Monday, December 23, 2013

Thomas Goodwin Contra a Speech Act Theory of Justification

If you haven't gotten a load of the very enriching discussion between Dr. Lane Tipton and Dr. Michael Horton on "union with Christ" over at the Reformed Forum, you can get it here.

Dr. Horton's position, as ably analyzed and recognized by Dr. Tipton, owes much, if not primarily, to a sort of "speech act theory" applied to justification wherein God's illocutionary act of declaring the sinner as justified is the "ontological ground" of the subjective perlocutionary effect in the believer. Contra this position, Dr. Tipton argues that the sole ground of the believer's justification is not a floating fiat but union with Christ. In other words, the application of redemption in a believer's present, time-and-space existence (ordo salutis) is founded upon (or united to) the accomplishment of said redemption by Christ in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension (historia salutis).

Justification was the point of discussion, and so it must be said that as Christ Himself was justified, so the sinner, united to Christ by faith through the Spirit, is also justified through the imputation of the former's righteousness.

We can see, clearly evinced, in the Puritan Thomas Goodwin the same kind of aversion to a notion of "speech act theory" and an exaltation of the person and work of Christ in the following:

We must conceive, that the promises of forgiveness are not as the pardons of a prince, which merely contain an expression of his royal word for pardoning, so as we in seeking of it do rest upon, and have to do only with his word and seal, which we have to show for it; but God’s promises of pardon are made in his Son, and are as if a prince should offer to pardon a traitor upon marriage with his child, whom in and with that pardon he offers in such a relation; so as all that would have pardon, must seek out for his child; and thus it is in the matter of believing. The reason of which is, because Christ is the grand promise, in whom, ‘all the promises are yea and amen’ (2 Cor. 1:20), and therefore he is called the Covenant (Isa. 49:8). So that, as it were folly for any man to think that he has an interest in an heiress’s lands, because he has got the writings of her estate into his hands, whereas the interest in the lands goes with her person, and with the relation of marriage to her, otherwise, without a title to herself, all the writings will be fetched out of his hands again; so is it with all the promises: they hang all upon Christ, and without him there is no interest to be had in them. ‘He that has the Son has life’ (1 John 5:12), because life is by God’s appointment only in him (v. 11). All the promises are as copyhold land, which when you would interest your selves in, you inquire upon what lord it holds, and you take it up of him, as well as get the evidences and deeds for it into your hands; the lord of it will be acknowledged for such in passing his right into your hands. Now this is the tenure of all the promises; they all hold on Christ, in whom they are yea and amen; and you must take them up of him.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Antinomianism (And a Few Chuckles)

Dr. Mark Jones, who first came to my attention as the co-author (along with Dr. Joel Beeke) of arguably the best systematic theology to come in recent years, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, has now penned another book, that I would think is as important and beneficial to the body of Christ as the aforementioned one, entitled Antinomianism. Don't let the brevity of the title fool you. While I am now only in chapter 2, I expect more pastoral scholarship to drip from every page—every digital page, that is, as the Kindle version, being now available, is what I have, but the paperback is due for release on the 15th of November, 2013.

You can listen to Dr. Jones' lecture on "Antinomianism," delivered at the 2013 Andrew Fuller Conference (SBTS), here.

You can view and listen to Dr. Jones talk about his book here:

You can view, listen to, and LAUGH at Dr. Jones talk about his book here:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vos on the Psalter

"The Psalter is of all books of the Bible that book which gives expression to the experimental side of religion. In the law and the prophetic writings, it is God who speaks to his people; in the Psalter, we listen to the saints speaking to God. Hence the Psalter has been at all times that part of Scripture to which believers have most readily turned and upon which they have chiefly depended for the nourishment of the inner religious life of the heart. I say that part of Scripture and not merely that part of the Old Testament, for even taking the Old and the New Testament together the common experience of the people of God will bear us out in affirming that there is nothing in Holy Writ which in our most spiritual moments–when we feel ourselves nearest to God–so faithfully and naturally expresses what we think and feel in our hearts as these songs of the pious Israelites. Our Lord himself, who had a perfect religious experience and lived and walked with God in absolute adjustment of his thoughts and desires to the Father's mind and will; our Lord himself found his inner life portrayed in the Psalter and in some of the highest moments of his ministry borrowed from it the language in which his soul spoke to God, thus recognizing that a more perfect language for communion with God cannot be framed."

(Geerhardus Vos, Songs from the Soul, Grace and Glory)

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Stark Christlike Contrast to Pat

Decide for yourselves which reaction to a wife having Alzheimer's is Christlike: Pat Robertson's advice: Pat Robertson: The Monster-Maker or the husband in the following clip:

Some very important Tim Keller quotes on marriage here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

The 3 Points of Mortification of Sin

We all know of the importance of the mortification of sin, but sometimes the concept floats off like a balloon up in the skies of abstraction. This is an attempt to put some particularization into a non-negotiable of the Christian life.

In my own words:

1. Faith in Christ in the efficacy of His death on the cross.

2. Relentless prayer.

3. Humility and broken sobriety.

In John Owen's words:

Gospel Sobriety in Owen

In the work entitled, A Treatise of the Dominion of Sin and Grace, John Owen describes the antithesis as being in either of two possible dominions. The one who is in the dominion of sin, the person who has not been blessed with definitive sanctification, is the unbeliever. For this person, there has not occurred that epochal break with the rule of sin by virtue of faith-wrought union with Christ. The believer, while still at war with indwelling sin in progressive sanctification, has been liberated from sin's sovereignty.

