Archive for the 'Quotes' Category

Praying Spiritually

“Spiritual prayers are best. Have you a diseased body? Pray more that the disease of your soul may be removed than of your body. “Heal my soul, for I have sinned.” Psalm 41:4. The plague of the heart is worse than a cancer in the breast. Have you a child that is lame? Pray more to have its unholiness removed than its lameness. Spiritual prayers are more pleasing to God, and are as music in his ears. Christ has here taught us to pray against sin, “Deliver us from evil.”

Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer

I will harp on this idea of praying spiritually until the day I die.

Regarding the quote: Praying for someone’s temporary comfort and not praying for their salvation, if it’s in doubt, is the meanest thing anyone can do.

As far as the subject of healing, when praying for Christians, pray for that, but more importantly for perseverance, faith, hope, that God would use whatever the situation to bring them closer to Him, to know His character better, to become more Christlike, etc. We don’t know if healing is God’s will or not, but we know those other things are in fact God’s will for believers. It’s all over the Bible. We can’t go wrong by imitating the prayers of Jesus and Paul.

Also see:
Complete List of Paul's Prayers | Scripture Zealot blog
Praying for the Soul | Desiring God by John Piper, Daily Devotionals Online

Quote of the Day: Gregory Beale on Suffering

I don’t know if I’ve written this before, but I really don’t like the idea that God allows suffering and the whole system of how he uses that for spiritual growth. However, imagine that there is suffering, and God doesn’t use it. It’s just there, but has no purpose. That would be much, much worse. Praise God that he redeems our suffering and makes it extremely valuable.

While the means of growth is the word of God, the context of our growth is often suffering…. Suffering is not an automatic lever to release the life of Christ in us, but suffering is the occasion that we look for Christ’s life to flow in us (2Cor. 4:10, 11). When we are comfortable, we too easily trust in the adequacy of our resources. When we are afflicted, we realize the inadequacy of our resources and look to Christ so that his life is released in us. The life flows not only in us but through us to bless others…. The life of Christ not only strengthens us in weakness but also renews us in glory through suffering.

G. K. Beale, God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth as quoted in a blog post, Beale for Dummies by Carl Trueman

Apparently Gregory Beale has switched to the scholar standard of two first initials, contra The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism by Gregory K. Beale.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV

Should “The Word of God” Be Reserved for Christ?

I remember a few years ago reading a blog post where the author postulated that the term “The Word of God” should be reserved for Christ, and not Scripture. That’s how I remember it anyway. It could have been “God’s Word”. Either way, as much as I’ve learned from material on the internet, I’ve been frustrated by hair splitting and things that don’t really matter, which I regret I spent the time reading. This one actually made me wonder. Then there is “bibliolatry”, whatever that means, knowledge being a bad thing, and whatever other ideas people dream up.

Here is John Owen’s take on this. I also like how he skewers some people’s method of reasoning, which is still going on today as much as ever. (This was scanned and OCR-ed, so I apologize for any mistakes I might have missed.)

The first is worded in somewhat of this fashion. “The title of ‘Word of God’ (say our fanatics) belongs to Christ, and to Christ alone. It is therefore blasphemy to confer that title on Scripture. Can you thus honor the Bible, without reducing the honor due only to Christ? Surely the Bible is not Christ! Surely it is letter, and not Spirit! The title of Jesus Christ is ‘the Word of God.’ Leave it to Him, and let the Bible rest content with its own titles and nature!”

But see the trick and deception here. We are to be so led on by our love and reverence for Christ that we are supposed to be blinded to the different uses and significations of the same words. By a mere homonym, a simple coincidence of sound, it is intended to drive us out from under the authority and perfection of Scripture! And note that by this these wretched men are not merely seeking to bring in an objection against the name and title of Scripture alone (if that were so they might at least be deserving of some pity), but no, the case is quite different. By this unique stratagem, they not only strip the Bible of its authority and remove it from its appointed place, but actually are attacking the very personality and divine existence of Christ Himself. By thus limiting all reference to the “Word of God” to Christ Himself, they are free to take all of those texts in which the term does not well fit the historical Christ, God-and-man, and apply them to a fictitious “Christ,” a dreadful argument of their own imaginations, who they equate to the pretended “inner light,” which they say is common to all men, a “no-one knows what” spiritual everything, which is in truth quite nothing at all. When Scripture, in hundreds of places, makes mention of “the Word of God,” of “preaching the Word,” of “spreading” or “reception” of the Word, where the actual physical presence of Christ cannot be intended, they are thus free to twist the passages into anything at all that suits their fancy by this device of an “inner light,” of which they themselves are, of course, the sole possessors, of which nothing at all has been heard up to now. This fiction of an “inner light” or “inner word” must be dealt with in its own proper place, and along with it their fictitious “Christ.”

