Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vandrunen on Lutheran Christology

Here is a very interesting quote by David Vandrunen from Westminster Seminary in California.  I found it in an article entitled "Iconoclasm, Incarnation, and Eschatology: Toward a Catholic Understanding of the Reformed Doctrine of the ‘Second’ Commandment".  The article is about the Reformed view on Icons and how we refuse to make images of Christ for worship.  This quote deals with the Lutheran view of Christology, and how it's a departure from orthodox Chaledonian Christology.

The question arises, then, whether Reformed theology’s refusal to make or use images of Christ reflects a deficient or even deviant view of the incarnation. Suspicions of this sort are difficult to reconcile with the fact that the Reformed not only enthusiastically upheld the Chalcedonian formulae concerning the two natures joined in one person in the hypostatic union, but also have even explicitly defended these doctrines against contemporary teachings that seemed to stray from the traditional doctrine. The most prominent case in point is found in Reformed polemics against the ‘ubiquitarian’ Christology of Lutheranism. For many years, Lutherans and Reformed have disputed the nature of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, and lying immediately beneath the surface of these debates is a christological disagreement that in large part determines the eucharistic questions. According to the Lutheran understanding of the communicatio idiomatum, divine attributes of Christ are communicated to his human nature, though the manifestation of these attributes was hidden during his days on earth. Among the divine attributes communicated is omnipresence: Christ’s human body, now glorified, is present everywhere with his divine nature. Hence the ‘ubiquitarian’ title and the confidence that Christ’s body and blood can be truly in, with, and under the elements of bread and wine.

Reformed theologians, unimpressed, have suggested that the only reason that Lutherans would want to defend such an idea was because of the need for christological justification for their theology of the Supper. To Reformed minds, Lutheran ubiquitarianism was little more than a lapse into Monophysitism, an absorption of the human nature into the divine, hence leaving no true human nature at all. A human body that is omnipresent is nothing like the human body that we know, and it virtually requires a whole new definition of what a human body is. If Christ’s body is omnipresent, then he is no longer like us in every way, sin excepted. Whatever the best resolution to this debate, the Reformed saw themselves as stout defenders of Catholic christological orthodoxy. Far from denying the full reality of Christ’s human nature, and even far from being insensitive to implications of the Chalcedonian affirmations, the Reformed unflinchingly grasped the Chalcedonian legacy as their own."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hilary and Chrysostom on Justification by Faith Alone

Hilary of Poitiers commenting on Matthew 9:3: "It disturbed the scribes that sin was forgiven by a man (for they considered that Jesus Christ was only a man) and that sin was forgiven by Him whereas the Law was not able to absolve it, since faith alone justifies."
Hilary, the Bishop of Poitiers
Latin text: Movet scribas remissum ab homine peccatum: hominem enim tantum in Iesu Christo contuebantur et remissum est ab eo quod lex laxare non poterat; fides enim sola iustificat. Sancti Hilarii In Evangelium Matthaei Commentarius, Caput VIII, §6, PL 9:961A.

Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67) on Matthew 20:7: “Wages cannot be considered as a gift, because they are due to work, but God has given free grace to all men by the justification of faith.” George Finch, A Sketch of the Romish Controversy (London: G. Norman, 1831), p. 230.

Chrysostom (349-407): Everywhere he puts the Gentiles upon a thorough equality. ‘And put no difference between us and them, having purified their hearts by faith.’ (v. 9.) From faith alone, he says, they obtained the same gifts. This is also meant as a lesson to those (objectors); this is able to teach even them that faith only is needed, not works nor circumcision. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Homly 32, Acts 15:1.

John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople
Chrysostom (349-407): For if even before this, the circumcision was made uncircumcision, much rather was it now, since it is cast out from both periods. But after saying that “it was excluded,” he shows also, how. How then does he say it was excluded? “By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.” See he calls the faith also a law delighting to keep to the names, and so allay the seeming novelty. But what is the “law of faith?” It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 7, vs. 27.

Chrysostom (349-407): Now since the Jews kept turning over and over the fact, that the Patriarch, and friend of God, was the first to receive circumcision, he wishes to show, that it was by faith that he too was justified. And this was quite a vantage ground to insist upon. For a person who had no works, to be justified by faith, was nothing unlikely. But for a person richly adorned with good deeds, not to be made just from hence, but from faith, this is the thing to cause wonder, and to set the power of faith in a strong light. NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 8, Romans 4:1-2, first paragraph.

