Thursday, October 31, 2013

the phone hacking scandal and the NIV

At least twenty News journalists will face trial for phone hacking and/or corruption and could well face jail. While further focus centres upon the ethics of the News Corp Murdoch empire as the phone hacking scandal reignites, it is worthwhile pondering the NIV connection. Zondervan markets itself as the world's biggest publisher of bibles and the NIV is to this publishing company what News of the World was to News International (at least before it closed) - a cash cow, greedily milked for the past 23 years into Murdoch's billions. Did I mention that besides the immorality of his newspapers his empire comprises many pornographic TV channels? Harper Collins markets the Satanic Bible and books promoting sodomite immorality. It may also be worth mentioning that his empire controls exactly how much of the NIV and other versions you are allowed to quote. Would you buy a bible from Murdoch? Well, there are over 300 different types to choose from including Holy Bible: Stock Car Racing. What about the horrible histories theme 2:52™ Boys Bible ("Discover gross and gory Bible stuff")? NIV Faithgirlz! Bible ("Every girl wants to know she’s totally unique and special. This Bible says that with Faithgirlz!™ sparkle!") is another option. Of course they are printed in China, controversially given the degree of persecution of Christians there. 

Can anyone recall that it was this kind of profiteering out of religion that drove Luther to protest as he did on 31 October 1517? 

The Bible Industry. From Geez magazine, Fall 2009. Credit: Darryl Brown and Aiden Enns.

Conference #1

The FP theological conference in Glasgow was very profitable of a high standard and quite well attended although there was plenty of room for more. All the papers were heard in public. God willing, it would be good to be able to give some summaries of the papers given. I plan to start in reverse order and am indebted to a friend for notes of the last paper as it was the only one that I could get to. It must be strongly stressed that these notes are just a summary by way of paraphrase and not verbatim and things might have more meaning in their original context.

The last paper was by Rev. R. Macleod on The Covenant of Grace. He took Luke 14:12-30 as the focus, especially verse 17 "come, for all things are now ready". This speaks of how God has prepared a feast of the forgiveness of sins. He has appointed preachers of the gospel as his servants and the time of the feast is the availability of gospel ordinances. The persons of the Trinity prepared the Son of God as a feast for sinners. The invitation is to feast by faith on the Lamb of God who was offered on Calvary. This was a sacrifice of infinite merit because sin is an infinite evil. Christ is the surety of his people and his righteousness is the condition of the covenant. We must believe, yet by nature cannot. With God, however, all things are possible. The gift of faith is his to bestow.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reformed consensus on 1 Cor 11:29 #2

Continuing from the previous post, we can demonstrate that the Westminster divines and a wide range of puritan authors held that 1 Cor 11:27, 29 and 32 indicate that unworthily partaking of the Supper would lead to chastisement but also damnation if not repented of.

In countering separatist arguments Samuel Rutherford said the following:
A worship corrupt by accident only through the fault of the worshipper, may and does make the Lord’s Supper damnation to the eater, and therefore the eater is forbidden so to eat. A worship in the matter and intrinsical principle unjust and sinful is defiled both to the man himself and to all that take part with him, as the teacher of false doctrine and all that hear and believe are defiled; but if the sin of an unworthy communicant even known to be so, is damnation to himself, and defiles the worship to others, then Paul would have said, he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh his own damnation, and the damnation of the whole church, and Paul should have forbidden all others to eat and drink withal, who communicates unworthily, if he allowed separation. But he says, he eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not to others.
David Dickson in his Commentary on 1 Corinthians makes it clear that the punishment of eating unworthily is "judgement, or temporal and eternal punishment, unless hee repent".

