Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Manliness of Puritanism

*The following is excerpted from J. I. Packer's A Quest for Godliness, as found here:

Anyone who knows anything at all about Puritan Christianity knows that at its best it had a vigour, a manliness, and a depth which modern evangelical piety largely lacks. This is because Puritanism was essentially an experimental faith, a religion of ‘heart-work’, a sustained practice of seeking the face of God, in a way that our own Christianity too often is not. The Puritans were manlier Christians just because they were godlier Christians. It is worth noting three particular points of contrast between them and ourselves.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Holy Spirit As Eschatological Reward

Adam's failure to keep the stipulations of the CoW meant that the Holy Spirit withdrew from him and from the whole created order. If the Spirit is the Person of the Trinity that perfects all of God's external acts, this withdrawal seems to explain the Curse. In the CoG, the Holy Spirit restores this perfection in both man and the world, to be fully realized in glory.

It also appears that eschatological reward is the fullest reception of the Spirit that is possible. Adam forfeited this potential; but Christ, as the Last Adam, has received the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), and therefore, those united to Him shall enjoy perfection in the outward man even as they are now being perfected in the inward man.

"And thus Adam may be said to have had the Spirit of God in his innocency. He had him in these peculiar effects of his power and goodness; and he had him according to the tenor of that covenant whereby it was possible that he should utterly lose him, as accordingly it came to pass. He had him not by especial inhabitation, for the whole world was then the temple of God. In the covenant of grace, founded in the person and on the mediation of Christ, it is otherwise. On whomsoever the Spirit of God is bestowed for the renovation of the image of God in him, he abides with him forever. But in all men, from first to last, all goodness, righteousness, and truth, are the 'fruits of the Spirit,' Eph. v. 9." (John Owen, Pneumatologia)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dignity Beyond Dust

Secular materialism, in its hubris, celebrates the ignominy of being merely dust. Christianity, on the other hand, in its humility, depends on the Spirit of God to breathe the image of God into dust so that man may gain a dignity beyond it.

"So is God, the great demiourgos, the universal framer of all, represented as an artificer, who first prepares his matter, and then forms it as it seemeth good unto him. And this is mentioned for two ends:-- First, To set forth the excellency, power, and wisdom of God, who out of such vile, contemptible matter as a heap of dust, swept as it were together on the ground, could and did make so excellent, curious, and glorious a fabric as is the body of man, or as was the body of Adam before the fall. Secondly, To mind man of his original, that he might be kept humble and in a meet dependence on the wisdom and bounty of his Creator; for thence it was, and not from the original matter whereof he was made, that he became so excellent." (John Owen, Pneumatologia)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dr. Marty Foord on Biblical Masculinity

Probably the best treatment of the topic that I've come across.

Click here for Dr. Marty Foord's profile.

Lecture I (Be the Man - Ephesians 5:21-6:9):

Lecture II (Be the Man in the World - Titus 2:1-15):

Lecture III (Be the Man in the Church - 1 Tim 2:1-8):

The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation

By Alister E. McGrath.

I know, you're welcome. ;-)

Monday, April 14, 2014

John Owen and the Monstrosity of an Impersonal View of the Holy Spirit

"Now, I say that this appearance of the Holy Ghost in a bodily shape, wherein he was represented by that which is a substance and hath a subsistence of its own, doth manifest that he himself is a substance and hath a subsistence of his own; for if he be no such thing, but a mere influential effect of the power of God, we are not taught right apprehensions of him but mere mistakes by this appearance, for of such an accident there can be no substantial figure or resemblance made but what is monstrous." (John Owen, Pneumatologia)

If the Holy Spirit is not a person but a mere outworking of the power of God, representing that power by a dove (a thing of the substance "bird" and subsisting as each instance of a bird with dove properties) would have been very, very weird and out of accord with how God has chosen to reveal the created order to His image-bearers.

Imagine running on a treadmill and the energy you expended burning up calories suddenly becomes a hamster??!! LOL.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sex As a Foretaste of Heaven

I'm really grateful for the various Reformed resources that are made available for free on the Net. One of the premier ones are those courses on iTunes U that seminaries make accessible. Just recently, I was able to download courses off Reformed Theological Seminary's offering, one of which was Dr. Rod Mays' course on Pastoral Counseling. His lecture entitled, "Sexuality," was a veritable blessing.

One of the concepts that I found most beneficial was the idea of sex as a foretaste of heaven. Christ and the Church are united now, not physically, but mystically, a union wrought by the Holy Spirit. However, when Christ comes back for His bride, glorified bodies will be given those who have been in such a union. Then, Christ and the Church will be together, forever to enjoy each other's corporeal presence. This is man's telos, and it is his greatest pleasure. Is it any wonder, then, that sex, if meant to be a foreshadowing of the future heavenly pleasure of Christ's physical oneness with the Church, is arguably the greatest physical pleasure that is possible to a human being presently on earth? This has ramifications for how a Christian views and treats sex in the now.

This view of sex tells me how good God is. It tells me that God loves me so much that He has given a means for me to have a glimpse of heavenly pleasure through the physical union of my wife and I in a way that glorifies Himself by being a metaphor of the union between Christ and the Church. It tells me that sex is utterly holy, and that giving in to sexual sin of any sort is really taking God's precious gift of heaven and treating it like dung, a profane thing. It tells me that my wife is more precious than I previously thought, for through her, God gives me a sneak peek of heaven. It makes me long more for that day when Christ shall come back for His wife, to be one with her, when heaven, and all its pleasures, shall be enjoyed in a glorified body. Finally, it tells me why the people of God are not given over to marriage in glory. This is so because the substance and reality pointed to by marriage and sex are finally established—Christ and the Church are now together physically.

