Friday, January 20, 2017

unity of divine revelation

I have finished Carl Henry's exposition (in three volumes of the six in God, Revelation and Authority) of his 15 theses about God's self-disclosure, or the "God who speaks and shows."  Masterful.  

One excerpt today, regarding not just the truthfulness of God's revelation (corresponding to reality) but also its consistency (or, coherence).  Very helpful in presenting God's truth in a pluralistic (relativistic) society.  

Thesis #4. "The very fact of disclosure by the one living God assures the comprehensive unity of divine revelation."

"The polytheistic religions played off one deity against another.  On the presupposition of many competitive gods there can be no unified divine revelation.  The sense of the Hebrew Shema ('the Lord our God is one God') may well be that Yahweh cannot be split up into such multiple divinities.  From the very outset the self-revealing God of Scripture stands out as Creator and Lord of all.  God who makes himself known in revelation is the one sovereign God.  Elijah knew that the issue at Carmel was God or Baal, not God and Baal.  The Bible relates the whole of history to this one God.  In his letter to the Romans the apostle Paul underscores this very point: 'Do you suppose God is the God of the Jews alone?... Certainly of Gentiles also, if it be true that God is one' (Rom. 3:29-30).  Only the fact that the one sovereign God, the Creator and Lord of all, stands at the center of divine disclosure, guarantees a unified divine revelation.  While this revelation awaits completing in the future, the knowledge 'in part' given prophets and apostles is nonetheless trustworthy and coherent however incomplete it may be.  Divine revelation is reliable and consistent, or it would not be revelation.  The capstone revelation of the end-time will confirm all past and present disclosure of God.  The fact of revelation by the one sovereign God assures the comprehensive unity of God's disclosure." 

~ Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation And Authority, II:9

Saturday, January 14, 2017

8 jewels of reconciliation

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God."  (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)

As Paul continues his letter to the Romans, chapter 5 opens with a panorama of the many blessings he gives us in his Son, Jesus Christ.  Being united to Christ through faith not only justifies us, but reconciles us to God and gives us every good thing in Him.  (Compare Romans 8:28-30.)  Here are eight... 

Eight jewels of reconciliation from Romans 5:1-11...

1)  Peace:  God is not against us (5:1, 10)      

2)  Grace:  we have free access and a secure position before God (5:2a)     

3)  Hope:  our glorious future gives us joy and confidence now (5:2b, 4)    

4)  Character:  we have a new way to look at suffering.  (5:3-4)     

5)  Love:  we are the recipients of the outpouring of God’s love.  (5:5-8)

6)  Holy Spirit: he is God’s gift to us that we might know truth (5:5)  

7)  Salvation: not just now, but from now on, because Jesus lives (5:9-10)    

8)  Joy: because of all this we can rejoice in the Lord (5:11) 

Friday, January 13, 2017

those who know your name

"The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, 
a stronghold in times of trouble.  
And those who know your name put their trust in you, 
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you."  

(Psalm 9:9-10 ESV) 

"Ignorance is worst when it amounts to ignorance of God, and knowledge is best when it exercises itself upon the name of God.  This most excellent knowledge leads to the most excellent grace of faith.  O, to learn more of the attributes and character of God.  Unbelief, that hooting night bird, cannot live in the light of divine knowledge.  It flies before the sun of God's great and gracious name.  If we read this verse literally, there is, no doubt, a glorious fullness of assurance in the names of God.  By knowing his name is also meant experiential acquaintance with the attributes of God, which are every one of them anchors to hold the soul from drifting in seasons of peril.  The Lord may hide his face for a season from his people.  But he never has utterly, finally, really, or angrily, forsaken them that seek him.  Let the poor seekers draw comfort from this fact, and let the finders rejoice yet more exceedingly, for what must be the Lord's faithfulness to those who find if he is so gracious to those who seek."