Richard Vines was one of the leading Presbyterians at the Westminster Assembly. He published A Treatise of the Institution, Right Administration, and Receiving of the Sacrament of the Lords-Supper. In this he deals extensively with the latter part of 1 Cor 11. Alluding to 1 Cor 11:29 and speaking of how Chrysostom says that just as bodily food can aggravate a disease albeit not in itself so the Lord's Supper may be the cause of spiritual death to the partaker yet not in itself, he says, "He that eats and drinks unworthily, eats damnation, drinks damnation to himself...So this Sacrament received by wicked men, aggravates their condemnation, not of it self, but through their unrepented sins" (p69).
That the Apostle in setting home the sin and danger of eating and drinking unworthily, speaks thundring and lightning in very pertinent, but yet new and unusual phrases, which...have no brother in any other part of Scripture, as guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating or drinking judgement or damnation, etc. full of terrour, and fit for compunction (p179)
The sin of receiving unworthily is largely insisted on in the following part of this Chapter, where the aggravation of this sin is shown by the special guilt that attends it, and that is a guiltiness of the Lords Body; by the particular cause of this guiltiness, Not discerning the Lords Body, by the judgement that Follows upon it, damnation or punishment; by the way of prevention of the sin, the guilt and judgement, and that is Self-examination, and Self-judging (p198)
Vines speaks of the danger of this sin of unworthily partaking. "'He eats and drinks judgement to himself'if he be a godly man that eats and drinks unworthily, or haply also damnation, if he be an hypocrite, for the word krima, may respectively extend to both. A strange phrase it is to eat and drink judgement, but it is sure as he eats of the Bread and drinks of the Cup unworthily, so sure is judgement to follow thereupon, or to accompany it, for he eats judgement, but it is to himself, not to others, except they be partakers in his sin, which may be divers ways (p385)

We might also refer to Thomas Vincent's Explication of the Shorter Catechism, officially commended by a large array of the most eminent Puritan ministers of the time.

Q. 11. What is the sin of unworthy receiving the Lord's supper?
A. The sin of unworthy receiving the Lord's supper is, that such are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord; that is, they are guilty of an affront and indignity which they offer to the Lord's body and blood. "Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord."— 1 Cor. 11:27.

Q. 12. What is the danger of our unworthy receiving the Lord's supper?
A. The danger of our unworthy receiving the Lord's supper, is the eating and drinking judgment to ourselves; that is, provoking the Lord, by our unworthy receiving, to inflict temporal, spiritual, and eternal judgments upon us. "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."— 1 Cor. 11:29, 30.

Likewise John Flavel:
Q. 10. What is the danger of coming to the Lord’s table without these graces?
A. The danger is exceeding great both to soul and body. (1.) To the soul; 1 Corinthians 11:29. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, (2). And to the body; 1 Corinthians 11:30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Jonathan Edwards writes, “Those who contemptuously treat those symbols of the body of Christ slain and
His blood shed, why, they make themselves guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, that is, of murdering Him."

James Fisher comments:
Q. 27. What risk do they run who omit to examine themselves as to the above graces, before they come to the Lord's table?

A. They run the risk of coming unworthily.

Q. 28. What is it to come unworthily?

A. It is to come without any real sense, or consciousness of the need that we stand in of Christ, as "of God made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," 1 Cor. 1:30.

Q. 29. What danger do they incur who thus come unworthily?

A. They eat and drink judgment to themselves, 1 Cor. 11:29.

Q. 30. In what sense can they who come unworthily, be said to eat and drink judgment to themselves?

A. In so far as by their eating and drinking unworthily, they do that which renders them obnoxious to the righteous judgment of God.

Q. 31. To what judgment do they render themselves obnoxious?

A. To temporal judgments, or afflictions of various kinds, in the present life; and to eternal judgment, or condemnation (if mercy prevent not) in the life to come, 1 Cor. 11:30, 32.

Joseph Woodward was a puritan minister in England settled at Dursley in Gloucestershire who declared his resolve to admit none to the Lord's Supper except those who had a credible profession.
A certain man obstinately said that he would not submit to examination and that if the minister would not give him the sacrament he would take it! In pursuance of this impious resolution, this man attended the church on sacrament day, but had scarcely set foot in the building before he fell dead, the Lord thus making clear to all the church members that the solemn admonitions addressed to the Church of the Corinthians by the apostle in the first Christian century were ageless in their solemn application.

The Reformed consensus on 1 Cor. 11:29

As we noticed in a previous post, the Westminster Assembly were very clear in their interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:27, 29 and 32, i.e. that it includes the warning of damnation as well as chastisement. The Confession states: "Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament; yet, they receive not the thing signified thereby; but, by their unworthy coming thereunto, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation."