The following quote is preceded by Owen's treatment of what it means for sin to have dominion in the mind. I am now on the part wherein he discusses the affections, and I found this snippet to be valuable:

"If we love any thing more than God, as we do if we will not part with it for his sake, be it as a right eye or as a right hand unto us; if we take more satisfaction and complacency in it, and cleave more unto it in our thoughts and minds than unto God, as men commonly do in their lusts, interests, enjoyments, and relations; if we trust more to it, as unto a supply of our wants, than unto God, as most do to the world; if our desires are enlarged and our diligence heightened in seeking after and attaining other things, more than towards the love and favour of God; if we fear the loss of other things or danger from them more than we fear God, -- we are not under the rule of God or his grace, but we are under the dominion of sin, which reigns in our affections...All the commands we have in the Scripture for self-searching, trial, and examination; all the rules that are given us unto that end; all the warnings we have of the deceitfulness of sin and of our own hearts, -- are given us to prevent this evil of shutting our eyes against the prevalent corruption and disorder of our affections." (The Essential Works Of John Owen)

The gravitas in Owen's words is hard to miss. The ascertaining of our right standing with God, of being not in the dominion of sin but of grace, does not appear to him as simply a matter of "getting used to our justification" but involves real hard and sacrificial work! While Owen is keen on highlighting the primacy of faith: "I call these latter evidences subordinate ones, and additional to that of faith, [and they are] of great use by way of establishment and confirmation unto believers, provided they be not abused to sole resting and reliance upon them, to the great prejudice of our life of faith: for we live by faith (so must all repenting sinners when they have attained to the highest pitch of holiness in this life), and not by sense, no, not even spiritual sense; it is a good handmaid to faith, but no good mistress to it.", it is a faith that is ever examining the heart so that its affections may solely be grounded on Christ.

I am always thankful for Owen's Gospel sobriety.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hope at the End of Dr. Powlison's Rope

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Improper Attire, Poythress' Ire

(click on pic to enlarge)

Something caught the eye of Dr. Vern Poythress and he doesn't seem pleased.

What could it be?

Figures. Not the proper robe for the occasion.

Offer Good While Supplies Last: First 300 Episodes of Christ the Center

The Reformed Forum has been a tremendous blessing to me and I'm certain to a vast number of other people who have desired and continue to desire the cultivation of the historic, Reformed faith.

I have found it a privilege to be able to actually converse with some of the program's pillars, like Jared Oliphint, Jeffrey Waddington and Jim Cassidy online, asking them questions now and again (Camden Bucey is somewhat harder to accost. LOL).

Now the guys have decided to offer the first 300 episodes of the famed Christ the Center program for free as a single download. For directions, go here.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Union with Christ Is Trinitarian

Marcus Peter Johnson in One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation [Illinois: Crossway, 2013] explains:

To say that our union with Christ is Trinitarian means that by virtue of being incorporated into the life of Jesus Christ, we participate in the life, love, and fellowship of the Trinity. Because the Son is one with the Father, our being joined to the Son means we are joined to the Father. And because the Spirit exists as the bond of communion between the Father and Son, he brings us into that communion by uniting us to Christ. This staggering biblical revelation forms the personal foundation for all the benefits that constitute our salvation.[15]

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Love of an Impassible God

If we define passions as the transition from one emotive state to another or the increase in intensity of such a particular state, then the doctrine of divine impassibility teaches us that God does not have passions as fluctuating within Himself or as influenced from anything outside Himself.

Far from espousing a cold, static, and uninvolved Deity, this doctrine actually enhances the Christian's hope and comfort in that when Scripture teaches that God is love, it does not say that God becomes more or less loving as contingent upon the creature, but that His love is as eternal as He Himself is. In fact "love" as predicated on God is God Himself! Such security and stability for the objects of His love in Christ!

Speaking on the doctrine of divine simplicity, which is foundational to the doctrine of divine impassibility, Dr. James Dolezal writes:

There is nothing in God that is not God. If there were, that is, if God were not ontologically identical with all that is in him, then something other than God himself would be needed to account for his existence, essence, and attributes. But nothing that is not God can sufficiently account for God. He exists in all his perfection entirely in and through himself. At the heart of the classical DDS [doctrine of divine simplicity] is the concern to uphold God's absolute self-sufficiency as well as his ultimate sufficiency for the existence of the created universe...By appealing to God's simplicity I aim to show that God and the world are related analogically and that the world in no sense explains or accounts for God's existence and essence. If God were yet another being in the world, even if the highest and most excellent, then the world itself would be the framework within which he must be ontologically explained. But as Creator, God is the sufficient reason for the world's existence and thus cannot be evaluated as if he stood together with it in the same order of being. It follows from this that God can neither be measured, nor his simplicity refuted, according to the modalities unique to created beings. (God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God's Absoluteness [PICKWICK Publications, Eugene, Oregon:2011])

The ff. video is a discussion on the doctrine of divine impassibility that is as profound as it is edifying:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Charles Hodge on Conscience

Some CH commentary:

The doctrine of Romans 14

1. The fellowship of the saints is not to be broken for unessential matters; in other words, we have no right to make any thing which is compatible with piety a bar to Christian communion. Paul evidently argues on the principle that if a man is a true Christian, he should be recognized and treated as such. If God has received him, we should receive him, vers. 1-12.

2. The true criterion of a Christian character is found in the governing purpose of the life. He that lives unto the Lord, i.e. he who makes the will of Christ the rule of his conduct, and the glory of Christ his constant object, is a true Christian, although from weakness or ignorance he may sometimes mistake the rule of duty, and consider certain things obligatory which Christ has never commanded, vers. 6-8.

What Does It Mean to "Bless God"?

Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
   who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
   and bless the LORD!
May the LORD bless you from Zion,
   he who made heaven and earth!
— Psalm 134

Commenting on Psalm 134 in his book, Journey to Joy: The Psalms of Ascent (published by Crossway Books), Josh Moody writes about what it means for a human being to bless God:

How can an inferior person, a subject, bless a superior person, a king? How can a created person, a human, bless his or her creator, the God of heaven and earth? Scholars have attempted various solutions to this conundrum, because the idea of our being able to bless God does not merely occur in this psalm but is fairly frequent throughout the Old Testament. Psalm 72: 18 says, 'Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel'; and Genesis 24: 27 says, 'Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master.' How can this be? How can it be true not only that 'blessed be Abram by God Most High' (Gen. 14: 19), but also 'blessed be God Most High' (Gen. 14: 20)? Or how can we not only receive blessing from God but actually give blessing to God?

