Archive for October, 2021

The Time of the Great Shaking (Hebrews 12:25-29)

October 30, 2021

24 10 2021


See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. 26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.” 27 This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:25-29

Shaking (The Big Idea)

In general, when something shakes things happen.  Cooks can shake liquids such as syrups and milk to make a milk shake.  At the same time volcanoes can shake and erupt and cause vast devastation such as Mt St Helens that destroyed much of the vegetation and houses from miles around. Shaking is a very good word to use in metaphors that are linked to judgment.   In the case of Hebrews 12. 25-29 ‘shaking’ is being used in terms of God’s judgements.  This is a more serious type of judgement because God controls the human spirit that lives on after death as well as physical life.  Shaking is used here in Hebrews 12 26 in terms of making insecure (Vine; see his comments in the Index)1a

Verse 25

‘See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking’.

The pronoun him is referring to God as the speaker.  The sentence is not very clear who the speaker is.  Some have suggested that it is Moses and Christ but after reading Hughes comments on this verse I take it to be God who is speaking (commentary on Hebrews: Philip Edcumbe Hughes; Published by Eerdmans; page 556 See index 1b)

This verse is telling us to take God’s warnings seriously.  Warnings have been given on earth and from Heaven (we will see this more clearly as we go through these verses).

Verse 26

26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.” Hebrews 12:26

We have two references here that show God would shake the whole of reality (heaven and earth) Ex 19:18; Judg 5:4f

This verse seals any ambiguity of it being God who speaks.  I disagree with Luther and others who say it was Moses and Christ.  This places a wedge between the Old Testament and the New Testament when there isn’t one.   It might look good on paper, but it is a false interpretation.  Luther would have liked this interpretation because of what he thought about the book of James that ‘it is straw’.  Bavinck from the late 19th century and the 20th century corrects this notion.  Works are the fruit of faith, however works do not save us from our sins (See Index on Bavinck 1c )

Verse 27

This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

This is going to be a big judgement! Why am I saying this?  There is only one previous time that God literally shook the whole earth and that was at the Judgement of Noah in which God destroyed most of the human race except one family; Noah’s family.

Verse 28

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;

Out lives are in Jesus Christ he is our lifeboat. As we walk by faith in God’s will, we are indeed in the presence of God for all eternity.

Verse 29

for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:27-29

This comes from Deuteronomy 4.24

“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God”.  God loves his people and he will protect his people. He loved us so much that he sent Christ into the world to die on a cross so that we can have eternal life.


We started by looking at Sinai and Zion and now this week Divine judgement on heaven and earth.   This is an exhortation to stay faithful to our Trinitarian Holy God.  I can’t think of a more serious issue for humanity that divine judgement as it will not be a pretty sight but a shock and awe sight in which our very souls are on the judgement table.

If we live by faith, then we are hid in Christ and it is a joyful event.  However, let us be like Abraham when he kept on praying for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.   In the end only one family came out alive and even then, Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt.  Let us not look back on our old life.  Let us keep moving forward in the love of God by the gift of faith God has given us.  Let us love our neighbours whether they are good or evil to the very end as Christ commanded so that they too could be pulled out of the fire that is to come.


  • Reformed Ethics; Herman Bavinck; edited by John Bolt; Book 2, chapter 10, pages 411-422 index 1c
  • commentary on Hebrews; Philip Edcumbe Hughes; Published by Eerdmans; page 556 See index 1b
  • Vines Greek New Testament words (Olive Tree Bible software)1a


1a  Shook saleuo (4531), “to agitate, shake,” primarily of the action of stormy winds, waves, etc., is used (a) literally, of a reed, Matt. 11:7; Luke 7:24; a vessel, “shaken” in filling, Luke 6:38; a building, Luke 6:48; Acts 4:31; 16:26; the natural forces of the heavens and heavenly bodies, Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:25; Luke 21:26; the earth, Heb. 12:26, “shook”; (b) metaphorically, (1) of “shaking” so as to make insecure, Heb. 12:27 (twice); (2) of casting down from a sense of security, Acts 2:25, “I should (not) be moved”; (3) to stir up (a crowd), Acts 17:13; (4) to unsettle, 2 Thess. 2:2, “(to the end that) ye be not (quickly) shaken (from your mind),” i.e., from their settled conviction and the purpose of heart begotten by it, as to the return of Christ before the Day of the Lord begins; the metaphor may be taken from the loosening of a ship from its moorings by a storm.

“There is a danger of forgetting that the Bible reveals, not first the love of God, but the intense, blazing holiness of God, with his love as the centre of that holiness.” Hebrews 12:26

1b There is a difference of opinion concerning the identity of him who warned on earth and him who warns from heaven: is it two different persons that are meant or one and the same person? Theophylact, Luther, Moffatt, Héring, and Montefiore are among the many scholars who understand two different speakers to be intended, maintaining that the former refers to Moses, the earthly and merely human mediator of the law, and the latter to Christ, the Mediator from heaven of the new covenant. In the view of Aquinas and some others a contrast is intended between the angelic mediation at Sinai and the mediation of Christ (cf. 2:2 above and Acts 7:38). Many others, however, including Chrysostom, Owen, Bengel, Westcott, Spicq, and F. F. Bruce, contend that God is the sole speaker intended. Thus, Teodorico insists that what we have here is not a diversity of persons but simply a diversity of circumstances, expressed by the phrases “on earth” and “from heaven.” The correctness of this judgment is confirmed by the statement in the next verse: “His voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised …,” from which it plainly follows that God is the sole speaker; for it was the voice of Yahweh, certainly not of Moses or an angel, that shook the earth at Sinai, and it is Yahweh again who promises yet one further shaking in Haggai 2:6f. We have here, in fact, the same kind of statement as is found in the opening words of the epistle, where God who “spoke of old to our fathers” is one and the same with him who has spoken to us “‘in these last days by a Son” (1:1f.).

