“Though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt, and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world.”
I think I’ll need to write a follow up post with the opposite title just to remain balanced theological but until then…
Often when I am in turmoil, the last place I want to turn is to the pages of Scripture, primarily for fear of condemnation. But what most often happens is I find the forgiveness and love that God promised. This seems so basic. Isn’t this the entire message of the Gospel? We are sinners, living in rebellion to a Holy God, but that God made a way in which we could be reconciled to Him.
Why? Because He loves His creation and His people. It really is that simple.
Yes, sin matters and it matters a great deal-it’s the cause of our separation from Him and will be the cause of our just punishment unless we acknowledge this fact and see our need for God’s work on our behalf. Again, this is nothing novel, insightful, or profound in terms of high theology. It’s the Gospel 101. It’s the basics. Yet I so often forget the basics-at least practically. Intellectually I could quote to you the “Romans Road” half asleep-but this means nothing if not applied to the heart and mind.
The pages of Scripture are absolutely saturated with comfort, love and forgiveness. Yes, there is judgment, punishment, and condemnation-but this contrasts and helps us understand what we are being saved from. This is it’s own comfort. God has paid the penalty Himself for our sin, just like He promised He would do all the way back in the garden (Get 3:15) and to Abraham when God walked through the pieces instead of Abraham (Gen 15), and all throughout the Old Testament until He fulfilled His promises in the New.
One of the absolutely most profound and complex, yet simplest (the Bible is full of wonderful paradoxes) verses in all of Scripture is this “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I John 4:7-8
“God is love”. What does that even mean? It’s not “God is loving”-though He is; it’s not “God loves”-though He does; it’s God is love. This is His essence. This is who He is.
It may not always seem that way. God continually brings situations into my life that I think I would have been much better to do without. He places me into situations that hurt, that are complicated, that are seemingly almost impossible to navigate and to overcome. But again, the Scriptures step in and say “The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Prov 16:9) and “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11).
I understand this last passage was given in a specific context to the exiled Israelites, however we have the affirmation of this truth for God’s people (all the saved) in the New Testament: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6).
God places us into situations that we cannot understand, but Scripture is clear that He has a purpose in all these things; no matter how much we feel like we mess it up, or make wrong decisions, or have feelings that we do not understand. Sometimes He breaks our hearts to bring us near to Him.
But this is all found in the pages of Scripture. Read it, don’t fear it. This I must remind myself of daily.
Please help me Father to understand,
That my faith is weak, and my sin is grand.
But no matter how much I sin before you,
Your forgiveness and love are faithful and true.
Forgive me now for my rebellion and pride,
My strength and refuge in you I find.
This is one of the better, short cases for infant baptism I have read . The arguments made here are particularly helpful as they also manage to engage many common objections within the short confines of the post.
Even if you do not agree, I encourage you to read it if for no other reason than to better understand those who do hold to the positions summerized in Covenant Theology and paedobaptism (which we obviously believe to be based in Scripture, not man’s inventions of a system) .
“Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” ~1 Corinthians 1:1-9
By who’s will is Paul called?
To who’s church does Paul write?
Who sanctifies them (and makes them His church)?
Who’s catholic church (to which they now belong)?
Who gave them grace?
Who enriched them?
Who will sustain them?
Who makes them guiltless?
Who called them?
Because He is faithful.
There is no hint from Paul that the work of God; calling, sanctifying, enriching, sustaining, pardoning, calling; will not be accomplished. There is no condition placed upon it. His work is accomplished because He is faithful.
Since Peterson is sweeping the web, this will be a good blog thread to follow.
I’ve just picked up a copy of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life, a book bound to be both bestselling and controversial, as Peterson himself is a popular and controversial figure. In early reviews and endorsements, the book is touted as a wise and fatherly guide for us wayward Millennials, full of practical advice on how to be a man or a woman and make your way in the world.
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As I was reading the book of Samuel, conviction struck hard within the first serval pages.
Most know the story well: Hannah is longing for a son because up till this point, she has been barren. There were many cultural pressures around having children at this time (though in the opposite way our current culture’s is), but the Scriptures show that this was truly a desire from the deepest depths of her heart.
After much faithful prayer, God grants her request, but what was convicting to me was her response; she takes what she desired so desperately, and gives back to Him who she desires and loved most.
Hannah gave her Son to work in the service of YHWH her God because she revered God more.
She knows she is only going to be able to see her Son once a year, and this would tear any loving parent’s heart, yet the passage does not indicate she made this sacrifice begrudgingly. In fact, Hannah prays a magnificent prayer of worship and praise:
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.
“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.” (I Samuel 2:1-10)
This was a true act of worship and joy on Hannah’s part; to give back to her God what He had given her.
She who longed for a child so desperately, longed for the worship of her God more.
The emotions of that sacrifice were real to her, but she had a faith and love for God that most of us will probably never obtain this side of eternity.