–John Owen, Biblical Theology, pg. 778-779

He then goes on in much more detail.

But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
Luke 11:28 NASB

He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Revelation 19:13 NASB

Thomas Watson on Affliction

This is from Thomas Watson’s book The Lord’s Prayer. I’ve been finding that books like this are just as good for dealing with suffering as books on suffering (which many posts on this blog are about). Not just the parts of them on subjects dealing with suffering directly, but for example in this book, the extensive part on Our Father is very edifying in every way. The quote below is from part of the section on Thy Will Be Done. Notice the hierarchy of numbering goes from [] to () in the bold parts. I think the most difficult part of reading the Puritans are the lists with the numbers. They can go three and four deep. It’s more difficult when it’s an eBook, like this one is for me. At least it makes it easy to copy and paste. I think this is especially good for those dealing with suffering or who might wrestle with the subject:

When do we not submit to God’s will in affliction as we ought?

(1) When we have hard thoughts of him, and our hearts begin to swell against him.

(2) When we are so troubled at our present affliction that we are unfit for duty. We can mourn as doves—but not pray or praise God. We are so discomposed that we are not fit to hearken to any good counsel. “They hearkened not unto Moses, for anguish of spirit.” Exod 6:9. Israel was so full of grief under their burdens, that they minded not what Moses said, though he came with a message from God to them; “They hearkened not unto Moses, for anguish of spirit.”

(3) We do not submit as we ought to God’s will when we labor to break loose from affliction by indirect means. Many, to rid themselves out of trouble, run themselves into sin. When God has bound them with the cords of affliction—they go to the devil to loosen their bands! Better it is to stay in affliction, than to sin ourselves out of it. O let us learn to stoop to God’s will in all afflictive providence.

But how shall we bring ourselves, in all occurrences of providence, patiently to acquiesce in God’s will, and say, “May your will be done”?

The MEANS for a quiet resignation to God’s will in affliction are:

[1] Judicious consideration. “In the day of adversity consider.” Eccl 7:14. When anything burdens us, or runs cross to our desires, did we but sit down and consider, and weigh things in the balance of judgment, it would much quiet our minds, and subject our wills to God. Consideration would be as David’s harp, to charm down the evil spirit of frowardness and discontent.

But what should we consider?

That which should make us submit to God in affliction, and say, “May your will be done,” is:

(1) Consider that the present state of life is subject to afflictions, as a seaman’s life is subject to storms. [No one escapes bearing the lot which all suffer.] “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward;” he is heir apparent to it. Man comes into the world with a cry—and goes out with a groan! Job 5:7. The world is a place where much wormwood grows. “He has filled me with bitterness (Heb with bitternesses); he has made me drunken with wormwood.” Lam 3:15. Troubles arise like sparks out of a furnace. Afflictions are some of the thorns which the earth after the curse brings forth. We may as well think to stop the chariot of the sun when it is in its swift motion, as put a stop to trouble. The consideration of a life exposed to troubles and sufferings, should make us say with patience, “May your will be done.” Shall a mariner be angry that he meets with a storm at sea?

(2) Consider that God has a special hand in the disposal of all occurrences. Job eyed God in his affliction. “The Lord has taken away;” chap 1:21. He did not complain of the Sabeans, or the influences of the planets; he looked beyond all second causes; he saw God in the affliction, and that made him cheerfully submit; he said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Christ looked beyond Judas and Pilate to God’s determinate counsel in delivering him up to be crucified, which made him say, “Father, not as I will—but as you will.” Acts 4:27, 28, Matthew 26:39. It is vain to quarrel with instruments. Wicked men are but a rod in God’s hand! “O Assyria, the rod of my anger.” Isaiah 10:5. Whoever brings an affliction—God sends it! The consideration of this should make us say, “May your will be done;” for what God does he sees a reason for. We read of a wheel within a wheel. Ezek 1:16. The outward wheel, which turns all, is providence; the wheel within this wheel is God’s decree; this believed, would rock the heart quiet. Shall we mutiny at that which God does? We may as well quarrel with the works of creation as with the works of providence.

