Wednesday, September 30, 2015

vestiges of beauty and creativity

“And God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31)

“Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter” (Psalm 74:16–17)

Randy Alcorn writes, 

Eden has been trampled and vacated. Nevertheless, in nature and art and music we see and hear vestiges of God’s beauty and creativity.   To study creation is to study the Creator. Science should be worshipful discovery because the heavens and all creation declare God’s glory (Psalm 19:1). 

God reveals His character in flowers, waterfalls, animals, and planets. God’s name is written large in nature in His beauty, organization, skill, precision, and attention to detail. He’s the Master Artist. We’re told that God’s “invisible qualities” can be “clearly seen” in “what has been made” (Romans 1:20). 

This is God’s general revelation. Eden has been trampled, torched, savaged and vacated. Nevertheless, in our own bodies and in our world we can see the intricacy of God’s craftsmanship; and in flowers and rain and art and music we see and hear vestiges of God’s beauty and creativity. 

As a boy I had a passionate interest in astronomy. I remember vividly the thrill of first seeing Saturn’s rings through my new telescope when I was eleven years old. It exhilarated me and stirred my heart. Five years later, I heard the gospel for the first time and came to know Jesus, but the wonders of the heavens helped lead me to God.   

“The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator.” —Louis Pasteur   

Taken from Seeing the Unseen: A Daily Dose of Eternal Perspective, by Randy Alcorn.

Monday, September 28, 2015

the blessing of being human

And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Genesis 1:28 ESV)

Here is an excerpt from "The Blessing Of Being Human", a sermon from Genesis 1:28-31.  Here's the outline of the passage...

Fruitfulness (v. 28a) 

Dominion over creatures (v. 28b)
Provision of food (v. 29)
Provision for creatures (v. 30)
A very good creation (v. 31)  

"The blessing of being human is fulfilled ultimately by God’s Son, the Lord Jesus, who was prophesied to be the blessing that would come to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:2-3), and the King, the one like a Son of Man, who would come to establish his righteous rule and subdue the earth (Daniel 7:13-14).

"Though being in nature God, he took on a human nature (Philippian 2:6-7), and being made a little while lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5-6; Hebrews 2:7-9), he was born a child in a stable (Luke 2:7) surrounded by livestock. 

"At his  baptism the Father’s voice from heaven pronounced, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.' (Matthew 3:17)
"Jesus exercised his authority over the stormy waters of the sea (Matt 8:24-27), and by his will fish filled the Galilean nets (Luke 5; John 21).  He miraculously fed multitudes in the wilderness (Mark 8; John 6), and he called himself the living Bread come down out of heaven for the life of the world (John 6:51).  

"He rode peacefully on an unbroken donkey who carried him through the crowds of Jerusalem (Matthew 21).    

"He is the true Image of the invisible God, and the Firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-3).  He is the last Adam and the second Man (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47), to whom creation ultimately owes its allegiance.

"He is the One who by his redeeming death, by the cleansing of his blood and the triumph of his resurrection, will create a new earth and new kings to walk upon it:  'By its light [the holy city, the new Jerusalem] will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.' (Revelation 21:24)   

"This blessing is given for us to share in -- only in him, only in and through the Lord Jesus.  Salvation itself is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), bringing order out of disorder, and fullness out of emptiness, blessing instead of a curse, and the echo of the pronouncement 'behold, it is very good.'" 

As God alone is the creator and the source of blessing and goodness, so in salvation and in the new creation God alone through his Son Jesus Christ will be the source of all blessing and goodness.   To believe in him is to have been born again into God’s family.  To walk obediently with him is to be fruitful.  And there is no greater privilege than to fill the earth with the proclamation of this good news.

The painting above is the "Miraculous Haul of Fishes" by Henry Ossawa Tanner. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

he created it, and did not let it go

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." (Revelation 4:11 ESV)

"The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all." (Psalm 103:19 ESV)

"To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:17 ESV)

Understood in this way, the doctrine of creation and providence is rich in encouragement and comfort.  There is so much in life that is oppressive and that robs us of the strength to live and to act.  There are the adversities and disappointments which we meet on life's way.  There are those terrible calamities and disasters which sometimes cause hundreds and thousands of lives to be lost in nameless anguish.  But life in its ordinary course also can sometimes raise doubts in the mind about the providence of God.  Is not mystery the portion of all mankind?  The worm of restlessness and fear gnaws at all existence.  Is it not true that God has a quarrel with His creatures and that we perish in His wrath and are terrified by His anger?  No, it is not the unbelievers and frivolous only, but the children of God also, and these the most deeply of all, who are seized upon by the awful seriousness of reality. And sometimes the question forces its way from the heart up to the lips: Can it be that God created man on the earth for nothing?

But then the despondent Christian by a faith in God's creation and providence again raises his head up high.  No devil, but God, the Almighty, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, created the world.  It is in its entirety and in its parts the work of His hands, and of His hands alone.  Once He had created it, He did not let it go.  By His almighty and omnipresent power He sustains it.  He governs and rules all things in such a way that they all cooperate and all converge upon the purpose He has established.  The providence of God includes, together with the maintenance and the cooperation, also the third aspect of governance.  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15 and Rev. 19:6) and His kingdom lasts unto all eternity (1 Tim. 1:17).  No accident and no necessity, no arbritrariness and no force, no mere caprice nor iron destiny controls the world and its history and the life and lot of mankind.  Behind all secondary causes there lurks and works the almighty will of an almighty God and a faithful Father.

