Repost – Murmuring and Contentment

This was posted a few years ago. It’s something I still constantly work on.

Murmuring–a half-suppressed or muttered complaint, which may be synonymous with grumbling–is a sin that isn’t mentioned often. Thomas Watson writes about this in The Art of Divine Contentment. I’ve been making an effort to think more positively, or less negatively, but when he uses the word murmur and explains it like he does, it’s very convicting. I can see how this is subtly insidious, and the devil would love to see a lot of it, without our ever really realizing it. I can see how profitable this would be if it could be reduced by working on it with God’s grace.

You that are a murmurer are in the [same] account of [or ‘to’] God as a witch, a sorcerer, as one that deals with the devil: this is a sin of the first magnitude. Murmuring often ends in cursing: Micah’s mother fell to cursing when the talents of silver were taken away, (Jude 17:2) so does the murmurer when a part of his estate is taken away. Our murmuring is the devil’s music; this is that sin which God cannot bear: “how long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me?” (Num. 14:7) It is a sin which whets the sword against a people: it is a land-destroying sin; “neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” (1 Cor. 10:10) It is a ripening sin this; without mercy it will hasten England’s funerals. O then how excellent is , which prevents this sin! To be contented, and yet murmur is a : a contented Christian does acquiesce in his present condition, and does not murmur, but admire. Herein appears the excellency of contentation; it is a spiritual antidote against sin.

I attempted to slightly simplify the English.

I think that letting this fester is one way that nice young people can become cranky old people. Not cranky like Carl Trueman, but truly mean and destructively negative people.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
Philippians 2:14 NIV

Also see: Contentment | Scripture Zealot blog

Being content
something deviating from the proper, normal, or accepted order

Longings After God – A Puritan Prayer

This is part of a prayer that I especially like from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers. I try to read/pray at least one a week on Sundays. They help fill in gaps in my own praying and give me ideas. These have also been very helpful when very stressed and needing to just read a prayer.

My soul longs for communion with thee,
for mortification of indwelling corruption,
especially spiritual pride.

How precious it is to have a tender sense
and clear apprehension of the mystery
of godliness,
of true holiness!

What a blessedness to be like thee
as much as it is possible for a creature
to be like its Creator!

Lord, give me more of thy likeness;
Enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness;
Engage me to live more for thee.

Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences,
and when I feel at ease after sweet communings,
teach me it is far too little I know and do. […]

Wrap my life in divine love,
and keep me ever desiring thee,
always humble and resigned to thy will,
more fixed on thyself,
that I may be more fitted for doing and suffering.

The Valley of Vision

Also see:
Why You Should Read the Puritans – Meet the Puritans – I won’t tell you what you should do, but there’s a good explanation of who the Puritans were if you scroll down to Definition of Puritanism.

Around the Web

Some of you may remember the translation discussions we used to have on blogs. Here are a couple of great posts by our friend Esteban:
Mondays with Moisés: Learning Greek and Translating Greek | Bouncing into Graceland

The Book of the People (of God): A Friendly Rejoinder | Bouncing into Graceland

I do not endorse this site, but I do like some of the points in this article.
Christians are far too Easily Distracted from Things that Really Matter

Guest Post: Mental Illness, Prayer, and Extravagant Grace » Amy Simpson

Confused about eschatology (the end times)?
The End of the World As We Know It: An Infographic – Tim Challies

Stinging Quote by Sinclair Ferguson

This quote by Sinclair Ferguson, in his book Devoted to God, is one of the more difficult ones I’ve read from a contemporary Christian author. It’s an area of sin that’s often overlooked.

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath,
Colossians 3:8 ESV

Here Paul is speaking about settled hostility [anger]. […]

Paul adds we are to put away wrath. […]

But what if–as one scholar puts it–we translate Paul’s term here as ‘exasperation’? That gets under the skin! If all Paul meant was ‘rage’ we might think of others to whom these words apply, but hardly ourselves. But ‘exasperation’? Respectable impatience? Irritation when things go wrong? Surely these cannot be classed as real sin? But this is to remove God from our perspective. For the root cause of impatience and exasperation lies in our response to the providence by which God superintends our lives. At the end of the day the deep object of our exasperation is the Lord himself. For it is his sovereign purposes and detailed plans, and the way in which he has ordered our steps to bring us into the situation, that has been the catalyst of our exasperation.

