25 March 2015

Most Like a Crucifixion

Reading The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis for the first time and came upon this passage today. How I need to hear this, again and again.
We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the church–read on–and gave his life for her (Eph 5:25).

This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is–in her own mere nature–least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; he does not find, but makes her lovely. 
The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence.

As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical, or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labors to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs.
--C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, pp. 105-6

22 March 2015

Acts 1:8


21 March 2015

Discerning a Pastoral Call

Dennis Johnson:




25 February 2015

A Multitude of Mercies

Goodwin:
God hath a multitude of all kinds of mercies.

As our hearts and the devil are the father of variety of sins, so God is the father of variety of mercies. There is no sin or misery but God hath a mercy for it. He hath a multitude of mercies of every kind.

As there are variety of miseries which the creature is subject unto, so he hath in himself a shop, a treasury of all sorts of mercies, divided into several promises in the Scripture, which are but as so many boxes of this treasure, the caskets of variety of mercies.

If thy heart be hard, his mercies are tender.

If thy heart be dead, he hath mercy to liven it.

If thou be sick, he hath mercy to heal thee.

If thou be sinful, he hath mercies to sanctify and cleanse thee.

As large and as various as are our wants, so large and various are his mercies. So we may come boldly to find grace and mercy to help us in time of need, a mercy for every need.

All the mercies that are in his own heart he hath transplanted into several beds in the garden of the promises, where they grow, and he hath abundance of variety of them, suited to all the variety of the diseases of the soul.
--Thomas Goodwin, Works, 2:187-88

24 February 2015

United in Redeeming Love

Mankind, spiritually bankrupt, has nothing to offer, but God, prompted by pure grace, and drawing on his eternal wisdom, prepares a counsel of salvation in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are united in redeeming love and pity for the human race. The triune God resolves to save the world, and to accept the good offices of a Mediator who shall act for mankind as their representative and suffer for them as their substitute: so accommodating is the divine will, and so predisposed to forgive our transgressions.
But the Three-in-One, acting to save the world, go further: they resolve that the salvation shall be free to the human race. It will cost them nothing. For them, it will be an act of pure love and mercy. From sinners as such no satisfaction will be required. Instead, everything will flow from the loving-kindness of God. He will bear the whole cost. He will provide the one who will take the sinner's place.

But he will go even further: he will become the one who takes the sinner's place. God the Son will suffer for the world's sin. God the Father will suffer in the Son's pain. God the Holy Spirit will share in the pain of both.

At Gethsemane and Golgotha the Three will be One, as God, not sparing himself, takes blood, his own blood, and sheds it to redeem the world.
--Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (IVP, 2014), 177

21 February 2015

Who He Most Deeply Is

From one perspective all God's attributes are equally non-negotiable. For God to cease to be just would un-God him just as much as if he were to cease to be good.

But Thomas Goodwin and John Bunyan are convincing me that from another, deeper angle there are some things that pour out of the heart of God more naturally than others.

God is unswervingly just. But what is his disposition? What is natural to him?

Who is he?

Volume 2 of Goodwin's works is 500 pages devoted to sermons on Ephesians 2. He slows way down especially in the first 10 verses of this great chapter and reflects at length on the programmatic assurances of God's love and mercy. It is unspeakably wonderful.

Here's part of his reflection on the phrase "rich in mercy" in describing God in Ephesians 2:4.
It is his disposition to be merciful. It is his nature, his being.

The mercies of God n Scripture are called his bowels; now there is nothing so intimate or so natural to a man as his bowels are. And they are called his bowels because they are his inwards; and all that is within him, his whole being and nature inclines him to it. . . .

Mercy is his nature and disposition, because when he shows mercy, he does it with his whole heart. . . .

My brethren, though God is just, yet his mercy may in some respect said to be more natural to him than all acts of justice itself that God does show, I mean vindictive justice. In these acts of justice there is a satisfaction to an attribute, in that he meets and is even with sinners. Yet there is a kind of violence done to himself in it, the Scripture so expresses it; there is something in it that is contrary to him. 'I will not the death of a sinner'--that is, I delight not simply in it, for pleasure's sake. The Arminians slander the other party, accusing them of making God delight in the death of a sinner. No; when he exercises acts of justice, it is for a higher end, it is not simply for the thing itself. There is always something in his heart against it.

But when he comes to show mercy, to manifest that it is his nature and disposition, it is said that he does it with his whole heart. There is nothing at all in him that is against it. The act itself pleases him for itself. There is no reluctance in him.

Therefore in Lamentations 3:33, when he speaks of punishing, he says, 'He does not from his heart afflict nor grieve the children of men.' But when he comes to speak of showing mercy, he says he does it 'with his whole heart, and with his whole soul,' as the expression is in Jeremiah 32:41. And therefore acts of justice are called his 'strange work' and his 'strange act' in Isaiah 28:21. But when he comes to show mercy, he rejoices over them, to do them good, with his whole heart, and with his whole soul.
--Thomas Goodwin, Works, 2:179-80; language slightly updated

And this from the man who stood up and spoke more often (357 times) than any other Westminster divine at the creation of the Westminster standards in the 1640s, that great, precise, hell-believing, justice-affirming statement of faith. Goodwin was not mushy.

There is a kind of preaching that has not felt the heart of God for his fickle people, has not tasted what naturally pours forth from him, which for all its precision ultimately deadens its hearers. 

19 February 2015

Come As You Are

'Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal.'


02 February 2015

01 February 2015

How Do I Apply This to My Life?

Pop, preaching on John 5:
We sometimes think in terms of “applying the truth to my life.” That’s good, as far as it goes. But applying the truth to our lives still leaves us in control. We decide how far we will go with Jesus, we decide where he will fit in, which is why he inevitably ends up crowded out to the margins of our already overcrowded lives.