It speaks for itself that no one can really believe this with his heart and confess it with his mouth except the person who knows himself to be a child of God. The faith in providence stands in the most intimate of relationships with the faith in redemption. 

~ Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, p. 182. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

he created them male and female

Here are some helpful articles regarding a complementarian view of men's and women's roles in marriage and ministry...

A Vision for Biblical Complementarity. "Over the years I have come to see from Scripture and from life that manhood and womanhood are the beautiful handiwork of a good and loving God." (John Piper)

Unwilling to twist Scripture. "And I must confess: attitudinally, I am an egalitarian. I find what scripture says on these matters very difficult to swallow at times. However, I am positionally a complementarian because I can’t go against my conscience. For me at least, to read these passages in an egalitarian way is to do some exegetical gymnastics in which one twists and turns the text to conform it to their views. I may not be comfortable with my complementarian position, but I am unwilling to twist scripture into something that it does not say."  (Daniel Wallace, Professor of New Testament, Dallas Theological Seminary)

On 1 Timothy 2:8-15. "We think 1 Timothy 2:8-15 imposes two restrictions on the ministry of women: they are not to teach Christian doctrine to men and they are not to exercise authority directly over men in the church. These restrictions are permanent, authoritative for the church in all times and places and circumstances as long as men and women are descended from Adam and Eve."
(Douglas Moo, Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College)

Headship and equality.  (PDF) Does any kind of male authority in home or church violate human equality?  Wayne Grudem is editor of 
this book, Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood. (Crossway, 2002) 

Who Should Women Teach?  From Fifty Crucial Questions

The Danvers Statement.   In December, 1987, the newly-formed Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood met in Danvers, Massachusetts, to compose the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Gender confusion.  "What do we tell our children about a gender-confused world? The truth. That gender-confused children are just that–confused. Their feelings don’t change who they are–or their worth.  All children are unique, irreplaceable, and have a purpose to fulfill in the world.  The push to neutralize the genders is an attack on an individual’s worth. To neutralize our children’s gender is to swaddle them in black and put an anonymous mask on them from birth."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

all three

In the Old Testament there were three key individuals who were mediators between the people and God: the prophet (who revealed God's will to them), the priest (who interceded for and represented people before God), and the king (who ruled the people with God's law, being under it himself).  These are sometimes called anointed ones, because they were installed into their office (or, role) by being anointed with oil or with the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes an individual might have two of these roles: Melchizedek was a priest and a king, David was a king and a prophet, Ezekiel was a priest and a prophet.   

As the Old Testament story unfolds, especially in the prophetic books, we see that God was foretelling and preparing for one person to come who would unite all three offices in himself.  He would be the Anointed One (Heb., messiah; Gr. christos).  It might be diagrammed this way...

Herman Bavinck summarizes why it was necessary for God's Son, coming into the world, to fulfill all three of these roles...

We need a Christ who is all three [offices] at once.  We need a prophet who proclaims God to us, a priest who reconciles us with God, and a king who in the name of God rules and protects us.  The whole image of God must be restored in man -- knowledge, yes, but also holiness and righteousness.  The whole man must be saved, according to soul and body, according to head and heart and hand.  We need a Saviour who redeems us perfectly and entirely and who fully realizes in us our original purpose.  Christ does this.  Because He Himself is prophet, priest, and king, He in turn makes us prophets, priests, and kings unto God and His Father (Rev. 1:6).   

~ Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, p. 335.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

to dwell in the house of the Lord

"One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple." 

(Psalm 27:4 ESV)

"To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our life means to be so vividly conscious of our fellowship with the living God that every morning, noon and night our thoughts go out to Him, that we hear his voice in the soul, that we are aware of his holy Presence within, experience his workings in our heart and in our conscience, and that we carefully avoid the things which we would not dare to do if God stood before us and spoke to us."

(Abraham Kuyper, To Be Near Unto God)

Friday, September 11, 2015

anvil and hammer

Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith's door,
   And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor,
   Old hammers worn with beating years of time.

"How many anvils have you had," said I,
   "To wear and batter all these hammers so?"
"Just one," said he, and then with twinkling eye,
   "The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."

"And so," I thought, "The Anvil of God's Word
   For ages skeptic blows have beat upon,
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
   The Anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone."

"The Anvil of God's Word" by John Clifford, D.D. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

do the next thing

"Do the Next Thing" was an anonymous poem that was one of Elisabeth Elliot's favorites.  It's a good word for today as we often become overwhelmed with details or paralyzed with too many options.  We may want to see the outcome more clearly before we act.  Yet this poem reminds us there is a place for simple, faithful duty.  We need to act upon God's clearly-given will. "Just do the next thing..." 

At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven that,
as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.

And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, ‘Do the next thing.’
Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.

Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.

Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
leave all resultings, do the next thing.
Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.

Do the next thing.