In the lifelong war against lust, a view of sex as a foretaste of heaven may just be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


It has been common practice among Calvinists to add a postscript of SDG or Soli Deo Gloria in their communications with each other, especially when a particular blessing has been received. I would like to propose a new expression—SBG or Suffering Before Glory.

One of the core tenets of the doctrine of union with Christ is that everything in the way of the Christian life that a believer receives or goes through in the application of redemption (ordo salutis) is predicated upon Christ having merited or gone through the thing bestowed or experienced, beforehand, in His accomplishment of redemption (historia salutis). This means that just as Christ suffered before He was received into glory, the one united to Him through faith must also suffer before he is glorified in the consummation.

While there is suffering that is the lot of every human being by virtue of subsistence in a fallen world, there is suffering that is unique to the Christian.

The world system, i.e., that philosophy of life that seeks to set man up as God, is hostile to the one who denies himself and lives a life of dependence on God—a life lived in light of the Creator-creature distinction.

Satan and his minions, they who seek to rob God of the glory that is due Him as the Sovereign Lord of reality, tirelessly go up against the children of God because they are the only ones, with the image of God restored in them, who are capable of redounding the glory of creation unto Him who is its Creator.

Finally, there is the self as considered with indwelling sin. This is the source of the Christian's greatest antagonism, and the cry of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7 leaves no room for doubt as to the nature of the struggle that elicits such convulsions of soul.

This suffering is glorifying, not just for the Christian in the conclusion of his pilgrimage, but presently to Christ, since it produces His image in the Christian sufferer and serves to increase His mediatorial glory. The one who proclaims allegiance to Christ but is not desirous of affording Him the glory that He rightly deserves will shrink away from suffering. Consequently, he will not be glorified at Christ's return.

May the following meditation from Herman Hoeksema in Peace for the Troubled Heart strengthen you for suffering. SBG!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Christology, Goodwin, Jones, and Sheen

Pastor Mark Jones' recent book, Antinomiansim, has made the rounds and it seems everybody has given it a high-five, and deservedly so. However, if there's just one thing about that book, and about everything from Pastor Jones that I've read and heard, that has had the most significant impact on me, I would say that that is his emphasis on Christology. In fact, a sound and robust Christology is the remedy that he proposes for antinomianism in the aforementioned book. Incidentally, he has this little book on Christology that I found enjoyable.

Pastor Jones is not shy about proclaiming to whom he owes the most for his love and knowledge of Christology.

While John Owen is certainly up there, as evidenced by this article and his having co-edited this book with Kelly Kapic (I bought it as a Christmas gift to myself), it is Thomas Goodwin who was influential enough to have prompted him to have the esteemed Puritan theologian as the subject matter of his doctoral dissertation (in a sermon of his, Pastor Jones remarked that his choice of Goodwin and Christology was brought on by the desire to be of more pastoral service to his flock, as opposed to topics that would not have true benefit to the church).

By a stroke of amiable providence, that document is available online:

Lest you think that I am wantonly sharing this without permission:

If Pastor Jones' Christology was shaped by Thomas Goodwin, it must follow that it would be a very good idea to read on the man himself. So I got myself the following and read:

- A Habitual Sight of Him: The Christ-Centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin (edited by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones)

- Christ Set Forth (Goodwin)

- The Heart of Christ in Heaven Towards Sinners on Earth (Goodwin) *This was the most influential book, according to Pastor Jones

- The Trial of a Christian's Growth (Goodwin)

I encourage you to get on Goodwin yourself. Even Charlie Sheen agrees:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How Long, O Lord?

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Philippians 1:21-23)

"Let them complain of the brevity of this earthly life whose portion is below, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame. They have all their hope in the things of this world. Beyond the horizon of the things of this present time, even the vision of their hope perishes. In the world they prosper. With the world they seek to be satisfied. To the world they cling with all their might. This world they dread to leave. For them the way through this world is all too brief. They may complain that time hastens on and that the end approaches too fast, but I will not.


The end of my days on the earth, although it is the end of much in this earthly house that is dear to me, is also the liberation from all that is a cause of grief to the inward man. It is the end of the body of this death, the end of the law of sin in my members that takes me captive, so that I do not what I would and often find myself doing that which I hate. It is the end of all my connection with the world that is crucified to me and I to it— the world with its glitter and vainglory, its temptations and persecutions, its boast of victory, and its prospering in iniquity. It is the end of my being exposed to the temptations of the devil and his host, the end of death and of the suffering of this present time, the end of the battle, and the end of all apparent defeat.

How many, then, are the days of thy servant, the days of battle and of the suffering of this present time?

I long for the end of them, for that end marks the beginning of everything for which my soul longs.

Beyond that end, I know and am persuaded, lies the glory of the eternal inheritance. There I expect perfection, freedom, life, victory, and glory. There I know that I will be in God’s tabernacle and see him face-to-face, as here I cannot see him . There I will respond with my whole being— body and soul, mind and will, heart and all my desires; eye and ear, mouth, hand, foot, and all my members— eternally, perfectly, in a heavenly fashion and on a heavenly plane, to that perfect vision of God. There I shall know even as I am known.

Beyond that end is the perfect being and fellowship with Christ and with his saints.

There is the incorruptible and undefilable inheritance that fades not away.

There I expect the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness shall dwell.

How long, O Lord?"

(Herman Hoeksema, Ch. 14, How Long, Lord?, Peace for the Troubled Heart)

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