So in fact ‘exasperation’ spells spiritual danger. Yet most of us do not think of it as serious sin. In fact we may have said (even with a sense of pride): ‘I am not the kind of person to suffer fools gladly. [Matt. 5:22] I am easily exasperated by them.’ But if so we have become deaf to what we are really saying. For such exasperation is an expression of the warped and distorted old way of life in Adam. It is un-Christlike and needs to be put off. At its heart is a self-exaltation over others, and a dissatisfaction with the way God is ordering and orchestrating the events of our lives.

–Sinclair Ferguson, Devoted to God

Can you imagine what the more argumentative areas of social media would look like if everyone were to take this message seriously? The tenor would be completely transformed. We can easily slip into group-think when we’re constantly bombarded with people being overly blunt with each other. It can become normal. Even if we don’t perceive our words as very harsh–should the other person, or people watching on take it differently–our words don’t come to rest; they can float into other people’s minds as a curse (Proverbs 26:2).

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:13 NLT

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
2 Timothy 2:23-24

Devoted To God Book Cover

Around the Web

Top athletes share their battles with mental illness | HeadHeartHand Blog

Anxiety Resources | HeadHeartHand Blog

The Suffering of the Saints | Monergism – 100s of free biblical/theological resources on Suffering

Lost in Translation: How Christianese Hides the Gospel | Desiring God

One More Time on ‘Game of Thrones’ | TGC

Books For Which I Am Thankful – Reformation21 Blog – I’ve read a few on this list. It doesn’t seem to me that Knowing God is as well known as it should be known. I recently read it for the third time. The first time was about twenty-five years ago. (When I was 8. Not really.)

Knowing God

God’s Grace Towards Everyone

This is a great quote by Michael Horton. Many are led to believe that if one becomes a believer, their life will get better. I suppose it depends on what one means by ‘life’.

‘Out of the lavishness displayed in the marvelous variety and richness of creation itself, God continues to pour out his common blessings on all people. Therefore we neither hoard possessions as if God’s gifts were scarce nor deny ourselves pleasures as if God were stingy. Believers and unbelievers alike share in the common joys of childbirth and childhood, friendship and romance, marriage and family. Unlike life under the old covenant theocracy, there is no guarantee in this time between Christ’s two advents that the lives of Christians will go better than those of non-Christians. The promise, rather, is that even calamities cannot frustrate God’s salvation of his elect, but, on the contrary, are turned to our ultimate good. [Romans 8:28-29]

It is always dangerous to interpret one’s temporal circumstances as a sign either of God’s favor or of his displeasure. […] However, believers have no right to God’s common grace any more than they do to his saving grace. God remains free to Show compassion on whomever he will, even to give breath, health, prosperity, and friends to those who breathe threats against him. The psalmist never resolves this paradox philosophically, but eschatologically—that is, by entering God’s sanctuary and recognizing that the temporal pleasures of the ungodly conceal their ultimate doom, while the saints’ temporal struggles conceal their ultimate glory: “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. . . . My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:24, 26).’

–Michael Horton, The Christian Faith, pg 352

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Quotes from Walking with God through Pain and Suffering

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller is one of the best books I’ve read on the subject.

Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.

A note that I wrote in the book in pretty much my own words: “In our praying, we’re often trying to only eliminate suffering, instead of also asking for it to have meaningful spiritual value.”

While Christianity was able to agree with pagan writers that inordinate attachment to earthly goods can lead to unnecessary pain and grief, it also taught that the answer to this was not to love things less but to love God more than anything else. Only when our greatest love is God, a love that we cannot lose even in death, can we face all things with peace.

On the cross, he went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and a pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours. There is no greater inner agony than the loss of a love relationship. We cannot imagine, however, what it would be like to lose not just a human relationship that has lasted for some years but the infinite love of the Father that Jesus had from all eternity. The separation would have been infinitely unbearable. And so Jesus experienced Godforsakenness itself on the cross when he cried out, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”

Suffering is actually at the heart of the Christian story.