Perhaps we need to ask another question: what does it actually mean to be blessed? In English the word bless means to pronounce that something is good or to confer goodness upon something in a religious sense, and the word may have its origins in the Old English word blood. A benediction, frequently used as a synonym, means 'a good saying,' coming from the Latin root meaning to say that something is good or well. The Hebrew word used here for 'blessed' may have the root of meaning to kneel before something or someone, though not all agree with that derivation.

Perhaps it is simplest to say, by analogy, that this word blessed, often used of us blessing God and of God blessing us, functions similarly to when we say that we speak to God and that God speaks to us. When we speak to God , we are speaking, and we speak human words necessarily. When we bless God, we are blessing and give human blessing necessarily. When God speaks, he speaks God's words, and when he blesses, he gives God's blessings. So the blessing of God by humans is a human declaration that God is good. What the pilgrims here are urging the priests to do ('Come, bless the LORD') and what they themselves will do ('lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!') is to live a life, to utter words and do deeds, in such a way that makes clear that God is good. They are being urged to live a life that honors God, to live a life that focuses upon God, to live for God. They are being urged to say that God is good, that he is blessed. They are not adding to the divine, eternal, complete, sufficient blessedness of God in his own person; they are witnessing to it. They are declaring, in their own experience, through their journey, that they have witnessed that a life lived for God is the happiest kind of life. They are blessing God that he is blessed and worth living for. It is their witness, their declaration.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Nodding off—happens to the best of us. LOL!
(click on pic to enlarge)

WTS 2013 Charge to the Graduates by Dr. K. Scott Oliphint:

When Feeding Off a Dumpster Is a Thing of the Past

I posted this over at FB this morning:

I saw a little boy eating leftover fried chicken from a KFC dumpster on my drive to work this morning. As I fought off tears, I called to mind the truth that God did not exempt even Himself from the indignities of human life by becoming the God-Man, Jesus Christ. In fact, the suffering that marked His life and death was for the express purpose of making certain a new creation wherein little boys would not have to compete with bacteria for leftover chicken. That heart-wrenching sight on my morning drive is not the end of the story.

Regarding the problem of evil, the Christian does not need to justify God's having decreed evil to be a part of created reality (theodicy) as the proper response but acknowledge that God's ways are not our ways and that, though we cannot exhaustively comprehened God's plan, the epicenter of that plan is precisely the solution to the problem—Jesus Christ, God with us (theophany).

I encourage you to feast on the trust-building and worship-eliciting bread served by Dr. K. Scott Oliphint in this article and in this talk:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Union with Christ Launch Pad

For those desiring to learn more about the Reformed doctrine of union with Christ, this post by Justin Taylor will prove helpful: Union with Christ: A Crash Course

The links to Richard Gaffin and Sinclar Ferguson's lectures alone make paying the link a visit worthwhile, not to mention the link to Phil Gons' website which contains a wealth of bibliographical information!

Jared Oliphint opines that Dr. Gaffin's upcoming book, By Faith, Not By Sight, will be released in Kindle format and I am certainly looking forward to that. In the meantime, I got myself Marcus Peter Johnson's One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pearls, Canine Swine, and Apologetics

"Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." (Matthew 7:6)

Debate is inescapable in the defense of the Christian faith. One of the functions of thorough and able instruction in doctrine is so that we may "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) when "anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" (1 Peter 3:15,16).

When we engage in apologetics, the end result must be the "shaming" of the unbeliever pursuant to repentance and faith in Christ. But what if we are met with stampeding swine and raging wolves; those whose minds are in such an advanced state of decadence that their hearts burst forth with sheer violent hatred for God, impelling them to oppose all forms of godliness (sure sounds like the New Atheists!)?

Should the apologist pursue debate with persons of this ilk as a consistent modus operandi? The Zeitgeist pretty much assures us that little Hitchens-es and Dawkins-es are now the norm and that no street corner is without them. So if the answer to the prior query is that engaging the luminaries should be avoided, what about street debates given the foregoing consideration? What about Google Hangout scuffles?

John Calvin, commenting on Matthew 7:6, answers:

Give not that which is holy It is unnecessary to repeat oftener, that Matthew gives us here detached sentences, which ought not to be viewed as a continued discourse. The present instruction is not at all connected with what came immediately before, but is entirely separate from it. Christ reminds the Apostles, and, through them, all the teachers of the Gospel, to reserve the treasure of heavenly wisdom for the children of God alone, and not to expose it to unworthy and profane despisers of his word.

But here a question arises: for he afterwards commanded to preach the Gospel to every creature, (Mark 16:15;) and Paul says, that the preaching of it is a deadly savor to wicked men, (2 Corinthians 2:16;) and nothing is more certain than that it is every day held out to unbelievers, by the command of God, for a testimony, that they may be rendered the more inexcusable. I reply: As the ministers of the Gospel, and those who are called to the office of teaching, cannot distinguish between the children of God and swine, it is their duty to present the doctrine of salvation indiscriminately to all. Though many may appear to them, at first, to be hardened and unyielding, yet charity forbids that such persons should be immediately pronounced to be desperate. It ought to be understood, that dogs and swine are names given not to every kind of debauched men, or to those who are destitute of the fear of God and of true godliness, but to those who, by clear evidences, have manifested a hardened contempt of God, so that their disease appears to be incurable. In another passage, Christ places the dogs in contrast with the elect people of God and the household of faith, It is not proper to take the children's bread, and give it to dogs, (Matthew 15:27.) But by dogs and swine he means here those who are so thoroughly imbued with a wicked contempt of God, that they refuse to accept any remedy.

