31 January 2015

The Scandal

What we expect to find when we penetrate to the heart of a great world faith is a magnificent cathedral, glorious music, visual splendour and cathartic eloquence. When Pompey and his soldiers entered into the Holy of Holies in AD 63 they were scandalized to find no image there: not a 'god' in sight. 
The scandal of Christianity is even greater. Its holy of holies is a cross where its Saviour hangs, bloodied and beaten, between two thieves. 
--Donald Macleod,  Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (IVP, 2014), 108-9

30 January 2015

Chevaliers de Sangreal by Hans Zimmer

Haven't seen the film, nor will I. But the soundtrack is enchanting. A gift of common grace.


28 January 2015

You Can Be Glorious Again

My brother Eric, reflecting on Jeremiah 2:
It's tantamount to a spouse (you can imagine it as either the husband or wife without the analogy losing anything) cheating flagrantly, repeatedly, openly on their marriage partner. The news is all over town. And the offender contracts an STD. The years of their infidelity sucks the youthfulness and life out of the person--the spouse has lost everything that would have made him/her initially attractive. And the wounded party goes to visit the faithless husband/wife in the poor house, after everything is lost, after everyone the adulterer ran to has forsaken them, when no-one will sleep with them any more, and says, "I still love you. I want to marry you again. I can restore all that you've lost, all that your sin has taken away. You can be glorious again. I've got two plane tickets for our honeymoon right now. But can you please stop this nonsense that you did nothing wrong? No, dear one, don't turn away. Look me in the eye, please. It's not hopeless. I love you. Please say you love me back. Will you commit yourself to me again? I'm happy to commit myself to you."

27 January 2015

As Old as God Himself, and as Free

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the hilasmos for our sins.
--1 John 4:10
This is incomparable love and immeasurable love, God giving his Son as a sacrifice to cover the sins of those who had treated him with rejection and contempt. It is a love as old as God himself, and as free.

Yet in its impulse toward forgiveness it does not set aside the need for sin to be expiated. Deep in the nature of God himself there is a necessity for a hilasmos.

But God not only requires it. He provides it; and he not only provides it, he becomes it. 
-Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (IVP, 2014), 128

14 January 2015

Diving Into it for All Eternity

'...to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth...' --Ephesians 3:18
Sin is a great depth, therefore the apostle saith, 'it doth abound,' Rom 5:20, and is 'above measure sinful,' Rom 7:13, and so you will find it when you gauge it to the bottom. And so the devils and damned spirits in hell shall find it, whilst they are a-studying their sinfulness in hell to all eternity (that being their business), and can never fathom it.

But yet this of God's free grace and Christ's love is a depth, which swallows up this of sin, more than the heavens do the earth. This passage seems to compare it to a mighty sea, so deep, as it wants a bottom; so as though the thoughts of men and angels shall be diving into it to all eternity, they shall not come to ground. Of the length and breadth also, that it knows no shore, that though they shall be sailing over it with that small compass of their capacities for ever, yet they shall never come to land.
--Thomas Goodwin, 'The Glory of the Gospel,' Works, 4:236

08 January 2015

Luther: Why God Became a Baby

Luther, on the incarnation:
Let us, then, meditate upon the Nativity just as we see it happening in our own babies. I would not have you contemplate the deity of Christ, the majesty of Christ, but rather his flesh. Look upon the Baby Jesus. Divinity may terrify man. Inexpressible majesty will crush him. That is why Christ took on our humanity, save for sin, that he should not terrify us but rather that with love and favor he should console and confirm.

Behold Christ lying in the lap of his young mother, still a virgin. What can be sweeter than the Babe, what more lovely than the mother! What fairer than her youth! What more gracious than her virginity! Look at the Child, knowing nothing. Yet all that is belongs to him, that your conscience should not fear but take comfort in him. Doubt nothing. Watch him springing in the lap of the maiden. Laugh with him. Look upon this Lord of Peace and your spirit will be at peace. See how God invites you in many ways. He places before you a Babe with whom you may take refuge. You cannot fear him, for nothing is more appealing to man than a babe. Are you affrighted? Then come to him, lying in the lap of the fairest and sweetest maid. You will see how great is the divine goodness, which seeks above all else that you should not despair. Trust him! Trust him! Here is the Child in whom is salvation.