(3) Consider that there is a NECESSITY for affliction. “If need be, you are in heaviness.” 1 Peter 1:6. It is needful that some things are kept in brine. Afflictions are needful upon several accounts.

[1] To keep us humble. Often there is no other way to have the heart low—but by being brought low. When Manasseh “was in affliction, he humbled himself greatly.” 2 Chron 33:12. Corrections are corrosives to eat out the proud flesh. “Remembering my misery, the wormwood and the gall, my soul is humbled in me.” Lam 3:19, 20.

[2] It is necessary that there should be affliction; for if God did not sometimes bring us into affliction, how could his power be seen in bringing us out? Had not Israel been in the Egyptian furnace, God had lost his glory in their deliverance.

[3] If there were no affliction, then many parts of Scripture could not be fulfilled. God has promised to help us to bear affliction. Psalm 37:24, 39. How could we experience his supporting us in trouble—if we did not sometimes meet with it? God has promised to give us joy in affliction. John 16:20. How could we taste this honey of joy—if we were not sometimes in affliction? Again, he has promised to wipe away tears from our eyes. Isaiah 25:8. How could he wipe away our tears in heaven—if we never shed any? So that, in several respects, there is an absolute necessity that we should meet with affliction; and shall not we quietly submit, and say, “Lord, I see there is a necessity for it?” “May your will be done!”

(4) Consider that we have brought our troubles upon ourselves; we have put a rod into God’s hand to chastise us. Christian, God lays your afflictive cross on you—but it is of your own making. If a man’s field is full of tares, it is what he has sown in it. If you reap a bitter crop of affliction, it is what you yourself have sown. The cords which pinch you are of your own twisting. If children will eat green fruit—they may blame themselves if they are sick; and if we eat the forbidden fruit, no wonder that we feel it gripe. Sin is the Trojan horse which lands a multitude of afflictions upon us. “Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!” Jeremiah 4:18. If we by sin run ourselves into arrears with God, no wonder if he sets affliction as a sergeant on our back, to arrest us. This should make us patiently submit to God in affliction, and say, “May your will be done.” We have no cause to complain of God; it is nothing but what our sins have merited. “Have not you procured this unto yourself?” Jer 2:17. The afflictive cross, though it be of God’s laying, is of our making. Say, then, as Micah (chap 7:9), “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him.” “Whatever a man sows he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7.

(5) Consider that God is about to prove and TEST us. “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.” Psalm 66:10, 11. If there were no affliction, how could God have an opportunity to try men? Hypocrites can serve in a pleasure boat: they can serve God in prosperity; but when we can keep close to him in times of danger, when we can trust him in darkness, and love him when we have no smile, and say, “May your will be done,” that is the trial of sincerity! God is only trying us; and what hurt is there in that? What is gold the worse for being tried?

(6) Consider that in all our afflictions, God has kindness for us. As there was no night so dark, but Israel had a pillar of fire to give light—so there is no condition so cloudy, but we may see that which gives light of comfort. David could sing of mercy and judgment. Psalm 101:1. It should make us cheerfully submit to God’s will, to consider that in every afflictive path of providence, we may see his footstep of kindness.

There is kindness in affliction, when God seems most unkind.

[1] There is kindness in affliction—in that there is love in it. God’s rod and his love may stand together. “Whom the Lord loves, he chastens.” Heb 12:6. As when Abraham lifted up his hand to sacrifice, Isaac loved him. Just so, when God afflicts his people, and seems to sacrifice their outward comforts, he loves them. The farmer loves his vine when he cuts it and makes it bleed; and shall not we submit to God? Shall we quarrel with that which has kindness in it, which comes in love? The surgeon binds the patient, and lances him—but no wise man will quarrel with him, because it is in order to a cure.

