Posted by: reiterations | February 10, 2016

God’s Glory the Highest Christian Motive

If religion commands us to live wholly unto God and to do all to His glory, it is because every other way is living wholly against ourselves and will end in our own shame and confusion of face.

As everything is dark that God does not enlighten, as everything is senseless that has not its share of knowledge from Him, as nothing lives but by partaking of life from Him, as nothing exists but because He commands it to be, so there is no glory or greatness but what is of the glory and greatness of God.

We, indeed, may talk of human glory as we may talk of human life or human knowledge but, as we are sure that human life implies nothing of our own but a dependent living in God or enjoying so much life in God, so human glory, whenever we find it, must be only so much glory as we enjoy in the glory of God.

This is the state of all creatures, whether men or angels.  As they make not themselves, so they enjoy nothing from themselves.  If they are great, it must be only as great receivers of the gifts of God.  Their power can only be so much of the divine power acting in them.  Their wisdom can be only so much of the divine wisdom shining within them.  And their light and glory only so much of the light and glory of God shining upon them. – William Law (1686-1761), from A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, Adapted to the State and Condition of All Orders of Christians (1728)

Posted by: reiterations | February 9, 2016

On Christ’s Passive Obedience

The passive obedience of Christ has always held first place in the Christian doctrine of salvation, and this was so with the Puritans.  In their Larger Catechism, Christ is said to have “felt and borne the weight of God’s wrath” (Question 49).  This enduring of the wrath of God was directly related to the Law (Galatians 3.13) and, on this account, believers are freed from “the rigor and exaction of the law” (George Downame) for justification.  This deliverance is “because the law, as a Covenant of works, hath executed upon them, in Christ, all its penalty for all their sins” (John Crandon).

Richard Baxter is an exception to the Puritan belief in this respect and denies that Christ’s sufferings were a proper execution of the threatening of the Law upon man.  He adopts a Grotian view of Law and punishment, and asserts that it was not “all the punishments” of the elect that Christ bore but, rather, that His suffering made “full sufficiency to those Ends for which it was designed.”  He argues that the work of Christ must not be thought of in the category of a human obedience, but in His office of mediator.  No Puritan doubted that there was some sort of mediatorial law under which Christ was sent to be the Savior of the elect, but that this mediatorial law provided the formal cause of Christ’s sufferings they strenuously denied.

From: The Grace of Law: A Study in Puritan Theology by Ernest F. Kevan (London: Carey Kingsgate Press, Ltd., 1964), pp. 141-142.

Ernest F. Kevan (1903-1965) was a Baptist minister (1924-1946) and Principal of London Bible College (1946-1965).

Posted by: reiterations | February 8, 2016

On Calvin’s Reputation

The amount of misrepresentation to which John Calvin’s theology has been subjected is enough to prove his doctrine of total depravity several times over.  How we hate those who squelch our pride by demolishing our self-righteousness and exalting God’s sovereign grace!

Calvin was, in fact, the finest exegete, the greatest systematic theologian, and the profoundest religious thinker that the Reformation produced.  Bible-centered in his teaching, God-centered in his living, and Christ-centered in his faith, he integrated the confessional emphases of Reformation thought – by faith alone, by Scripture alone, by grace alone, by Christ alone, for God’s glory alone – with supreme clarity and strength.  He was ruled by two convictions written on every regenerate heart and expressed in every act of real prayer and worship: God is all and man is nothing, and praise is due to God for everything good.  Both convictions permeated his life, right up to his final direction that his tomb be unmarked and there be no speeches at his burial, lest he become the focus of praise instead of his God.  Both convictions permeate his theology, too.

Calvin was a biblical theologian – not a speculator, but an echoer of the Word of God.  Also, Calvin was a systematic theologian – not a taker of haphazard soundings, but an integrator of earlier gains.  The final version of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559), in which the consistent teaching of the sixty-six canonical books is topically spelled out, is a systematic masterpiece, one that has carved out a permanent niche for itself among the greatest Christian books.