We stressed that those who are not brought to repentance for partaking unworthily through chastisement are liable to damnation. In what follows we wish to make clear the Reformed consensus on 1 Corinthians 11:29, i.e. that it includes the warning of damnation as well as chastisement. This is the context for understanding the statement in the Confession and other relevant parts of the Standards. Without this context we will try to force the interpretation of the Confession to our own preferences rather than acknowledge the plain sense according to the original intent. While the interpretations of former times are determinative of the interpretation of Scripture we ought to have the humility to take seriously how the Spirit has illuminated men of old with greater godliness and understanding of the Scriptures.

It is interesting that John Calvin, in opposing paedocommunion, makes clear that he regards damnation as a potential consequence of receiving unworthily:
He does not admit all to partake of the Supper - but confines it to those who are fit to discern the body and blood of the Lord.... ‘He who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body’ [First Corinthians 11:29].... Why should we offer poison - to our young children? 
The Form of Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments, etc. Used in the English Congregation
at Geneva (1556) was used in Scotland following the Reformation. This makes very clear the same interpretation:
Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, he shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Then see that every man prove and try himself, and so let him eat of this bread and drink of this cup; for whosoever eateth or drinketh unworthily, he eateth and drinketh his own damnation, for not having due regard and consideration of the Lord's body.
so is the danger great if we receive the same unworthily, for then we are guilty of the body and blood of Christ our Saviour, we eat and drink our own damnation, not considering the Lord's body; we kindle God's wrath against us, and provoke him to plague us with diverse diseases and sundry kinds of death.
Without making a minute examination of every key document or key minister that we might we shall pass to consider the views of Robert Bruce from the generation immediately following the Reformation. During his five sermons on the Lord's Supper, Bruce refers to the warning of damnation on those receiving unworthily.
Therefore come not to the sacrament, except you bring both faith and obedience with you. If thou come not with a heart minded to obey Christ, at least more than thou wast wont to do, thou comest to thine own damnation. And if thou bringest a heart void of faith, thou comest to thine own damnation.
He then deals with an objection regarding damnation upon an unbeliever who receives the Lord's Supper. It was objected that since an unbeliever could not receive Christ in a spiritual manner, he was not eating and drinking unworthily, and not therefore guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ. Interestingly, Bruce makes it clear that it is the elements that are being eaten and drunk and therefore whether or not the body and blood of Christ is spiritually received, there is still guilt. "Yet theyare accounted guilty of the body and blood of the Son of God, because they refused Him".
For when they did eat that Bread and drink that Wine, if they had had faith, they might have eaten and drunk the flesh and blood of Christ Jesus. Now because thou refusest the body of Christ, thou contemnest His body; if thou have not an eye to discern and judge of His body that is offered thee. For if they had had faith, they might have seen His body offered with the Bread; by faith they might have taken and eaten that body. Therefore lacking their wedding garment, lacking faith whereby they should eat the body and drink the blood of Christ; lacking faith, which is the eye of the soul to perceive, and the mouth of the soul to receive that body which is spiritually offered ; they are counted guilty of the body and blood of Christ. 
if thou come as a swine or a dog to handle the seals of the body and blood of Christ...I say, mayest thou be reckoned guilty of His body and blood.

From Hebrews 6:6 and 10:29 he shows that these are not real believers but apostates who in their apostasy crucify Christ again and are so guilty of his body and blood.