Hence it is evident, how grievously the words of Christ are tortured by those who think that he limits the doctrine of the Gospel to those only who are teachable and well-prepared. For what will be the consequence, if nobody is invited by pious teachers, until by his obedience he has anticipated the grace of God? On the contrary, we are all by nature unholy, and prone to rebellion. The remedy of salvation must be refused to none, till they have rejected it so basely when offered to them, as to make it evident that they are reprobate and self-condemned, (autokatakritoi,) as Paul says of heretics, (Titus 3:11.)   

There are two reasons, why Christ forbade that the Gospel should be offered to lost despisers. It is an open profanation of the mysteries of God to expose them to the taunts of wicked men. Another reason is, that Christ intended to comfort his disciples, that they might not cease to bestow their labors on the elect of God in teaching the Gospel, though they saw it wantonly rejected by wicked and ungodly men. His meaning is lest this inestimable treasure should be held in little estimation, swine and dogs must not be permitted to approach it. There are two designations which Christ bestows on the doctrine of salvation: he calls it holy, and compares it to pearls. Hence we learn how highly we ought to esteem this doctrine.

Lest these trample them under their feet Christ appears to distinguish between the swine and the dogs: attributing brutal stupidity to the swine, and rage to the dogs And certainly, experience shows, that there are two such classes of despisers of God. Whatever is taught in Scripture, for instance, about the corrupt nature of man, free justification, and eternal election, is turned by many into an encouragement to sloth and to carnal indulgence. Such persons are fitly and justly pronounced to be swine Others, again, tear the pure doctrine, and its ministers, with sacrilegious reproaches, as if they threw away all desire to do well, all fear of God, and all care for their salvation. Although he employs both names to describe the incurable opponents of the Word of God, yet, by a twofold comparison, he points out briefly in what respect the one differs from the other.

Calvin gives a conditional No, arguing for the upholding of the sublimity of the truths of God against grossly wicked despisers and a better use of time in the service of the church.

Google Hangouts...hehehehe.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Can a Christian Be in Habitual Sin?

John Owen, with great pastoral care and sensitivity, answers the question:

Discourse IX (Delivered April 19, 1677)

Question. Whether lust or corruption, habitually prevalent, be consistent with the truth of grace?

Answer. This is a hard question; there are difficulties in it, and, it may be, it is not precisely to be determined. I am sure we should be wonderfully careful what we say upon such a question, which determines the present and eternal condition of the souls of men.

Supposing we retain something of what was spoken in stating a lust or corruption so habitually prevalent, because this is the foundation of our present inquiry, I shall bring what I have to say upon this question to a few heads, that they may be remembered.

I say, then, --

Kabod and the Christian Life

The glory of God denotes weight and substance.

This perfectly comports with God's aseity as being the foundation of man's every conception of God.

Ontologically, God IS. He is not derived from, or an instance of, a generic and abstract "God" being, but is Himself the self-existent Triune God and the source of all created being.

Epistemologically, man's knowledge of anything, if it is to be "of substance," must reckon with the Creator of the fact being apprehended.

Morally, one's lifestyle, and the worldview which informs and influences this, if it is to be "weighty" and truly significant, must have the glory of God as Creator and Redeemer at the forefront of its consideration.

As you can see, the glory of God is God Himself, and the pursuit of His glory is the pursuit of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, for "long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs (Hebrews 1:1-4)."

And we will share in His glory:

"Furthermore, other passages in this last part of Isaiah suggest that the presence of God's glory will render the people of God glorious (see 62:2). What does it mean that the people will be glorious? After their purification by judgment, they can reflect God's glory. Their glory is not inherent to them but is reflected—as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so the people of God reflect the glory of their Lord. Thanks to the work of God, God's people are 'heavy' with significance. God's people will be a 'crown of beauty' and a 'royal diadem' (62:3). They have substance and reputation ('you shall be called by a new name,' 62:2). God's blessing will also bring them substance. Their glory primarily serves a missionary purpose, as the nations will see this glory and be attracted to it." (Tremper Longman III, 'The Glory of God in the Old Testament', The Glory of God [Theology in Community] [Illinois: Crossway, 2010], eds. Christopher W. Morgan & Robert A. Peterson, p. 69)

Man, as made in the image of God, was not made for fluffy, floaty stuff. It can then be argued that the antithesis may also be described as humanity that is defined either by hollow weightlessness or substantial heaviness.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Who is Cornelius Van Til?

Thomas Sullivan presents:

And O.T. scholar, Tremper Longman III, discusses how CVT shaped his thinking and spiritual life:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Anger and the Imitatio Dei

I think it would be correct to say that the vast majority of our expressions of sinful anger are due to perceived slights on self-constructed notions of our own honor, dignity, and worth. But what if this sense of self-honor is one that is borne out of a valuing of what the Word of God declares to be the sole ground of true honor—the imitation of God (Matt. 5:48)?

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I propose that in order to overcome sinful anger (along with other sinful emotions), one must not consider a bare appeal to a set of abstract virtues as desirable in and of themselves (the first horn of the Euthyphro dilemma), but that the one who has God as the chief object of his desire longs for patience and self-control precisely because God Himself is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6).

In other words, just as my two sons (a 5-yr.-old and a 2-yr.-old) worship the ground that I walk on (in a manner of speaking), children of God should long for the family resemblance to become ingrained in their characters in ever-increasing measure, and thus manifested, because they are indeed sons of God through the benefit of adoption in Christ.

The ff. is from a great commentary on Proverbs—a book of Scripture that has a lot to say about anger(!):

Anger (15:18; 16:14; 19:11, 12, 19; 21:19; 25:23; 27:3– 4; 29:8, 22)

Proverbs overall advocates a temperate expression of emotion. We thus are not surprised that anger is identified as a destructive emotion when it is out of control.

