Posts Tagged ‘orthodoxy’

The Revelation to John

Dec 15:                        A Love Grown Cold                 (Rev 2.1-7)


“They that see God cannot but praise him.  He is a Being of such glory and excellency that the sight of this excellency of his will necessarily influence them that behold it to praise him.  Such a glorious sight will awaken and rouse all the powers of the soul, and will irresistibly impel them, and draw them into acts of praise.  Such a sight enlarges their souls, and fills them with admiration, and with an unspeakable exultation of spirit” –Jonathan Edwards, “Praise, One of the Chief Employments of Heaven” (Thanksgiving Sermon, Nov 7, 1734)


We begin today’s class with an important principle from Jonathan Edwards, namely that in beholding the excellency of God we are drawn into acts of praise that affect the deepest and most remote compartments of our soul.  That is why we do Bible study. That is why we take Bible study one step farther and do Biblical theology, and farther still to systematic theology.  These are an attempt to behold God, grounded in the revealed word that he has given us, that we might behold him and be given “an unspeakable exultation of spirit.”  I have said this many times before, and I say it again.  THE KEY to spiritual growth lies not in applying Biblical principles to your life, but in beholding God and having his majesty and the depth of his love, mercy, kindness and righteousness transform the heart and reorient our desires. 


And yet even this pursuit can be corrupted and turned from its original end, as we shall see in our reading today, we see a church whose love has grown cold.  What is striking about this, is that their love grew cold when they were so well equipped to behold the majesty of God.  So there is a lesson for us here.  When knowledge of God becomes more important than God himself, then our doctrine has become our idol, replacing our “first love” with cold dogma.  May God save us from this!  Let us see what Jesus has to say to the church in Ephesus, and see how we might be turned from this sad situation. (more…)

I am an exegete by training, and exegetes always take an interest in understanding particular texts properly. Genesis 1 is no exception; it is a masterfully terse record of the Maker’s plans for his created order and, in my opinion, remains one of the most comprehensively informative texts in Holy Scripture. But some of what it narrates resists exegetical resolution. I don’t think, for instance, that we have even the remotest idea what the recurring expression there means: “And there was evening, and there was morning, one (or another numeral) day.” According to this narrative, the sun was not created until the fourth day, so what does the expression mean, “There was evening, and there was morning,” when there is no sun? The question is fasci-nating as it drives us into a consideration of the mysteries of protology, which are every bit as mysterious as the mysteries of eschatology.

At the same time, however, utterly nothing impinges upon the resolution of the question. There is no question of faith or practice that would change one whit regardless of how the question is resolved. What doctrine that we currently believe would be altered, regardless of what “evening and morning” means without the sun? What sentence in any of the Christian creeds would need to be altered if we were able to resolve this question? And what matter of Christian practice would change? If we were to go through Luther’s Small Catechism, or the Westminster Larger Catechism, line by line in the exposition of the Decalogue, what line would need to be removed, added, or altered in any way on the basis of our resolution of the matter?

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