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Jesu, Juva

Posts Tagged ‘sovereignty

The Binding of God

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. . . the essence of Calvin’s conception of the covenant is the notion of the binding of God. This binding is God’s own act of joining Himself with His creatures. . . . The gracious self-binding of the infinite God whereby He condescends to enter into a mutual covenant with His fallen and unworthy yet sovereignly chosen people is eloquently portrayed by Calvin in his sermon on Deuternonomy 4:44-5:3.

For if God only demanded his due, we should still be required to cling to him and to confine ourselves to his commandments. Moreover, when it pleases him by his infinite goodness to enter into a common treaty, and when he mutually binds himself to us without having to do so, when he enumerates that treaty article by article, when he chooses to be our father and Savior, when he receives us as his flock and his inheritance, let us abide under his protection, filled with its eternal life for us. When all of these things are done, is it proper that our hearts become mollified even if they were at one time stone? When creatures see that the living God humbles himself to that extent, that he wills to enter into covenant that he might say: “Let us consider our situation. It is true that there is an infinite distance between you and me and that I should be able to command of you whatever seems good to me without having anything in common with you, for you are not worthy to approach me and have any dealings with whoever can command of you what he wills, with no further declarations to you except: ‘That is what I will and conceive.’ But behold, I set aside my right. I come here to present myself to you as your guide and savior. I want to govern you. You are like my little family. And if you are satisfied with my Word, I will be your King. Furthermore, do not think that the covenant which I made with your fathers was intended to take anything from you. For I have no need, nor am I indigent in anything. And what could you do for me anyway? But I procure your well-being and your salvation. Therefore on my part, I am prepared to enter into covenant, article by article, and to pledge myself to you.”

The covenant, therefore, highlights God’s grace.

— Peter Lillback, The Binding of God, pp. 137-138.

We are as the prodigal son.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 5, 2009 at 5:54 am

Ends and beginnings and faith

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 Peter Leithart writes about faith:

Ruth begins with death – the death of the land in famine, the death of exile, the death of Elimelech, the death of Naomi’s sons, the death of Naomi’s future. Naomi goes out full, and comes back empty. Ruth 1 is a perfect tragic story, a story of endings and emptyings.

But it is chapter 1, and the author wants us to realize that this series of deaths is not an end. The end of chapter 1 is a beginning, as Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem “at the beginning of the barley harvest” (v. 22). The author makes his point with a touch so light as to be nearly imperceptible, but the import of that “beginning” is as weighty as anything in Scripture.

“In the beginning” and “once upon a time” make rational sense as the beginning of a story. But recognizing a beginning on the other side of an end is an act of faith.

Mark Dever makes a similar point in his treatment of Ruth. To human eyes, all is despair at the beginning of this book. But the writer of Ruth gives us a glimpse of what a sovereign and good God is planning and working behind the scenes. You can listen to Dever preach on the whole book of Ruth, and also on Ruth chapter 1 specifically.

See also William Cowper’s hymn, God Moves in a Mysterious Way.

Written by Scott Moonen

February 7, 2008 at 10:01 am

Christ is Lord of our time

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John Newton was a busy pastor. He wrote of having “seldom one-hour free from interruption. Letters, that must be answered, visitants that must be received, business that must be attended to.” Yet he had this perspective of God’s claim on his time:

When I hear a knock at my study door,
I hear a message from God.
It may be a lesson of instruction;
perhaps a lesson of patience:
but, since it is his message,
it must be interesting.

By our frequent reaction to the circumstances God brings our way, one would believe that we thought ourselves sovereign lords of our schedule. But the reality is that Christ is lord of our time. He gives us regular responsibilities to carry out for his sake. He brings us unexpected situations where we must patiently and humbly set aside our expectations and represent and serve him. And he gives us recreation and sleep as gifts. In fact, every circumstance that he brings about, and every way that he apportions our time, is in some fashion a good gift from him.

Let’s pray that we will better understand his lordship over our time, better see his goodness in that, and thus better trust in him.

Quotes from John Piper
Crossposted to Reflections on Upchurch

Written by Scott Moonen

January 29, 2007 at 6:00 am

Bavinck on Christian warfare

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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.

HT: Nathan

Things we love

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We ought to cultivate an understanding of God’s goodness in all things. Gideon Strauss recommends this:

I post a list of things I love every now and then, every time with a few tiny updates. Making lists of things we love is an important practice, I believe, because we learn more about ourselves from thinking about what we love than from any other kind of reflection on ourselves. Our deepest loves, our strongest commitments, our most intense concerns and cares — these are the most basic forces shaping who we are and how we live.

Gideon sees this as a way of understanding ourselves better, and a way of identifying our vocations. In another post he quotes Augustine, saying that “when there is a question as to whether a man is good, one does not ask what he believes, or what he hopes, but what he loves.” But this is also a rich way to practice seeing the sovereign hand of God — and the goodness of God — in all things. In my experience this fuels both gratitude and joy.

What do you love, from great to small? Don’t feel compelled to over-spiritualize — we know that lightning, chocolate, traffic jams, Bach, the musty smell of wet fall leaves, the quiet beauty of a lit Christmas tree in a dark room, and orthodontic retainers are all gifts from God. My wife and I have found this to be one of our favorite date-night questions; you can easily fill an entire evening answering it.

Andrew Osenga on humility and gratitude

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“And the bitter man is angry; angry man just thinks he’s right — too right to see mercy when he’s standing in its light! We can shed tears over dying, we can rage and we can fight, but we cannot forget that we were loved before we opened up our eyes — such foolish pride!” — Andrew Osenga, “The Story,” performed by Caedmon’s Call, In the Company of Angels II: The World Will Sing.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 20, 2006 at 11:59 am

All God's providences are good

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“God’s providence is sometimes very, very hard. . . Even though the providence of God is sometimes very hard, in all his works he is purposing your happiness and your good.” — John Piper

Whether sweet or bitter, God’s providences are always good.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 29, 2006 at 1:02 pm