1c Good Works as Fruit of Faith. In the third place, the Holy Spirit pro duces assurance in us by shining light on the minor premise (I believe) from our good works, as the fruit of faith.  Good works are fruit, a manifestation of faith (Matt. 21:43; Luke 8:15; 13:9), by which false prophets, etc., are recognized (Matt. 7:16, 20) and the goodness of the tree is known (Matt.7:17; 12:33). In the Gospel of John, the result of communion with Christ is to be set free from sin (John 8:32, 36), to distance oneself from sin (5:14; 8:11), to bear fruit (15:1-2), to keep the commandments as the expression and proof of love toward him (14:15, 21). And all those commandments of Jesus are concentrated in the great command of brotherly love (13:34–35; 15:12–13, 17). Similarly, we see this in the First Epistle of John: in the love that is born from faith in Jesus, we keep the commandments of God, which is the fruit and proof of our faith, of our being in God (1 John 2:3–6, 29). Whoever does right, is righteous, is born of God (3:6, 9) and is from God, while whoever sins does not know God (3:10). Doing righteousness consists especially of brotherly love (2:7-11; 3:10–11). Love toward God and love toward our brothers and sisters are correlative demonstrations of true love (4:20–21; 5:1-2). The latter is the sign that God abides in us (4:16), a sign that we are born of God (4:7). To have fellowship with God is “to walk in the light” because “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1:5; cf. 1:6). The entailment is clear: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (1:7). Paul too is zealous about walking in the Spirit (Rom. 6), emphasizes sanctification, and describes faith as working through love (Gal. 5:6, 22). But he moves from faith to works, unlike John, who ascends from works to faith. James 2, however, says that faith without works is dead.284 That is also what the Reformed tradition teaches.285 But one cannot lean upon good works; absolute assurance cannot be deduced from good works, even though faith and election are manifested in good works.

The Three Objective causes of the spiritual life. Part 1

October 30, 2021


29 10 2021

The Three Objective causes of the spiritual life.  Part 1

This is the sun rising.  Let us always see our cup half full.


So, Facebook has decided to change its name to meta (sounds like ‘dead’ (feminine form) in Hebrew.  מתה)  Anyhow people will go into this digital universe wearing these goggles and living their virtual world. A lot of people are not interested in the spiritual, but the fact is they practice it every day even without realizing it.  We all have a spiritual life something that cannot be touched, and it is not tangible in the everyday sense, but it does exist.  We see glimpses of the spiritual life in everyone we meet.  A smile can tell you that a person is feeling good inside.  When a person has a sad experience, they may shed tears.  Everyone is different but we cannot escape spirituality not even the atheist or the scientist although they may interpret spirituality in a way that I would choose not to. 

We now move into Bavinck’s world, and he is going to explain to us what the objective and subjective causes of the spiritual life are.  I want to begin by looking at his introduction to this topic.  He touches on election, so it is vital to have a proper understanding of the objective causes of the spiritual life:

The first objective cause of the spiritual life is election, which is the fountain of all blessings (Rom. 8:28). The Father gave the elect to the Son from eternity (John 6:37; 17:24). The second objective cause, the meritorious cause, is the obedience of Christ,” “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). This is signified and sealed in baptism, the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) …”

(From Reformed Ethics; Herman Bavinck; Edited by John Bolt; Baker Academic; page 254)

There is also a third objective cause of the spiritual life:

“The third objective cause is the Holy Spirit: “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5; cf. John 3:5: “born of water and the Spirit”). God the Father is also mentioned because the Triune God is the author of all life” (page 254 We will look at this last objective later on.)


Let us take a closer look at Romans 8:28:

“28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30”

As Bavinck says, “the first objective cause of the spiritual life is election.”  In this passage he quoted we see Jesus being described as the ‘First Born among many brethren’ and those who were predestined are to be conformed to “the image of His Son.”

We see a pattern in election; Christ first and then we are chosen and have our life in Christ.  Our election started in ‘eternity’ within the economy of God.  No human can see this far into the distance and know God’s mind because the Creator of the universe knows everything.  Compared to God’s creation (universe, universes) we are smaller than the smallest particle.   Bavinck the master theologian gives us some revelation from God’s word.  Herman quotes John 6. 37 but I want to quote the passage it is found in:

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:37-40

From this passage we see Bavinck is correct in saying that God gave the elect to Christ.  Let us look at the next reference:

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; 26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:24-26

This is amazing stuff.  Our election is in Christ.  As God the Father loved the Son so in Christ God the Father loves us too.  The Son of God was chosen as the representative of God here on earth and we have our election in the Son of God. 

We have then covered the first objective cause of the spiritual life that God the Father gave the elect to the Son.

The second objective cause of the spiritual life is to do with ‘meritorious cause’.  When we see the word merit, it obviously implies some type of ‘work and action’ that could be pleasing to God.  This cannot be our works especially while we were still sinners (trapped because of the Fall).   As Herman Bavinck reminds us this second objective cause could only happen through the second Adam our Lord Jesus Christ as a reminder what we read earlier:

The second objective cause, the meritorious cause, is the obedience of Christ,” “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). This is signified and sealed in baptism, the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) …”

It is the obedience of Christ that abolished death:

but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 2 Timothy 1:10




Our deeds could never save us as it says here our renewing is through the Holy Spirit.