Suffering tends to make you self-absorbed. If it is seen as mainly about you and your own growth, it will strangle you truly. Instead, we must look at suffering–whatever the proximate causes–as primarily a way to get to know God better, as an opening for serving, resembling, and drawing near to him as never before.

But resurrection is not just consolation — it is restoration. We get it all back — the love, the loved ones, the goods, the beauties of this life — but in new, unimaginable degrees of glory and joy and strength.

We question how God is running the world. Does that make sense?

Christian peace does not start with the ousting of negative thinking. If you do that, you may simply be refusing to face how bad things are. That is one way to calm yourself – by refusing to admit the facts. But it will be short lived peace! Christian peace doesn’t start that way. It is not that you stop facing the facts, but you get a living power that comes into your life and enables you to face those realities, something that lifts you up over and through them.

Regarding that last quote, see Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones.

Book Lernin’ – Topics

I just found this post in the Drafts area of the blog, so I thought I’d finish it up and post it, even though it’s more than a half a year late:

Last year may have been the year of topics as far as reading. I wanted to learn about what God’s glory is, exactly, what God’s Kingdom entails, what The Name of the Lord means, and more about contentment. These were the highlights of the year.

The Glory of God, Christopher W. Morgan (Editor) – Each chapter is written by a different person. A most excellent book.

Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God by George Eldon Ladd – This has been mentioned so many times, and I finally read it–very worthwile.

Name above All Names by Alistair Begg, Sinclair B. Ferguson – This was the most easy to read book, with everything explained at a popular level.

The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs – One of the two or three classic books on the subject by Puritans.

The winner is:
The Glory of God

Quotes from The Person of Jesus by Gresham Machen

Here are some quotes from the book The Person of Jesus: Radio Addresses on the Deity of the Savior by Gresham Machen. This is a very short book of a series of radio addresses given in 1935. This post is under the new category of Book Quotes, which gives you a sample of a recently read book. See the last quote for some humor.

So it is when we try to think of God as eternal. If the word “infinity” is related, by way of contrast, to the notion of space, so the word “eternity” is related, by way of contrast, to the notion of time. When we say that God is eternal, we mean that he had no beginning and that he will have no end. But we really mean more than that. We mean that time has no meaning for him, save as it has meaning to the creatures whom he has made. He created time when he created finite creatures. He himself is beyond time. There is no past and no future to him. The Bible puts that in poetical language when it says: “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Ps 90:4). We of course are obliged to think of the actions of God as taking place in time. We are obliged to think of him as doing one thing after another thing; we are obliged to think of him as doing this today and that tomorrow. We have a perfect right so to think, and the Bible amply confirms us in that right. To us there is indeed such a thing as past and present and future, and when God deals with us he acts in a truly temporal series. But to God himself all things are equally present. There is no such thing as “before” or “after” to him.

Jesus does not present himself merely as an example for faith but presents himself as the object of faith.

And therefore to apparel [put on] ourself with Christ is none other thing than to believe assuredly that Christ is ours.

“Why does this man speak like that?” they said. “He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). They were right. None can forgive sins but God only. Jesus was a blasphemer if he was a mere man. At that point the enemies saw clearly. You may accept the lofty claims of Jesus. You may take him as very God. Or else you must reject him as a miserable, deluded enthusiast. There is really no middle ground. Jesus refuses to be pressed into the mold of a mere religious teacher.

If the Jesus of the Gospels were a purely natural and not a supernatural person, then we should have no difficulty in believing that such a person lived in the first century of our era. Even skeptics would have no difficulty in believing it. Defenders of the faith would have an easy victory indeed. Everybody would believe. But then there would be one drawback. It would be this: the thing that everybody would believe would not be worth believing.

The bottom of the next quote is the most humorous I’ve read in a Christian book in a long time.

