Posted by: reiterations | June 29, 2015

On Providence (Not Rhode Island)

Providence is an old-fashioned word and has a strange ring to modern ears.  Yet, when we break it down into its parts, the meaning becomes clear.  It comes from the Latin video, “to see,” and pro, “before,” meaning “to see beforehand.”  In our lives, we plan beforehand but we do not see what is going to happen.  God has planned everything for His creation and, because He is the sovereign God, everything will come to pass as He purposed.  Providence is that marvelous working of God by which all the events and happenings in His universe accomplish the purpose He has in mind.

From: Behind a Frowning Providence by John J. Murray (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1990), p. 7.

Posted by: reiterations | June 28, 2015

For the Lord’s Day (387)

Then, Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings.  And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting and, when they came out, they blessed the people and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.  And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar and, when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.  (Leviticus 9.22-24)

Posted by: reiterations | June 27, 2015

A Dollop of Matthew Henry

A godly man, that he may do that which is good and cleave to it, submits to the guidance of the Word of God and makes that familiar to him (verse 2).  This is that which keeps him out of the way of the ungodly and fortifies him against their temptations (Psalm 17.4).  We need not court the fellowship of sinners, either for pleasure or for improvement, while we have fellowship with the Word of God and with God Himself in and by His Word (Proverbs 6.22).  We may judge of our spiritual state by asking, “What is the law of God to us?  What account do we make of it?  What place has it in us?”

See here: (1) the entire affection which a good man has for the law of God – His delight is in it.  He delights in it, though it be a law, a yoke, because it is the law of God, which is holy, just, and good, which he freely consents to and so delights in (Romans 7.16, 22).  All who are well-pleased that there is a God must be well-pleased that there is a Bible, a revelation of God, of His will, and of the only way to happiness in Him.

(2) The intimate acquaintance which a good man keeps up with the Word of God – in that law doth he meditate day and night and, by this, it appears that his delight is in it, for what we love, we love to think of (Psalm 119.97).  To meditate in God’s Word is to discourse with ourselves concerning the great things contained in it with a close application of mind [and] a fixedness of thought till we be suitably affected with those things and experience a savor and power of them in our hearts.  This we must do day and night.  We must have a constant, habitual regard to the Word of God as the rule of our actions and the spring of our comforts, and we must have it in our thoughts, accordingly, upon every occasion that occurs, whether night or day.  No time is amiss for meditating on the Word of God nor is any time unseasonable for those visits.  We must not only set ourselves to meditate on God’s Word morning and evening, at the entrance of the day and of the night, but these thoughts should be interwoven with the business and converse of every day and with the repose and slumbers of every night: When I am awake, I am still with Thee. – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), comment on Psalm 1.2.

Posted by: reiterations | June 26, 2015

The True Source of True Peace

Peace must be sought nowhere but in the agonies of Christ, our Redeemer. – Calvin, Institutes, 3.13.4.

Posted by: reiterations | June 25, 2015

“Cleave to Him Who Made You”

If physical objects please you, praise God because of them and turn your love back upon their Creator so that you do not displease Him by means of what pleases you.  If souls please you, let them be loved in God because they, too, are mutable and only when attached to God do they find a firm foundation.  If they went anywhere else, they would perish.  Thus, let them be loved in Him and take what souls you can to Him with you and say to them: “Let us love Him.  He made all these things and He is not far off” [see Acts 17.27-28].  He has not made all this to abandon it, but all that is from Him is in Him.  Look, there He is! – wherever truth is distinguished.  He is deep within the heart, though the heart has strayed from Him.  Return to your heart, you transgressors, and cleave to Him who made you.  Stand with Him, and you will stand fast, indeed.  Take your rest in Him and you will find peace.  Why do you make your way toward what is difficult?  Why are you going there?  The good that you love is from Him.  Insofar as it refers to Him, it is good and sweet.  But, whatever it is that comes from Him, it will justly become bitter – if He has been abandoned – because it is loved unjustly.

From: Confessions: Books 1-8 by Augustine; translated from the Latin by Carolyn J.-B. Hammond; Loeb Classical Library, Volume 26 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014), pp. 161-163.  Excerpted from Book 4.  Originally published in about AD 400.

Posted by: reiterations | June 24, 2015

Spiritual Fruit

All men fall into one of the two broad classifications “in the flesh” or “in the Spirit.”  When the Spirit reigns inwardly, there is a corresponding change of the standards and habits of outward conduct.  Paul lashes out against the vices of heathendom that were threatening the infant churches.  Such vices were not possible for those who had discarded the old man and were being renewed in the power of the Holy Spirit.  “To live by the Spirit, to walk by the Spirit, this was the one safeguard against relapsing into the lusts of the flesh” [Henry Swete].  From and through the indwelling Spirit the spiritual virtues fully ripen…

The biblical virtues should not be identified superficially with the virtues of other systems of cultural endeavor.  T. T. Brumbaugh suggested that the principles of Bushido, a system of Spartan-like virtues that Japanese warrior nobles observed in vocation and daily life, are the equivalent of the Pauline fruit of the Spirit.  Bushido was born in Buddhism, Shintoism, and Confucianism.  From Buddhism came submission to fate and disdain of life and death.  From Shintoism, loyalty to the sovereign, ancestral reverence, and filial piety.  From Confucianism, the ties of personal and neighbor relations.  This morality eventually summed up “the Volksgeist of the Island Realm” [Inazo Nitobe].  It stressed justice or rectitude but had no conception of justification; right reason, without dependence on revelation; courage, wholly that of the brave heart of the natural man; benevolence, yet short of agape; politeness, a respect for the feelings and social positions of others that evidenced mastery of the unregenerate spirit over the flesh; truthfulness, yet stranger to the Truth; honor, emphasizing the dignity of man and discounting his sinfulness; patience, meekness, loyalty, self-control, all the result of stringent discipline but no new birth by the Spirit of God.

