31 October 2009
To lose one's wife after a very short married life may, I suspect, be less miserable than after a long one. You see, I had not grown accustomed to happiness. It was all a 'treat,' I was like a child at a party. But prolonged earthly happiness, even of the most innocent sort, is, I suspect, addictive. The whole being gets geared to it. The withdrawal must be more like lacking bread than lacking cake.
--Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, 3:1303
30 October 2009
The purpose of regeneration is to make us spiritual people, those who live and walk by the Spirit. This life is a life of intimate communion with God in Christ. Though believers are made new creatures in Christ, this does not mean that their created nature is qualitatively transformed. Believers remain fully human, fully created image-bearers of God as in the beginning. As in creation itself, no new substance enters into the world with redemption; the creature is liberated from sin's futility and bondage. Sin is not of the essence of creation but its deformity; Christ is not a second Creator but creation's Redeemer. Salvation is the restoration of creation and the reformation of life.
--Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 4:32-33
26 October 2009
Justification is the single, eschatological, forensic declaration of full acquittal and a 'righteous'/'just' status proleptically brought into the present and freely given to those who place their trust in Christ's redeeming and vicarious work, all of which is ultimately due to God's sovereign grace.
UPDATE: Here's another shot at it after feedback.
Justification is the single, eschatological declaration of forensic acquittal and a 'righteous'/'just' status proleptically brought into the present, grounded in Christ's redeeming work in history, consisting of Christ's own righteousness, freely given to those who are united to Christ through self-divesting faith in him, and due ultimately to God's sovereign grace alone.
UPDATE 2: one last shot.
Justification is the single, eschatological declaration of forensic acquittal and a 'righteous'/'just' status proleptically brought into the present, grounded in Christ's redeeming work in history, consisting of Christ's own righteousness, freely given to moral failures united to Christ through self-divesting faith in him, and due ultimately to God's sovereign grace alone.
Our task is to ask: what does the Jewish nomism against which Paul fought really represent? And our answer must be: it represents the community of 'good' people which turns God's promises into their own privileges and God's commandments into the instruments of self-sanctification.
--Ernst Kaesemann, "Justification and Salvation History," in Perspectives on Paul, 71-72
[T]he resurrection of Jesus has the bodily resurrection of 'those who sleep' as its necessary consequence. His resurrection is not simply a guarantee; it is the pledge in the sense that it is the actual beginning of the general event. --Richard Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption (1987 ed.), 35
24 October 2009
--J. Gresham Machen, What is Faith, 218
And I will give you a new heart, and a new Spirit I will put with in you . . .
--Eberhard Jungel, Justification: The Heart of the Christian Faith (trans. J. F. Cayzer; T&T Clark 2001), 259
22 October 2009
We in our self-assertiveness would much prefer to justify ourselves rather than receive God's free gift. So it is characteristic of the fallen, pride-driven human condition that we continue to seek to justify ourselves by our own individual works and righteousness, instead of receiving it as a gift.
Sex role assumptions play heavily into modern forms of works-righteousness. Women often try to justify themselves by their beauty or attractiveness or nurturing abilities. Men more often justify their existence by their prowess or productivity, their athletic ability or wealth.
The message of justification is difficult to accept because it seems too good to be true. It says: Stop trying to justify yourself. You do not need to. There is no way to buy or deserve God's love or acceptance. You are already being offered God's love on the cross without having to jump through hoops or pass tests. You are already there, where you think you are not.
--Thomas C. Oden, The Justification Reader (Eerdmans 2002), 51-52
--C. S. Lewis, 'What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?' in God in the Dock (1970), 156
'. . . although the gospel calls me to respond to what Jesus has done, strictly speaking it doesn’t include my response—repentance is not the gospel.'
