Posts Tagged ‘God’

Just what you’d expect from a gifted preacher and a great mind.  Enjoy…

That brings us to a concrete statement of the nature of what we may call divine chronology. God acts and plans and schemes, He interferes and enforces. When does He do so? What is it that determines when God intervenes? That is the question that concerns people. Our trouble when we begin to think of time, of chronology, is that we think of clocks and calendars, of weeks and months and years. But a study of the Bible makes it abundantly plain and clear that God’s chronology must never be thought of in this way. It is always, rather, a matter of moral conditions. Let me give you some quotations from Scripture to prove what I mean. In Genesis 6:3 we read, ‘And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man.’ Now what was happening there? Well, the world had sinned and the moral conditions were getting worse and worse. God was speaking, God was upbraiding, He was condemning, and calling to repentance; but men paid no heed. So He makes this statement: the point will arrive when I will cease to strive with you and I will act. That is not a point on a calendar, it is that the moral conditions would become such that God then would act. Or take the statement in Genesis i 5:16, ‘For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.’ God will only act when the iniquity is full. Take again the words from the New Testament: ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute; that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation.’ The prophets had been killed centuries before, but the punishment comes when the iniquity has reached a certain level. Then take the phrase, ‘until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’, and ‘this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, and then shall come the end’. When is the end going to come? It is obviously not a certain date on a calendar, it is when the Gospel shall have been preached to all nations and amongst all people —‘then cometh the end.’ When did Christ come into the world? ‘When the fulness of the time was come’ — when the conditions were such that God said: This is the time. Again, ‘in due time Christ died for the ungodly’. When will the end of the world be? It will not be until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in, until God has gathered out His people from amongst the Gentile nations — it will not happen until then. Now that is the biblical teaching on divine chronology.

Let us therefore get rid of all these ideas of dates and calendars, and let us realise that what determines God’s intervention in the time process is the matter of moral conditions. What is much more important than any particular date is the moral state and condition of the world today; for Scripture makes it very plain that before the end there will be a terrible apostasy. But we must be careful, for men have often said before, ‘This is the last great apostasy’. We must not again try to fix the exact time of the end, but we should be made to think, as we see the falling away from God and the arrogance and the active godlessness and irreligion. We should be made to think of these things because we are told that just before the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the moral conditions will be such that there will be this great apostasy and sin and iniquity will be revealed. Let us therefore, keep our eyes on the moral conditions rather than on the dates, because that is what seems clearly to be the teaching of the Bible with respect to the nature of divine chronology.

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oh-bradGod is not a girlfriend; God is God.
Cheap love songs typically talk about how great God’s love is for us. They fail to consider how God’s great love becomes great for us. Biblically, we know no great Godly love apart from an angry God. If God was not angry, he would be a bad lover. If he didn’t grow wrathful over idolatry, murder, lying, jealousy, gossip, and sleeping around, then his love would be cheap.

But God stands up for himself, for his infinite glory and beauty, and says, “I will not be abused. Those who treat me poorly must suffer the consequences of failing to honor the God who is infinitely honorable.” And so he pours out his righteous wrath and anger by putting to death his enemies or by putting to death his own Son.

Because God is angry and just, his love is deeper than we will ever fully comprehend.
In order to understand God’s love, we must understand his anger. God’s anger inevitably leads us to the cross, where justice and mercy meet in perfect, soul-wrenching, Christ-crushing, sin-forgiving, life-giving, love-flowing harmony. For those that hope in Jesus, the anger of God against our unrighteousness is mercifully diverted from us onto His beloved Son. As a result, God preserves and promotes his justice and humanity’s joy where anger and love converge—at the cross.

The purpose of God’s anger is to display the depth and character of his eternal justice and his love for us. When we understand that God’s love is God’s because of his justice and anger, only then can we begin to comprehend how great a love he has for us.

