September 2006 • Volume XI, Issue 5
It is instructive to note that those who allow for
the remarriage of the deserted believer and of the "innocent party" have
found it difficult to "hold the line." Luther even permitted the bigamy
of Philip of Hesse, creating a huge scandal throughout Christendom. An
Italian Protestant deserted his Roman Catholic wife and children and
moved to Geneva. He, a "believer," left her, an unbeliever, and yet
Calvin allowed him to remarry while his wife was living. The Reformers
did not have the last word on the doctrine of marriage.
Increasingly, in our "wicked and adulterous
generation" (Matt. 16:4), churches are caving in on marriage, divorce
and remarriage. Congregations are being led by divorced and remarried
ministers, elders and deacons. Divorced and remarried people are coming
to the Lord’s Supper, and sometimes they partake at the table in the
same congregation or denomination. In many places, various grounds for
divorce are accepted and not just the one ground, adultery. The
permission to remarry for only the "innocent party," as well as being
unbiblical (Rom. 7:2-3: I Cor. 7:39), is in many instances proving
unstable. If the "innocent party" is free to remarry, it must be because
the marriage itself is dissolved. And if the marriage is dissolved for
the "innocent party," then it must also be dissolved for the "guilty
party." Why then cannot the "guilty party" remarry? Many congregations
and church synods have not been able to withstand this argument. But
perhaps even more persuasive is the realization that teaching and
practising the biblical doctrine of marriage, divorce and remarriage may
well mean the loss of numbers and a deep, spiritual struggle.
As the cracks in the marriage doctrine held by many
are growing larger and larger, it is time for individuals, families and
churches to embrace that marriage doctrine espoused by Jesus Christ, the
church’s bridegroom and head.
In the attack on the biblical doctrine of marriage,
divorce and remarriage, the great truth of the unbreakable bond between
Christ and His church is being attacked, for the former is to reflect
the latter (Eph. 5:22-33). The bond between Christ and His elect bride
is that of the everlasting covenant realized by the irresistible grace
of Almighty God and wrought by the indwelling Spirit. Our wicked sins
can not break this bond; nor can even death itself. For God is immortal,
and our death is a passageway into glory, and Christ’s death is our
redemption, sanctification and glorification (25-27). Rev. Stewart
The Messianic Psalms
O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins
are not hid from thee (Ps. 69:5).
A reader writes, "The whole of Psalm 69 is clearly
the prophetic words of Christ (e.g., Ps. 69:21; cf. Matt. 27:34). But
who is confessing sin and foolishness in verse 5? Could it be the
imputed sin of His people being confessed?"
This question brings us to the heart of the messianic
character of the Psalms. Usually conservative commentators on the Psalms
distinguish between the Psalms in general and the messianic Psalms, the
latter being those Psalms which speak directly of Christ. The messianic
Psalms include Psalms 2, 22, 69, 72, 100, etc.
There is a sense in which all the Psalms are
Messianic, for they were all inspired by the Holy Spirit of Christ.
Christ Himself speaks in the Psalms, even though He may be speaking
through David or Asaph or Ethan. That Christ Himself is speaking in the
Psalms by His Spirit is clear from I Peter 1:10-12: "Of which salvation
the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of
the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of
time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it
testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should
follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us
they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them
that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down
from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into."
Scripture teaches that the OT prophets, including the
Psalmists, wrote what they did by the Spirit of Christ, and that they,
the prophets, searched their own writings to learn about Christ’s
sufferings and glory.
However, the Psalms are unique in one respect: they
all testify and speak of Christ, as the whole of Christ’s work is
performed for, in and through those for whom He died. It is hard to
emphasize too strongly the importance of this. David wrote many of the
Psalms. He was infallibly inspired by the Spirit of Christ. Christ by
His Spirit was speaking in David and through David. But Christ by His
Spirit was speaking in and through David in such a way that Christ’s
work for David was reflected in David’s consciousness. And it was
reflected in David’s consciousness in connection with David’s own
pathway in life with all its experiences, trials, victories and
sufferings, and as that pathway in life was determined by God in His
In other words, the Psalms are David’s (and Asaph’s,
and Ethan’s) spiritual biography, as Christ, the redeemer of His people,
works His salvation through His people in their lives. Christ speaks in
the Psalms of what He has done. David speaks in the Psalms as the
mouthpiece of Christ. Every believer speaks in the Psalms as Christ
works salvation within him.
Christ said, "The Lord is my shepherd" (Ps. 23:1).
The Triune God was Christ’s shepherd in all Christ’s suffering. Christ
is the good shepherd who calls His sheep by name (John 10). Christ leads
His people into green pastures. The believer says, "The Lord is my
shepherd." The believer in whom Christ dwells and through whom Christ
speaks His own word, also speaks that Word as it applies to his own
life. He speaks it in all of his life—even when he walks through the
valley of the shadow of death.