[2] There is kindness in affliction—in that God deals with us as his children. “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons.” Heb 12:7. God has one Son without sin—but no son without stripes! Affliction is a badge of adoption. Says Tertullian, “Affliction is God’s seal by which he marks us for his own.” When Munster, that holy man, lay sick, his friends asked him how he did? He pointed to his sores, saying, “these are the jewels with which God decks his children!” Shall not we then say, “Lord, there is kindness in the cross, you treat us as your children. The rod of discipline is to fit us for the inheritance. May your will be done.”

[3] In kindness God in all our afflictions, has left us a promise. So that in the most cloudy providence, the promise appears as the rainbow in the cloud. Then we have God’s promise to be with us. “I will be with him in trouble.” Psalm 91:15. It cannot be ill with that man with whom God is; I will be with him, to support, sanctify, and sweeten every affliction. I had rather be in prison and have God’s presence, than be in a palace without it.

We have the promise that he will not lay more upon us than he will enable us to bear. 1 Cor 10:13. He will not try us beyond our strength; either he will make the yoke lighter—or our faith stronger. Should not this make us submit our wills to his, when afflictions have so much kindness in them? In all our trials he has left us promises, which are like manna in the wilderness.

[4] It is great kindness that all troubles that befall us shall be for our profit. “God disciplines us for our profit.” Heb 12:10.

Always Forgive, Usually

I once read John Stott write something like, “Why should we forgive someone who hasn’t asked for forgiveness?” This kind of took me aback, because it has been said that we’re supposed to always forgive.

Later on I read blog posts about where people will come out and forgive a mass murderer, even if they weren’t directly affected by the killer and  how this kind of steps in front of the victims and their loved ones and may in a way cut off their process of forgiveness, whatever that entails. And if someone is unrepentant and doesn’t want our forgiveness, does it make sense to give it to them?

There has obviously been a lot written about this, and I’m sure there are as many opinions on it as there are real life variations in circumstances. But here is a quote I just read by R.C. Sproul that’s helpful:

It’s important that we look closely at this directive from Jesus regarding forgiveness. It is often taught in the Christian community that Christians are called to forgive those who sin against them unilaterally and universally. We see the example of Jesus on the cross, asking God to forgive those who were executing Him, even though they offered no visible indication of repentance. From that example of Jesus, it has been inferred that Christians must always forgive all offenses against them, even when repentance is not offered. However, the most that we can legitimately infer from Jesus’ actions on that occasion is that we have the right to forgive people unilaterally. Though that may be indeed a wonderful thing, it is not commanded. If we look at the commandment that Jesus gives in Luke 17:3, He says, “If your brother sins, rebuke him.” Notice that the first response to the offense is not forgiveness but rather rebuke. The Christian has the right to rebuke those who commit wrong doing against him. That’s the basis for the whole procedure of church discipline in the New Testament. If we were commanded to give unilateral forgiveness to all, under all circumstances, then the whole action of church discipline to redress wrongs, would itself be wrong. But Jesus says, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents…,” — here is where the command becomes obligatory — if the offender repents, then it is mandatory for the Christian to forgive the one who has offended him.

–R.C. Sproul, Christians Should be Forgiving People

As far as smaller offenses go, or people who just annoy us, I like how the NLT renders the first part of Colossians 3:13:

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

On this one I will be reading Moo’s commentary, along with others.

Encouragement For Sinners

I have been in a slump that is worse than the one before. I’m going through a very difficult time and would appreciate prayer. Faith is being tested.

I won’t apologize for lack of posts because I don’t presume that people wait for posts with bated breath (whatever that means). But I know that for some reason people like blogs to have regular posts.

I have found that similar to how C.S. Lewis found heavier theological works better devotional material than devotionals themselves, solid theological works can be just as good or better for suffering than books on suffering. I could write more about that, but for now, The Lord’s Prayer by Thomas Watson has been a great book during a difficult time, and it’s fantastic for knowing God better as much as it is for prayer. It’s becoming one of the best books I’ve read.

On to one of the quotes that I thought might be encouraging to some readers: If we have a right hatred of sin (Romans 12:9) and have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18), and God leaves us in certain sin and tests us through it, we should consider this a normal part of Christian life. This is something I had been thinking about before I read this, which summarizes it better than I could.