So how do we write worship songs that speak of God’s great love, not cheap love? Three suggestions:

  1. Contrast God’s great love with his great wrath. The more we see God’s just wrath, the more we see how great his love is to save us (“a wretch like me”).
  2. Show how God’s love is ours in the death of his Son. Text after biblical text ties God’s unfailing love to the sacrifice of his Son.
  3. Articulate the greatness of God’s love alongside the magnitude of his glory. Reveal that God’s love is just one aspect of God’s many-splendored glory.

read it all here

 “To inspire all people through the power of the Gospel to become living members of the Body of Christ…”

The Revelation to John

Dec 8:              Who is this Jesus?                     (Rev 1.9-20)


“Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts:  the knowledge of God and of our selves.  But while joined by man bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern.” –Calvin, Institutes Book 1.1.1.


Our topic today is “Who is this Jesus,” and if we are to take the quote seriously from John Calvin that I have just read, and I hope that we do, then we see that the answer to this questions hinges upon knowing two things:  Jesus and Self.  We cannot know Jesus unless we know self and we cannot know self unless we know Jesus.  The selection of the verses for today exhibit both in profound ways.  Let us turn then to knowledge of self.


“I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the Kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus…”  In Roman Catholic, and unfortunately some Protestant churches, it is common to refer to John as “Saint.”  Aside from the fact that Scripture clearly defines the household of confessing believers as saints (Eph 3.18), the appellation “Saint” assigned only to certain Christians has unfortunate pastoral consequences.  For one, what are the adjectives most commonly associated with a saint? Righteous, perfect, holy, innocent, sinless etc.  In other words, NOTHING LIKE YOU.  But the grace of this particular scripture is that John seeks not to differentiate himself from us with exalted titles, but he seeks to identify with us by calling us “Brother.”  John can call us “brother” because he is made from the same stuff we are.  He has the same shortcomings, the same weaknesses, the same vulnerabilities and the same fears.  He has the same need for salvation.  So he begins this section of Revelation with “I, John, your brother.” (more…)

“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened.  For Christ our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5.7)

The mention of “leaven” in v. 6 naturally suggests imagery from Paul’s own history as a law-abiding Jew, namely the two religious rituals of Passover.  he begins with a direct allusion to the ceremonial removal of all leaven from their homes (Exod. 12:15), which in turn prompts an alusion to the most important event of all, the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb (Exod 12.6).

Thus he shifts from the “small” leaven and “whole” batch (of dough) in the proverb to “old” leaven and “new” batch (of dough) from teh Feast of Unleavened Bread.  The imagery is expressed as an imperative, similar to that which had long been a part of his Jewish experience.  “Get rid of that old leaven”.  In this context, of course, this refers to the removal of the incestuous man in v. 5; but as v. 8 indicates, the very use of such imagery has the possibility of broader application.  The purpose of this removal of “leaven” reflects the process of starting over with a new batch of unleavened dough, and is applied directly to the corporate life of the community: “that you may be a new batch,” that is, that they might be a people without the leaven of sin in their midst.

In so applying the imagery, however, Paul expresses himself in a way that is foreign to his own theology; so he immediately qualifies it with “even as you really are.”  As always in Paul, the imperative, even thought it must be obeyed, cannot be turned into a piece of legal material, obedience to which gives favor with God.  Right at the point where the imperative sounds as if it comes first (“Get rid of the odl so that you may be new”), he reminds them that what they must become is what they are already by the Grace of God.  “Become what you are” is the basic nature of Paul’s parenesis.  he is simply too steeped in the religious heritage of the OT to allow a divorce of ethics from the gift of God’s favor.  But he has been too badly burnded by his former pharisaism to allow that ethics leads to that gift of favor.  Thie indicative always comes first: “You are a new loag (God’s people) by sheer grace adn mercy.”  But without the imperative the former has failed to be the power of God unto salvation.  Hence, “Now become what you are, God’s ‘new loaf’ in Corinth”.  The application to our own lives and church is of course universal.