The psalmist said, "My God, my God, why hast though
forsaken me?" (Ps. 22:1). Christ said those words on the cross, for they
were His words in the OT as He spoke them prophetically through David.
But David said those words in a moment of chastisement when God had
seemingly abandoned him. Nevertheless, it was Christ speaking through
David and in David’s own experiences in life. And every believer, at one
time or another in his life, cries out the same Psalm’s plaintive cry.
This spiritual character of the Psalms is what makes them so rich.
Some Psalms speak directly of the suffering of Christ
and do so prophetically and specifically—as does Psalm 69. Yet, it is
Christ speaking through David so that David himself is speaking, but he
is speaking the Word of Christ as Christ speaks in and through him.
Enemies parted Christ’s garments among them (Ps. 22:18; John 19:34), but
they did the same with David’s clothes—perhaps at the time of Absalom’s
rebellion. And so with all the Psalms.
Psalm 69:5, quoted above, is also Christ speaking in
and through David, for only by the Spirit of Christ is any believer able
to confess his sins as David does here. But it is also Christ who
speaks, for the sins of all His people were imputed to Christ and He who
knew no sin was made sin for us (II Cor. 5:21). The questioner is
correct. Christ cries out in Psalm 69 that the sins of His people,
imputed to Him, were not hid from God. Christ cried this when He
suffered the wrath of God against sin on the cross. But because Christ
said this first, and now says it in us, we too are able to say it—and
saying it, find forgiveness in Christ’s blood.
Thus the Psalms were written out of the personal
experiences of the psalmists. They were, however, infallibly inspired by
the Holy Spirit. Christ is, therefore speaking in the Psalms concerning
Himself and His work which He does for and in His people. As He performs
His work in His people, He does so through His Word in the sacred
Scriptures. He, by the same Spirit who inspired the authors of
Scripture, speaks His Word in the heart and consciousness of the
believer in connection with the believer’s own experiences in the
pathway of life through which God leads him. Thus Christ’s experiences
become the believer’s experiences in his union with Christ by faith. And
so he sings the Psalms with gusto.
Read the Psalms this way. Do so meditating on each
one, meditating on the truth that Christ speaks in and through you in
all the experiences of life through which God leads you. One thing is
sure from such an exercise: you will never want to go to uninspired
hymns in your worship of God. Prof. Hanko
Christ, the Image of the
Invisible God (1)
That Jesus Christ is "the image of the invisible God"
(Col. 1:15) tells us something, first of all, about God. Neither John in
his visions in the book of Revelation, nor Moses on Mount Sinai, nor
Adam in the Garden of Eden, saw God. God has never been seen and never
will be seen, not on the judgment day nor in the eternal ages. For God
is, by nature, spirit not matter. He is without colour, extension or
shape, for He is eternally and necessarily invisible. In fact, God
cannot be sensed with any of our senses. Not only can He not be seen but
He cannot be heard or smelled or tasted or touched.
The invisibility of God leads us to the truth that He
is hidden, far off, transcendent and incomprehensible to man. Thus God
must reveal Himself to us for us to know Him. His invisibility
necessitates His revelation if ever we can be His covenant friends.
Our text also tells us something about Christ and His
relationship to God, that He is "the image of the invisible God."
Certainly, the eternal Son is the image of God the Father. All that the
Father is so is the Son and all that the Son is so is the Father,
excluding, of course, their personal properties of begetting (the
Father) and being begotten (the Son). These exceptions excluded, the Son
perfectly images the Father.
Colossians 1:15, however, is focusing on the
incarnate Christ as the image of God, for we are in the mediatorial
"kingdom" (13) of the crucified Saviour "in whom we have redemption
through his blood" (14). Thus our text speaks of Christ as the image who
makes the "invisible God" visible (15).
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God as
the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, "and we beheld his glory, the
glory as of the only begotten of the Father" (John 1:14). The apostles
declared, "We heard Him and saw Him and handled Him" (cf. I John 1:1-3).
Thus Jesus said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John
As the image of God, the incarnate Christ images God
in his attributes (holiness, love, truth, etc.), works (creation,
providence and redemption) and will. He is "the image of the invisible
God," even "the express image of God" (Heb. 1:3). Christ is the
absolutely perfect image of God in everything without exception. No
divine features are missing in the image; nothing is misplaced; no glory
is impaired or diminished. As the express image of God, Jesus Christ is
God, for only One who is God can be the express image of God. Thus "all
men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father" (John 5:23).
would like to receive the Covenant Reformed News free by e-mail
each month (and/or by post, if you are in the UK), please contact
Rev. Stewart and we will gladly send it to you.