Chrysostom (349-407): And this he removes, with great skill and prudence, turning their argument against themselves, and showing that those who relinquish the Law are not only not cursed, but blessed; and they who keep it, not only not blessed but cursed. They said that he who kept not the Law was cursed, but he proves that he who kept it was cursed, and he who kept it not, blessed. Again, they said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but he shows that he who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed. And how does he prove all this? for it is no common thing which we have promised; wherefore it is necessary to give close attention to what follows. He had already shown this, by referring to the words spoken to the Patriarch, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed,’ (Genesis 12:4.) at a time, that is, when Faith existed, not the Law. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Commentary on Galatians, 3:8.

Chrysostom (349-407) same passage above, different translation: For they said that the one who does not keep the law is cursed, while he shows that the one who strives to keep it is cursed and the one who does not strive to keep it is blessed. They said that he who kept not the Law was cursed, but he proves that he who kept it was cursed, and he who kept it not, blessed. Again, they said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but he shows that he who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed. Homily on Galatians 3.9-10. Mark J. Edwards, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 40. 3:8. See also John Chrysostom. F. Field, ed., Interpretatio omnium Epistolarum Paulinarum per Homilias Facta (Oxford J. H. Parker, 1845-1862), 4:7-8.

Chrysostom (349-407): Attend to this, ye who come to baptism at the close of life, for we indeed pray that after baptism ye may have also this deportment, but thou art seeking and doing thy utmost to depart without it. For, what though thou be justified: yet is it of faith only. But we pray that thou shouldest have as well the confidence that cometh of good works. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, On the Second Epistle of St. Paul The Apostle to the Corinthians, Homily 2, §8.

Chrysostom (349-407): For he makes a wide distinction between ‘commandments’ and ‘ordinances.’ He either then means ‘faith,’ calling that an ‘ordinance,’ (for by faith alone He saved us,) or he means ‘precept,’ such as Christ gave, when He said, ‘But I say unto you, that ye are not to be angry at all.’ (Matthew 5:22.) That is to say, ‘If thou shalt believe that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ (Romans 10:6-9.) And again, ‘The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart. Say not, Who shall ascend into heaven, or who shall descend into the abyss?’ or, who hath ‘brought. Him again from the dead?’ Instead of a certain manner of life, He brought in faith. For that He might not save us to no purpose, He both Himself underwent the penalty, and also required of men the faith that is by doctrines. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Homilies on Ephesians, Homly 5, Ephesians 2:11,12.

Chrysostom (349-407): God’s mission was not to save people in order that they may remain barren or inert. For Scripture says that faith has saved us. Put better: Since God willed it, faith has saved us. Now in what case, tell me, does faith save without itself doing anything at all? Faith’s workings themselves are a gift of God, lest anyone should boast. What then is Paul saying? Not that God has forbidden works but that he has forbidden us to be justified by works. No one, Paul says, is justified by works, precisely in order that the grace and benevolence of God may become apparent. Homily on Ephesians 4.2.9. Mark J. Edwards, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 134. See also John Chrysostom. F. Field, ed., Interpretatio omnium Epistolarum Paulinarum per Homilias Facta (Oxford J. H. Parker, 1845-1862), 2:160.

Chrysostom (349-407): "For it is most of all apparent among the Gentiles, as he also says elsewhere, ‘And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.’ (Romans 15:9.) For the great glory of this mystery is apparent among others also, but much more among these. For, on a sudden, to have brought men more senseless than stones to the dignity of Angels, simply through bare words, and faith alone, without any laboriousness, is indeed glory and riches of mystery: just as if one were to take a dog, quite consumed with hunger and the mange, foul, and loathsome to see, and not so much as able to move, but lying cast out, and make him all at once into a man, and to display him upon the royal throne" NPNF1: Vol. XIII, On the Second Epistle of St. Paul The Apostle to the Colossians, Homily 5, 2nd paragraph.

Chrysostom (349-407): What then was it that was thought incredible? That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. Upon this head accordingly Paul has discoursed at length in his Epistle to the Romans, and here again at length. “This is a faithful saying,” he says, “and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

As the Jews were chiefly attracted by this, he persuades them not to give heed to the law, since they could not attain salvation by it without faith. Against this he contends; for it seemed to them incredible, that a man who had misspent all his former life in vain and wicked actions, should afterwards be saved by his faith alone. On this account he says, “It is a saying to be believed.” But some not only disbelieved but even objected, as the Greeks do now. “Let us then do evil, that good may come.” This was the consequence they drew in derision of our faith, from his words, “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.” (Romans 3:8, and 5:20.) NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Homilies on First Timothy, Homily 4, 1 Timothy 1:15, 16.