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5

The Master theologian then looks at water and how it is used to denote our spiritual washing and renewal by the Holy Spirit.  This is an introduction to his third objective:

“The third objective cause is the Holy Spirit: “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5; cf. John 3:5: “born of water and the Spirit”). God the Father is also mentioned because the Triune God is the author of all life” (From page 254)

Christ is also referred to in Scripture as the life-giving Spirit (1 cor. 15. 45) Within the internal working of the Trinity (economy, perichoresis) The Holy Spirit works in the world at many different levels.  Obviously, he regenerates and makes us new and holy on a daily basis. As well as the spiritual aspects here let us not forget what the Holy Spirit does for all life including the ‘natural man’.  This is an interesting quote from him:

“The Holy Spirit is the author also of all rational, moral life; wisdom, power, courage, bravery, intellect come from him. He is therefore the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), the author of all that is spiritual in humanity. It is the distinctive characteristic of the Holy Spirit to influence the human spirit. All spirituality, intellectual competence, inclination, and activity depend on the Holy Spirit, the source of all spirituality.” (From page 255)


We have seen three objective causes of the spiritual life that we live.

·        The first objective cause is that God the Father gave the elect (the Church to the Son)

·        The second objective cause is that the meritorious cause, is the ‘obedience of Christ’

·        The holy Spirit saves us not according to our powers but because of God’s own mercy on us by the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit.

We as believers in Christ are truly blessed.  God had a plan to save us from before the foundation of the world.  Great minds have tried to find a solution to the question of election.  There are varieties of theories on election, but I think they all fail somehow.  The most important fact however is that God loves us, and God is love and he created us.  He not only created us (Genesis), but he made a second brand new creation; giving us a new heart that can in Christ bring us into communion with the Divine life of the Trinity.  This is why we were created, to have fellowship with God forever and this is why we will now be allowed to eat of the tree of life amen.

The Charactersitics of the Spiritual Life

October 23, 2021


As human beings we are all part of nature, so we live and die even if we haven’t sinned.  Yet even though this is the case there is an aspect of our life that can go beyond this life death scenario and live forever.  We are not only natural beings of the earth, but we are also spiritual beings that can move beyond the here and now. Unfortunately for humanity Adam sinned, the Fall happened, and we were pulled into this meager existence that leads to both spiritual and physical death.   Bavinck goes beyond this, and he points to some shocking conclusions:

A local moose near where we live!


“Life indeed. It goes without saying that this is life, as Holy Scripture often calls it. All other life is temporary, transient, fleeting, and subject to death (even without sin); the vegetative, sensory life cannot last on its own, not even in human beings. Physical life cannot be immortal of itself, not even in Adam, in whom it might have been eternalized through the spiritual. The rational life, the soul-life, of humans is not real life; it exists, but sin impoverishes it, wears it down, and emaciates it. Only the spiritual life is now true, genuine life.”  (From: Reformed Ethics; Herman Bavinck; edited by John Bolt; Book 2, chapter 7, page 252)

What I find shocking although true is in the sentence:

 “Physical life cannot be immortal of itself, not even in Adam, in whom it might have been eternalized through the spiritual.”

Adam did not eat of the tree of life.  God spared him and us by kicking him out of the Garden of Eden.  Our relationship with God was severed and there was no way back.  If Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree of life, he/she would have been separated from God’s presence for all eternity.  Sin had caused a universal imbalance that pulls us out of communion with God.  In Christ obviously the imbalance has been fixed and by the gift of faith and grace we have been made a completely new creation inside out. 

So then, his first point in the characteristics of life was this life and what the situation is. The master theologian does not stop there but he takes us on an adventure to gain deeper spiritual understanding of what the characteristics of the spiritual life are:

·        Life indeed (We looked at this)

·        Eternal life. (John 3:36; 8:51).

·        Conscious life

·        A free life (Rom. 6:11; cf. VV. 17—18; Eph. 4:3; 1 Pet. 4:2—3); (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 2:19; 3:10); (Rom. 8:38—39); (1 Cor. 3:21—22); (Col. 3:17).

·        A blessed life (Ps. 4:7); (Rom. 5:1); (Gal. 5:22); (Rom. 5:3).

All the references belong to Herman Bavinck from page 252-253.

Eternal life (The evidence)

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36

“Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word, he will never see death.” John 8:51

Let us abide in Christ because in his life and works by faith we will live forever. Humans are capricious and change their minds all the time God is not like that.

 Conscious life (There is a lot of evidence in the New Testament but there are no Scriptural quotations at this point)


Bavinck reminds us that “Conscious life begins with enlightenment, consists in the renewal of the mind,” (νους).  It is mediated by faith (Hebrews 11 for example).  Bavinck then does a correction of the great Schleiermacher that the renewal of the mind is not grounded in ‘feeling’.  As he says “The emotional life does not come first in the spiritual life, but second. Even where emotional life is missing, spiritual life continues to exist. Not feeling but believing is first and foremost.” (Page 253)


A free life (the evidence)

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

“So as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.”(1 Peter 4:2-3)

As Bavinck points out we have been freed from sin and destruction and we have also been free from the ‘curse of the law’.  We are now only accountable to Christ our Lord.  Because of what Christ did through his death on a cross and the resurrection by faith nothing can separate us from the love of God.  As the Master Theologian says, “Because we are only subject to God, Christ alone is our master, and his will coincides completely with the will of God. Our wills are free when they are in full harmony with God’s will. Everything becomes an agent of the believer’s I, of the spiritual life as it finds its goal again in the glory of God”

A Blessed Life (A Happy Life) (Evidence)

“You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound. “Psalms 4:7

“Therefore, you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” John 16:22

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” Romans 5:1

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”  Galatians 5:22

Bavinck finishes off by reminding us that the life we live in Christ is filled with ‘gladness and joy’ that no one can take away.  Actually, he goes on to remind us that even tribulations cannot take this joy away. Page 253


The characteristics of the Christian life are very important.  Perhaps one is a successful businessperson in this life and are riding the wavy crests of success.  This is quite futile and will one day come to an end through death.  The Christian who trusts Christ according to Bavinck is in a forever league.  What really matters is our relationship with God and Christ by the Holy Spirit.  Christ frees us from our greed and selfishness as God creates a new us that the world can never understand.  God is so much bigger than our earthly, selfish desires. The first Adam perishes but in Christ the second Adam in him there is real joy for ever more.

