Ivan Foster is a recently retired minister in the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. Until November 2009 he was minister of Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church. He continues to preach and write as the Lord gives opportunity.
Ivan has written 582 articles so far, you can find them below.
There was only a short period between the beginning of Absalom’s scheming (15:1) and the recognising by the people that they had made a mistake. Pleasures of sin are only for a season! Heb 11:25.
At first things had gone well for the rebellion. “And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom,” 15:12. But “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD,” Isa 54:17.
I. THE PEOPLE BECOME AGITATED
“All the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel,” v 9.
The word ‘strife’. First use – Genesis 6:3. It was a spiritual troubling.
There arose a ‘hunger’ for the king to be brought back! Matt 5:6.
This disturbing came from the Lord, Eze 37:7.The devil would have people to sleep and slumber but the Lord seeks to awaken, Rev 3:20.
II. MEMORIES OF PAST MERCIES TROUBLED THEM
“The king saved us out of the hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines,” verse 9. So it was with the Prodigal. “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”
Absalom made them discontent under David. 15:3-5. Just like false prophets in Jeremiah’s day. Jer 15:17. Ecumenism has sought to have us forget the benefits of the Gospel, the Bible, the Sabbath and the Reformation. Power-sharing would have us forget the murderous wickedness of SF/IRA!! Now we are to forget the distinctions God has ordained between men and women!
What folly that has wrought!
Now, I believe that the Holy Spirit was making them discontent with their folly as they begin to remember. Ps 137:1-4. It is the minister’s duty to remind the people of the mercies and blessings of the past!
That is what provokes memories. 2 Peter 3:1; Psalm 103:1-5.
III. THEY WERE AWARE THAT THE KING HAD TO BE ‘BROUGHT BACK’
He was not going to return of himself. He had to be ‘fetched’! It is the same word used of the ‘returning’ of the waters after the flood! Something only the Lord could do! The desire for a return of David was of the Lord, wrought in the hearts of the people. That is what is needed today!
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me,” Rev 3:20.
We must open the door but the Saviour comes in of Himself.
Revival and reformation is a work of God.
“Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” Psalm 85:6.
We cannot do this work. But we can and MUST ask for the actual accomplishment of what it is we seek.
Having considered the AUTHOR and the ADDRESSEES in verse 1. We turn to the second verse where is given us a summary of the blessings of the gospel.
This verse is still part of Paul’s greeting to the church at Ephesus. Is it not worthy of our notice that Christians ought to greet each other by celebrating what they enjoy through the gospel. I am sure that if such words as these were the first out of our lips when we met, we would be less inclined to exchange words that would in any way work against the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Progressive revelation is a principle which God employs when revealing His truth to us. It lies at the heart of all good teaching practice. What is to be revealed to us in this epistle is shown to us in embryo in this second verse. There is more than just a hinted of all that is to follow in the epistle. Thus the Lord prepares our minds and channels our thoughts toward the great truths that will be dealt with in depth later on.
Consider first of all:
I. THE HEART OF GOSPEL BLESSINGS.
Grace be to you, and peace. These are the two key words to understanding the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. One serves as the foundation stone and the other as the head stone. Grace underlies all of the gospel and peace is the chief end of the gospel.
The words grace and peace remind us of:
1. The undone and worthless state of each one of us. God deals with us on the basis of grace. The word means “Free Unmerited Favour.” God stoops down very, very low to bless us, not according to our merits for that would mean damnation, but on the merits of another, even Jesus Christ.
2. The folly of those who hope to merit heaven. The religion of most “Protestants” differs very little from that of Romanists. It is a religion of getting to heaven by their own works. This is not the gospel.
3. The state of enmity that exists between God and the sinner. In our natural state, there is no peace between us and God. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked, Isaiah 57:21. Sinful man is the enemy of God. Eph 4:18, Col 1:21. Being in conflict with God, man is in conflict with all around. Titus 3:3. He is especially in conflict with himself. He seeks to rule himself when it is God’s prerogative. Man’s discontentment but increases as he continues in disobedience.
4. The state that exists between God and the saint. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1. The word peace comes from a Greek word which means to join together. Reconciliation has taken place through the blood of Christ’s atonement. And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, Col 1:20-21.
Thus these two words touch upon the core of the gospel.
II. THE SOURCE OF GOSPEL BLESSINGS.
From God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. God the Father, the First Person of the Trinity, is the One from Whom the blessings proceed. In the work of redemption, God the Father initiated the plan to save His people. In doing so, He acts as our Father. God is only the Father of those He calls His spiritual children, those upon whom His blessing falls. He is not the spiritual Father of all men. Here is that special relationship that He has with His redeemed ones.
2. God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the One by Whom the blessings are purchased. The Saviour undertook to purchase redemption for His people by becoming their surety and substitute. Hence, His incarnation is referred to in this verse. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. Her is Jehovah (Lord) become flesh (Jesus), the Christ.
III. THE COMMUNICATION OF GOSPEL BLESSINGS.
How these blessings are conveyed to us is demonstrated, rather than stated in this verse.
Paul is pronouncing a blessing upon the saints at Ephesus. The preaching of God’s Word is the means by which God’s grace is bestowed upon His people.
Let us learn the importance of attending the means of grace, chiefly, the preaching of God’s Word. It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe, 1 Cor 1:21.
Let us learn the importance of personal study of God’s Word.
Let parents diligently instruct their children in God’s Word.