Wrath is cruel, and anger is a flood, and who can stand up in the face of jealousy? (27: 4)

Anger destroys familial and community relationships. It is better to live in a desolate wilderness, for instance, than with an angry woman (21: 19). The wise will not only control this emotion in themselves but will also seek to minimize it in others. In terms of the latter, the king is specifically mentioned because his anger can cause the greatest harm:

The anger of a king is a messenger of death; the wise will appease it. (16: 14)

Appropriate Expression of Emotions (12:16; 14:29, 30; 16:32; 17:27; 19:11; 25:28; 29:11)

The wise person is coolheaded, the fool an impetuous hothead. In the same way that the wise are sparing in speech, so they are sparing in emotional expression. It is not that the wise are emotionless or that they don’t express anger or disappointment, but they do so in a way that is appropriate to the context. They don’t blow up in anger, though they may get angry. Moderate expressions of emotions allow the wise to think and strategize. Emotions don’t cloud their thinking. They are still able to navigate life. Another way to put this is that the wise are patient, whereas fools are impatient.

Patience brings much competence, but impatience promotes stupidity. (14: 29)

A patient person is better than a warrior, and those who control their emotions than those who can capture a city. (16: 32)

Those who hold back their speech know wisdom, and those who are coolheaded are people of understanding. (17: 27)

(Tremper Longman III, Proverbs [Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms], Appendix: Topical Studies)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Glories of the Two Cities

Another way to delineate the antithesis of believer and unbeliever is in the area of glory. The former desires the glory of God, the latter the glory of self.

"Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, 'Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.' In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, 'I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength.' And therefore the wise men of the one city, living according to man, have sought for profit to their own bodies or souls, or both, and those who have known God 'glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise'—that is, glorying in their own wisdom, and being possessed by pride—'they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.' For they were either leaders or followers of the people in adoring images, 'and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.' But in the other city there is no human wisdom, but only godliness, which offers due worship to the true God, and looks for its reward in the society of the saints, of holy angels as well as holy men, 'that God may be all in all.'" (Augustine, City of God, Book 14, Chap. 28)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Decalogue of Covenantal Apologetics

1. The faith that we are defending must begin with, and necessarily include, the triune God— Father, Son, and Holy Spirit— who, as God, condescends to create and to redeem.

2. God's covenantal revelation is authoritative by virtue of what it is, and any covenantal, Christian apologetic will necessarily stand on and utilize that authority in order to defend Christianity.

3. It is the truth of God's revelation, together with the work of the Holy Spirit, that brings about a covenantal change from one who is in Adam to one who is in Christ.

4. Man (male and female) as image of God is in covenant with the triune God for eternity.

5. All people know the true God, and that knowledge entails covenantal obligations.

6. Those who are and remain in Adam suppress the truth that they know. Those who are in Christ see that truth for what it is.

7. There is an absolute, covenantal antithesis between Christian theism and any other, opposing position. Thus, Christianity is true and anything opposing it is false.

8. Suppression of the truth, like the depravity of sin, is total but not absolute. Thus, every unbelieving position will necessarily have within it ideas, concepts, notions, and the like that it has taken and wrenched from their true, Christian context.

9. The true, covenantal knowledge of God in man, together with God's universal mercy, allows for persuasion in apologetics.

10. Every fact and experience is what it is by virtue of the covenantal, all-controlling plan and purpose of God.

(K. Scott Oliphint, Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith [Illinois: Crossway, 2013])

You can find Dr. Oliphint discussing covenantal apologetics at Reformed Forum here.

More apologetics posts:

Machen on the Perichoresis Between Evangelism and Apologetics

John Calvin's Influence on Reformed Apologetics

Van Til and the Perichoresis of Apologetics and Evangelism

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Voice of the Gospel in Nature and the Organic Unity of God's Revelation

Endemic to the current discussion on 2K theology is the issue of whether special revelation bears equally upon both believer and unbeliever. I have touched upon this in these two brief posts: The Antithesis a New Species Doth Not Make and Bavinck Contra NL2K/R2K

What follows is a masterful exposition of the organic unity of God's revelation as manifested in its two, but perichoretic, forms (natural and special). This should prove helpful in the navigation of a better stream, a Vossian-Van Tillian path, amidst Transformationalist Neo-Calvinism and Radical/Natural Law Two Kingdoms avenues.

[Kerux:NWTS 21/2 (Sep 2006) 13-34]
Natural and Special Revelation: A Reassessment1
William D. Dennison, Ph. D.

Introduction: Raising the Issue

"Then God said, `Let there be light;' and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning the first day" (NKJ Gen. 1:3-5).

As God created the light on the first day of creation, and he separated the light from the darkness, I ask you, should we understand the creation of the light as natural revelation or special revelation? I think we tend to say, natural revelation.

Let us move quickly ahead and glance at the dawn of the new creation! "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him" (NKJ Jn. 1:3-10).

Later in John's gospel, the Light in John's prologue speaks to us—our Savior Jesus Christ affirms: "I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (Jn. 8:12; cf. Rev. 21:23).

As the new creation dawns by the coming of the Light of life into the world (Jesus Christ), should we understand Christ's redeeming work in the world as natural revelation or special revelation? I think we tend to say that Christ's redeeming work is special revelation.

It seems that we understand the distinction—right? God's creation of light on the first day of the original creation is an expression of natural revelation, whereas God sending the divine Light, Jesus Christ, to usher in the new creation is an expression of special revelation.

The boundaries and the limits of natural revelation and special revelation are set. Natural revelation is a distinct and separate revelation, communicating God's imprint upon the created universe; special revelation is a distinct and separate revelation, communicating God's saving activity to humanity. Although distinct and separate, the two revelations are complimentary and do not contradict each other. Indeed, we have an efficient, tightly defined system that distinguishes both revelations. It has been said, therefore, that natural or general revelation provides the "evidences that a supreme being has created the universe, but we do not see that the being is triune, nor do we see a plan of redemption anywhere in the created order."2 Rather, for humanity to see that the Supreme Being is triune (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and for us to see God's plan of redemption, we need special revelation.3 Hence, special revelation communicates the triune God of the Bible and the plan of redemption focused in Christ.

