WCA Blog

Quack Like a Duck!

March 08, 2017
By Mr. Eric VanDerhoof - Head of School

Edward the Emu is a children’s story about an emu in the zoo that was unhappy to be… an emu. As he listened to the visitors talk about the other animals, Edward thought his life would be better if he could be a different animal. First he swam with the seals and enjoyed his new life, until a visitor mentioned that the lions were really the best animals in the zoo. So, the next day Edward hopped over to the lion’s den and roared along with the best of them. As Edward basked in the sunshine with the lion pride, a visitor remarked that the snakes were really the highlight of the zoo! The next day as Edward was slithering and hissing with the snakes, another visitor exclaimed that of all the animals in the zoo, the emu was the most delightful to watch. Excited by this bit of news, Edward returned to his habitat only to discover another emu had been brought in to replace him. After checking out the new emu, Edward realized some wonderful news…the name of the new emu was Edwina! And they lived happily ever after…as emus!

Christians often act like Edward. They become discontent with their life or situation and try different things, expecting others to excuse their actions/behaviors even though they are contrary to God’s Word. These “trendy life choices” are frequently defended in conversations that talk about “gray areas” and are posited as piety vs. liberty, tradition vs. relevance, principle vs. preference, or law vs. grace. While these are valid conversations to have, it must be understood that changing a view on something does not necessarily change the nature of the situation; nor does lack of understanding about the nature of something reduce the effects. For example, a child’s lack of understanding that heat scorches does not prevent him from getting burned when he touches a stove. Ouch!

The Apostle John provides some wonderful insights about the life of a believer in his first epistle. In fact, he gives a “test” that checks for true belief. In chapter 2 verse 3 John states, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” As the children’s Sunday School song so aptly reminds us (sing along), “O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E…Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.” But, how often are we tempted, and we acquiesce, to disobey God’s Word…and then we offer excuses to explain it away! In this short passage, verses 3-6, John reminds the reader about the very nature of God’s saving grace, and provides a way to test for true belief. I like to call it the Duck Test! You know…if it looks, quacks, walks like a duck, it must be a DUCK! When this test is applied to the life of someone who claims to be a Christian, it confirms or exposes the true reality.

The first test is to look like a duck. John says the claim to know God will lead to obedience. This truth was clearly taught by Christ (John 14), lived out by the Apostles (Acts 5), and understood by unbelievers. The religious leader, Gamaliel, counselled his fellow Jews that if the Apostles were obeying God, there would be nothing that could stop it. John introduced this topic by stating that the life of a Christian is predicated upon God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice (vs. 1-2). As the great reformer John Calvin declared in his commentary on this passage, “The knowledge of God, derived from the gospel, is not ineffectual …obedience proceeds from it.” In other words, the regenerating power of God’s saving faith produces obedience in the life of the believer! A duck looks like a duck!

The “Quack Test” can be applied as a second assessment. In verses 4-5 John says that a person who claims to know God, but disobeys Him, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. Wow...that escalated quickly! Doesn’t John seem a bit harsh and unloving? Not when we consider that John had witnessed Jesus teaching in a similar manner when He addressed the Jewish leaders who claimed Christ’s teachings were demonic. (John 8) Christ clarified that those who speak lies are doing the work of the Father of Lies, Satan himself. It’s really a Quirk and not a Quack. John is reminding his readers that disobedience to God’s Word is a matter of life and death. It was disobedience by Adam and Eve that sent all mankind to damnation. (Gen 3) As St. Augustine opined, “The cost of obedience is small compared with the cost of disobedience.” Disobedience shows disregard and hate for God because it cost the life of His Son to redeem His people from the one who provokes such hate and contempt for God…the Father of Lies. Apart from God’s love for us, we cannot love Him; and our love for God is demonstrated through obedience. As James wrote in his epistle, “Faith without works is dead!” A duck quacks like a duck!

The final test is to check the duck’s walk. In verse 6 John says, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” This message was also taught by Christ (Matt. 5), modeled by Christ (Phil. 2), and taught by the Apostle Paul (Romans 1). Admittedly, there is a struggle that ensues in the life of the believer. But, it is not so much WWJD as it is WWJD in me. The life of the Christian is Christ living through the believer by the Holy Spirit. This “abiding” produces the fruit of righteousness. Jesus/the Holy Spirit/God cannot not live any other way! It is the characteristic of life in Heaven (Rev. 22). Matthew Henry says in his commentary, “Observing Christ's commands, has holiness and excellency which, if universal, would make the earth resemble heaven itself.” The great benefit to God’s Spirit indwelling His people is that they have Christ living in them now! And, a duck walks like a duck!