-Fee, G. The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT pg 216-217)

I. God wishes us to study Christ

Again and again He opens out His ‘unsearchable riches,’ and gives us another and another view of the ‘unspeakable gift.’ Study His person; study His work—the wisdom, and the power, and the love of God are there! Study all His fullness, and, as you study it, drink it in! Study the cross; study the resurrection; study the present majesty of the ascended and interceding Christ; study His coming glory as Judge, and King, and Bridegroom. There is none like Him—neither shall ever be. He is the chief among ten thousand; the only perfect One; the all-perfect One; the representative of the invisible Godhead; the doer of the Father’s will; the accomplisher of the Father’s purpose—both of vengeance and of grace.

 II. Christ wishes us to study himself
‘Look unto me,’ He says in this book. Jesus showed to His servant John the things concerning Himself, that the Church in all ages might see and know these things. He unveils Himself in His glory, and says, Look on me! Here Christ is all and in all; and He would gladly teach us here what that all is, and what that in all implies.

 III. Christ uses ‘human’ messengers.

He is head over all things to the Church, and He makes use of all things as His servants, saying to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes. Though invisible now and in the heaves, He uses human agencies still. He speaks through men; He teaches through men; He comforts through men; He warns through men. ‘We beg you, in Christ’s stead be you reconciled to God,’ are words which show us how He stands towards us.

IV. God uses ‘angelic’ messengers.

In the government both of the church and of the world He makes use of angels. They are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation. Jesus comes Himself to John; yet the Revelation comes to John by an angel. How the angel communicated with John we know not. Who he was, whether Michael or Gabriel, we know not. But it is an angelic messenger that is made use of here. This whole book is full of angelic agencies and ministries. God lifts a little of the veil, and shows us angels at work in conducting the affairs of earth. This is the book of ANGELS—for the word occurs in it seventy-six times. They minister to man; they execute God’s judgments; they do His will here; excelling in strength, and able to counteract the power of Satan and his angels.

V. God annexes a ‘special blessedness’ to the study of this book.

Few believe this; fewer act upon it. The Apocalypse is too many like the Sibyl’s books, or the Iliad of Homer. The so-called philosophy of the age is undermining the prophetic word, reducing it to a mere collection of figures, or symbolic representation of principles or abstract truths. Prophecy as the direct prediction by God of what is to come to pass on earth is set aside, and the prophetic books are studies merely in reference to their poetry or their lofty ideas. Blessedness in studying them is seldom thought of, even by many Christians. Yet the word of God here stands true. Prophecy is a sure word, and it is as blessed as it is sure. Woe to him who slights it! Blessed are all those who meditate on it, seek to know it, and take it for guidance and counsel in the evil day!


Bonar’s entire commentary on Revelation can be found here

A phrase that has become especially important to me of late is the phrase “evidences of grace.” “Evidences of Grace” are essentially those fruits of the Spirit, evident in people’s lives that give us assurance that they are loved by God and that his Spirit is active in their life. Throughout my friendship with Colin and Kristi Burch, as well as their daughters, I have been repeatedly encouraged at the “evidences of grace” in their lives. So imagine the joy in my heart when I happened upon this little post in his blog! I have no idea what his spiritual concerns were that day (I’m sure I’ll find out one day over a cold one…) but I am grateful to the Father for sending a word of grace to my good friend last Sunday. Below is Colin’s post with a link to the original.

I spent Saturday afternoon agonizing about something that I’ll call it an unseen idol. It was something I valued, but something unhealthy that I knew I needed to get out of my heart and mind. I prayed about it and thought about it and tried to write down the core of the matter.

On Sunday morning, my church was completing a three day event that led up to a renewal of baptismal vows. The event involved a team of fellow Episcopalians from outside the parish. We were invited to come to the front for prayer, and ministers from our church and the team, in groups of two or three, prayed for everyone in the long line.

When I came up, two strangers from the team, apparently a husband and wife, prayed for me, and every word the man said was directly related to my thoughts, prayers, and writings from the previous day. Nothing in the prayers left me feeling chastised. I felt an assurance that God heard my prayers and was helping me. I was encouraged. I told the man who had prayed for me that his words had come from some of my own prayers.

I trust that God expects us, as fallen beings, to fail and to have failings. It has taken me some time to realize that the only real trick is asking Him for help, and to expect great things not from ourselves, but from Him.

check it out here