The wicked cannot eat the body of Christ; but they may be guilty of it. The Apostle makes this more plain yet by another speech which I have aforetime handled from this place. In Heb. vi. 6, it is said that the apostates, they that make grievous defection, "crucify again to themselves the Son of God;" and their falling away makes them as guilty as they were who crucified Him. He is now in heaven, they cannot fetch Him from thence to crucify Him : yet the Apostle says they crucify Him. Why? Because their malice is as great as theirs that crucified Him ; so that if they had Him on the earth, they would do the like : therefore they are said to crucify the Son of God. Likewise in Heb. x. 29, there is another speech: the wicked are said to tread the Blood of Christ under their feet. Why? Because their malice is as great as theirs that trode upon His blood. They are accounted for this reason to be guilty of the body and blood of Christ, not because they eat His body, but because they refuse it, when they might have had it.  
Now the time remains yet, wherein we may have the body and blood of Christ. This time is very precious, and the dispensation of times is very secret and has its own bounds ; if you take not this time now, it will away. This time of grace and of that heavenly food has been dispensed to you very long: but how ye have profited, your life and behaviour testify. Remember, therefore, yourselves in time, and in time make use of it, for you know not how long it will last : crave a mouth to receive, as well the food of your soul that is offered, as the food of your bodies : and take this time while you may have it, or assuredly the time shall come, when you shall cry for it but shall not get it ; but in place of grace and mercy, shall come judgment, vengeance, and the dispensation of wrath.

In a further post we wish to make extensive reference to the Puritans on this topic, God Willing.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Queensferry Paper

Photo: Flickr James B. Brown
Whilst leaving Dalmeny Station last week I noticed on a map that there was a street in Queensferry called Covenanter Lane. This rang a few bells in relation to the Queensferry Paper. It appears that this was the location from which Donald Cargill was nearly captured on 3 June 1680 while Henry Hall of Haugh Head was seized together with a draft document that came to be known as the Queensferry Paper. Hall later died of the wounds that he sustained. They were originally betrayed by the curates of James Hamilton and John Park, Ministers at Bo'ness and Carriden who notified the governor of Blackness Castle, Middleton. Park was deposed from the ministry some years later.

John Howie devoted a chapter to Hall in the Scots Worthies. He describes how when the persecuting governor discerned "the house where they alighted, he sent his servant off in haste for his men, putting up his horse in another house, and coming to the house to them as a stranger, pretended a great deal of kindness and civility to Mr. Cargil and him, desiring that they might have a glass of wine together. -- When each had taken a glass, and were in some friendly conference, the governor, wearying that his men came not up, threw off the mask, and laid hands on them, saying, they were his prisoners, and commanded the people of the house, in the king's name to assist. But they all refused, except one Thomas George a waiter; by whose assistance he got the gate shut. In the mean while Haugh-head, being a bold and brisk man, struggled hard with the governor, until Cargil got off; and after the scuffle, as he was going off himself, having got clear of the governor, Thomas George struck him on the head, with a carbine, and wounded him mortally. However he got out; and, by this time the women of the town, who were assembled at the gate to the rescue of the prisoners, convoyed him out of town. He walked some time on foot, but unable to speak much, save only some little reflection upon a woman who interposed, hindering him to kill the governor, that so he might have made his escape more timeously. At last he fainted, and was carried to a country house near Echlin; and although chirurgeons were speedily brought, yet he never recovered the use of his speech any more. Dalziel, living near-by, was soon advertised, and came quickly with a party of the guards, and seized him; and although every one saw the gentleman just a-dying, yet such was his inhumanity, that he must carry him to Edinburgh.

Photo: Flickr James B. Brown
But he died, on their hands, on the way thither; and made an end of this his earthly pilgrimage to receive his heavenly crown. His corpse was carried to the Cannongate tolbooth, where they lay three days without burial; and then his friends conveened for that end, to do their last office to him; yet that could not be granted. At last they caused bury him clandestinely in the night; for such was the fury of these limbs of antichrist, that after they had slain the witnesses, they would not suffer them to be decently interred in the earth; which is another lasting evidence of the cruelty of those times". A week later Margaret Wauchope was brought in  as a prisoner from Queensferry "for being accessory to Mr Cargill's escape". It seems likely that this was the lady who tended to his wounds and brought him to a nearby house where he sheltered in a barn for the night. Another man who took Cargill to a doctor, William Punton of Carlowrie was imprisoned in Edinburgh and heavily fined. Three days later Cargill was preaching in the fields in Lanarkshire.

A drawing of the house where the incident took place is available. The house was demolished in the 1930s but a photograph of it exists. It was called The Palace or Covenanters' House.