Chrysostom (349-407): The patriarch Abraham himself before receiving circumcision had been declared righteous on the score of faith alone: before circumcision, the text says, “Abraham believed God, and credit for it brought him to righteousness.” Fathers of the Church, Vol. 82, Homilies on Genesis 18-45, 27.7 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1990), p. 167.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whence Cometh Bishops?

Church history is fascinating.

From what I read, the consensus among modern scholars is that presbyteros and episkopos were interchangeable in the early-to-mid first century. There is much in Protestant Evangelicalism that sees the implications of this and views the episcopacy as a serious departure from the Biblical model of church government.

However, from the writings of Ignatius, bishop of the city-church of Antioch, we see that the situation had changed. The situation as of A.D. 100-110, maybe 10 to 15 years after Revelation was written, shows us that there were at least six separate city-churches, Ephesus, Smyrna, Magnesia, Tralles, Philadelphia, and Antioch, that were all governed by bishops. Ignatius of Antioch had never visited any of these other churches before. They had an established episcopacy already.

Well what changed? If the New Testament knows nothing of an episcopacy, then what explanation can we give for the change? Within a short 40 years after Paul wrote his epistles, presbyteros and episkopos were no longer interchangeable terms, and several city-churches were being pastored by a bishop. What was the cause of the origin of the Episcopate?

There were two main ideas in the fourth century church as to the rise of the office of Bishop. The first is that of Theodore of Mopsuestia, the second is that of Jerome.

These are outlined in The Origins of Christianity, by Charles Bigg, pages 63-71.

A summary of Theodores's position is option 1.

Option 1: The biblical terminology that equates presbyter and bishop
does not negate the fact that one presbyter was chief-presbyter, the first among equals, i.e. the bishop. The terminology changed by the end of the first century, but the office was always there. Regardless of what terminology was used for the office, it was of apostolic origin, given with the laying on of hands. For Theodore, the episcopacy was always there, it was the terminology changed by the end of the first century.

Implications of option 1: Since the office of bishop was established by
the Apostles themselves, episcopacy would be the Apostolic form of ecclesiology, even if the terminology may be different. Each city-church had appointed one bishop, a chief-presbyter. All Bishops are therefore equal. They all have been appointed by apostolic authority over their parishes. No bishop would be greater or less then the others. Notice then, even if the episcopate is of apostolic origin, there is still no hint of the primacy of the bishop of Rome over the other bishops.

A summary of Jerome's position is option 2.

Option 2: Presbyters and bishops were one and the same, both in terminology and in fact. One presbyter was eventually elevated to a higher office (that of Bishop) in each city-church as a practical decision of a Church council. This was done for the sake of unity, and in the midst of much heresy and division. It was not an apostolic institution. For Jerome, the episcopacy arose due to "custom of the Church".

Implications of option 2: Depending on how strongly one feels about the authority of the Church, this ‘change’ is more or less binding. This position also would completely undermine any claim of ‘divine primacy of the Roman Pontiff’ because even the pope, as bishop of Rome would only be the holder of an office created by "custom of the Church". Ecclesiology would then seem to be just a matter of custom.

Concluding thoughts:

From what I can gather, it would seem that if Theodore's position is correct, then a form of church government very similar to the Campus-Church style of ecclesiology of Mars Hill Church, or Bethlehem Baptist Church would not be too far off. One church for one city, with many locations, elders in each location, and a senior-pastor supervising all the locations and elders, who himself is accountable to the body of elders. To me, that is episcopacy, with different terminology. Is there any real difference if you have an ecclesiology that says 1. Bishop 2. Priest 3. Deacon or 1. Pastor 2. Elders 3. Deacons?

However, if Jerome is correct, a more first century form of Church government would look like what is found in independent congregational churches, and would probably be best.

