.