The best of saints have remainders of corruption. ‘They had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season.’ Dan 7:12. So in the regenerate, though the dominion of sin be taken away, yet the life of it is prolonged for a season. What pride was there in Christ’s own disciples, when they strove which should be greatest! The issue of sin will not be quite stopped till death. The Lord is pleased to let the in-being of sin continue, to humble his people, and make them prize Christ more. Because you find corruptions stirring, do not therefore presently unsaint yourselves, and deny the kingdom of grace to be come into your souls. That you feel sin is an evidence of spiritual life; that you mourn for it is a fruit of love to God; that you have a combat with sin, argues antipathy against it. Those sins which you once wore as a crown on your head, are now as fetters on the leg. Is not all this from the Spirit of grace in you? Sin is in you, as poison in the body, which you are sick of, and use all Scripture antidotes to expel. Should we condemn all those who have indwelling sin, nay, who have had sin sometimes prevailing, we should blot some of the best saints out of the Bible.

–Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer

Knowledge and God’s Glory

The better we know God, the more we can glorify him. In another part of the book Edwards writes that this will make us happy, which glorifies God. Or happier, or less unhappy–whatever your circumstance may be. As far as I can see, God expresses this chiefly through Scripture, then the Holy Spirit in various ways, His mighty acts–including the marvelous work on the cross and what he does in our lives, and creation. I’ve included Scripture below that I think applies.

Again, the word glory, as applied to God in Scripture, implies the view or knowledge of God’s excellency. The exhibition of glory is to the view of beholders. The manifestation of glory, the emanation or effulgence of brightness, has relation to the eye. Light or brightness is a quality that has relation to the sense of seeing; we see the luminary by its light. And knowledge is often expressed in Scripture by light. The word glory very often in Scripture signifies, or implies, honor, as any one may soon see by casting his eye on a concordance. But honor implies the knowledge of the dignity and excellency of him who hath the honor; and this is often more especially signified by the word glory, when applied to God. Numbers 14:21: “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD,” i.e. all the inhabitants of the earth shall see the manifestations I will make of my perfect holiness and hatred of sin, and so of my infinite excellence.

Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
listening closely to wisdom
and directing your heart to understanding;
furthermore, if you call out to insight
and lift your voice to understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6 HCSB

The mind of the discerning acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks it.
Proverbs 18:15

For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God.
Romans 14:11

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength. He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens — far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.
Ephesians 1:17-23

Counter-cultural Quote/Scripture of the Day

Counter-cultural would refer to Christian culture as well as anything else. This isn’t talked about much. This is a strange one for many of us. I think it’s encouraging to know that God has control over the evil in the world and that it will be ended for our happiness and for God’s glory. I don’t know what that happiness will be like, but we can take comfort now in the fact that it will end up this way, and that God has a purpose and is sovereign over all of it at this time, as horrible as it is in this world.

God’s judgments on the wicked in this world and also their eternal damnation in the world to come are spoken of as being for the happiness of God’s people. So are his judgments on them in this world. Isaiah 43:3, 4. “For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou hast been precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” So the works of God’s vindictive justice and wrath are spoken of as works of mercy to his people, Psalm 136:10, 15, 17-20 [“To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever. . . . But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever. . . . To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever: And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever: Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever: And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever”].

And so is their eternal damnation in another world. Romans 9:22, 23: “What if God, willing to show his wrath and make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” Here it is evident the last verse comes in, in connection with the foregoing, as giving another reason of the destruction of the wicked, viz. showing the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy: higher degrees of their glory and happiness, in a relish of their own enjoyments, and a greater sense of their value and of God’s free grace in bestowing them.

Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World

The LORD has made everything for his own purpose,
even wicked people for the day of trouble.
Proverbs 16:4

God Is Not A Needy Parent

The pleasure God has in the creature is not properly pleasure from the creature
Nor do these things argue any dependence in God on the creature for happiness. Though he has real pleasure in the creature’s holiness and happiness, yet this is not properly any pleasure which he receives from the creature. For these things are what he gives the creature. They are wholly and entirely from him. His rejoicing therein is rather a rejoicing in his own acts and his own glory expressed in those acts, than a joy derived from the creature. God’s joy is dependent on nothing besides his own act, which he exerts with an absolute and independent power

[…]

From what has been said, it appears that the pleasure God hath in those things which have been mentioned is rather a pleasure in diffusing and communicating to, than in receiving from, the creature.

–Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World

We love because God loved us first.
1 John 4:19

I praise God that he’s not a needy parent. When parents have children to have someone to love them, it’s obviously not healthy for the child and it becomes a burden to them. I think many children can unconsciously sense this and develop hostility because of it. It also causes plain old dysfunction. But being a perfect Father, God delights in communicating to his children and delights in them communicating to him, but his happiness isn’t dependent on what his children can give him. A way of looking at Revelation 3:20 may be that God is telling the elect that he is happy to have close fellowship with his children if they would take advantage of it, instead of ignoring him.

Quote of the Day by Jonathan Edwards

What God aimed at in the creation of the world, as the end which he had ultimately in view, was that communication of himself which he intended through all eternity. And if we attend to the nature and circumstances of this eternal emanation of divine good, it will more clearly show HOW, in making this his end, God testifies a supreme respect to himself and makes himself his end.

There are many reasons to think that what God has in view, in an increasing communication of himself through eternity, is an increasing knowledge of God, love to him, and joy in him. And it is to be considered that the more those divine communications increase in the creature, the more it becomes one with God; for so much the more is it united to God in love, the heart is drawn nearer and nearer to God, and the union with him becomes more firm and close, and at the same time, the creature becomes more and more conformed to God. The image is more and more perfect, and so the good that is in the creature comes forever nearer and nearer to an identity with that which is in God. In the view therefore of God, who has a comprehensive prospect of the increasing union and conformity through eternity, it must be an infinitely strict and perfect nearness, conformity, and oneness. For it will forever come nearer and nearer to that strictness and perfection of union which there is between the Father and the Son. So that in the eyes of God, who perfectly sees the whole of it, in its infinite progress and increase, it must come to an eminent fulfillment of Christ’s request, in John 17:21, 23. That they all may be ONE, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be ONE in us; I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in ONE.

–Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 NRSV

For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:9-10 NRSV

I’ve always wanted to think about God more. I read the book  The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence at least twice. It always left me wanting though. It may be because he doesn’t include spiritual disciplines, talk about God’s enabling,  the gospel, and other important topics very much. In reading the quote by Edwards, and of course much of the Bible, I can see why our spiritual nature would badly want this. Partly for this reason, I spread out my spiritual disciplines throughout the day.

There are a lot more thoughts I have on this. The book really causes me to think about a lot of things. I won’t write any more now at the risk of bungling it. Much can be misunderstood. I like how Edwards goes over specific objections with answers after presenting his ideas.

Quotes of the Day: God’s Guidance

See my comment at the bottom.

Finally, in all this, the matter of various horizons, the uncertainty of the future, the view of the life of the godly as beset with uncertainty and how we are to regard it and handle it, has importance for the topic of guidance. How does the Lord guide his people? Assuring us a Christian life with a beginning, a middle and an end, with the end being the tying up of all loose ends? It is an interesting fact that the apostles, in giving much doctrinal and practical guidance, never once (as far as I can see) gave guidance with respect to Christians’ futures. They are never asked, and never offer such guidance, as to what the will of God is for their lives and how they are to discern this. This is disappointing for any one hoping, through prayer or Bible study or some other discipline, to be handed a torch which has the magical power of shining a golden light illuminating the path leading from the present to an assured tomorrow, or to the next year, or the next decade of our lives.

–Paul Helm, Helm’s Deep: Ecclesiastes and the New Testament

Don’t spend your life waiting for God to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. God has already spoken.

–Carl Trueman

Our pictures of life are far too often like eating fast food, or like living under the shadow of a rule book, or like staring glassy-eyed out into the third heaven waiting for “a word from the Lord”. Wisdom challenges all this. It says to us, warmly yet firmly, “Grow up!”, “Mature!”, “Move beyond childhood into adulthood!”, “Use the mind God has given you!”

Wisdom is about learning to apply the gospel to every area of our thinking and doing. We will be tempted to justify our ignorance and mental laziness by saying that we’re trusting the Lord. We may even appeal to Proverbs 3:5-6 to defend this attitude. But that’s not what Proverbs 3:5-6 is about. Rather, it encourages diligent, careful, prayerful, intelligent and enthusiastic exploration of life in the light of the gospel.