Which mountain does your God (god) come from? A look at Mt Sinai and Mt Zion. Hebrews 12:18-24

October 22, 2021

Mountains are very salient things.  In many cultures around the world usually it locates some form of divinity.

In the localities around Israel are certain mountains:

  • Mount Sinai – Egypt, Elevation: 2,285 m
  • Mount Nemrut, Turkey, Elevation 2,134 m
  • Mount Olympus – Greece, Elevation: 2,918 m
  • Mount Carmel, Israel – Elevation:  525.4 m
  • Har Karkom (Jabal Ideid) – Negev desert in Israel, Elevation: 1 035

One of the oldest maps in the world was discovered in Iraq. 

Babylonian Map from Wikipedia

It reminds me of the time when I was at university studying the Psalms and we touched on the importance of mountains in the minds of the local communities surrounding them. On this ancient map scholars think that the triangles on the outer circle are mountains of the gods.

Anyhow today we are reading the story of two mountains in which the Israelites met with God:

  • Mount Sinai
  • Mount Zion

At mount Sinai God made a covenant with Israel that he would be their God and they would be his special people.  It is in this period of time that God commanded Israel to make a Tabernacle.  Basically, it was a mobile Holy Temple. Eventually the people of God would settle down and a promise was made to king David that his royal line would never end.  King David conquered Jerusalem and it became the capital city.  It was in the heart of king David to build a temple to God. The problem was that in God’s sight David had blood on his hands in the many wars that he took part in.  However, he did provide the timber and resources for King Solomon and on Mount Zion (The Temple Mount) the first temple to the God of Israel was built.

Scholars have suggested that the Old Testament in places leaned on the idea that no foreign army would ever conquer the Temple Mount.  Obviously, History tells us otherwise.  The Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians (587BC) and again by the Romans in AD 70. However things turned out; for Christians the real Zion is in God’s presence and it can never be destroyed.   God allowed the Jewish people to return and rebuild the temple.  It was rebuilt and the temple became fully functional again. Other things happened as well and eventually King Herod wanted to make his mark.  He modernized the Temple Mount, and it was a magnificent thig to look at.  We need to remember though that Herod the Great was a blood thirsty murderer. We know in the Christmas story how he slew ‘Rachael’s children’ ‘and ‘they were no more’.   If Kings David the greatest king of Israel and Judah had blood on his hands and was not allowed to build the temple; How does Herod stand before God? 

It doesn’t surprise me that some Israelites (Essenes) went into the desert to worship God.  They knew the abomination that was happening in Jerusalem. 


I ought to read the Dead Sea Scrolls a little closer I’m pretty sure that this is possibly one reason to move to the desert.)

The real Zion is in Heaven.  Mount Sinai and the earthly sanctuaries in Jerusalem were steppingstones to the real sanctuary not made with hands:

“For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. 20 For they could not bear the command, “IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED.” 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling.”

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” Hebrews 12:18-24 NASB

There are two mountains with two stories. 

At mount Sinai the Law of God was given, the ten commandments and all the other laws.  The law was Holy but whether we are Gentile or Jewish we have all failed to keep the Law.  This does not mean the law was bad.  No, the law is good because it came from God, but apart from Christ no one could keep it perfectly.  The teachings of Jesus in Matthews Gospel show us this to be the case.  It is only when we realized that we are spiritually poor and helpless before God that we can start this walk of grace.  The good news is that Christ kept the law perfectly and in Him we can have eternal life.

Here we have two covenants in the Old Testament:

  • The covenant with Moses and the people of God
  • The covenant of David and the people of God

Jesus comes from the line of David and in Christ the ‘second Adam’ we have been recreated and found to be blameless before a holy God by faith.

Christ indeed is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses.  The law will always be good but only through the work of Christ; the Mediator between God and Man.  We also need to remember that at the Transfiguration of Jesus Moses and Elijah were present.  We had a glimpse into heaven itself and in this story, we see Christ’s Divinity.

There are those who would like to see the Old Testament to be forgotten and ripped out of the Bible.  This is what the heretic Marcion tried to do.  The Old Testament is beautiful.  This is where we see the creation of the world; the creation of Humanity; the Fall of humanity; the promised restoration of humanity; the coming of Christ into the world; That Jesus would save his people and bring them with himself into the real Zion in which we share in the life and communion of the Trinity.


Just imagine you were standing at the foot of Mt Sinai; What would you be feeling?  You would be afraid and with your finite mind would not be able to grasp the big picture that God had in mind.

We are privileged because we are of the household of faith and as believers we can look back retrospectively and see what amazing things God has done for us!  Not only retrospectively but the here and now.  We can fall on our knees and worship God today whatever area in the world we are in. Whether we are on a mountain top or in the valleys, we can fall on our knees and worship God in spirit and truth.


A very old Babylonian map;

A translation of the Babylonian text;

The list of sacred mountains;

Sinai location;,28.3037876,1723995m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m9!1m2!2m1!1sMount+Sinai!3m5!1s0x1454855532dfc1cf:0x8f6d107a766ebf7!8m2!3d28.5362745!4d33.9697266!15sCgtNb3VudCBTaW5haSIDiAEBWg0iC21vdW50IHNpbmFpkgEEcGVhaw

The seat of the Spiritual life (Herman Bavinck)

October 16, 2021


You cannot see the sun but you know it is there.  The soul can be a bit like that

In today’s world ‘spiritual’ is often used in all sorts of contexts.  Whatever view one takes it is something that happens inside the person.  From a secular point of view scientists have tried to find it in the workings of the mind and give it a purely materialist interpretation.  However even with all the breakthroughs in science and there have been many people are more than the sum of their parts.  To take this materialist view also means to take a biological evolutionary interpretation of our destiny. 

