Archive for December 2006
Mark Lauterbach has just finished an excellent series on censoriousness, which he defines (from Jonathan Edwards) as “a disposition to think evil of others.” Lauterbach shares thoughts from Edwards and himself on this sinful tendency.
Isn’t God holy? Yes, but then I reflect on how my Lord critiques me
and I think of Ps 130 — if the Lord numbered our sins, who could stand?
But he does not — he is patient and selective and gentle with us.
This series has six posts:
A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing;
I come with Your righteousness on, my humble offering to bring.
The judgments of Your holy law with me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.
The work which Your goodness began, the arm of Your strength will complete;
Your promise is yes and amen, and never was forfeited yet.
The future or things that are now, no power below or above,
Can make You Your purpose forgo, or sever my soul from Your love.
My name from the palms of Your hands eternity will not erase;
Impressed on Your heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace.
Yes I to the end will endure, until I bow down at Your throne;
Forever and always secure, a debtor to mercy alone.
How are we to think of the Incarnation? The New Testament does not encourage us to puzzle our heads over the physical and psychological problems that it raises, but to worship God for the love that was shown in it. For it was a great act of condescension and self-humbling. “He, who had always been God by nature,” writes Paul, “did not cling to his privileges as God’s equal, but stripped Himself of every advantage by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born a man. And, plainly seen as a human being, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, to the point of death, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal” (Phil 2:6-8 Phillips). And all this was for our salvation. . . .
The crucial significance of the cradle at Bethlehem lies in its place in the sequence of steps down that led the Son of God to the cross of Calvary, and we do not understand it till we see it in this context. . . . The taking of manhood by the Son is set before us in a way which shows us how we should ever view it — not simply as a marvel of nature, but rather as a wonder of grace.
– J. I. Packer, Knowing God, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993; pp. 58-59.
Perhaps you think that the only real reason I have for believing in God is the fact that I was taught to do so in my early days. Of course I don’t think that is really so. I don’t deny that I was taught to believe in God when I was a child, but I do affirm that since I have grown up I have heard a pretty full statement of the argument against belief in God. And it is after having heard that argument that I am more than ever ready to believe in God. Now, in fact, I feel that the whole of history and civilization would be unintelligible to me if it were not for my belief in God. So true is this, that I propose to argue that unless God is back of everything, you cannot find meaning in anything. I cannot even argue for belief in Him, without already having taken Him for granted. And similarly I contend that you cannot argue against belief in Him unless you also first take Him for granted. Arguing about God’s existence, I hold, is like arguing about air. You may affirm that air exists, and I that it does not. But as we debate the point, we are both breathing air all the time. Or to use another illustration, God is like the emplacement on which must stand the very guns that are supposed to shoot Him out of existence. . . . My whole point will be that there is perfect harmony between my belief as a child and my belief as a man, simply because God is Himself the environment by which my early life was directed and my later life made intelligible to myself.
— Cornelius Van Til, from the excellent essay Why I Believe in God
We may not be a sect. We may not want to be one, and we cannot be one, except by a denial of the absolute character of the truth. Indeed, the kingdom of heaven is not of this world. But it does demand that everything in this world serve it. It is exclusive and jealous, and it will indulge no independent or neutral kingdom of the world alongside of itself. Naturally, it would be much easier to leave this age to its own ways, and to seek our strength in a quiet withdrawal. No such rest, however, is permitted to us here. Because every creature is good, and nothing is to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving, since all things are sanctified by the Word of God and prayer, therefore the rejection of any creature were ingratitude to God, a misjudgment or under-evaluation of His goodness and His gifts. Our warfare may be conducted against sin alone. No matter how complicated the relationships may be, therefore, in which the confessors of Christ are placed in this time, no matter how serious, difficult, and virtually insurmountable the social, political, and especially the scientific problems may be, it were faithlessness and weakness in us proudly to withdraw from the struggle, perhaps even under the guise of Christian motivation, and to reject the culture of the age as demonic.
— Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, p. 10.
While it is certainly true that justification frees one forever from the need to keep the law, or try to, as the means of earning life, it is equally true that adoption lays on one the abiding obligation to keep the law, as the means of pleasing one’s newfound Father. Law-keeping is the family likeness of God’s children; Jesus fulfilled all righteousness, and God calls us to do likewise. Adoption puts law-keeping on a new footing: as children of God, we acknowledge the law’s authority as a rule for our lives, because we know that this is what our Father wants. If we sin, we confess our fault and ask our Father’s forgiveness on the basis of the family relationship, as Jesus taught us to do — “Father . . . forgive us our sins” (Lk 11:2, 4). The sins of God’s children do not destroy their justification or nullify their adoption, but they mar the children’s fellowship with their Father. “Be holy, for I am holy” is our Father’s word to us, and it is no part of justifying faith to lose sight of the fact that God, the King, wants his royal children to live lives worthy of their paternity and position.
— J. I. Packer, Knowing God, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993; p. 223