20 October 2009
HT: Jerry Root, in this helpful Wheaton Grad chapel message
It is a reverential and loving faith, which rests on the strong basis of firm and unshaken conviction of the might and grace of the covenant God and of the trustworthiness of all His words, and exhibits itself in confident trust in Jehovah and unwavering expectation of the fulfillment of, no doubt, all his promises, but more especially of His promise of salvation, and in consequent faithful and exclusive adherence to Him. In one word, it consists in an utter commitment of oneself to Jehovah, with confident trust in Him as guide and saviour, and assured expectation of His promised salvation. It therefore stands in contrast, on the one hand, with trust in self or other human help, and on the other with doubt and unbelief, despondency and unfaithfulness. From Jehovah alone is salvation to be looked for, and it comes from His free grace alone. (410)
Later he synthesizes the OT and NT teaching; just before emphasizing that the specific object of faith is Jesus Christ, he defines faith synthetically as
the going out of the heart from itself and its resting on God in confident trust for all good. But the scriptural revelation has do to with, and is directed to the needs of, not man in the abstract, but sinful man; and for sinful man this hearty reliance on God necessarily becomes humble trust in Him for the fundamental need of the sinner--forgiveness of sins and reception into favour. In response to the revelations of His grace and the provisions of His mercy, it commits itself without reserve and with abnegation of all self-dependence, to Him as its sole and sufficient Saviour, and thus, in one act, empties itself of all claim on God and casts itself upon His grace alone for salvation. (423)
19 October 2009
We don't like rationing which is imposed upon us, but I suggest one form of rationing which we ought to impose on ourselves. Abstain from all thinking about other people's faults, unless your duties as a teacher or parent make it necessary to think about them. Whenever the thoughts come into one's mind, why not simply shove them away? And think of one's own faults instead? For there, with God's help, one can do something. Of all the awkward people in your house or job there is only one whom you can improve very much. That is the practical end at which to begin. And really, we'd better. The job has to be tackled some day: and every day we put it off will make it harder to begin. (C. S. Lewis, 'The Trouble with "X",' in God in the Dock, 154)
Wise words from C. S. Lewis. How easy to elevate others' weakness and overlook our own! How much better to elevate our own weakness and overlook others'. The gospel gives us reources for this, and joy awaits.
17 October 2009
This week I'm returning to John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life. What a helpful little book. Clarifying, stabilizing. As Stacey and I look toward the next season of life, this book is helping us think through the upcoming decisions clearly and wisely and defiantly and upside-down-ly. Not as the world thinks.
"Jesus said, 'Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.' In other words, it is better to lose your life than to waste it. If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full. This is not a book about how to avoid a wounded life, but how to avoid a wasted life." (p. 10)
16 October 2009
--C. S. Lewis, 'Some Thoughts,' in God in the Dock, 150
On this theme see Steve Nichols' good little book, Heaven on Earth: Capturing Jonathan Edwards' Vision of Living in Between.
14 October 2009
Notice now that he does not only say, But what was gain to me I later saw as indifferent, as unimportant--no: as loss. To repent . . . does not mean to be liberalized, to become indifferent to what we formerly were, to the former objects of our devotion and the former conduct of our lives, but to be horrified by it all. . . . Recognition not of some imperfection but precisely of the guiltiness, perversity, and reprobateness of his glorious Pharisaism, irreproachable and upright as it was en sarki (in the flesh), recognition of the indictment not on his wickedness but on his goodness--that is what came upon him dia ton Christon (for the sake of Christ), that was the meaning that Christ's work had for his attitude to these things.
--Karl Barth, Epistle to the Philippians (Westminster John Knox 2002), 97
11 October 2009
10 October 2009
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you and praise your name
forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
The audio of this sermon series, a series on revival, has begun to be posted over at oneplace.
09 October 2009
08 October 2009
[I]n [this] we are lifted up not only above our evils, but even above our blessings, and we are set down in the midst of strange blessings gathered by the labors of another. . . . We are set down, I say, in Christ's righteousness, with which he himself is righteous, because we cling to that righteousness whereby he himself is acceptable to God, intercedes for us as our mediator, and gives himself wholly to us as our high priest and protector. Therefore, just as it is impossible for Christ with his righteousness not to please God, so it is impossible for us, with our faith clinging to his righteousness, not to please him. It is in this way that a Christian becomes almighty Lord of all, having all things and doing all things, wholly without sin.