So, we can check the genuineness of our faith today with the Duck Test. Ask the question, “Do I look, sound, and walk like Christ?” If our life is characterized by obedience to the Word of God…be encouraged, encourage others, enjoy Christ’s peace, keep the faith, continue to love God with your whole heart, proclaim Christ until He comes, and worship Him for eternity! If the test exposes a life of disobedience… believe it is true, humble yourself before God, confess your sin, seek God’s mercy, receive His grace, experience forgiveness and live out His love in obedience to His Word.

Those who know God will enjoy Christ in the way that St. Augustine recorded in his Confessions, “Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new. Late have I loved you. You have called to me, and have called out, and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst after you. You have touched me, and I have burned for your peace.”

Living in the Kingdom

February 02, 2017
By Mr. Eric VanDerhoof - Head of School

There once was a King who felt greatly distressed as all his people were very lazy. Nobody was prepared to work, so he wanted to teach them a lesson. Therefore, he had a big stone placed right in the middle of the road, and he disguised himself as a beggar who sat by the road so he could observe what would happen. Many merchants passed by, looked at the stone, made a face and went round it. An officer who was driving his carriage avoided the stone and moved away. A young soldier came riding a horse; he criticized the government for not removing the stone. Then along came a foreigner who was passing through that road, and he decided to move the stone. The king came out of hiding to congratulate the stranger; he called for the merchants, the official and the soldier so he could explain the lesson. The King then presented a box full of money which was buried in a hole beneath the stone, and upon it was etched that the money belonged to whoever removed the stone. After that day the kingdom became very hard-working and was never as lazy as it was before; they learned that laziness does not pay.

The account of the visit by the Magi in Scripture teaches that Christ is King of the Jews, King of the World, and King of Heaven. As a result, Paul reminds the Colossians that God “has delivered [Christians] from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” As King Jesus looks out over His kingdom, what does He expect to see? Now that we reside in a new Kingdom, how shall we then live?

The Apostle Peter provides some guidance to answer these questions in 1 Peter 2:9-12. As he writes to “the pilgrims of the Dispersion”, the apostle will employ four arguments to remind them of how they should live. These believing Jews were disconsolate because their life, traditions and rituals had been upended by Roman persecution. Peter reminds them of the Rank, Resolve, Record and Reputation that characterize believers who live in His kingdom.

Peter states that God deems His subjects as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people.” These encouraging words echo the promise that God gave to the Israelites through Moses in Exodus 19 after He had rescued them from Egypt. No longer were they slaves in Egypt, they had been liberated to live as a nation. And, this promise now extends to the desegregated Gentiles who were grafted into the Kingdom of Christ. As John Calvin says in his commentary on this passage, God “brings the vassals of Satan, of sin, and of death, to the enjoyment of royal liberty. God’s people are highly favored in the Kingdom of Christ.

The special Rank that Christians enjoy in God’s Kingdom also gives them a new Resolve…to “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Those who have been transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light will spend their time praising the King for His grace and mercy. As the prophet Isaiah proclaims, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” (43:21) No longer is the primary concern with personal welfare or self-centered living; now the King will be exalted at all times by the people in His kingdom!

To appreciate the new Rank and Resolve Peter argues it is important to remember their past Record. He utilizes language from the story of Hosea to remind his readers that God is worthy of praise because He patiently extends grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. Just as Hosea forgave Gomer’s continual obstinacy and disrespect, so God overlooks the egregious disobedience of His people as He provides salvation through His Son, King Jesus. Those who have obtained mercy and are now the people of God will not behave in an ungrateful, unfaithful, promiscuous and selfish manner like Gomer. Instead, they will loudly proclaim, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” This song will be sung eternally by those who live in the Kingdom of Christ.

With this new found perspective, Christians living in the kingdom now become concerned with their Reputation…as it reflects upon the reputation of the King. Admittedly, there is a great spiritual war that wages, and the temptation to return to the kingdom of darkness can seem overwhelming. However, obedience has always been the God-designated standard. John writes in his first epistle that the “old commandment” continues to be, “By this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” Victory over the internal battle is demonstrated through external disciplines. Just as no valid accusation could be found against Daniel (6:4), the accusations against Christians living in the kingdom will serve to glorify God and defend the reputation of King Jesus.

As our King looks over His kingdom, what does He see? A kingdom filled with lazy sluggards or obedient subjects? Are we putting up with distractions and obstacles or are we clearing the path for others to follow? Are we blaming others for difficulties or enjoying the abundant blessing of kingdom living? May our King rejoice that we remember our Rank, Resolve, Record, and Reputation now that we have been delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son.

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