Those first disciples of Jesus [supposedly] became convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead because they experienced certain hallucinations, certain pathological experiences in which they thought they saw Jesus before their eyes when in reality there was nothing there. In an hallucination, the optic nerve is really affected but it is affected not by light rays coming from an external object, but by some pathological condition of the bodily organism of the subject himself. This is the so-called “vision theory” regarding the origin of the Christian church. It has held the field among unbelievers inside of the church and outside of the church since the days of Strauss about one hundred years ago. I think we ought to understand just exactly what that vision theory means. It means that the Christian church is founded upon a pathological experience of certain persons in the first century of our era. It means that if there had been a good neurologist for Peter and the others to consult there never would have been a Christian church.

The Person of Jesus

Also find it at: Westminster Bookstore

Around the Web

Your Deadliest Weapon Against the Devil: Eight Reasons to Memorize Scripture | Desiring God

Why all the Superlatives? – Reformation21 Blog – The post is awesome!!! I may expand on this in another post.

The Upward Call – The Gift of Anxiety

Anxiety has taught me a lot about compassion. It has taught me that mental illness is not as black and white as we think. And it taught me that the church has a long way to go toward understanding it and helping its sufferers through it. There is a lot of misunderstanding about it. When a woman struggles with impatience, pride, or selfishness, we want to help. We know it takes time. But when it’s anxiety, it’s as if we think handing out a verse and reminding her that anxiety is a sin will be an automatic cure. It isn’t.

How to Be a Miserable Comforter | Counseling One Another

8 Ways to Help Depressed Christians – Discover

Many Christians are adopting this method of highlighting in their Bible:
CIA Realizes It's Been Using Black Highlighters All These Years – The Onion

Timothy Keller on Prayer – Part 2 of 2

Here are eleven quotes from his book on Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. This is the best book I’ve read on prayer so far. It’s something I like to read about regularly.

[Prayer is] A personal, communicative response to the knowledge of God.

What is prayer, then, in its fullest sense? Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him.

It is remarkable that in all of his writings Paul’s prayers for his friends contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances. … He does not see prayer as merely a way to get things from God but as a way to get more of God himself. Prayer is a striving to ‘take hold of God’ (Isa. 64:7) the way in ancient times people took hold of the cloak of a great man as they appealed to him, or the way in modern times we embrace someone to show love.

Our prayers should arise out of immersion in the Scripture. [We] speak only to the degree we are spoken to. … The wedding of the Bible and prayer anchors your life down in the real God.

We must be able to existentially access our doctrinal convictions. If doctrinal soundness is not accompanied by heart experience, it will eventually lead to nominal Christianity—that is, in name only—and eventually to nonbelief. The irony is that many conservative Christians, most concerned about conserving true and sound doctrine, neglect the importance of prayer and make no effort to experience God, and this can lead to the eventual loss of sound doctrine. … Christianity without real experience of God will eventually be no Christianity at all.)

God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.

If God’s words are his personal, active presence, then to put your trust in God’s words is to put your trust in God.

Prayer is the way that truth is worked into your heart to create new instincts, reflexes, and dispositions.

If I am in denial about my own weakness and sin, there will be a concomitant blindness to the greatness and glory of God.

We should remember Augustine’s letter to Anicia. There he says, in short, that you should not begin to pray for all you want until you realize that in God you have all you need. That is, unless we know that God is the one thing we truly need, our petitions and supplications may become, simply, forms of worry and lust. We can use prayer as just another way to pursue many things that we want too much.

It takes pride to be anxious, to know how my life should go.

“we should lay before God, as part of our prayer, the reasons why we think that what we ask for is the best thing.” This is an insightful and practical idea. [Packer’s ‘arguing with God in prayer’. –Packer and Nystrom, Praying: Finding Our Way] … This means embedding theological reasoning in our prayers.

Also see: Timothy Keller on Prayer – Part 1

Timothy Keller on Prayer – Part 1 of 2

Timothy Keller wrote a book entitled Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. The next post will have quotes from that book.

There is an excellent interview with him at Desiring God: 10 Questions on Prayer with Tim Keller.

If you don’t have time, or want to read my mumbling, I have a few quotes from it that I think are important.