The bodies of four centuries of Calvinists lie moldering in the grave, but Calvinism goes marching on. – J. I. Packer (born in 1926)

Posted by: reiterations | February 7, 2016

For the Lord’s Day (419)

When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand.  Your eye shall have no pity.  (Deuteronomy 25.11-12)

Posted by: reiterations | February 6, 2016

Saturday Spurgeon (25)

Providence prospers one and frustrates the desires of another in the same business and at the same spot, yet the Great Ruler is as good and wise at one time as another.  May we have grace today, in the remembrance of this text, to bless the Lord for ships broken at Ezion-geber as well as for vessels freighted with temporal blessings.  Let us not envy the more successful nor murmur at our losses as though we were singularly and specially tried.  Like Jehoshapat, we may be precious in the Lord’s sight, although our schemes end in disappointment. – Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), from a meditation on 1 Kings 22.48.

Posted by: reiterations | February 5, 2016

“We Are Not Our Own”

We are not our own: let not our reason nor our wills, therefore, sway our plans and deeds.  We are not our own: let us, therefore, not seek what is expedient for us according to the flesh.  We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us, therefore, forget ourselves and all that is ours.  Conversely, we are God’s: let us, therefore, live for Him and die for Him.  We are God’s: let His wisdom and will, therefore, rule all our actions.  We are God’s: let all the parts of our lives, accordingly, strive toward Him as our only lawful goal. – John Calvin (1509-1564), from Institutes 3.7.1.

Posted by: reiterations | February 4, 2016

On the Hypostatic Union

This constant undivided union of two perfect natures in Christ’s person is exactly that which gives infinite value to His mediation and qualifies Him to be the very Mediator that sinners need.  Our Mediator is one who can sympathize because He is very man.  And yet, at the same time, He is one who can deal with the Father for us on equal terms because He is very God. – J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Posted by: reiterations | February 3, 2016

On Being Pointed to Christ

It is not simply the stories of individuals that point us to Christ.  The redemptive purpose of God is to redeem a people and renew creation.  Therefore, all the major events in the history of the formation of the people of God also point us to Christ.

Jesus is the one through whom all people are created (John 1).  Thus, the creation story itself points forward to the new creation in Christ.  Jesus is the one who went through temptation and probation in the wilderness.  Thus, the story of the fall points forward to the successful probation and active obedience of Christ.  The exodus story points forward to the true exodus Jesus led for His people through His death (Luke 9.31).  He led them not just out of economic and political bondage but out of bondage to sin and death itself through His death and resurrection.  The wandering in the wilderness and the exile to Babylon points forward to Jesus’ “homelessness” and wandering and wilderness temptation, culminating in His suffering as the scapegoat outside the gate.  He underwent the ultimate exile that fulfilled the righteousness of God fully.

From: Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller (New York: Viking, 2015), p. 85.

Posted by: reiterations | February 2, 2016

The Bible is Always Supreme

Ecclesiastical traditions and private theological speculations may never be identified with the word which God speaks, but are to be classed among the words of men which the Word of God must reform. – J. I. Packer (born in 1926)

Posted by: reiterations | February 1, 2016

A Saint’s Biography

Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231)

She was the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary and, at the age of fourteen, married the landgrave of Thuringia, Ludwig IV.  The marriage had been arranged for political reasons, but it was also a love match, and the couple lived in great contentment with one another for six years.  Their home was at the Wartburg castle, near Eisenach, and they had three children.  Then, in 1227, Ludwig went to join the Crusaders assembling in Apulia, and died suddenly at Otranto.  (In parts of Germany, he is popularly called St. Ludwig).  We are told that, when the news reached Elizabeth, she ran through the castle, shrieking crazily.  What followed is a matter of some uncertainty.  It is commonly said that, in the depth of winter, with a baby at her breast, she was turned out of Wartburg castle by her brother-in-law.  In any case, having provided for her children, a few months later she formally renounced the world, put on the dress of the third order of St. Francis, and devoted herself to the care of the poor and sick at Marburg, in Hesse.

Elizabeth had, also, put herself wholly under the direction of her confessor, Master Conrad of Marburg, a learned and able man but, on the kindest and most simple showing, one of deplorable insensitivity.  He overshadowed the closing years of St. Elizabeth’s short life.  His treatment of her was ruthless, at times brutal, and she admitted how much she feared him.  But his methods did not break her spirit.  She was humble and obedient, and bowed before every storm.  And, after it had passed, she straightened up, strong and unhurt, like grass after heavy rain (the comparison is her own).  Until her health failed, St. Elizabeth was tireless in serving the wants of those in need.  The princess who made garments for them went fishing to get them food.  She has ever been one of the most loved saints of the German people.  [She died at 24.]

From: The Penguin Dictionary of Saints by Donald Attwater (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1965), p. 113.

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