With this typical distinction between natural and special revelation before you, permit me to ask this question: does the Bible present natural revelation and special revelation within such rigidly defined boundaries? In order to stimulate your thinking, permit me to set before you a few observations from the twentieth century Reformed apologist, Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987). Van Til questions whether nature reveals nothing about God's grace.4 In fact, he writes: "Saving grace is not manifest in nature; yet it is the God of saving grace who manifests himself by means of nature."5 It is not entirely apparent what Van Til means by the first phrase, but as one wrestles with the entire statement in the context of his apologetic, it becomes clear that Van Til holds the position that God displays his saving grace upon the landscape of nature. Perhaps, it can best be said in this manner: saving grace is not nature itself, but saving grace is always displayed by the free and sovereign action of God upon the natural terrain of created history. For this reason, Van Til does not speak of two distinct and separate revelations—natural and special; rather, he understands revelation as a unity that is disclosed in two forms—natural and special. Van Til writes:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oh Sweet Lorraine

Fred is a 96-year-old man who wrote a love song for his recently deceased wife of 75 years. I had a hard time holding off the tears.

The following are the portions of Tim Keller's "The Meaning of Marriage" that I highlighted. I'm sure that I will be reviewing this post frequently.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Luther's Linguistic Fineries

R. C. Sproul has a very interesting lecture in the The Holiness of God CD bundle entitled, "The Insanity of Luther."

In it, he unabashedly characterizes Luther as almost bordering on being bipolar! While the encouragement to be derived from it, at least for me, is the fact that God uses broken people to accomplish His redemptive purposes, some of Luther's antics are just undeniably and downright hilarious!

Just check out some of his linguistic fineries here: List of Luther's Insults

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Life Support Idols

Think of anything that if you lost it you would cease to want to go on living.

Done? Alright. That thing you thought of is your idol.

If you say you thought of God, then that is good. But the reality is that the process of sanctification is such that there will always be idols that we have raised above God to topple down and break.

I have often thought that losing my family would devastate me so much that I pity the fool who would dare antagonize me after—I didn't care if I died in a brawl or what have you. I have made my family my idol.

The Lord loves His children so much that He will not allow us to go on living on idol life support machines. He wants us to truly live. Therefore, He will disillusion us of our idols. He will make us taste the bitterness of them not being able to deliver anymore. When that happens, He will fill us with His consolations and we will indeed taste and see that the Lord is good.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Some Calvin Quotes on Self-Denial

  • For as the surest source of destruction to men is to obey themselves, so the only haven of safety is to have no other will, no other wisdom, than to follow the Lord wherever He leads.

  • For he who has learned to look to God in everything he does is at the same time diverted from all vain thoughts. This is that self-denial that Christ so strongly enforces on His disciples from the very outset (Mat 16:24), which, as soon as it takes hold of the mind, leaves no place either, first, for pride, show, and ostentation; or, secondly, for avarice, lust, luxury, effeminacy, or other vices which are engendered by self love (2Ti 3:2-5).

  • For this there is no other remedy than to pluck up by the roots those most noxious pests, self-love and love of victory. This the doctrine of Scripture does, for it teaches us to remember that the endowments that God has bestowed upon us are not our own but His free gifts; those who plume themselves upon them betray their ingratitude. 'Who maketh thee to differ,' says Paul, 'and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?' (1Co 4:7).

  • Then by a diligent examination of our faults let us keep ourselves humble. Thus, while nothing will remain to swell our pride, there will be much to subdue it. Again, we are enjoined, whenever we behold the gifts of God in others, so to reverence and respect the gifts, as also to honor those in whom they reside. God having been pleased to bestow honor upon them, it would ill become us to deprive them of it. Then we are told to overlook their faults, not indeed to encourage by flattering them, but not because of them to insult those whom we ought to regard with honor and good will. In this way, with regard to all with whom we [deal], our behavior will be not only moderate and modest, but also courteous and friendly. The only way by which you can ever attain to true meekness is to have your heart imbued with a humble opinion of yourself and respect for others.

  • The Lord enjoins us 'to do good' (Heb 13:16) to all without exception, though the greater part, if estimated by their own merit, are most unworthy of it. But Scripture subjoins a most excellent reason, when it tells us that we are not to look to what men in themselves deserve, but to attend to the image of God, which exists in all and to which we owe all honor and love. But in those who are of the household of faith (Gal 6:10), the same rule is to be more carefully observed, inasmuch as that image is renewed and restored in them by the Spirit of Christ. Therefore, whoever be the man that is presented to you as needing your assistance, you have no ground for declining to give it to him. Say, 'He is a stranger'; the Lord has given him a mark that ought to be familiar to you: for which reason he forbids you to despise your own flesh (Isa 58:7). Say, 'He is mean and of no consideration'; the Lord points him out as one whom He has distinguished by the luster of His own image. Say that you are bound to him by no ties of duty; the Lord has substituted him as it were into His own place that in him you may recognize the many great obligations under which the Lord has [bound] you to Himself. Say that he is unworthy of your least exertion on his account; the image of God, by which he is recommended to you, is worthy of yourself and all your exertions. But if he not only merits no good, but has provoked you by injury and mischief, still this is no good reason why you should not embrace him in love and visit him with offices of love (Mat 6:14; 18:35; Luk 17:3). 'He has deserved very differently from me,' you will say. But what has the Lord deserved? Whatever injury he has done you, when he enjoins you to forgive him, he certainly means that it should be imputed to himself. In this way only, we attain to what is not to say difficult but altogether against nature: to love those that hate us, render good for evil, and blessing for cursing (Mat 5:44), remembering that we are not to reflect on the wickedness of men, but look to the image of God in them, an image that, covering and obliterating their faults, should by its beauty and dignity allure us to love and embrace them.

  • He alone, therefore, has properly denied himself who has resigned himself entirely to the Lord, placing all the course of his life entirely at His disposal. Happen what may, he whose mind is thus composed will neither deem himself wretched nor murmur against God because of his lot.