I read a book some years ago by Eugene Peterson called Answering God. He makes a strong case that we only pray well if we are immersed in Scripture. We learn our prayer vocabulary the way children learn their vocabulary — that is, by getting immersed in language and then speaking it back. And he said the prayer book of the Bible is the Psalms, and our prayer life would be immeasurably enriched if we were immersed in the Psalms.

Also comparing our prayers to Paul’s.

I’ve been reading more and more about using the Bible as our prayer language or ‘phrase vocabulary’, if there is such a thing. Matthew Henry wrote about it, and I see many others who mention it. I find that many Christians conform to each other more than Scripture. I’ll leave out the examples for now.

I’m concerned about approaches to reading the Bible that say: read the Bible, but don’t think about theology, just let God speak to you. I’m concerned about that, because God speaks to you in the Bible, after you do the good exegesis and you figure out what the text is saying. Martin Luther believed you need to take the truth that you have learned through good exegesis, and once you understand that, you need to learn how to warm your heart with it — get it into your heart.

This is scary, yet at the same time maybe a little extreme. Certainly God speaks to us without us having to do exegesis on every verse of Scripture we read. On the other hand, the ‘just me and the Holy Spirit’ or ‘what it means to me’ attitude can lead people astray. It might also be a bit much to expect people who are Biblically illiterate to not just read the Bible, but be expected to understand it well. I think that’s why reading books is so important, in addition to getting teaching from preaching and Bible studies.

Without meditation, you tend to go right into petition and supplication, and you do little adoration or confession. When your heart is warm, then you start to praise God and then you confess. When your heart is cold, which it is if you just study the Bible and then jump to prayer, you are much more likely to spend your time on your prayer list and not really engage your heart.

This is interesting because I feel like I often meditate when praising and thanking, possibly confessing too.
I think it’s when I’m praising especially, that God is often directing my prayers in a Scriptural direction.

Again, this is from 10 Questions on Prayer with Tim Keller

Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller on Prayer – Part 2.

What Did Moses Do So Wrong?

On that same day the Lord told Moses, “Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.”
Deuteronomy 32:48-52

What did Moses do so wrong in the Desert of Zin that God wouldn’t let him go into the land of Canaan like the rest of the Israelites he was leading? For 40 years? And in the beginning of it all, God spent a chapter and a half convincing Moses to lead the people in the first place. (Exodus 3-4 — I’m no scholar, but a chapter and a half is like, a lot.) All I could find in plain sight is that he struck the rock when that isn’t what God explicitly stated.

The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
Numbers 10:7-12

In his commentary on Deuteronomy, Daniel Block addresses this, with the help of another quote.

Aaron Wildavsky comments eloquently:

At Meribah Moses substitutes force for faith. In his hand the rod reduces a divinely ordered act to a trickster’s shenanigans. But the import runs deeper. If Moses’ strongest leadership quality has been his ability to identify with the people, then the lack of faith at Meribah is a double one. Moses not only distances himself from God by doubting the adequacy of his work but also distances himself from the people by assuming power that was God’s. Tired of the incessant murmurings, Moses taunts the people just before he strikes the rock: “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water from this rock?” (Num 20:10).

Instead of exhorting a stiffnecked people to greater faith, Moses condescends to their plea with an arrogant jeer. His words imply acceptance of the people’s evil (separating himself from it) rather than hope of overcoming it. “Ye rebels” assumes very much what Aaron had presumed in trying to rationalize fashioning the Golden Calf. At that point, Aaron had lamely pleaded for Moses’ sympathy: “thou knowest thy people, that they are set on mischief” (Exod. 32:22). Like Aaron’s defense then, Moses’ “Hear now, ye rebels” [Listen, you rebels] now becomes its own accusation. Similarly Moses taunts the people with rebelliousness, yet is himself rebelling when he smites the rock without authority—the authority God alone can provide. Perhaps, after all, Moses does have more authority than he, or any man, can handle.

Block also mentions that this can be a warning for leaders.

This is the type of thing that’s bothersome to us if we’re thinking soberly, but we can also believe by faith that God is good (Num 1:7) and a God of justice (Deut 32:4).

