Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: "The Bible's First Promise"

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 31 Num. 1
“The Bible’s First Promise”
First Published: January 8, 1998

As we begin a new year, it is wise for us deliberately to focus our hearts on the first things: the things that matter most. Among our resolutions, we should not fail to think of matters of eternal significance. Indeed, these things ought to be foremost in our thoughts. And as we contemplate the issues of prime importance in our lives we do well to remember the first promise of the Bible:
“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15).

The first thing that we learn from this proto-evangelium is that sin is our greatest problem and our greatest enemy. This promise comes to fallen Adam and Eve (though its words are addressed to the serpent), immediately after their rebellion against their loving Lord. Sin had destroyed their fellowship with Him, thrust them forth from the garden, and brought woe and death into God’s pristine world. We truly ought to ponder this. So often we think our problems are not having enough money or possessions, or not being liked by certain people, or not being accepted by a particular crowd, or not having the kind of relationship we’ve always dreamed of (you can fill in the blank for you own particular temptation in this regard). And we throw ourselves into trying to find solutions for these problems, all the while neglecting the biggest problem of our life: sin, and the estrangement it brings from God and others. Let us strive to hate our sin, and to grow in grace in the new year.

Secondly, we must expect trials, temptations and tribulations — accepting them as providential opportunities to grow in faith and trust in the Lord. In this verse the Lord establishes enmity between Satan and the seed of the woman (that is, the Lord’s people). Did you notice that? It is the Lord who establishes enmity between the world and His people. Hence, the conflicts that we face here in the fallen world are not all to be avoided. Some of them actually result from the Lord’s redemptive blessings. This teaches us to expect strife in this life. Sometimes the very strife we face is the result of God’s master plan to protect you from the Evil one and to wean you from carnal affections. May the Lord enable us to contemplate the tribulations of 1998 in this light.

Third, we must often dwell on the perfect fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, when all sin and misery is finally vanquished in the ultimate triumph of the Lord. C. H. Spurgeon says: “This is the first promise to fallen man. It contains the whole gospel, and the essence of the covenant of grace. It has been in great measure fulfilled. The seed of the woman, even our Lord Jesus, was bruised in His heel, and a terrible bruising it was. How terrible will be the final bruising of the serpent’s head! This was virtually done when Jesus took away sin, vanquished death, and broke the power of Satan; but it awaits a still fuller accomplishment at our Lord’s Second Advent, and in the day of Judgment.” Even as we face trouble and hardship in this fallen world, we must keep before us the hope. The blessed hope of the second coming, the glorious appearance of our Lord. May this new year be a year filled with eternal hope in the hearts of the good folk of First Presbyterian. And may that hope give us joy even in the midst of sorrow in the days to come. Happy New Year.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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