–Mark Storm, Symphony of Scripture

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding–
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:1-5

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10

Also see:
About that little voice in your heart… | Reformation21 Blog – this book that he’s quoting from is a book I read and will be drawing upon for my upcoming posts on Christian Sayings

After all of that, I would slightly disagree with the idea that God only speaks from the outside, as the blog post above says, although maybe I’m taking that too literally. I strongly believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to us from within when it comes to conviction of sin(s), and reminding us of what He’s taught us in the past (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit can also open our eyes to spiritual things we hadn’t realized before (Ephesians 1:18), but none of this is ever new revelation that hasn’t been addressed in Scripture. Whenever we hear the Holy Spirit speak, we always need to confirm it with Scripture. Our hearts are too easily deceived (Jeremiah 17:9). We need to be saturated in Scripture in order to discern from within, and especially nowadays from without, what is true. The danger is when people are too lazy to spend time in Scripture and then expect God to tell them what to do, and believe just about everything they see and read on the internet. Can people be internet Bereans by using Snopes, getting other opinions, and checking sources? I don’t know about that, but the lack of discernment in more minor areas is frightening when you think about what lack there is for major areas, especially since we are in the end times, and as we need to be ready for Christ’s return (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 3:3).

I realize that most regular readers already know about and agree with some of these things I’ve been writing about. Instead of just complaining about them, I want to do something about it. There are often people who come here from search engines who might benefit from the curmudgeonly posts; that is if they’re not offended, or disagree.

Exhortation from Jonathan Edwards

And so the final and most important exhortation to us from the life and work of Jonathan Edwards is this: in all our life and all our study and all our ministry let us seek to glorify God by being satisfied in him above all things. Let us press on to know in the depth of our being that “the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life” (Ps. 63:3). And so let us find the God-exalting freedom from this world that will make us the most radical, sacrificial servants of good on earth—that men may see our good works and join us in glorifying God by enjoying him forever.

–John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World)

Don’t let mental sickness affect judgement of spiritual maturity

The state of godliness is not to be judged of by the fears and sorrows in which it usually begins. A man’s life is not like his infancy at his birth. The fears and penitent sorrows, which foolishly fleshly sinners fly from, do tend to everlasting peace and joy; and perfect love will cast out all tormenting fears, unless it be those of a timorous diseased temper which have more of sickness than of sin and will be laid aside with the body, which was their cause. A life of peace and joy on earth may succeed the tremblings of the newborn convert; but a life of full everlasting joy will certainly succeed the perseverance and victory of every believing holy soul.

–Richard Baxter, A Grief Sanctified

Also see:

God Is Love–And Many Other Things

I just finished reading The God Who Is There by D.A. Carson. The Kindle version is on sale right now for $3.99. It’s aimed at new Christians, but with all due respect, I don’t think he is one to write a book for new Christians. I learned a lot. He’s a quote machine. Because of that, it took me a long time to get through the book. I’ve been taking notes on books I read, and I was taking notes and blogging (first four links) on so much of what I read, it seemed to take forever.

I highly recommend it. The book is friendly to new Christians who like to read and investigate more than just the basics. It’s also great for seasoned Christians. He mainly uses Genesis, John and Revelation to talk about who God is and how he deals with people.

The quote below is something I think about a lot. It seems like there is so much focus on the fact that God is love, it’s to the exclusion or diminution of all of the other things God is, as well as having a distorted view of his love as you’ll see below. God is to be feared (which shouldn’t need to be qualified), God is awesome (in the traditional sense of the word–not how it’s used now), he is a God of wrath, judgement, anger, he hates. For those in his Kingdom, these can be comforting things, in addition to warnings. I hope you like the quote.

Why People Today Find It Easy to Believe in God’s Love

If there is one thing that our world thinks it knows about God–if our world believes in God at all–it is that he is a loving God. That has not always been the case in human history. Many people have thought of the gods as pretty arbitrary, mean-spirited, whimsical, or even malicious. That is why you have to appease them. Sometimes in the history of the church Christians have placed more emphasis on God’s wrath or his sovereignty or his holiness, all themes that are biblical in some degree or another. God’s love did not receive as much attention. But today, if people believe in God at all, by and large they find it easy to believe in God’s love.