Deuteronomy

Also see:
Why I Love Deuteronomy | Monergism

Around the Web – Bible Reading Edition

Unlock the Riches of Scripture | Desiring God

When I read a sentence, what I want to know is What did the author intend by it? not What new ideas do I have when I read it?

He promotes active reading by asking questions (he has eight), which is exactly what I’ve been learning when it comes to improving reading comprehension.

Stop Trying to Read the Bible in a Year! – jtcochran.com

If your driving motive to read the Bible is to get it done in a year, rather than to meet with the living God and become entranced by his glory, then you will burn out, right around now in fact: January 15th.

I think this is a good post. I also think it’s good to read the Bible in large quantities, like the ‘ten bookmarks‘ method he sarcastically alluded to. (I’m not offended by the remark.) I like to switch it up every 9 to 18 months, and often do more than one type of reading or studying at once.

On the other hand, a post about reading through the Bible:
A Spreading Goodness » Bible Read Throughs

20 Reading Tips | HeadHeartHand Blog – for regular books

5. Double-up: Research has shown that our understanding and recall starts diminishing after about 30 minutes of reading a book. But science has also shown that if we change to another book after 30 minutes, it seems to refresh and refuel our minds and we return to higher levels of comprehension. Many experienced readers read two or more books at a time.

I’ve been doing this and it’s been working very well.

Andy Naselli recites Romans from memory:

Romans from Bethlehem Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Photo of a Bible

Christ’s Suffering Is Beyond Our Comprehension

Regarding the suffering of Jesus, I often find myself thinking, ‘But did he have to deal with… (this, that or the other thing that he didn’t directly experience)?’ This doesn’t matter, because he suffered virtually infinitely more than we could ever suffer, in any way, no matter what. He had to. That was a revelation for me which is something God brought up while praising him. There may be some people who might comprehend his physical suffering, but much worse is the infinite aspect of it–being punished for all of the sins and sinfulness of all time (Rev 7:9), and being forsaken by his own infinitely loving Father, all after living a perfect life as a human being.

This not only demonstrates that he can identify with the depth of all of our suffering, but much more importantly helps us to begin–to whatever infinitesimally small degree–to comprehend what Christ did to atone for our sin (Rom 3:25) and bring us peace with God (Rom 5:1).

This reminded me of some concepts in The Person of Christ by John Owen (see quotes below). He writes about how no man could atone for the sins of other men. Just looking at the obedience Jesus learned–I know that I would be crushed if I had to deny myself the way he did during his perfectly lived life, which was necessary in order to be a perfect sacrificial lamb. I’m having a hard time just dealing with the relatively small losses that I’ve had, and not being able to embrace God’s will for me in those areas.

The recovery of mankind was not to be effected by any one who was a mere man, and no more, though it were absolutely necessary that a man he should be; he must be God also.

It was necessary, that an obedience should be yielded to God and his law, which should give and bring more glory and honour unto his holiness, than there was dishonour reflected on it, by the disobedience of us all.

Such an obedience could never be yielded to God by any mere creature whatever; not by any one who was only a man, however dignified and exalted in state and condition above all others. For to suppose that God should be pleased and glorified with the obedience of any one man, more than he was displeased and dishonoured by the disobedience of Adam, and all his posterity, is to fancy things that have no ground in reason or justice, or any way suitable to divine wisdom and holiness. He who undertakes this work must have somewhat that is divine and infinite to put an infinite value on his obedience; that is, he must be God.

The people to be freed, redeemed, and brought to glory, were great [in number] and innumerable; ‘a great multitude which no man can number;’ Rev. 7:9. The sins which they were to be delivered, ransomed, and justified from, for which a propitiation was to be made, were next to absolutely infinite. They wholly surpass the comprehension of any created understanding, or the compass of imagination. And in every one of them there was something reductively infinite, as committed against an infinite majesty. The miseries which hereon all these persons were obnoxious to, were infinite, because eternal; or all that evil which our nature is capable to suffer, was by them all eternally to be undergone.

The Person of Christ by John Owen