The new life in the Spirit is the basic presupposition of virtue for the Christian.  Bushido leaves no room for God.  Its virtues rise out of bent men.  Conformity to the Bushido code begets pride.  Failure to conform results in shame.  Christian ethics recognizes that conformity to the will of God is a lifelong process.  Failure leads the Christian to ask for cleansing and to call upon divine help for growth.  Moreover, love becomes the moving principle of the whole.  It always stands at the head of the virtues.  The others are seen in their true light only when they are seen in love.  Bushido grants loyalty to superiors the upper place.  Love is no respecter of persons and knows no inferior or superior.

The Christian virtues all cohere in a harmonious whole.  One is not lifted up at the expense of another.  They do not work against each other.  It is the Holy Spirit who fits each in place in the good life.

From: Christian Personal Ethics by Carl F. H. Henry (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957), pp. 473, 474.

Carl F. H. Henry (1913-2003) was a member of the founding faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary (1947) and the founding editor of Christianity Today (1956).  He was also a prolific author: his magnum opus, God, Revelation, and Authority was published in six volumes from 1976 to 1983.


Posted by: reiterations | June 23, 2015

On Justification by Faith

Scripture, when it treats of justification by faith, leads us in a very different direction.  Turning away our view from our own works, it bids us look only to the mercy of God and the perfection of Christ.  The order of justification which it sets before us is this: first, God, of His mere gratuitous goodness, is pleased to embrace the sinner, in whom He sees nothing that can move Him to mercy but wretchedness because He sees him altogether naked and destitute of good works.  He, therefore, seeks the cause of kindness in Himself that, thus, He may affect the sinner by a sense of His goodness and induce him, in a distrust of his own works, to cast himself entirely upon His mercy for salvation.  This is the meaning of faith by which the sinner comes into the possession of salvation when, according to the doctrine of the gospel, he perceives that he is reconciled by God when, by the intercession of Christ, he obtains the pardon of his sins and is justified and, though renewed by the Spirit of God, considers that, instead of leaning on his own works, he must look solely to the righteousness which is treasured up for him in Christ.  When these things are weighed separately, they will clearly explain our view, though they may be arranged in a better order than that in which they are here presented.  But, it is of little consequence, provided they are so connected with each other as to give us a full exposition and solid confirmation of the whole subject. – John Calvin (1509-1564), Institutes 3.11.16.

Posted by: reiterations | June 22, 2015

On Thomas Manton

In his own day, Manton was known as “the King of Preachers” [Ralph Thoresby] and his funeral was “attended with the vastest number of ministers of all persuasions, etc., that ever I saw together in my life” [Thoresby].  He was, in the words of Beeke and Pederson, “a model of consistent, rigorous Calvinism.”  He was a convinced but irenic Presbyterian, overseeing the reprinting of Smectymnuus in 1653.  J. C. Ryle stated that “if there was one name which, more than another, was incessantly before the public for several years about the period of the Restoration, that name was Manton’s.”  Additionally, Manton was chosen to write the preface to the documents of the Westminster Assembly, again emphasizing the respect in which he was widely held…

Some controversy has arisen over Manton’s theological stance because of his appreciation of Richard Baxter.  Manton stated that “he thought Mr. Baxter came the nearest the apostolical inspired writers of any man of the age” [Edmund Calamy] and that “he did not look upon himself as worthy to carry his Books after him” [William Harris].  Given Baxter’s deviation from the standard Reformed stances on the topics of justification and atonement and his position on the free offer of the gospel…did Manton’s respect for Baxter extend to an appropriation of his controversial theology?  David Field considers this question briefly and concludes that, while he “theologically…went half way to Baxter” and “may have stood theologically nearer Baxter…than he did to Owen,” nonetheless, his “treatment of justification is fully in line with the Westminster Confession…and he strongly asserts particular redemption over against an Amyraldian understanding of the atonement.”

From: James Durham (1622-1658) and the Gospel Offer in its Seventeenth-Century Context by Donald John MacLean; Reformed Historical Theology series, Volume 31 (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), pp. 198-199.

Donald John MacLean is Research Supervisor at Wales Evangelical School of Theology and Visiting Lecturer at City University in London.

Posted by: reiterations | June 21, 2015

For the Lord’s Day (386)

Only, let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him and to which God has called him.  This is my rule in all the churches.  Was anyone, at the time of his call, already circumcised?  Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision.  Was anyone, at the time of his call, uncircumcised?  Let him not seek circumcision.  For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.  Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called.  Were you a bondservant, when called?  Do not be concerned about it.  (But, if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.)  For he who was called, in the Lord, as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord.  Likewise, he who was free, when called, is a bondservant of Christ.  You were bought with a price.  Do not become bondservants of men.  So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.  (1 Corinthians 7.17-24)

Posted by: reiterations | June 20, 2015

Never Avenge Yourself

The last two characteristics Paul lists here are both reiterations.  He again denounces returning evil for evil, declaring, Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God.  If a wrong has been done to us, no matter how serious and harmful it may have been, we are never qualified for or have a right to render punishment for the offense ourselves.  We are to leave that to the wrath of God.  Quoting from the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 32.35), the apostle reminds his readers that it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (cf. 2 Samuel 22.48; Nahum 1.2; Hebrews 10.30).  In His divine time, the wrath of God will come (Colossians 3.6), and just retribution awaits the unforgiven.

From: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Romans 9-16 by John MacArthur (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1994), p. 202.  Comment at Romans 12.19.  Emphasis in original.

John MacArthur turned 76 yesterday, January 19th.  His commentary series, covering the entire New Testament, is now complete in 33 volumes (1983-2015).

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