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Showing posts from January, 2015

divine revelation

"Divine revelation is the source of  all truth, the truth of Christianity  included; reason is the instrument  for recognizing it;  Scripture is its  verifying principle;  logical consistency  is a negative test for truth  and coherence a subordinate test.  The task of Christian theology is to  exhibit the content of biblical revelation  as an orderly whole."  (Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority , I:213)

Isaac Watts' use of the Psalms

In 1719 Isaac Watts published The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of The New Testament And Applied to The Christian State and Worship . This was a new metrical Psalter for singing in the churches, but he wrote the words, taken from the Psalms (OT), with a view to the Gospel (NT). In his preface he wrote a defense of this approach.  His words, which follow below, can also help guide us today as we read the Psalms in a Christ-centered way.  "I come therefore to explain my own design, which is this, To accommodate the book of Psalms to Christian worship. And in order to do this, it is necessary to divest David and Asaph, etc., of  every other character but that of a psalmist and a saint, and to make them always speak the  common sense, and language of a Christian... "Where the Psalmist uses sharp invectives against his personal enemies, I have endeavored to  turn the edge of them against our spiritual adversaries, sin, Satan, and temptation. Where the  flights

the only haven of safety

"The only haven of safety is the mercy of God, as manifested in Christ, in whom every part of our salvation is complete.   As all mankind are, in the sight of God, lost sinners, we hold that Christ is their only righteousness, since,  by His obedience, He has wiped off all our transgressions;  by His sacrifice, appeased the divine anger;  by His blood, washed away our sins;  by His cross, borne our curse; and  by His death, made satisfaction for us. We maintain that in this way man is reconciled in Christ to God the Father, by no merit of his own, by no value of works, but by gratuitous mercy.” (John Calvin,  A Reformation Debate )

imprecation in the Psalms

O God, break the teeth in their mouths;  tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD! Let them vanish like water that runs away;  when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted...   ...Mankind will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous;  surely there is a God who judges on earth." (Psalm 58:6, 7, 11 ESV) Fill their faces with shame,  that they may seek your name, O LORD. (Psalm 83:16 ESV) “Imprecation” or “imprecatory” language is to speak a curse upon someone.  It is the opposite of giving a blessing or benediction.  As we read Psalms we are presented with a number of prayers – some quite strong – where the Psalmist calls down a curse, or prays for graphic judgment, upon others. (So, is it okay for us to pray for God to kick somebody in the teeth...?)   In a journal article last century Chalmers Martin* gives perhaps the best explanation of the place of this language in the Psalter.  He begins by noting that in the Psalms “‘imprecations’ are not

solid, sound leadership

It was a special treat for me as a young child to see Dwight Eisenhower (then President) in person when we lived at the Air Force Academy. I've profited from reading about his leadership during World War II.  The following is an excerpt of a letter he wrote on leadership in 1942.   "This is a long road we have to travel. The men that can do things are going to be sought out just as surely as the sun rises in the morning. Fake reputations, habits of glib and clever speech, and glittering surface performance are going to be discovered and kicked overboard. Solid, sound leadership… and ironclad determination to face discouragement, risk, and increasing work without flinching, will always characterize the man who has a sure-enough, bang-up fighting unit. Added to this he must have a darn strong tinge of imagination—I am continuously astounded by the utter lack of imaginative thinking.… Finally, the man has to be able to forget himself and personal fortunes. I've reliev

wheat and weeds

He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"   (Matthew 13:24-30 ESV) Some ministry lessons: 1) There is an enemy -- a real, spiritual enemy -- of God's work . B

are we becoming posthumanists?

Wow. I read "Among The Disrupted," by  Leon Wieseltier, a very insightful essay on the state of humans, information, and technology.  Some excerpts... What does the understanding of media contribute to the understanding of life? Journalistic institutions slowly transform themselves into silent sweatshops in which words cannot wait for thoughts, and first responses are promoted into best responses, and patience is a professional liability. Economists are our experts on happiness! Where wisdom once was, quantification will now be. Quantification is the most overwhelming influence upon the contemporary American understanding of, well, everything. It is enabled by the idolatry of data, which has itself been enabled by the almost unimaginable data-generating capabilities of the new technology. The distinction between knowledge and information is a thing of the past, and there is no greater disgrace than to be a thing of the past. The notion that the nonmaterial dimensions


"Dogma" is word with negative connotations these days. Like stiff, antiquated, opinionated, autocratic.  A popular bumper sticker reads, "My karma ran over your dogma."  So those of us who believe God's revealed truths can be stated meaningfully (and organized) often use the term "systematic theology." But the term "dogma" (or dogmatics) is valid because it refers to the certainty and stability of the things which we are called to believe.  Dogmas, according to Herman Bavinck (Dutch theologian, 1854 - 1921) are God's revealed truths that we are to receive, trust with certainty, and act upon decisively. They are not stiff, but rather trustworthy. They are not dry, exhaustive statements about God and his reality.  He wrote that "mystery is the lifeblood of dogmatics."    All churches, however, who receive God's revelation have a calling to be "confessing" churches, without being autocratic ones.  They are to h

henry on creation care

"The basic issue in ecology, as in every other human problem, is not only the nature of man, nor even the nature of nature, but ultimately also the nature and will of God."   (Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority , II:100)

sunday notes - Hebrews 1

"The Greatness of Christ" (Hebrews 1:1-4) The letter to the Hebrews, written in the mid-60s A.D., was addressed to a group of Jewish-background believers who had been feeling the weight of cultural opposition, both from the Roman and the Jewish cultures.  Many of the readers of Hebrews were feeling the temptation to give up, or give in.  Some had begun to drift from their faith, some had given up on church fellowship, some had returned to their Jewish culture and beliefs. In the first four verses of chapter 1 we are presented with a majestic panorama, a great cosmic mural, of the greatness of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus.  There is similarity here with the portraits of Christ given also in John 1 and Colossians 1. Put in graphic form this mural might look this way: What a multidimensional Savior we have!  My main thought in this passage is that it's ultimately the greatness of Christ that keeps us going . The full view of his

love of human praise

"The love of human praise—human glory—is universal and deadly. Jesus said, 'How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?' (John 5:44). You can’t. You can’t believe in the crucified Messiah as your supreme treasure and hero, and then love the exact opposite of the mind-set that took him to the cross."   (John Piper)

holy love

"There is no real intimacy with the gospel that does not mean a new sense of God’s holiness, and it may be long before we realize that the same holiness that condemns is that which saves. There is no new insight into the cross that does not bring, whatever else come with it, a deeper sense of the solemn holiness of the love that meets us there." (Carl Trueman, Fools Rush In Where Monkeys Fear to Tread )