I reject this view.  Humanity was not just a big mistake.  Genesis starts with:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

We are more than the sum of our parts.  God created us for a reason, and we saw this in the garden when God walked with Adam in the garden before the fall.  Humanity was in communion with God and even though the Fall took place God had a plan in history to bring humanity back into relationship with Himself.  Whether one interprets the story of Genesis literally or generically, we come to the same conclusion Humanities destiny in Christ (the new Adam) was for fellowship with the Trinitarian God.

When I was reading the title on page 250; “the seat of the spiritual life” I thought about location.  The driver in a car has a seat and it is located by the steering wheel and the pedals.  Where is our spiritual life seated or located?

This is an important question and Bavinck helps us find the location of our spiritual life through the Scriptures. 

“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

“that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, “ Ephesians 3:16

“Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

“but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:4

“knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; “Romans 6:6

“by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,” Ephesians 2:15

“for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” Ephesians 4:12-14

In general, then one cannot see where the spiritual life is located.  These verses are enough to show us that a part of the human dimension is to actually have a soul.   Herman Bavinck the master theologian is not happy with such a general conclusion, and he goes mining for the deeper truths found in holy Scripture.  The seat of the spiritual life is located in the heart.  We need to understand that this is metaphorical language and not a biological heart.   Obviously human language breaks down when trying to understand God’s word.  Metaphor is one way that can be used to take us closer to God’s heart and His love in Christ.  Lets allow Bavinck to speak for himself:


“Paul’s command to “not be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewal of your mind” indicates that the mind, the consciousness, especially the ability to reflect, the organ of moral thought and recognition (Rom. 7:25), is the seat of the spiritual life.56 This parallels the “conscience” (Titus 1:15) as an organ of the spirit and is therefore located in a part of the heart; the “mind” is a function of the “heart.”7 Compare Ephesians 4:23:“Be renewed in the spirit of your minds.”8 The soul/life has its origin in the spirit, and its organ (both as to its conscious and as to its unconscious side) is the laeczrt.59 The heart is the concentrating and mediating organ of all circumstances and activities.  Thus, the sequence is spirit—soul—heart: foundation—subject— organ.   Rationality, emotion/feeling, and will, then, are rooted in the heart.  The heart, therefore, is the seat of the spiritual life, as is indicated by biblical references to “the hidden person of the heart” (1 Pet. 3:4) and circumcision being “a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter” (Rom. 2:29). (From: Reformed Ethics; Herman Bavinck; edited by John Bolt; Book 2, chapter 7, page 250-252)

There is a lot to digest here but this bit explains it:

“The organ of the spirit and is therefore located in a part of the heart; the “mind” is a function of the “heart.” Compare Ephesians 4:23:” 

There you have it, ’mind is a function of the heart’.


What does all this mean to us as believers?

Becoming a Christian is only the first step of faith.  God has started the work within us.  The mind has been spiritually awakened and we can again taste God’s goodness in us.  This is why prayer, reading the Scriptures, having communion with other believers is important.  We can either fill our minds with spiritual, wholesome things that makes us more like Christ or feed our minds with things that go against the Holy Spirit and leads one to destruction.  This is in a practical manner very helpful.


Prayer takes us in to heaven itself and we become partakers of the Trinitarian life in Christ.  By praying we focus on God’s kingdom, and we can more closely understand what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us.   Prayer also starts to help us become more empathetic towards other human beings and God’s creation.

The Scriptures

God speaks to us in his son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Where do we learn about this?  We learn this through the writings of the original Apostles, Moses, the prophets and so on.  The Scriptures are ancient wisdom which are God given to humanity.  We are fools not to take Scripture seriously.

Communion with believers.

We belong to one universal Church established by our lord Jesus Christ. It is made up of believers from the past, the present and the future.  The Holy Spirit is our Comforter and teacher.


As believers we have a duty by the Holy Spirit to take care of our heart:

Do we pray?

Do we read the Bible?

Do we commune somehow with other believers?

Added to this list Paul also said somewhere to think about these good, and beautiful things.  We can sometimes see the effects of these changes within other believers:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. “Galatians 5:22-23

Although the spiritual life is something that is hidden from sight, one can still see these effects in Christians who are walking close to Christ.  

Goal of love in discipline from the Father of Spirits; Hebrews 12. 4-11

October 16, 2021

The importance of Godly Discipline. Today the writer of Hebrews (Apollos, my point of view) is talking about discipline.  We have all faced discipline in our lives.  Perhaps you were a runner for your college or played football for your local team.  Discipline is important because it helps us to be the best that we can be.  Sometimes it may look like discipline, but it may be punishment.  Perhaps a person has an alcoholic parent who comes home and ‘beats the day lights out of their child’ or uses ‘psychological abuse’.  This latter one is not discipline and the person who inflicts such a thing on a loved one needs psychological help or even a prison sentence.  The goal and end result of discipline should be love.  As Jesus said:

9 Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?” Matthew 7:9 

This verses context is prayer and the golden rule.  The intention of any parent ought to be for the good of their children. So, our Lord Jesus shows us the importance and intent of the heart in relationships. So, let us not abuse those in our care but rather show love through our actions by the grace of God.  If one who is reading this is punishing rather than discipling, then there is a place for true repentance and to stop doing these things. We now turn to the passage that we are going to look at in Hebrews 12. 4-17:

A Father’s Discipline

4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,




7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birth right for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. Hebrews 12:4-17


Verse 4

“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;”

It is true that they haven’t yet lost their lives for Christ, but they are certainly suffering economically and even prison sentences.  We have seen some of this at the end of chapter 10.  On the other hand, One did strive against sin and he died in this godly endeavour but he took his life back up in the resurrection.  This is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ:

  Did Apollos just mean their striving against sin or was he thinking about what Christ did?