  • Those whom the Lord has chosen and honored with His [fellowship] must prepare for a hard, laborious, troubled life, a life full of many and various kinds of evils—it being the will of our heavenly Father to exercise His people in this way while putting them to the proof. Having begun this course with Christ the first-born, He continues it towards all His children. For though that Son was dear to Him above others, the Son in Whom He was 'well pleased' (Mat 3:17; 17:5), yet we see that far from being treated gently and indulgently, we may say that not only was He subjected to a perpetual cross while He dwelt on earth, but His whole life was nothing else than a kind of perpetual cross. The Apostle assigns the reason: 'Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered' (Heb 5:8). Why then should we exempt ourselves from that condition to which Christ our Head behooved to submit—especially since He submitted on our account that He might in His own person exhibit a model of patience? Wherefore, the Apostle declares that all the children of God are destined to be conformed to Him (Rom 8:29). Hence, it affords us great consolation in hard and difficult circumstances, which men deem evil and adverse, to think that we are holding fellowship with the sufferings of Christ: as He passed to celestial glory through a labyrinth of many woes, so we too are conducted thither through various tribulations. For in another passage, Paul himself thus speaks, 'We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God' (Act 14:22). Again, 'That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death' (Phi 3:10). How powerfully should it soften the bitterness of the cross to think that the more we are afflicted with adversity, the surer we are made of our fellowship with Christ, by communion with Whom our sufferings are not only blessed to us, but tend greatly to the furtherance of our salvation.

  • It is of no little importance to be rid of your self-love and made fully conscious of your weakness; so impressed with a sense of your weakness as to learn to distrust yourself; to distrust yourself so as to transfer your confidence to God, reclining on Him with such heartfelt confidence as to trust in His aid and continue invincible to the end, standing by His grace so as to perceive that He is true to His promises and so assured of the certainty of His promises as to be strong in hope.

  • Scripture gives saints the praise of endurance when, though afflicted by the hardships they endure, they are not crushed. Though they feel bitterly, they are at the same time filled with spiritual joy. Though pressed with anxiety, [they] breathe exhilarated by the consolation of God. Still there is a certain degree of repugnance in their hearts because natural sense shuns and dreads what is adverse to it, while pious affection, even through these difficulties, tries to obey the divine will. In bearing them patiently, we are not submitting to necessity, but resting satisfied with our own good. The effect of these thoughts is that to whatever extent our minds are contracted by the bitterness that we naturally feel under the cross, to the same extent will they be expanded with spiritual joy. Hence arises thanksgiving, which cannot exist unless joy be felt. But if the praise of the Lord and thanksgiving can emanate only from a cheerful and gladdened breast—and there is nothing that ought to interrupt these feelings in us—it is clear how necessary it is to temper the bitterness of the cross with spiritual joy.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Carl Trueman on Judges 19: How Low the People of God Can Go

I expect this sermon to be a veritable blessing to you as it has been to me.

Some of the points that stuck:

1. Hospitality, or charity (love), must be a character trait that grows in ever-increasing measure within a Christian because his Father, God, is a hospitable God. There can be no love without self-denial, and this brings us to the second point.

2. Male headship is the right of the husband to lay down his life for the wife as Christ laid His down for the church. A very important truth for the survival and sustained flourishing of a marriage.

3. Lastly, without daily dependence on the Triune God, i.e., the love and forgiveness of the Father, the mediation of the Son, and the guidance and enabling of the Holy Spirit, through prayer, feeding on God's Word, and attendance to the means of grace, even the Christian can go as low as the chief characters portrayed in the chapter—a very sobering prospect.

So without further ado, I invite you to press play and be edified.

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Don't Care!

I'm feeling kinda good today and in the mood for a blog post.

What I'd like to share is a biblical insight that has made a profound impact on me. It is the kind of insight that will—at the risk of sounding pedestrian—revolutionize your life, and the insight is this: I DON'T CARE!

That's right. I don't care what you think of me, I don't even care what I think of me. Now before you pass this off as in keeping with inane youthful rebellion, I'd like you to reckon with Paul's words first:

"But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God." (1 Cor. 4:3-4)

What is Paul saying? He's not recommending throwing off the "shackles" of consideration for others, neither is he advocating a reckless abandon bordering on masochism. What Paul is saying is that his identity is so bound up in Christ, so inextricably linked with his union with Him, that the only verdict on his person that matters is Christ's. And what is this verdict:

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1)

Are you beginning to taste and savor the utterly delicious freedom of this truth? It offers, not rudeness, nor unkindness, but the spiritual power and strength to enjoy all that is ours in Christ, to be defined by this, and to live our lives not in a perennial state of seeking a righteous judgment from others, ourselves, and things, but as free men. As grateful men.

Timothy Keller adds:

"Paul was a man of incredible stature. I think it would be hard to disagree with the view that he is one of the six or seven most influential leaders in the history of the human race. One of the most influential people in history. He had enormous ballast, tremendous influence, incredible confidence. He moved ahead and nothing fazed him. And yet, in 1 Timothy, he says ‘Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief’ (1 Tim. 1:15 NKJV). Not I was chief, but I am chief. Or ‘I am the worst’. This is off our maps. We are not used to someone who has incredible confidence volunteering the opinion that they are one of the worst people. We are not used to someone who is totally honest and totally aware of all sorts of moral flaws – yet has incredible poise and confidence.

We cannot do that. Do you know why? Because we are judging ourselves. But Paul will not do that. When he says that he does not let the Corinthians judge him nor will he judge himself, he is saying that he knows about his sins but he does not connect them to himself and his identity. His sins and his identity are not connected. He refuses to play that game. He does not see a sin and let it destroy his sense of identity. He will not make a connection. Neither does he see an accomplishment and congratulate himself. He sees all kinds of sins in himself – and all kinds of accomplishments too – but he refuses to connect them with himself or his identity. So, although he knows himself to be the chief of sinners, that fact is not going to stop him from doing the things that he is called to do.