The Queensferry Paper is extensive and considered to be quite detailed and advanced. It is also said to contain republican political views. It was also called "The Fanaticks New Covenant". It was also called "Cargill's Covenant". There were no signatories and it seems likely that much though not all of it was the work of Donald Cargill. Cargill could not readily consent to all of its content, however. It was indeed expressed as a Covenant and was resolute in its language:
we cannot but with much trembling of heart renew our covenant, or engage anew, especially considering our own weakness and hazard; yet the clear conviction of duty, zeal to God’s glory, and love of Christ’s reigning, which is the highest duty that a man can perform to God, trusting in his mercy, who knows the integrity and rightness of our intentions, will both instruct, enable, accept, preserve and prosper us: we go on declaring those, and nothing but those to be our present purpose

It can be read here and here. Its key points have been summarised as follows.

1. To covenant with and swear acknowledgement of the Trinity and to own the Old and New Testaments to be the rule of faith.

2. To advance God`s kingdom, free the church from Prelacy and Erastianism, and remove those who had forfeited authority.

3. To uphold the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, with her standards, polity, and worship, as an independent government.

4. To overthrow the kingdom of darkness, ie Popery, Prelacy and Erastianism.

5. To discard the royal family and set up a republic.

6. To decline hearing the indulged clergy.

7. To refuse the ministerial function unless duly called and ordained.

8. To defend their worship and liberties, to view assailants as declarers of war, to destroy those assaulting, and not to injure any but those that have injured us

Friday, October 11, 2013

eating and drinking damnation

These words in 1 Cor 11:29 are very solemn, spoken as they are in connection with partaking of the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner."For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." Some object to this translation as too strong, and that krima, ought to be rendered condemnation or judgement in the sense of chastisement. Modern bible versions follow this preference.

The Westminster Confession follows this wording in Chapter 29:8. "Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament: yet they receive not the thing signified thereby, but by their unworthy coming thereunto are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord to their own damnation. Wherefore, all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Him, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table; and cannot, without great sin against Christ while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto".

Some believe that the Westminster Divines were referring here to unbelievers. This is not the case, however, they distinguish ignorant as well as wicked men. This does not absolutely define such as unbelieving, it refers to their fitness for this duty i.e. knowledge and discerning the Lord's body. We can see this by comparing with other uses of this verse in the Westminster Standards. In the Larger Catechism it refers to the ability to examine oneself in this matter.  Question 173: May any who profess the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s Supper, be kept from it? Answer: Such as are found to be ignorant or scandalous, notwithstanding their profession of the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s Supper, may and ought to be kept from that sacrament, by the power which Christ hath left in his church, until they receive instruction, and manifest their reformation (see also Q170, 171, 174 and 177 - Q112 indicates that it relates to the right use of the sacraments).

The Shorter Catechism asks:
Q. 97. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s supper?
A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.

The fact that the word judgement is used here as well as offered in the margin means that the words are interchangeable. The word damn in older usage could just mean to condemn someone for something as well as its most solemn meaning. Romans 14:23 in the AV is an example of this - they did not always use the word damn in its most solemn sense (it is likely that the use of the word in Rom 13:2 also carried a lesser connotation).

The truth is that being guilty of the body and blood of Christ may not be the unpardonable sin but if it is not repented of it does expose a person to damnation (John 19:11; Heb. 10:29). We are considering here the sin of blasphemy as the Divines themselves were keen to make clear in bringing in this consideration as part of the third commandment. Careless partaking through negligent preparation or the absence of such preparation altogether fails to distinguish between common bread and the sacramental bread, which represents the Lord's body; but treats it the same which is a contempt of Christ, his ordinance and his body and blood.

This is the blood that delivers the justified from damnation (Rom. 5:9). In 1 Cor 11:32 we understand that there is a divine purpose in chastisement in order that "we should not be condemned with the world". When someone eats and drinks unworthily then chastisement is necessary to bring them to repentance otherwise they would be condemned with the world through eating and drinking damnation to themselves. Even if we were simply to understand damnation as referring to objective guilt, that guilt must be repented of and removed and "every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse". What guilt are we speaking of? The guilt of the body and blood of the Lord, i.e. the worst sin ever committed and do we not think that Paul might mean that this objective guilt is unto damnation?

