The common good requires some laws that limit personal freedom. This conversation between Tim Keller, Al Mohler, & Collin Hansen is very helpful.
(link to video for RSS readers)
I’m reading a bit of Herman Bavinck this morning in preparation for a class with some men in our church. I have been particularly encouraged by his section on God’s goodness. Below is an adaptation of some of his thoughts on the grace of God as an expression of the goodness of God.
The Grace of God is..
God’s goodness is much more glorious when it is shown to those who only deserve evil.
The etymology of the word indicates a bowing and inclination towards another. In other words, the favor that one receives or gives to another.
Used with reference to God, however, its object is never creatures in general, nor the Gentiles, but only his people.
The voluntary, unrestrained, and unmerited favor that he shows to sinners and that, instead of the verdict of death, brings them righteousness and life.
As such it is a virtue and attribute of God (Rom. 5.15; 1 Pet. 5.10), demonstrated in the sending his Son, who is full of grace (John 1.14; 1 Pet. 1.13), and additionally in the bestowal of all sorts of spiritual and material benefits, all of which are the gifts of grace and are themselves called “grace” (Rom. 5.20; 6.1; Eph. 1.7; 2.5,8; Phil. 1.2; Col. 1.2; Titus 3.7; etc), thus radically excluding all merit on the part of humans (Jn. 1.17; Rom. 4.4, 16; 6.14, 23; 11.5ff; Eph. 2.8; Gal. 5.3-4).”
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 1 p. 214
Here are some good resources to think about and celebrate Reformation Day:
>>Reformation expert Stephen Nichols was recently at Omaha Bible Church for a conference on the Reformation. This is great stuff. If you have read any of his books you know that he makes history very fun and engaging. The audio is below; you won’t be disappointed.
>>Also, be sure to see Nichols’ books on key figures in the Reformation-
>>The Gospel Coalition with a great article: Abandon the Reformation, Abandon the Gospel
>>Justin Taylor interviewed Carl Trueman about the 95 Theses. It’s a nice way to get a brief introduction to what happened.
>>Also curtesy of Justin Taylor’s post earlier today:
Today only, you can download for free (in multiple electronic formats) the eBook for Greg Forster’s excellent The Joy of Calvinism: Knowing God’s Personal, Unconditional, Irresistible, Unbreakable Love (Crossway).
>>Chris Castaldo helpfully explains what happened when Luther was asked to recant before the Diet of Worms in 1521.
>>The Reformation Polka, what can I say?
>>And here’s the scene from the contemporary Luther film:
>>The following is an hour-long PBS documentary (uhem..) that includes commentary by Alister McGrath (Reformation scholar and author of Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First). It appears to have some nice reconstructions:
I’ve often been asked for a helpful resource on prayer. There are many contemporary books that are especially helpful (i.e. here and here). Over and over again I have been served by the straighforward pastoral counsel by Martin Luther to his barber. Luther outlines how he used the Lord’s Prayer, The 10 Commandments, and The Creed, as a framework, even a scaffolding for his prayers. His thoughtful letter has continued to shepherd me.
Here is an example:
First, when I feel that I have become cool and joyless in prayer because of other tasks or thoughts (for the flesh and the devil always impede and obstruct prayer), I take my little psalter, hurry to my room, or, if it be the day and hour for it, to the church where a congregation is assembled and, as time permits, I say quietly to myself and word-for-word the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and, if I have time, some words of Christ or of Paul, or some psalms, just as a child might do.
It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day
If you have never read this letter I highly recommend you do so. (link)
These two quotes on the knowledge of God provoke worship and joy.
God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act. (Wayne Grudem, p. 190)
This knowledge is “innate and immediate,” “simultaneous and not successive,” and “complete and fully conscious.” (Louis Berkhof, p. 66)
What can you say but:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
The knowledge of God is not only perfect in kind, but also in its inclusiveness. It is called omniscience, because it is all-comprehensive. In order to promote a proper estimate of it, we may particularize as follows: God knows Himself and in Himself all things that come from Him (internal knowledge).
He knows all things as they actually come to pass, past, present, and future, and knows them in their real relations. He knows the hidden essence of things, to which the knowledge of man cannot penetrate. He sees not as man sees, who observes only the outward manifestations of life, but penetrates to the depths of the human heart.
Moreover, He knows what is possible as well as what is actual; all things that might occur under certain circumstances are present to His mind. The omniscience of God is clearly taught in several passages of Scripture. He is perfect in knowledge, Job 37:16, looketh not on outward appearance but on the heart, I Sam. 16:7; I Chron. 28:9,17; Ps. 139:1-4; Jer. 17:10, observes the ways of men, Deut. 2:7 ; Job 23:10; 24:23 ; 31:4; Ps. 1:6; 119:168, knows the place of their habitation, Ps. 33:13, and the days of their life, Ps. 37:18.
This doctrine of the knowledge of God must be maintained over against all pantheistic tendencies to represent God as the unconscious ground of the phenomenal world, and of those who, like Marcion, Socinus and all who believe in a finite God, ascribe to Him only a limited knowledge.
–Berkhoff, Systematic Theology, p. 67
By the time you reach the age of 36 you assume that you know all of the important details about your family history. Sure, there may be some details that you’ve missed, but overall, you got it. Then a curiously overlooked detail emerges that causes you to pause, muse and ask more questions.
Such was the case the other night when I learned that my great-grandmother was a Baptist. This may not seem like much initially but I assure you it is.
I grew up Roman Catholic. There was not a whiff of evangelical thinking within miles of our family. My parents were not raised with any biblical teaching or preaching. I assumed the case was the same for all of my grandparents and their parents and so forth.
Now I hear that my grandfather’s mom was a Baptist. And apparently not an nominal Baptist. She was a bible reading, bible chewing, bible quoting, genuine New England bible thumper! She was known for her devotion to the Lord. Apparently so was her entire family before her.
You act like you need to microwave everything.
It’s amazing how subtly our thinking can be shaped. It has been said that we live in a society with short patience and high demands. This combination creates an approach where we want what we want right away.
The above quote is an indication of this. It was made to me by a brother I have a great deal of respect for. And he was referencing my desire for a quick turn for implementation on everything, particularly ministry-related items. His point, which has made more of an impact over time than it had originally, was that we don’t have to be impatient and rush everything. There is time to think it through.
This is very tough for me. When I become convinced of a course of action I just want to go. And go quickly.
Around a dying bed the scaffolding of all ecclesiastical systems falls, leaving the man who has reposed his all upon it, to his ghostly hope. But to that departing soul, to whom the savor, power, and preciousness of the name of JESUS is as ointment shedding its fragrance round the room where disease and death with united force are battling with life, oh how supporting, soothing, and hope-inspiring is the precious blood of Christ which is felt at that dreadful moment, when the transgressions of a life crowd upon memory, to “cleanse from ALL sin!”
–Octavius Winslow The Precious Things of God
This morning in our men’s theology class we highlighted this quote concerning God’s omnipresence and omniscience from Herman Bavinck. It is one of those quotes that Velcro’s itself to you.
When you wish to do something evil, you retire from the public into your house where no enemy may see you; from those places of your house which are open and visible to the eyes of men you remove yourself into your room; even in your room you fear some witness from another quarter; you retire into your heart, there you meditate: he is more inward than your heart.
Wherever, therefore, you shall have fled, there is he.
From yourself, whither will you flee? Will you not follow yourself wherever you shall flee? But since there is One more inward even than yourself, there is no place where you may flee from God angry but to God reconciled. There is no place at all whither you may flee. Will you flee from him? Flee unto him.
–Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God