What is my opinion? Some people think that all biblical truth and practice went down the tubes the moment that the last apostle died. I am highly suspect of such a view. In fact, I think "restorationism" is a serious error. There was no "great apostasy" as I was taught as a Jehovah's Witness. The general consensus among the "Apostloic Fathers" is a good general guide and very helpful in informing our understanding of the New Testament. That being said, I do see a "first among equals" pattern in the New Testament itself. This can be seen with Peter among the Apostles, Titus in Crete, Timothy in Ephesus, and James the Just in Jerusalem. I'm still thinking through this issue, but either way, the Papists are still wrong.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

I know a few people today who I would call, "lone ranger" Christians.  They like Christ, but not the Church.  They are opposed to "institutional" Christianity. They would rather be by themselves, and not in attendance at a local congregation. It's just them, their bibles, and the Holy Spirit.

However, I think that not only is this a dangerous position to be in, but also a denial of what Christianity is.

The Latin phrase "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus" means: "Outside the Church there is no salvation". The Catholic Catechism on this issue rightly says, "all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body." This expression comes from the writings of Saint Cyprian of Carthage, a bishop of the 3rd century. The Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, and the Protestants all agree with this statement.

An prominent Eastern Orthodox bishop, Kallistos Ware, has expressed this teaching as follows:

"Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. All the categorical strength and point of this aphorism lies in its tautology. Outside the Church there is no salvation, because salvation is the Church" (G. Florovsky, "Sobornost: the Catholicity of the Church", in The Church of God, p. 53). Does it therefore follow that anyone who is not visibly within the Church is necessarily damned? Of course not; still less does it follow that everyone who is visibly within the Church is necessarily saved. As Augustine wisely remarked: "How many sheep there are without, how many wolves within!" (Homilies on John, 45, 12) While there is no division between a "visible" and an "invisible Church", yet there may be members of the Church who are not visibly such, but whose membership is known to God alone. If anyone is saved, he must in some sense be a member of the Church; in what sense, we cannot always say."

Martin Luther said on this subject:

"Therefore he who would find Christ must first find the Church. How should we know where Christ and his faith were, if we did not know where his believers are? And he who would know anything of Christ must not trust himself nor build a bridge to heaven by his own reason; but he must go to the Church, attend and ask her. Now the Church is not wood and stone, but the company of believing people; one must hold to them, and see how they believe, live and teach; they surely have Christ in their midst. For outside of the Christian church there is no truth, no Christ, no salvation."

John Calvin, in the Institutes of the Christian Religion said, "beyond the pale of the Church no forgiveness of sins, no salvation, can be hoped for". Calvin wrote also that "those to whom God is a Father, the Church must also be a mother."

The idea is further affirmed in the Westminster and London Baptist Confessions of Faith that "the visible Church is the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Live the Gospel?

My friend Mark posted a short post on the phrase "Live the Gospel".  He offered a critique of those who would dislike the use of this phrase.

I want to defend those people who say “live the gospel” and use it in an orthodox, God-honoring way. When many say “live the gospel” they effectively mean, as Al Martin said in the sermon “A life that embodies the transforming power of the gospel”.  They don’t mean “Live [because your life is] the gospel” (which would be wrong), they just mean “Live [in light of] the gospel” or “Live [out] the gospel” or “Live [by] the gospel” or “Live [a life marked by] the gospel”. Would that we would all seek our lives to be characterized by that!

If that's what they mean, then that's what they should say.  The Gospel is the message and declaration of the forgiveness of sins because of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  Instead of using language that might obfuscate the issue, we should insist on language that is clear. 

Many times what people mean by "Live the Gospel" is what St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel always, and use words when necessary."  However this is the reverse of what it should be.  "Preach the Gospel always, and use actions when necessary" is really how it should be.  

In his excellent book Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics, Graeme Goldsworthy makes the following assertion (p. 59):

It cannot be stressed too much that to confuse the gospel with certain important things that go hand in hand with it is to invite theological, hermeneutical and spiritual confusion. Such ingredients of preaching and teaching that we might want to link with the gospel would include the need for the gospel (sin and judgment), the means of receiving the benefits of the gospel (faith and repentance), the results or fruit of the gospel (regeneration, conversion, sanctification, glorification) and the results of rejectingit (wrath, judgment, hell). These, however we define and proclaim them, are not in themselves the gospel. If something is not what God did in and through the historical Jesus tow thousand years ago, it is not the gospel. Thus Christians cannot 'live the gospel' as they are often exhorted to do. They can only believe it, proclaim it and seek to live consistently with it. Only Jesus lived (and died) the gospel. It is a once-for-all finished and perfect event done for us by another.