To me there is no greater consolation given to mankind than this, that Christ became man, a child, a babe, playing in the lap and at the breasts of his most gracious mother. Who is there whom this sight would not comfort? Now is overcome the power of sin, death, hell, conscience, and guilt, if you come to this gurgling Babe and believe that he is come, not to judge you, but to save. 
--Martin Luther's Christmas Book (ed. Roland Bainton; Augsburg, 1997), 34

HT: Brian Martin

02 January 2015

If You Knew His Heart, You Would

Goodwin, concluding a discourse on Jesus' words in John 6:37-38:
As Christ is willing, so should we be 'a willing people.' That which keeps men off is, that they know not Christ's mind and heart. . . .

The truth is, he is more glad of us than we can be of him. The father of the prodigal was the forwarder of the two to that joyful meeting. Hast thou a mind? He that came down from heaven, as himself saith in the text, to die for thee, will meet thee more than halfway, as the prodigal's father is said to do. . . .

O therefore come in unto him. If you knew his heart, you would.
As they that crucified him knew him not, so neither do those who believe not in him. If you had been on earth with him, or if he were now here, and had this day preached these things unto you, and uttered these his own desires and longings after you; how you would in troops go all thronging after him when the sermon were done, and each of you come about him, as those that had diseases did, and beseech him to pardon and save you, and not leave him till you have obtained some word of comfort and favour from him!

Let me tell you, he would still be preaching this day, but he had other business to do for you in heaven, where he is now praying and interceding for you, even when you are sinning; as on earth we see he did for the Jews when they were a-crucifying him. Now because he could not for this other business of continued preaching come himself, he sends us his ambassadors, and we in Christ's stead do beseech you. 
--Thomas Goodwin, 'Encouragements to Faith,' in The Works of Thomas Goodwin, 4:223-24

Why Does the Bible Exist?

Goodwin:
God hath left his mind in writing. This book, which is from heaven, the title of it is 'The Word of Reconciliation,' 2 Cor 5:19, the main argument of it being reconciliation. In this book we find proclamation sent forth after proclamation, book after book, line after line, all written to this end, that we sinners 'might have hope and strong consolation,' as the apostle witnesseth. 
--The Works of Thomas Goodwin, 4:222

31 December 2014

I Want the Spirit of Glory and of God to Rest on Me

How do I get it?

Extended retreats of solitude and meditation?

Buckled down resolutions?

Fasting and prayer?

Mortification of sin?

By loving God and loving others?

I won't speak against any of these things. But according to 1 Peter 4:14 the answer is: get insulted for Jesus. "If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."

Shame on earth, bringing glory down from heaven.

30 December 2014

The World's Eye Was Put Out

Samuel Rutherford, reflecting on the three-hour darkness from noon to 3:00 p.m. as Jesus hung on the cross:
Darkness was all in Judea when our Lord suffered. And why? Because the Candle that lighted the sun and the moon was blown out. The God-head was eclipsed, and the world's eye was put out. He took away the sun with him, as it were, to another world, when he that was the world's sun was put out. When he went out of the earth, the sun would not stay behind Him. Sun, what ails thee? 'I have not will to shine when my Lord is going to another world.' As if the sun had said to Jesus, 'Lord, if Thou be going to another world, take me with you.'
--Samuel Rutherford, in Fourteen Communion Sermons by the Rev. Samuel Rutherford, with a Preface and Notes by Rev. Andrew A. Bonar (Glasgow: Charles Glass and Co., n.d.), 286-87; quoted in Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (IVP, 2014), 42