Monday, November 20, 2017

new earth to be heaven incarnate

"When Jesus Christ came to Earth, one of the names given to Him was Immanuel, which means 'God with us.' The Incarnation means that God became man and lived with us. And when Jesus ascended to Heaven in His resurrected body, it demonstrated that the Incarnation wasn’t temporary but permanent. This has great bearing on where God might choose for us and Him to dwell together. The New Earth will be Heaven incarnate, just as Jesus Christ is God incarnate." 

~ Randy Alcorn, Seeing the Unseen.


education as Christian formation

"We traditional Christians in America can learn from both Eastern European examples [of Czechoslovakia and Poland under Communist rule].  We face nothing so terrible as the Czechs did under Soviet domination, of course, but the more insidious forces of secular liberalism are steadily achieving the same aim: robbing us and future generations of our religious beliefs, moral values, and cultural memory, and making us pawns of forces beyond our control.  This is why we have to focus tightly and without hesitation on education."
  
~ Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option, p. 145. 


Friday, November 10, 2017

the course of history



Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in...  (Romans 11:25 ESV) 

"Of course, human beings perceive the course of history and events as they occur...  The point is that the mere observation of these events does not translate into an understanding of what God is doing in history.  Human beings see the bare events as they transpire, but they do not perceive the saving plan of God that is being accomplished in and through these events."  

~ Thomas Schreiner, Romans (Baker Academic, 1998), p. 634.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

because God so wills

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.  (Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV)

God's self-revelation to us -- in nature, the Scriptures, and his Son -- is his own freely chosen act of self-disclosure, in the words of Carl Henry.  We did not seek or find God, but he himself takes the initiative to reveal his nature, mind, and will to us.  This includes historical acts and facts, but also includes the God-given meaning of those acts and facts.  Henry writes...

"Only because God so wills is there a special revelation that centers in the redemptive acts of Hebrew history from the exodus to the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and in the communication of the meaning of these saving acts in both the prophetic and the apostolic word.  Only because God so wills is the truth of God given in the special form of inspired writings; only because God so wills is his special revelation crowned by the incarnation of the Logos in Jesus of Nazareth.  God has chosen to reveal himself in different times and in different modes (Heb. 1:1)...


"In an amazing variety of ways--in every way except in his final eschatological revelation (and for the sake of those who still reject we may be glad that this end-time revelation has not yet been given) -- God has made himself known.  In both general and special revelation--in nature and in history, in the mind and conscience of man, in written Scriptures, and in Jesus of Nazareth -- he has disclosed himself." 

~ Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, II:10.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

the God who stays

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.  (Romans 11:36 ESV)

I am studying the second half of the 11th chapter of Romans.  How much of the glorious nature and character of God is included in the doxology of 11:33-36!  I was also reading in Carl Henry's 6th volume of God, Revelation and Authority and came upon these words, a good overview of what it means that all things come from God, through him, and unto him, for his glory... 

"The Bible depicts God as the providential sustainer of the universe by his omnipotent omnipresence and also the divine governor of all things. The living God everywhere upholds and maintains the created universe; he does so, moreover, for the sovereign purpose and goal for which he initially created it.

"God who stands -- who eternally exists -- and who stoops -- first in voluntarily creating the finite universe and then in voluntarily redeeming his fallen creation -- is also God who stays to preserve and to renew and finally to consummate his purposeful creation.

"From its first moment of creation the space-time universe has been pervasively dependent on the Creator.  Without his omnipresent power it would have reverted to the nihil or nothingness that prevailed before God's ex nihilo creation.  ... 

"The providence of God, in short, attests the fact that nature is not metaphysically ultimate; its continuity is no less contingent that its origin, and both its creation and continuance are dependent on the one sovereign God.  Thus every pretension to creaturely independence, to self-sufficiency, to inherent existence, is shattered by the certainty that man and cosmos alike are entirely contingent, moment by moment upon the God who stays."

~ Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority (Word Books, 1983), VI:455.



onward

I'm currently reading two books on Christian engagement, Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option, and Russell Moore's Onward.  There's much to think about in both, but I'm attracted to Moore's prophetic-minority engagement model.  

Here are a few early highlights... 

I don’t accept the narrative of progressive secularization, that religion itself will inevitably decline as humanity evolves toward more and more consistent forms of rationalism. As a matter of fact, I think the future of the church is incandescently bright. That’s not because of promises made at Independence Hall, but a promise made at Caesarea Philippi—“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). I believe that promise because I believe the One who spoke those words is alive, and moving history toward his reign. That is not to say that the church’s witness in the next generation will be the same. The secularizing forces mentioned before are real—obvious now in New England and in the Pacific Northwest but moving toward parts of the country insulated so far from such trends. One can almost track these forces as one would a tropical depression on a hurricane radar map. The Bible Belt is teetering toward collapse, and I say let it fall. ... 

Such attempts have too often created subcultures of “us” versus “them,” that divide people up into categories of “red state” and “blue state” rather than that of church and mission field. At their best, such efforts have reminded us that all of our lives are to be framed by what is permanent and what is ultimate: the kingdom of God. ...

Our call is to an engaged alienation, a Christianity that preserves the distinctiveness of our gospel while not retreating from our callings as neighbors, and friends, and citizens. ...

Our end goal is not a Christian America, either of the made-up past or the hoped-for future. Our end goal is the kingdom of Christ, made up of every tribe, tongue, nation, and language. We are, in Christ, the heirs of this kingdom. The worst thing that can happen to us is crucifixion under the curse of God, and we’ve already been there, in Christ. The best thing that can happen to us is freedom from death and life at the right hand of God, and that’s already happened to us too, in Christ. That should free us to stand and to speak, not because we’re a majority, moral or otherwise, but because we are an embassy of the future, addressing consciences designed to long for good news.

~ Russell Moore, Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel
(B&H Publishing, 2015)