I can’t live the Gospel.  Thank God my life is not the Gospel.  My life is not the Good News.  Obviously that isn’t an excuse for an ungodly life.  If we insist on pointing to our lives as a model for the Gospel we end up having the greatest story never told. We must let the Gospel and it's necessary implication and consequences continually transform our lives to be more like His.  The phrase "live the Gospel" however implies something far different then that, despite what well meaning teachers may define the term as.  I'm for clarity, not obfuscation.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Exegetical Thoughts: Two Ways Contrasted.

I'm going to start a series of posts where I basically give some exegetical thoughts on certain passages from the Bible. I will also be providing my "arc" of the passage in question.

"Arcing" is a graphical exegesis tool used to discern, display, and discuss the flow of thought and argumentation in the Biblical text.

http://www.biblearc.com is a place where you can LEARN how to arc. They have a video tutorial. You can then use their site to CREATE and SAVE arcs, and SHARE those arcs with others. I think the membership is like $10 a year or whatever you can afford. I suggest doing the video tutorial online first and then reading the booklet. Once you start using this tool, you'll start to see these categories in the text as you read it.

So, posted below is my "arc" of Psalm 1, and my exegetical thoughts and thinking on this Psalm.

 1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers:
 2 But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth he meditate day and night.
 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
 4 The wicked are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
 5 Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
 6 For Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous; But the way of the wicked shall perish. (Psalm 1, American Standard Version)

The righteous and the wicked are on two completely different paths, one of life, the other of judgment. The purpose of this Psalm is to declare this to us by way of contrast.

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers:

Verse 1 starts the comparison by talking about the blessed man. He is our reference point throughout this Psalm. The "blessed man" can be found frequently throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom Jehovah imputeth not iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no guile. - Psalms 32:1-2

O Jehovah of hosts, Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. - Psalms 84:12

The first way of explaining who the blessed man in this Psalm is by way of a series of negative qualities in verse 1.

He doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked. We must beware of the opinions and advice of ungodly.

So I let them go after the stubbornness of their heart, That they might walk in their own counsels. - Psalms 81:12

And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; then I will walk contrary unto you in wrath; and I also will chastise you seven times for your sins. - Leviticus 26:27-28

Hide me from the secret counsel of evil-doers, From the tumult of the workers of iniquity. - Psalms 64:2

He doesn't stand in the way of sinners. We must beware of the maner of life that sinful men lead.

Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it. - Matthew 7:13-14

He doesn't sit in the seat of scoffers. We must avoid of the intimate company and close association of those who would mock and ridicule God.

I have not sat with men of falsehood; Neither will I go in with dissemblers. I hate the assembly of evil-doers, And will not sit with the wicked.- Psalms 26:4-5

2 But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth he meditate day and night.

Verse 2 gives us the description of the blessed man in positive terms. He delights and meditates in God's law.

I delight to do thy will, O my God; Yea, thy law is within my heart. - Psalms 40:8

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man. - Romans 7:22

What is meant by "the law of the Lord"? The law is God's entire eternal moral code. It is summarized in the Ten Commandments and in the two Great Commandments. The law specifically says two things: "Do this, and you will live", (Leviticus 18:5); and threatens us by saying, "if you don't do it, you will surely die." (Genesis 2:17) Furthermore, this law requires complete and perfect obedience."Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Matthew 5:48

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin. - Romans 3:19-20

The law was given to show us our sin. It was made to show that we are all subjects of God's wrath and judgment. So why would we delight in that? It just tells us we're doomed!

Now that no man is justified by the law before God, is evident: for, The righteous shall live by faith; and the law is not of faith; but, He that doeth them shall live in them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. - Galatians 3:11-13

So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. - Galatians 3:24

The law points us to Christ, who lived a life of complete and perfect obedience to it and died in our place and stead. He became a curse for us and removed the curse of the law from us. That is a primary reason why we can delight in it. We should also delight in it because it shows us how we may lead a Godly life empowered by the Gospel.

Why should we meditate on it?

Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against thee. - Psalm 119:11

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. - Jeremiah 31:33

For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works. - Titus 2:11-14

Thomas Wilcocks describes the righteous ones who delight and meditate on God's law as "They that have Christ's righteousness imputed to them and endeavour righteous living in themselves."

Verses 3 and 4 illustrate the idea of verses 1 and 2 by way of an analogy.

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

In verse 3, the blessed man is described positively to be like a tree planted by streams of water. This action, being planted by streams of water, results in a progression of increasing benefits. He brings forth fruit, his leaf doesn't wither, and everything he does prospers.

