I grew up as a pastorâ€™s kid. Iâ€™ve remained a committed Christian despite the fact. And having spent the better part of the last fifteen years looking for the perfect church Iâ€™ve finally committed to the reformed expression, jumping in with both feet. In this four part series I hope to sketch out some of the highlights of this long arduous process, anti...Keep Reading
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The more we understand the relationship between Satan and sin--keeping them in biblical perspective and viewing them in light of the person and work of Christ--the better equipped we will be to put sin to death and to avoid the temptations that so easily ensnare us. ...
Since the preaching of the gospel is the primary means by which God saves His people, ministers of the gospel should concern themselves with pursuing growth in their ability to skilfully communicate the truth of Scripture. Pastors should avail themselves of all the means of growth that are at their disposal. In so doing, we may never become the best preachers in the world, but we will--by God's grace--become more skillful in making known "the unsearchable riches of Christ." ...
I sometimes fear that there is a willful naïveté in the church with regard to the presence and power of Satan. One doesn't have to look far into the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, or the New Testament Epistles to discover the reality of the spiritual forces of darkness and to develop a theology of the assault tactics of the evil one. But it might surprise some to see what exactly these tactics are in their more subtle forms. ...
If the church is to be rooted in the timeless truths of God’s word, it needs leaders who are standing on the shoulders of giants in whom the Spirit of God was at work. If pastors are to navigate the overwhelming challenges of an increasingly secular and antagonistic society–not to mention the internal attacks from strong willed and self-seeking individuals within the church–they need to counsel of older and wiser saints. ...
In recent years, our society has rapidly embraced what has come to be known as the "cancel culture." If someone has said or done something--at any point in his or her life--that cuts across the grain of the suppose moral rectitude of society, he or she is swiftly excoriated to the point of irremediable social ostracization. An immediate sentence is determined by the masses and pronounced on social media in order to ensure its execution. There is no mercy, no call to repentance, and no hope of restoration...The rashness and widespread nature of the execution is, in part, the thing that makes cancel culture so brutal. The bitter and self-righteous speech of those pronouncing judgment gives the unremitting banter a veneer of justice. This is what makes cancel culture such a powerful weapon; yet, I suggest, a weapon to be avoided by Christians. ...
When we come to Christ, we learn to live in a way that is pleasing to God. We seek after His instruction and walk in His ways. Jesus is the rarest commodity–the eternal wisdom of God and sole source of righteousness and life. It is Him we must seek, find, and acquire more than any other commodities we may come to possess in life....
There is a clear pattern in Scripture of the way in which God uses the praises of His people for their future deliverances and the evangelization of the nations. May we enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, knowing that our God is enthroned on the praises of His people. We need His deliverance and the watching nations need His salvation....
By restraining wrong opinions about His person and work...
Weâ€™ve stumbled upon a real test for our trusting pre-modern exegetes. Revelation. In New Horizons in Hermeneutics Anthony Thiselton summarized the differences between pre- and post- modern attitudes for interpreting as â€˜trustingâ€™ and â€˜suspiciousâ€™ of traditional readings. Our series so far has looked at how 17th c. expositors have treated di...Keep Reading
â€œAnd you hath he now also reconciled, that were in times past strangers, and enemies, because your minds were set on evil works.â€ Nicholas Byfieldâ€™s (1579-1622) Exposition upon the Epistle to the Colossians (1615/1628 3rd ed.) was regarded by Spurgeon as wordy but worth consulting. Heâ€™s right on both counts. Writing in the context of controversy wit...Keep Reading
God does not change, Bavinck said, because he is. He is independent of time and has life in himself. To say that God becomes as pantheism assumes diminishes his character. As Bavinckâ€™s analysis of Godâ€™s immutability moves forward to discuss Godâ€™s infinity his conclusions are reassuringly warm: Godâ€™s eternality is not static, monotonous, rigid im...Keep Reading
The old bishop of Galloway was highly commended by Spurgeon for his striking clarity and evangelical warmth. Cowper wasnâ€™t exactly a â€˜Puritanâ€™ â€“ he took an Episcopal bishopric after years of serving the Scottish Presbyterians. Nevertheless he maintained scripture priority over the sacrament and (expository) preaching as the means by which the Spi...Keep Reading
When looking for the origin of emotion, William James asked, â€˜do we run from the bear because we are afraidâ€™ or is it the other way around? For James the bear was not the source of fear but the physical response to the situation was the cause of the emotion. While itâ€™s not exactly â€˜case closedâ€™ for James one thing is sure: human beings resp...Keep Reading