I was stunned by the next sentence.
Even if he is in sins, these cannot do him harm; they are forgiven for the sake of the inexhaustible righteousness of Christ that removes all sins.
Really? No harm at all? Is this another of Luther's exaggerations for the sake of effect? Gloriously not. 'Inexhaustible' is just the right word. Listen to that sentence again.
Even if he is in sins, these cannot do him harm; they are forgiven for the sake of the inexhaustible righteousness of Christ that removes all sins. . . . He who does not believe this is like a deaf man hearing a story. He does not know Christ, neither does he understand what blessings are his nor how thye may be enjoyed.
--Martin Luther, "Fourteen Consolations," written to Elector Frederick the Wise when Frederick fell deathly sick, in LW 42:164-65
All must joyfully venture forth on this path, for though the gate is quite narrow, the path is not long. Just as an infant is born with peril and pain from the small abode of its mother's womb into this immense heaven and earth, that is, into this world, so man departs this life through the narrow gate of death. And although the heavens and the earth in which we dwell at present seem large and wide to us, they are nevertheless much narrower and smaller than the mother's womb in comparison with the future heaven.
--Martin Luther, "A Sermon on Preparing to Die," LW 42:99
07 October 2009
Therefore whoever knows well how to distinguish the Gospel from the Law should give thanks to God and know that he is a real theologian. . . .
For so far as the words are concerned, the distinction is easy. But when it comes to experience, you will find the Gospel a rare guest but the Law a constant guest in your conscience, which is habituated to the Law and the sense of sin.
--Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, commenting on Gal 2:14, LW: 26:115, 117
06 October 2009
05 October 2009
--William Tooman, 'Edwards's Ezekiel: The Interpretation of Ezekiel in the Blank Bible,' Journal of Theological Interpretation 3 (2009): 38
[T]he re-creation that will take place in the renewal of heaven and earth is not the destruction of this world and the subsequent creation out of nothing of another world but the liberation of the creature that is now subject to futility. Nor can it be otherwise, for God's honor as Savior hinges precisely on his reconquest from the power of Satan of this human race and this world. Christ, accordingly, is not a second Creator, but the Redeemer and Savior of this fallen creation, the Reformer of all things that have been ruined and corrupted by sin. (Reformed Dogmatics, 4:92; emphasis original)
The biblical viewpoint is radically different; salvation is solely a gift of grace.
--Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:485
01 October 2009
The OT was not abolished but fulfilled in the new dispensation, is still consistently being fulfilled, and will be fulfilled, until the parousia of Christ.
Christ, therefore, is the true prophet, priest, and king; the true servant of the Lord, the true atonement (Rom. 3:25), the true circumcision (Col. 2:11), the true Passover (1 Cor 5:7), the true sacrifice (Eph. 5:2), and his body of believers the true offspring of Abraham, the true Israel, the true people of God (Matt 1:21; Luke 1:17; Rom 9:25-26; 2 Cor 6:16-18; Gal 3:29; Tit 2:14; Heb 8:8-10; Jas 1:1, 18; 1 Pet 2:9; Rev 21:3, 12), the true temple of God (1 Cor 3:16; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:22; 2 Thess 2:4; Heb 8:2), the true Zion and Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22; Rev 3:12; 21:2, 10). Its spiritual sacrifice is the true religion.
--Reformed Dogmatics, 4:661
[T]he New Testament is not an intermezzo or interlude, neither a detour nor a departure from the line of the old covenant, but the long-aimed-for goal, the direct continuation and the genuine fulfillment of the Old Testament. (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 4:662).
--Jonathan Edwards, "Jesus Christ Is the Shining Forth of the Father's Glory," in The Glory and Honor of God: Volume 2 of the Previously Unpublished Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, 235
--Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 4:718
...the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay...
--the Apostle Paul