Notice: Where does it grow? By the streams of water.

Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life. - John 4:14

How did it come to be there? It was planted.

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given ; because Jesus was not yet glorified. - John 7:38-39

Notice also that it yeilds fruit.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples.- John 15:5-8 

4 The wicked are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

In verse 4, the wicked are said to be not so, but are compared to chaff that the wind drives away. Spurgeon explains that the comparison of the wicked to chaff is meant to drive home the point that the wicked are "intrinsically worthless, dead, unserviceable, without substance, and easily carried away."

5 Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 

Verse 5 then contains an inference drawn from verses 1 through 4. The doom of the wicked is certain. There are two aspects here to the fate of the wicked. First, on the day of Judgment the wicked will not be accquited but condemned.

Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. - Jude 14-15

Secondly, the wicked will be separated from the saints.

But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels. - Matthew 25:31-34, 41 

 6 For Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous; But the way of the wicked shall perish.

Verse 6 gives more reasons for the conclusion drawn in verse 5. We have here a sweet encouragement and a dire warning.

The sweet encouragement is that God knows the righteous!

I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own, and mine own know me. - John 10:14

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. - John 10:27

And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ. John 17:3

Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his: and, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness. - 2 Timothy 2:19

There is also a dire warning, judgment is coming.

Inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.- Acts 17:31

To finish off this meditation, here is Issac Watts version of this Psalm.

by Issac Watts

The way and end of the righteous and the wicked.

Blest is the man who shuns the place

Where sinners love to meet;

Who fears to tread their wicked ways,

And hates the scoffer's seat:

But in the statutes of the Lord

Has placed his chief delight;

By day he reads or hears the word,

And meditates by night.

He, like a plant of gen'rous kind,

By living waters set,

Safe from the storms and blasting wind,

Enjoys a peaceful state.

Green as the leaf, and ever fair,

Shall his profession shine

While fruits of holiness appear

Like clusters on the vine.

Not so the impious and unjust;

What vain designs they form!

Their hopes are blown away like dust,

Or chaff before the storm.

Sinners in judgment shall not stand

Amongst the sons of grace,

When Christ, the Judge, at his right hand

Appoints his saints a place.

His eye beholds the path they tread,

His heart approves it well

But crooked ways of sinners lead

Down to the gates of hell.

Psalm 65

The following is a beautiful rendition of Psalm 65 from the Scottish Psalter (Circa 1650).

Psalm 65

   To the chief Musician, A Psalm and Song of David.


   ^1Praise waits for thee in Sion, Lord:

   to thee vows paid shall be.

   ^2O thou that hearer art of pray'r,

   all flesh shall come to thee.

   ^3Iniquities, I must confess,

   prevail against me do:

   But as for our transgressions,

   them purge away shalt thou.

   ^4Bless'd is the man whom thou dost chuse,

   and mak'st approach to thee,

   That he within thy courts, O Lord,

   may still a dweller be:

   We surely shall be satisfy'd

   with thy abundant grace,

   And with the goodness of thy house,

   ev'n of thy holy place.

   ^5O God of our salvation,

   thou, in thy righteousness,

   By fearful works unto our pray'rs

   thine answer dost express:

   Therefore the ends of all the earth,

   and those afar that be

   Upon the sea, their confidence,

   O Lord, will place in thee.

   ^6Who, being girt with pow'r, sets fast

   by his great strength the hills.

   ^7Who noise of seas, noise of their waves,

   and people's tumult, stills.

   ^8Those in the utmost parts that dwell

   are at thy signs afraid:

   Th' outgoings of the morn and ev'n

   by thee are joyful made.

   ^9The earth thou visit'st, wat'ring it;

   thou mak'st it rich to grow

   With God's full flood; thou corn prepar'st,

   when thou provid'st it so.

   ^10Her rigs thou wat'rest plenteously,

   her furrows settelest:

   With show'rs thou dost her mollify,

   her spring by thee is blest.

   ^11So thou the year most lib'rally

   dost with thy goodness crown;

   And all thy paths abundantly

   on us drop fatness down.

   ^12They drop upon the pastures wide,

   that do in deserts lie;

   The little hills on ev'ry side

   rejoice right pleasantly.

   ^13With flocks the pastures clothed be,

   the vales with corn are clad;

   And now they shout and sing to thee,

   for thou hast made them glad.