I’m not entirely sure but we do know that Jesus is our great example, and the previous verse did say:

“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3”

The Lord Jesus is our great example.  When Christ set his eyes on going to Jerusalem nothing was going to take him away from his goal of death on a cross and the resurrection. His discipline of prayer and walking the path of faith knowing that he was going to die.  Christ also knew this would open the gates of heaven that those who believe in his name would walk through the pearly gates too.

So how does our faith line up to Christ in fighting against sin?

Only you can answer that question for yourself.

Verses 5-6

and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,




This seems quite harsh but as we said earlier the goal is love and to make us more like Christ.  It is worth quoting longer passages from the Book of Job and the book of Proverbs from which these references were taken from in the first place:

17 “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves,

So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

18 “For He inflicts pain, and gives relief;

He wounds, and His hands also heal.

19 “From six troubles He will deliver you,

Even in seven evil will not touch you.

20 “In famine He will redeem you from death,

And in war from the power of the sword.

21 “You will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue,

And you will not be afraid of violence when it comes.

22 “You will laugh at violence and famine,

And you will not be afraid of wild beasts.

23 “For you will be in league with the stones of the field,

And the beasts of the field will be at peace with you.

24 “You will know that your tent is secure,

For you will visit your abode and fear no loss. Job 5:17-24

And then Proverbs:

11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD

Or loathe His reproof,

12 For whom the LORD loves He reproves,

Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

13 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom

And the man who gains understanding. Proverbs 3:11-13

This is very interesting. The reason it is very interesting is that in a way they remind us of the beautiful attitudes of the Happy sayings of Christ (in the beginning of the book of Matthew).  Both these quotations have the saying Happy is the man! Happy is the person!

When reading these verses, I think it sounds rather harsh to the ear.  However, with the background reading we can see that Apollos is giving his own beatific attitude lessons from two Happy sayings from the Old Testament.  Job is the oldest book in the Bible, so his Wisdom takes us to real ancient texts.  We need to remember that God is Creator, and we were created as humans to be in relationship with him.  How do I know this?  You know this too.  God was in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.  They walked and talked to each other and before the Fall God and Adam were in perfect relationship.  Everything God created was referred to was ‘good’.  In Christ by faith and his work on the cross and the resurrection we are realigned with the Triune God.

Verses 11 -13

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

As you can see because you are in the Church, in the family of God that we are disciplined.  In any good family there is always discipline.  It may be that a person has about three siblings and they all have to go to their hobbies.  Mum and dad are driving crazily from place to place; preparing food; washing the laundry.  God in verse 11 is referred to as the ‘Father of spirits.’   This is a very personal touch because God cares for our souls in a very intimate way.  Discipline never seems joyful at the time, but the end result is that we are citizens of heaven and the Holy City, New Jerusalem.  Verse 11 finishes of with the saying ‘afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.’


Apollos gives the Jewish believers a lesson about discipline from two of the Happy Sayings in the Old Testament.  He has taken us back to real old, ancient, holy, godly wisdom!  If we truly love to be children of Christ let us also walk by faith.  Living by faith means living inside the discipline of God.  We are disciplined by God by pure love because God is Love

The style in Hebrews 12 has changed from dogma to pastoral.  Here we see Apollos taking his theology and making it useful for the local church.  At the same time though we need to remember that throughout the book of Hebrews we see exhortations in piece meal.  This is no accident, Apollos has a pastors, teachers heart and he wants his congregation to be more like Christ.  His theology at places is also influenced by Saint Paul. 

Although the style has changed let us continue to live by faith and godly living.

Bibliography All references were from the NASB

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus; the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Perfector of our Faith; Hebrews chapter 12. 1-3

October 9, 2021

As we get closer to Winter the night starts to grow longer. However, every morning the sun comes up over the horizon and gives us some light.  As a spiritual lesson we can say that our faith gives us a preview of what is out of sight.  God in Christ is coming back for his children, and we will forever be in the Trinitarian presence of God. 

Verse 1A

Apollos has taken us on a wild journey of faith to the top of the mountains and to the flat plains.  The best is still yet to come! He is reminding us of all of these witnesses, and he uses a strange phrase, but it is very effective.  In the ‘great cloud of witnesses’, the word ‘cloud’ is a metaphor. When we think of a cloud it is something that is usually over our head. Perhaps by using this word the writer wanted to encourage the believers to stay strong in the faith. These witnesses lived by faith no matter what was thrown at them.  They believed and they walked the talk.  Perhaps I should have used ‘ran the talk’ because in these early verses in chapter 12, Apollos the writer uses a race analogy. 

Even as these Old Testament and New Testament witnesses were part of this cloud let us also follow in their footsteps on the road into God’s presence itself.

Verse 1B

“let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

Every international racer has a goal, and he has to prepare for the great race.  You do not see many sprinters carrying a lot of luggage.  Weight slows a racer down thus there are not many larger racers.  The racer goes on a diet to lose as much fat as possible.  They practice every day and follow the doctor’s advice.  The day of the race comes they check their racing shoes.  The goal of the racer is to win that medal and fame.  The winner becomes famous overnight and the losers’ names go into oblivion.  That is how the world works but God does not work like that.

God is love and he has poured His love into our lives through the work of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.  We have entered into an eternal friendship. We too have a goal but our goal is not fame or fortune which does not last, it is to be with Christ for all eternity through the Holy Spirit’s guidance and the Fathers good pleasure.