Yet being comfortable with the notion of the love of God has been accompanied by some fairly spongy notions as to what love means. Occasionally you will hear somebody saying something like this: “It’s Christians I don’t like, I mean, God is love, and if everybody were just like Jesus, it would be wonderful. Jesus said, ‘Judge not that you be not judged.’ You know, if we could all just be nonjudgmental and be loving the way Jesus was loving, then the world would be a better place.” There is an assumption then about the nature of love, isn’t there? Love is nonjudgmental. It does not condemn anyone. It lets everybody do whatever they want. That is what love means.

Of course, it is sadly true that sometimes Christians—God help us—are mean. Certainly it is true that Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1). But when he said this, did he really mean, “Do not make any morally discriminating judgments?” Why then does he give so many commands about telling the truth? Don’t such commands stand as condemnation of lies and liars? Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves: doesn’t that constitute an implicit judgment on those who don’t? In fact, in the very text where Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” he goes on to say just five verses later, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matt. 7:6), which means that somebody has to figure out who the swine are.

In other words, when Jesus says something as important as “Do not Judge, or you too Wlll he Judged,” there is a context to he understood. Jesus, after all, cuts an astonishingly high moral swath through his time. So if people think “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” means that Jesus is abolishing all morality and leaving all such questions up to the individual, they have not even begun to understand who Jesus is. Jesus does condemn the kind of judgment that is judgmental, self-righteous, or hypocritical. He condemns such judgment repeatedly and roundly. But there is no way on God’s green earth that he is condemning moral discernment or the priority of truth. In any case there is more to God’s love, to Jesus’s love, than avoiding judgmentalism.

That means that when we think of God’s love, we need to think of God’s other attributes too—his holiness, truthfulness, glory (his manifestation of his spectacular being and loveliness), and all the rest–and think through how all of them work together all the time. Sadly, precisely because our culture finds it relatively easy to believe that God is a God of love, we have developed notions of God’s love that are disturbingly spongy and sentimental and almost always alienated from the full range of the attributes that make God, God.

the-god-who-is-there

Breaking News: Depression Doesn’t Always Have a Cause

Tangled Up in Blue: Depression and the Christian Life – Reformation21

Actually, this is very, very old news. If you’d rather not read the whole article, here is a quote from it on something that I’d like more people to realize, along with another comment below it:

Charles Spurgeon, who himself wrestled throughout his life with depression, described it well: “Causeless depression cannot be reasoned with, nor can David’s harp charm it away by sweet discoursings. As well fight with the mist as with this shapeless, undefinable, yet all-beclouding hopelessness … The iron bolt which so mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison, needs a heavenly hand to push it back.” He had a category for causeless depression, depression that shows up through no fault of one’s own.

So did Martyn Lloyd Jones. He preached a series that later became a book on the topic, known to us as Spiritual Depression (Eerdmans, 1965). He warned Christians of the temptation to over-spiritualize conditions like depression, writing, “Many Christian people, in fact, are in utter ignorance concerning this realm where the borderlines between the physical, psychological and spiritual meet. Frequently I have found that such [church] leaders had treated those whose trouble was obviously mainly physical or psychological, in a purely spiritual manner; and if you do so, you not only don’t help. You aggravate the problem.”

It seems Martin Luther had a similar category too. Speaking of his own struggle with depression (and the use of medicine in his own day) he said, “When I was ill…the physicians made me take as much medicine as though I had been a great bull…I do not deny that medicine is a gift of God, nor do I refuse to acknowledge science in the skill of many physicians. But take the best of them, how far are they from perfection?…When I feel indisposed, by observing a strict diet and going to bed early, I generally manage to get round again, that is, if I can keep my mind tolerably at rest. I have no objection to the doctors acting upon certain theories, but, at the same time, they must not expect us to be the slaves to their fancies.” Luther had a category for depression that is mostly physical in cause and cure.

[…]

In other words, Christians with much less understanding of mental health than we have seemed to have a better grasp of it than we do.

–Sammy Rhodes, Tangled Up in Blue: Depression and the Christian Life

Even today many church leaders don’t trust what Lloyd-Jones and others had to say. He had such great insight and as far as I know, he didn’t even deal with chronic depression himself. I suppose along with God’s grace, being a formal medical doctor and an astute pastor was enough for him to develop a keen sense of these things.

After the news of Robin Williams, plenty of people who’ve never really been depressed have waxed… something, trying to explain exactly what happened and use the opportunity to promote their point of view and get hits on their blog, or retweets on their Tweeter, or be liked on their Facebook.

Also see: