Archive for the ‘God’ Category

The vocabulary of grace

19 October 2011

We’ve just finished a series in the book of Job at church. Many are familiar with the story of Job, but probably less have waded through the waters step by step with Job and his friends. If you were to take an hour or so and read all of the speeches of Job’s friends you’d find a mixed bag. Some wonderful things said, some confusion things said, and some awful things said. But one thing that would be missing from start to finish in these speeches is grace. Job’s friends had no vocabulary for grace, it was foreign to them and they were unfamiliar with it. In fact, the reason they were so oppressive to Job is because they kept throwing a graceless God at him. In their graceless worldview situations such as Job’s didn’t exist, hence their mistaken accusations of Job’s sin.

A wonderful old hymn that’s been given new life is Jesus, I my cross have taken.  There are 4 lines in the fifth verse of this hymn that would, I think, have been a wonderful balm for Job to hear rather than the drivel of his friends. Henry Lyte writes:

Think what Spirit dwells within thee,
Think what Father’s smiles are thine,
Think that Jesus died to win thee,
Child of heaven, canst thou repine (fret).

Those are words filled with grace, because they bring Jesus to the suffering (Job in this case).

Anyhow, what is fascinating at the end of the book is the vocabulary lesson Job’s friends get. Thankfully, for them, God is not like they imagined him to be. He is a God of grace.

Job 42.7   After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the LORD had told them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.

They’ve witnessed the innocent suffering of Job and could not make sense of it, and now they witness the innocent suffering of these animals. And I imagine through this vocabulary lesson in grace they understood, ‘unless I have a substitute I am doomed’. And they look in faith to the one whom Job so clearly pictures, the truly innocent sufferer, the Lord Jesus Christ. In one life only is Job excelled, in innocence and in grief. That is, of course, life of our Lord and Saviour Jesus. In is in Jesus’ perfection and in Jesus’ suffering that the questions of Job ultimately find their answer. And what is that answer? In a word, grace.

What is lacking in Christ’s afflictions?

17 October 2011

I’m sure this has been helpfully explained before, but a light came on a couple weeks back in understanding what Paul is getting at in Col 1.24 where he writes, ‘Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions’.

The question is, is something about Christ’s work on the cross insufficient? The answer, of course, is ‘no’. But what does Paul mean here?

I think the easiest and most helpful way to understand this is to think about the one inflicting the suffering. On the cross it was the wrath of God against the sin of his people that Jesus suffered. The suffering Paul experiences (and is lacking in Christ) does not come from the Father to top-up what was insufficient in the cross, but comes from the enemy.

You might say it this way, in Christ’s death on the cross the wrath of God was satisfied, but not the wrath of Satan (not that Satan was pouring wrath on Jesus on the cross, he wasn’t; but even in his observance of these sufferings of Christ, he wants to see more).

So, the enemy is not done inflicting sufferings upon Christ’s body, and Paul was filling up what was lacking and now the church continues to fill up what is lacking.

Jesus’ way is not our way

22 April 2011

I am the way to God: I did not come
To light a path, to blaze a trail, that you
May simply follow in my tracks, pursue
My shadow like a prize that’s cheaply won.
My life reveals the life of God, the sum
Of all he is and does. So how can you,
The sons of night, look on me and construe
My way as just the road for you to run?
My path takes in Gethsemane, the Cross,
And stark rejection draped in agony.
My way to God embraces utmost loss:
Your way to God is not my way, but me.
Each other path is dismal swamp, or fraud.
I stand alone: I am the way to God.

~ D A Carson on John 14.6

The Bad Guys

21 October 2010

It seems evangelical creationists are the bad guys. A bit disappointed to see these 2 articles (one & two) at bethinking.org, but I suppose they are wanting people to think, which is good. Here is how the first article ends, “Arguably, attacks by well-meaning Christians on evolution promote rather than counteract atheism.” So, to be against evolution is to be against God. Thanks for that.

That being said, there are some articles that promote an alternate view at the site as well.

I’m hesitant to get into a debate about this issue, but just a few questions for the theistic evolutionist to answer (none new, but none that have be adequately answered either):

– At what point does the image of God enter into creatures who have evolved to human status? Is this something that is earned by reaching a certain evolutionary point?

– It seems extremely difficult to maintain the historicity of Adam and Eve.

– Death before the fall?

– By implication/necessity there would be a need for Christ to come even without the fall for one of the results of his work of redemption is the redemption of creation.

– Are the resurrection bodies something we’ll evolve into as well? Why not?

– Should we seek to explain something scientifically that is miraculous?

A Good Question

20 October 2010

In every area of life (government, science, arts, etc.) men and women are under the necessity of distinguishing between an authority derived from God and the sovereign province of God himself. There is infallibly a moral dimension in the perception of the distinctions.

~ 1 & 2 Chronicles – McConville

 

God, a lucky charm?

9 April 2010

God is not a lucky charm, nor will he be manipulated by mankind, but that is exactly how Israel wanted to treat him. They thought God was a wee rabbit’s foot hanging from their key ring.

1 Sam 4.3 “And when the troops came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. As soon as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded.”

The lucky charm had arrived and Israel thought they were invincible. Well, clearly they weren’t, and they thought God had let them down. So what do they do when they get the ark back (Ch 5-6)? They said (Ch 8), “God didn’t work, so let us have a king like the other nations. Maybe he will be a lucky charm that will better work for us.”

The people of Israel didn’t need a lucky charm, and neither do we. The people of Israel didn’t need a God they could manipulate for their own ends, and neither do we.

It’s not a lucky charm that we offer to people in Christ and in the gospel because just like the people of Israel, they’ll throw it out once life gets ugly and hard. No, we have a message of forgiveness and true life that transcends the difficulties of this life. It’s not a lucky charm we point people to, but a sovereign God.

You see, the people of Israel didn’t want God; they just wanted the things God would give them. And how easily we treat God the same way. God wants us to desire him for himself, not the things he can give. When we desire God only for the things he can give, we make him into an idol giver. Desire God. Desire Christ. Sing with the hymnists, “Give me Jesus,” and “Christ, or else I die.”

Hitchens vs Hitchens

17 March 2010

I am familiar with and have heard Christopher Hitchens arguments against christianity, but I was not aware that his brother, Peter, was a christian. Here is a debate between the two (note that it is about the Iraq war and religion). There was also an article this week that gives a portion of Peter’s new book due out in May. Here is a preview of the book.

Here is my favourite comment from the first few on the youtube clip (don’t waster your time reading them in my opinion).

The title of his book is profoundly stupid too. If you are an atheist you can’t have a “rage against god”.

No comment necessary on that one. Actually, I’ll say one thing, consider the title of Christopher’s book.

Culturally constructed theology…

18 February 2010

rather than biblical theology. This review by Kevin DeYoung on Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity is worth taking the time to read. Of course, if you disagree with McLaren, you are thinking through a time-trapped greco-roman mindset, whereas he is free and sees clearly, unclouded by his own cultural context. Much more could be said, but DeYoung says it better. All I ask is that we get a CO2 count from McLaren to know he practices what he preaches.

See other reviews here, and here.

Surprised?

1 December 2009

It seems evolutionists are surprised when someone who believes in a God who creates sees this information in support of our belief. What exactly should we be looking for if nothing that we observe or have learned points to a Creator?

But, we should remember, someone believing in a creator or intelligent design is not ultimately the issue. It is seeing one’s need for Christ. If the scientific world ever concedes that evolution is false, they will pick another idol before turning to the true God. What is needed is the power that creates light where there is darkness, and that the glory of God might be seen in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4.6).

The Righteousness of God

17 July 2009

What is it?

The righteousness which God’s righteousness requires Him to require. – William Cunningham

God isn’t subject to some external law outside of himself. It is only to his nature and person that he is bound.