We could not be more different from Paul. If I think of myself as a bad person, I do not have any confidence. If I think of myself as a sinner, as someone who is filled with pride, someone filled with lust and anger and greed and all the things that Paul says he is filled with, I have no confidence. No, because we are judging ourselves. We set our standards and then we condemn ourselves. The ego will never be satisfied that way. Never!

Paul is saying something astounding. ‘I don’t care what you think and I don’t care what I think.’ He is bringing us into new territory that we know nothing about. His ego is not puffed up, it is filled up. He is talking about humility – although I hate using the word ‘humility’ because this is nothing like our idea of humility. Paul is saying that he has reached a place where his ego draws no more attention to itself than any other part of his body. He has reached the place where he is not thinking about himself anymore. When he does something wrong or something good, he does not connect it to himself any more." (The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chaotic Change

The process of being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, called sanctification, is a lifelong dynamic of the Holy Spirit revealing the nature and extent of indwelling sin, with the attendant horrors of being confronted with the reality of our ugly selves in the light of God's beautiful holiness. This also involves the Spirit leading us by the hand and incessantly reorienting our hearts and minds toward the Goal through the Gospel. Exhausted and horrified, we are grateful for the righteousness, peace, and joy that is ours in the midst of our failures and we are invigorated by undeserved grace. We get up, dust ourselves, and pursue Christ once again in grateful obedience.

The fact of the matter is that change is most often a process and seldom an event. Change happens chaotically. It comes unannounced, in fits and starts. We don't wake up and say, "Hey, I think I'll create all kinds of change today." Change is pushed upon us by a persevering Redeemer, who will not walk away from the work he has begun...He will put the need of change before us in the most inopportune moments. He will not submit to our schedule or agenda for our day. He has not promised that change will be enjoyable each time or a comfortable process over the long haul. He has promised to stay near us, giving us everything we need, and he has guaranteed that we will be more than we ever thought we could be. (He will not cease working until we are like Jesus. Now, how's that for a goal!) So, he calls us to be patient. He calls us to be willing to wait. He calls us to continue when continuing is hard, and as we are continuing, to look for any way we can to incarnate his transforming love. (Paul D. Tripp, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage [Illinois:Crossway, 2010], 131-132)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Van Til the Street Preacher

These images of Cornelius Van Til street preaching may seem uncharacteristic of a Reformed apologist and churchman like himself. The stereotype is that numbers are added to the church through the procreation of covenant children by believing parents. While this is certainly true and not something to be embarrased about, there is also nothing un-Reformed about what Van Til did. He simply made the antithesis hit hard. What does this mean?

It means every human being is guilty and is aware of this guilt to one extent or another by virtue of being made in the image of God. Even Francis Turretin posits that there is actually no such entity as an absolute, theoretical atheist, though practical ones abound. The voice of conscience is strong in every man, condemning imperfect obedience to the Law. While the unbeliever tries incessantly to suppress this voice, the Holy Spirit uses the means of the declaration of the Law and the guilt it brings, followed by the Gospel with its attendant grace, to effect the faith that justifies. When the unbeliever is translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, he passes from one side of the antithesis to another.

So, in fact, Van Til was merely being a good agent of divine concursus!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Calvin the Peacemaker

Breaking the bond of fellowship between brethren is no small matter. In fact, it is so serious that Paul could declare, "As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned" (Titus 3:10-11).

Aside from foundational doctrinal differences, churches in fraternal relations, I would think, have no valid grounds for cutting off communion with each other.

Regarding the matter, the ff. piece exposes John Calvin's heart:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


"Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty. In particular, the miserable ruin into which the revolt of the first man has plunged us, compels us to turn our eyes upwards; not only that while hungry and famishing we may thence ask what we want, but being aroused by fear may learn humility. For as there exists in man something like a world of misery, and ever since we were stript of the divine attire our naked shame discloses an immense series of disgraceful properties every man, being stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness, in this way necessarily obtains at least some knowledge of God. Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us, that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves. For what man is not disposed to rest in himself? Who, in fact, does not thus rest, so long as he is unknown to himself; that is, so long as he is contented with his own endowments, and unconscious or unmindful of his misery? Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to find him." (John Calvin, Institutes I.1.1)

It is interesting how Calvin opens up his magnum opus extolling the virtues of self-knowledge.

Noteworthy is the fact that this is no gnostic inward-curving but a knowledge of self borne out of a knowledge of God. If all of the Christian life is repentance, as rightly asserted by Martin Luther, then all of this life entails an increase in both the knowledge of God and self, which increase is facilitated by the perichoresis between the two, resulting in repentance that would only cease upon death or the return of Christ.

Knowing oneself through the circumstances of life is only possible if these particular events are interpreted through the grid of God's Word. To benefit from the ups and downs of life in terms of engendering the repentance that breeds sanctification, love and knowledge of God's Word is indispensable.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Write More to Read More

The bulk of my reading lately has been focused on family and marriage books. I got myself Paul Tripp's "What Did You Expect?? (Redeeming the Realities of Marriage)", Andreas J. Köstenberger's "God, Marriage, and Family (Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation)", and Richard Phillips' "The Masculine Mandate (God's Calling to Men)."

Providence seems to have deemed it fitting to rock this area in my life in order to improve it, and the Lord did not leave me wanting for wisdom by guiding me to these works penned by His servants.

With that said, I realize I need to up the ante on my reading. I still have Turretin's IET and Bavinck's RD to go through, along with a host of other books that are more of the ST and BT type. Alan Parsons Project got it right when it sang, "time, keeps flowing like a river." I need to make more time for reading. But I realized that I read more when I wrote and I have not blogged for a couple of months now. So to read more, I need to write more.

This is to tell you that I plan on blogging more (in order to read more) and hopefully to have it continue on until the Lord's appointed time of cessation.

By His grace, may this blog bless you as it has blessed me in its writing.

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