Thereâ€™s a TV show with a highly fantastic plot relevant to Bavinckâ€™s formulation of Godâ€™s independence. On this show, survivors of a plane crash form tribes and collectives to solve problems and battle wits with other tribes and collectives on a supernatural island. The island itself is a character exerting powerful forces on the other players, challen...Keep Reading
Weâ€™ve been sifting through some of the high points of Bavinckâ€™s doctrine of God, offering up small, somewhat uncritical summaries of his thought. In volume two Bavinck has an almost throw-away statement that carries a cautionary tone and is even little haunting: â€œthere is no guarantee of a better job, preferment or worldly gain that comes with the knowl...Keep Reading
Ron Gleasonâ€™s new biography, Herman Bavinck: Pastor, Churchman, Statesman, Theologian (Phillipsburg, NJ: PR Publications, 512 pps., $29.99, paperback, available May 31, 2010) is a warm and inviting portrait of one Hollandâ€™s most influential Reformed theologians. Bavinckâ€™s theology is rigorous yet deeply concerned with the quality of the life of faith a...Keep Reading
Creation, says Bavinck, is a revelation of God. There is not a corner of the universe that does not reflect something of his glory. But creation does not reveal Godâ€™s perfections like they do in Christ. There are distinctions and gradations throughout creation from the archetype to the ectype. The incarnation of the suffering servant finds his parallel in, â€œth...Keep Reading
Any religion that first had to prove its god existed prior to worship is impoverished from the get go. Bavinck has demonstrated from an array of philosophical and theological authors that Godâ€™s essence cannot be grasped by (critical) reason, morals or ethics. Some have left God in the dark. Others have split Godâ€™s revelation between ethics and the rest of the...Keep Reading
Walter Brueggemann once said, â€œWhen we pray we participate in the ultimate act of humanness as we yield to a power greater than ourselves.â€ There is a faint echo of Brueggemannâ€™s statement in William Fennerâ€™s (1600 â€“ 1640) treatise on prayer: The Sacrifice of the Faithful â€¦ shewing the nature property, and efficacy of Zealous Prayer: ...Keep Reading
Rudolph Bultmann famously asked, â€œIs exegesis without presuppositions possible?â€ Many Biblical scholars since have made clean distinctions between exegesis and eisegesis, sometimes for good reason. Aichele and Phillips (Semenia vols. 69-70) contrast Bultmannâ€™s statement with the discipline of intertextuality: they maintain that the distinction between ex...Keep Reading
The inability to know Godâ€™s essence is not a puzzle to be solved. It is instead the motive of worship and adoration. Bavinck saw the best minds of his generation destroyed by madness attempting to find God without the aid of sense-mediated signs and signifiers. For them the result was agnosticism steeped in a rejection of all metaphysical inquiry. So how does a dogm...Keep Reading
Last week Bavinck led us onto the negative path to knowing God. Even in the modern age, John Lloyd has humorously noted that we canâ€™t see anything that matters. We know little about the world and we know even less about God. In Bavinckâ€™s day the doctrine of Godâ€™s incomprehensibility tended to agnosticism (Hegel) or a theology equal to anthropology (Fi...Keep Reading
Dogmatics takes for its starting point the certainty of Godâ€™s existence. Everything else is details. For Bavinck the outset of Christian theology has one thing in common with the long history of critical reflection on Godâ€™s existence: he is unknowable. But nonattainability of the knowledge of God is not the same as nothing. As long as scripture remains object...Keep Reading
â€œMystery is the lifeblood of dogmaticsâ€ are Bavinckâ€™s opening words to the doctrine of God. Even when a confirmed believer moves past the sophomore debates of faith v reason and proofs for Godâ€™s existence faith, moving toward understanding, faces the incompressibility of knowing God. The great question here at the outset of our journey is: How is ...Keep Reading
It's been more than 2 months since we ended our year long series in Herman Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics. We covered two of the volumes and some material from 'Philosophy of Revelation' and 'The Certainty of Faith.' As the new year takes shape it feels like the work is only half done. Personally I can't read Bavinck without some sense of guilt for not sharing it. So if we ...Keep Reading
Handing out resumes and shuffling investments have two things in common: uncertainty and Ecclesiastes 11:6. John Trapp (1601 â€“ 1669) noted that the only works guaranteed to succeed in this life are pure acts of mercy and kindness. Heâ€™s right. But it can be such a frustrating answer to those who have lost 1/3 of retirement or canâ€™t get even one intervie...Keep Reading
John Trappâ€™s (1601 â€“ 1669) commentaries were Spurgeonâ€™s personal treasure. As biblical scholarship progresses the minister and serious student continue to benefit greatly from consulting Trappâ€™s thought, suggestions and devotional contributions.Â For years I waited patiently for a set of Trapp. After finally obtaining one, my dad--equally thr...Keep Reading