Friday, January 20, 2012

Of Nice and Men

By virtue of the generosity of two men, namely, Dr. D. G. Hart and Dr. R. S. Clark, do I present to you this article on a perennially relevant topic that once appeared nowhere outside of the Nicotine Theological Journal. The article was featured in the October 2005 issue.

Of Nice and Men

In a recent foreword to a book advocating Norman Shepherd's peculiar brand of covenant theology, John Frame attacks some of Shepherd's critics as "stupid, irresponsible and divisive." Apparently, someone complained about Frame's lack of civility, so he issued an apology, which the publisher slipped into the front cover of the book, a sort of moral errata sheet, saying that he should not have described those (including "official statements of two small denominations,") who say that Shepherd's doctrine denies the gospel as stupid. By way of mitigation, he appeals to Calvin, "who used such expressions rather freely." He says that he knows he is risking his reputation as a "peacemaker" by using strong language.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

All Things Every Year

I began last year, 2011, with some reflections on divine providence.

I was full of care at the time, especially in the area of material provision, but God saw us through. The piece of real estate that I was selling finally got sold to good people, and our youngest, Cauvin Caleb Antonio Cruz, was born in August, big and healthy. I even got promoted at work! The year ended with a big smile on my face.

This year, 2012, I expect divine providence to be no different.

Allow me to share with you this absolutely edifying piece from John MacDuff (1818-1895) entitled, The Greatest Gift:

"He who spared not His own Son — but delivered him up for us all; how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Romans 8:32

These are amazing words! God — the Infinite God — identifying Himself (so to speak) with the experiences of human sorrow; silencing every murmur with the unanswerable argument "I spared not my own Son. I gave my greatest gift for you! Will you not cheerfully surrender your best to Me? Can you refuse to trust Me in lesser things — after this unspeakable gift of My love? My greater gift is surely be a pledge for My bestowment of all needed subordinate good!"

He promised to give "all things" — and these "all things" are in His hand. They will be selected and allotted by His loving wisdom: crosses — as well as comforts; sorrows and tears — as well as smiles and joys. Mourning one, this very trial which now dims your eye, is one of these "all things." Trust His faithfulness. He would as soon wound the Son of His love — as wound you!

"Will not God, who gave us His beloved Son — also give us all lesser things?" There is a "blessed impossibility," after the bestowment of the Gift of Gifts, that He will inflict one unnecessary trial, or withhold one needed benefit! Think of His love when He offered His beloved Isaac on the cruel altar. It is the same at this hour, infinite and immutable! Yes! We may well be reconciled, even to the denial of any earthly blessedness, because all is ordered by Him who gave Jesus to die for us! Lying meekly in the arms of His mercy, be it ours to say in filial confidence, "Lord, anything with Your love; anything but Your frown!"

"All things." The whole range of human needs and necessities is known to Him. The care He invites me to cast upon Him — is "all my care"; the need "all my need!" This is His own special promise. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." He will give me nothing, and deny me nothing — but what is for my good! Let me not question the appointments of infinite wisdom. Let me not wound Him by one dishonoring doubt. Let me lean upon Him in little things — as well as in great things. After the pledge of His love in Jesus, nothing can come wrong — which comes from His hands! If tempted at times to harbor some unkind misgivings, let the sight of the cross dispel it. Looking to the Rainbow in the cloud gleaming with the words, "He loved me — and gave Himself for me!" be it mine to say:

Lord, though You bend my spirit low,
Love only will I see;
The very hand that strikes the blow,
Was wounded once for me.

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