~ Charles Spurgeon


Friday, December 30, 2016

named in figures and images

"...that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we are indeed his offspring.'" (Acts 17:27-28 ESV)

"Because of this intimate relationship, God can be named in the terms of His creatures, and He can be spoken of anthropomorphically.  The same Scripture which speaks in the most exalted way of God's incomparable greatness and majesty, at the same time speaks of Him in figures and images which sparkle with life.  It speaks of His eyes and ears, His hands and feet, His mouth and lips, His heart and bowels.  It ascribes all kinds of attributes to Him -- of wisdom and knowledge, will and power, righteousness and mercy, and it ascribes to Him also such emotions as joy and grief, fear and vexation, zeal and envy, remorse and wrath, hatred and anger.  It speaks of His observing and thinking, His hearing and seeing, His remembering and forgetting, smelling and tasting, sitting and rising, visiting and forsaking, blessing and chastising, and the like.  It compares Him to a sun and a light, a fountain and a spring, a rock and a shelter, a sword and buckler, a king and a judge, a husbandman and a shepherd, a man and a father.  In short, all that can be found in the whole world in the way of support and shelter and aid is originally and perfectly to be found in overflowing abundance in God.  Of Him the whole family in heaven and earth is named (Eph. 3:15).  He is the Sun of being and all creatures are His fleeing rays." 

~ Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith

Saturday, December 17, 2016

beholding his glory

"One of the greatest privileges and advancements of believers, both in this world and unto eternity, consists in their beholding the glory of Christ."

"No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter, who does not in some measure behold it by faith here in this world."

"Grace is a necessary preparation for glory, and faith for sight."

"For nothing can perfectly comprehend that which is infinite, but what is itself infinite. Therefore the blessed and blessing sight which we shall have of God will be always 'in the face of Jesus Christ.'”

~ John Owen, from The Glory of Christ

Saturday, December 10, 2016

kingdom prayer

"Pray then like this: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread...'"  (Matthew 6:9-11a ESV)

Many of us find that our our prayers often don't seem to rise above our own personal needs or immediate family concerns.  We see that we're called to pray for the honor of God's name, the coming of Christ's kingdom, and that God's will would be done on earth... but daily bread may seem more real and practical.   Besides, how does one measure the effectiveness of big prayers, like the advance of the gospel or the coming of his Kingdom?

I've been helped recently in praying for bigger things, things that relate to progress of God's Big Story on earth, or what theologians call "the history of redemption."   Consider Revelation 8:3-4...

"And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel."  (Cf. Rev. 5:8)

The "prayers of the saints" -- those words uttered to God in prayer meetings, prayer closets, nursing home rooms, prison cells, home groups, at breakfast nooks and bedsides -- are heard, presented, savored, and made a part of the Lord's sovereign activity in heaven, as he rules over the earth. 

When we pray about matters that matter to God, we are participating in his work around the world. Prayer is a very real participation in the ongoing history of redemption.  This is "kingdom-centered" praying, which in the Lord's instruction on prayer, comes before "daily bread" praying.  

Our personal story, along with our family and church stories, all need to be embedded in God's much larger story.  Praying for the honor and sanctity of God's name around the world, for the advance of his gospel into all the nations, for the coming of his Kingdom, and for the day of universal obedience -- these are not vague and far-off requests.  They are very close to us in our identity as beloved children of the sovereign God.  John calls them "prayers of the saints." Such prayer, as Tim Keller writes, will "give us relief from the melancholy burden of self-absorption.” 

Indeed, prayer can give us a greater sphere of influence than our words and deeds alone.  What we do and say around others has a limited circle of effect.  But prayer, by contrast, can be involved in many events around the world: comfort for believers under trial, power for the proclamation of the gospel, judgment upon the forces that oppose the Lord, assurance for new believers, conviction upon the unrepentant, for conversions, for healing, perseverance, light, and strength to churches and believers we are yet to meet.  (But one day will!)

By our lives we influence those around us.  By prayer we share in God's activity in the world, and in history.  In prayer we become partakers with God in his great work of redemption.