The true race is a spiritual race.  Racers come and go, and they are like the flower in the garden that withers and falls and is not remembered anymore.  We grow old, fat, slow and then we realize that that was in the yester year. It does not matter how good a sprinter is, it is only at a moment in time and then the final curtain comes down.

We also have a goal in which moth and rust cannot destroy as Hebrews 12. 2a reminds us:

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,”.  What do we really fix our eyes on?

We ought to fix our eyes on Jesus because he is our Saviour and why should we fix our eyes on Jesus?  The rest of the verse explains this to us!

…the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

In the economy of the Trinity Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father.  How Jesus must have suffered for us sinners. Remember Jesus is fully God and fully Man.  From his Divine side he would have seen ahead of time those nails being driven into his hands because of our rebellion and sinfulness towards God.  Yet Jesus also saw the prize.  The prize is not only that he sits at the right hand of God the Father but that he has enabled through his work to bring many sons and daughters with him into heaven itself.

The Writer then asks his listeners to consider the hostility Jesus himself faced:

“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3

We get discouraged but the truth is that if anyone had a right to be discouraged, it would be the Son of God both in his divine and human nature.  Jesus sweated drops of blood, but he also went through the death penalty.  He was made a curse by hanging on a wooden stick.  No wonder that for a lot of Jews and Gentiles they would never consider Jesus as a Saviour.  We read this early in 1 Corinthians.

However, if we read verse 3 closely, we see an encouragement to stay strong in the faith:

“…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3


There are many good reasons why we should fix our eyes on Jesus.

  • Jesus is fully God and fully human
  • He is greater than all the angels
  • He is greater that Moses
  • He is High Priest of the real Temple in Heaven
  • He is the One True Sacrifice (The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world)
  • You find your election in Him
  • Jesus loves you!

For me the Book of Hebrews takes us into the very throne room of God.  Let us be encouraged my friends to fall at the feet of Jesus for from him comes all the spiritual jewels that we could have asked for.


I got some ideas from John Calvin’s commentary.  His very sharp eye pointed out that ‘cloud’ was a metaphor.  I also enjoyed his description of the race.  The race motif I used however is completely my own.  The Bible I usually use is the NASB from Olive Tree Bible software


Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries; Hebrews 1 & 2 Peter;  Eerdmans; pages 187-189

Olive tree Bible software: NASB; especially Hebrews 12. 1-3

The Essence and Core of the Spiritual Life. Part 3 Fellowship with the Holy Spirit ‘Act and Being’ Part 3

October 8, 2021


I took this picture recently and the cloud formation reminds me of the Holy Spirit


I want to begin by two verses and thinking about them:

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14



4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:4

When we talk about the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, it has a context.  From the second quotation there is a very explicit statement that we will become sharers in ‘The Divine Nature’.  We will always stay human and created but we are brought into fellowship with ‘God’.  Bavinck contextualizes this for us:

“First there is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment; then that of Christ adopting us and granting us his benefits; thereafter that of the Father adopting us as his children in and because of Christ.” (Reformed Ethics)

What can we say then?

We can say that the Holy Spirit is the one who made it possible for us to come into relationship with Christ and hence being accepted by the father on account of the Son.

Bavinck continues:

“The spiritual life always moves among these three persons and is therefore a genuinely rich life, rich in diversity, without monotony. The believer experiences the life of God himself: from the Father through the Son in the Spirit and, conversely, in the Spirit through the Son to the Father. The spiritual life is therefore a life of God (Eph.4:18), a life that originates from God, is granted by grace, unites us with God, is worked in us immediately through the Holy Spirit, and has the spiritual life of God himself as model and example. The spiritual life of believers is a shadow, an impression49 of the most perfect life of God himself, so that it is said that they share in the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).50”

In this beautiful explanation of our relationship to God and vice versa we are not alone.  As Christians we are part of the Church of Christ.  The Holy Spirit is forever in us and guides us as teacher and comforter as we conform to be more like Christ. This road is not a one-way road from the infinite side God the Father showers us with his gifts of grace through the Son in the Holy Spirit.  Then our prayers and hopes in the opposite direction in the Holy Spirit through the son to the Father. 

Herman Bavinck was certainly one of the foremost theologians of his generation and if his works were translated at the same time as Barth’s, he certainly would have been one of the main theologians studied in universities.  Alas it did not happen that way!

Bavinck has a lot to teach us about culture and how the follower of Christ influences the world he lives in.  The above scenario I quoted is how I believe Colin Gunton was moving in his theology.  There is a lot of fertile ground here for a PHD, comparing and contrasting Gunton’s ideas of modern culture with Bavinck’s rich understanding of modernity from the end of the 19th century early 20th century.   Obviously, Karl Barth would come up in the discussion too.

What do I mean by all this? I found a summary about the Trinity in Act and Being by Colin Gunton:

“… that the moments of truth of the doctrine of divine unknowability should not be denied. The finite mind, and certainly the sinful mind, may not of its own powers know the essence of God. That becomes possible only on God’s terms: by the atoning death of Christ and the appropriation of reconciliation with God by the act of the Spirit. But that very reality implies that God is knowable, because he makes himself known. Again and again the Gospels — and especially John’s Gospel — and the Epistles offer us knowledge, and, indeed, recommend its necessity: knowledge of ‘the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name’ (Eph. 3.15). But that knowledge is in God’s gift, not a natural human capacity of the kind that thinks it can achieve a mystical knowledge of God apart from Christ by means of negative theological projection. For at its heart is the fact that God is knowable through the strait and narrow gate that is the humanity of Christ, as narrated in scripture and proclaimed in the church. He really is a human being, and can be recognized to be also and at the same time the eternal Son of God only through the Spirit. (‘Flesh and blood has nor revealed this to you, Peter, but my Father in heaven’, Matt. 16.17.)