Do we understand "the guilt and heinousness of this sin"? John Willison defines this as "they are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, i.e. It is an accession to the guilt of shedding the innocent blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. — It is an implicit approbation of the Jews' act in crucifying Christ. — It is a trampling Christ's blood under our feet. — It is a crucifying Christ afresh and harbouring the traitors and enemies of Christ in our bosom".  "The sin of it is no less than murdering the Son of God, and being accessory to the guilt of shedding his innocent blood".

"It argues a low esteem and an undervaluing of Christ, his precious blood, and redeeming love...It is a solemn affront to Christ; as it is to a king to throw his picture or great seal into a puddle...It is a horrid mocking of Christ, as it is a pretense of love to him, and hatred of sin, while, in the mean time, sin is hugged and Christ despised...It is a plain accession to the guilt of the Jews and Romans, who imbrued their hands in Christ's blood; for he is reckoned accessory to a murder who consents to it, aids, or abets the murderers, and this unworthy communicants are guilty of".
"Unworthy receivers of the Lord's supper contract great guilt, and also incur great danger to themselves". 
"They provoke God to inflict sore judgments on them, temporal and spiritual judgments here, and eternal judgments hereafter. The meaning is not, that this sin is unpardonable, but that it deserves damnation, and will bring it on, without repentance, and flying to the blood of Christ for cleansing. Every sin is in its own nature damning, and therefore such a heinous sin, as profaning this holy ordinance, must surely be so. But timorous and fearful believers should not be discouraged from attending this holy ordinance by the sound of this word, as if they bound upon themselves the sentence of damnation, by coming to the Lord's table unprepared. For hearing and praying unworthily, incurs damnation, as well as communicating unworthily. But this sin, as well as others, leaves room for forgiveness upon repentance".
"as the virtue of this precious blood saved and cleansed many, who actually shed it at Jerusalem; so it can save and cleanse those who spill and trample it under foot in the sacrament, upon their application to it, (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:36,38,41; 1 John 1:7)"
In relation to the word chosen by the AV translators and the Westminster Divines, I am inclined to agree with a former Professor of Church History and Principles at the Free Church College who expressed his preference for the older rendering in the face of the criticism that is all too commonly heard.

We should not lose the significance of the rendering however, as it is drawn out by Willison and "be much concerned to guard against this heinous and dangerous sin; and cry with the Psalmist, 'Lord, deliver us from blood-guiltiness.'"

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

the beams of our house

Whilst away in one of our other congregations elsewhere in the Highlands I heard a precious sermon on a text that is not expounded as frequently as others. The following are not the words that were used but simply a paraphrase in recollecting the drift of some of the things that were expressed.

Song of Solomon 1:17  The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir

The minister emphasised that the text speaks of "our house"; something that is a shared possession. A house speaks of a mutual dwelling place for fellowship. Jacob found this at Bethel in Genesis 28. What is referred to is a spiritual house, a place for the habitation of God where He may dwell and meet with His people. Moses had to build a house for the purpose of worship and communion, it had to be built according to the pattern shown in the mount but this is a spiritual house. Hebrews 3:1-6 brings in a contrast between Christ and Moses, particularly that Christ excelled Moses in building a spiritual house.  "Whose house are we if we hold fast". This spiritual house was designed in eternity by God who built all things and built in the incarnation, life and atoning work of the Redeemer. Solomon also built a house, the house of holiness, this had beams of the cedar of Lebanon which is of course very durable. There would have been a fragrance of the wood there. Christ built a house with the beams of cedar that are the beauty and glory of Christ's work in righteousness and atonement. There is fair, carved work there that doesn't need to be gilded with paint. He is the foundation and chief corner stone. He built a house which is for the mutual communion of Himself and His people. It includes all of the means of grace in public and private, all of which are intended for the exercise of grace. We should be seeking that grace would be in exercise anytime that we engage in these means of grace. Those that sit down at the Lord's table are beholding the fabric of this house for the fellowship that they are able to enjoy at that ordinance. They can say "the beams of our house are cedar".

If you would like to read James Durham's comments on this beautiful portion of Scripture go here.