The man Jesus of Nazareth, crucified, risen and seated at the right hand of God still clothed in his humanity, is, to use an expression of Karl Barth’s, albeit in rather a different way, the knowability of God on our side.  Instead, therefore, of speaking of God’s unknowability — a pagan form of unbelief— we should speak rather of his incognito. The Son of God comes as one who ‘had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering’ (Isa. 53.2—3). We cannot evade that narrow road along which we must pass if we are to know the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And yet we must gloss Isaiah’s poem, for this man who had nothing ‘in his appearance’ that we should desire him, is in fact that beauty and majesty of God in action. In that incognito we truly find the attributes of our God, for there is God in action, in the richness of his utter simplicity.” (From Act and Being; Colin E Gunton; pages 157 -158; SCM press)

This is amazing stuff for the Christian.  God makes himself known to us by the Holy Spirit.  God breaks into our space and time and there is a relationship in the relationality of the Trinity and of us.  To be brought into this relationship it is all of grace.  God in Christ reaches out to us and calls us home. 


We are truly blessed! I can see why prayer and the reading of Scripture is so important. When two people fall in love and they get married; What are the main ingredients?

·        Love

·        Communication

Marriage is an earthly example, but it drives an important truth home.  Love means that you want to spend time with that person and get to know them.  How much more important is it for the Christian to spend time in God’s presence through prayer, reading the Scriptures and living in the body of Christ, the Church. 

The Holy Spirit has come into the world, and He is our Comforter and Teacher, and He is always with us until Christ returns for His Church.  Herman Bavinck reminds us that communication is a two-way road.  Looking at 20thcentury theologians too such as Karl Barth and Colin Gunton, we learn that Bavinck is very modern even though he lived in the 19th century into the 20th century!

In theology terms such as ‘Being in Becoming’ and ‘Act and Being’ sounds really cool but Bavinck was doing that 150 years ago!  The bottom line is that we are in a Divine love story.  God loved us so much that in the work and person of Christ he became a human being, died on a cross, was resurrected and also, by faith in Him can live forever too. 

Thinking Activity

Who is the Holy Spirit and why is he important in our lives?


Act and Being; Colin E Gunton; pages 157 -158; SCM press

Reformed Ethics; Herman Bavinck; edited by John Bolt; Book 2, chapter 7, page 248

The Essence and Core of the Spiritual Life. Part 2; Fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ

October 3, 2021
I took this by the lake side

 Our life force flows from the fellowship we have with the Trinity.  Last time we looked at the fellowship we have with the father.  We cannot go directly to the Father.  God is eternal and infinite, and we are only finite created creatures.  That does not mean that the road to the Father is closed.  It cannot be closed because God is love.   It is by the two hands of God that we can come to the Father.  Although Jesus is God the Son, he took on a finite form and became a human being.  Our Lord Jesus lived, died and resurrected two thousand years ago; so how can we have a relationship with God the Son today?  The Holy Spirit our Comforter the third person of the Trinity transcends time. We also have Scripture, and this witness of the original Apostles of Christ are mediated to us by the Holy Spirit.  There is one invisible Church made up of believers who have fallen asleep, the present saints and those who will come after us.

Herman Bavinck who has gone on before us has left us with some beautiful writings and today he is going to teach us what it means to have fellowship with the Son of God.

We begin by asking what fellowship actually means.

One verse Bavinck quotes is:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 

I see this as a summary of the Christian faith. 

We were chosen before the foundation of the world in Christ, we were born from above in Christ, we have been crucified and died in Christ, buried with Christ, planted in Christ, raised with Christ, and we will be seated with Christ in heavenly places.

So, then my friends when we look at the list of Scriptures that Bavinck quotes, we see what real life in Christ means.  These are not empty words but rather are words spoken by the Apostles to encourage us to walk in the faith.


We are branches of the True Vine and Christ commands us to remain in him.  The walk of faith is also a way of living, living in the Spirit.  Not living just for ourselves but living in Christ:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:4


As believers we were baptized into walking with Christ.  Baptism is also a Sacrament, and it is something holy.  Baptism is an outward sign of what God has been doing in our souls.  Even as Jesus died and was raised to glory the samething is promised to us who walk in the path of our true Master:

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.  8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, Romans 6:4-8


So let us be greatly encouraged by the Scriptures that Bavinck quoted.  Below is a list of a few more. 


15 For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 1 Corinthians 4:15


20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20


27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:27


1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2


At the end of this paragraph Bavinck Gives us a reflection as he says:

“This fellowship also consists of a mutual interchange between Christ and believers: we receive and take on the whole Christ and give ourselves entirely and completely to him (2 Cor. 8:5). However, this is no Christification or deification of the believer, no blending, no exchanging of Christ and the believer, but a spiritual fellowship. This is not merely a moral fellowship (agreement of mind and will) but a substantial and real fellowship of Christ’s person and our persons, the closest union of Christ and us, through and in love, as in marriage.”



God has done a great deal for us through Christ.  Even while we were against God without salvation or hope of eternal life God did not abandon us.  Christ was there at the creation of the world and after we messed up as the second Adam, Christ came to save us. 

I hope these truths have encouraged you and in our last session of three parts we will be looking at fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

Herman Bavinck the master theologian has given us some great verses to mediate on.  I hope and pray that in Christ we continue to grow in maturity to become more like Christ day by day.


Find a quiet place to reflect.

Think about how precious you are to Christ and how precious Christ is to you.


·        Reformed Ethics; Book 2 and chapter 7; page 249; By Herman Bavinck; edited by John Bolt

·        NASB Bible; quotations from Olive Tree Bible Software