Thursday, October 02, 2008

"...Not that there is anything wrong with standing for something, no, quite the contrary. The problem seems to be - however - what we are standing on."

None of us profess to know everything there is to know. In fact, of late, I've begun to suspect that I know less than I ever thought I did. I am only now learning things I never knew I never knew. And that's not double speak.

But there are two things I know...two commandments I am sure I can follow, without going wrong.

1. Love the lord my God with all my heart.

2. Love my neighbour as myself.

Wow, doesn't sound that complicated, eh? And we all know that there's nothing wrong with learning and knowing "more" than that, right? Here's the catch...the more we learn, for some reason, the easier it seems to forget these first two principles.

We say, "oh, the Puritans believed..." or "look at what Augustine believed..."

Good stuff, huh? But have we forgotten the foundation of what WE believe?

Christ and his love FIRST, and then let's add the rest of it on top.

It took me a long time to see this. I built and built on my knowledge, until I realised that my foundation was bad.

C.S. Lewis once said that there is no problem or embarrassment in going back, along the way we've a fork in the road, where we made the wrong turn. Why? Because it doesn't matter how far you've gone, if it's down the wrong'll never get where you need to. Maybe, especially for me, it's time to turn around, go back to the beginning, and re-evaluate...time to say, "aha! This is what it's all about."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Autumn Hymn

Where burns the hearth-fire brightly,
When gathered close around,
The goodwife & the husband
Both seated on the ground.

How good to hear them singing,
How pleasant is that fare,
Where their soft voices ringing,
The Lord their God is there.

Where steeples tow’r above us,
Where chapel bells do toll,
The sweetness of forgiveness,
From pious tongues extoll.

How sweet to hear them pealing,
O’er plains & briar’d weald;
Their joyous song is thrilling
O’er manor & o’er field.

Now join in sacred worship,
Both king & peasant sing;
Thru’ courtyard & through bower,
Thy voices now let ring.

How pale the moonlight softens,
The stars that shine above,
Let us, like them remember,
To ever praise his Love.
To tune “O Sacred Head”

"It is a disgraceful and dangerous thing to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on topics non-Christians know from reason and experience.
If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him trying to support his foolish opinion from the Bible, how are they going to believe the Bible on the important matters of faith when they think the Bible is full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?
Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on us all when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of the Bible.
For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion."
- Augustine, On The Misuse Of Scripture

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thomas Watson, a Puritan pastor from 350 years ago, asked in his book, Body of Divinity, “Why does God delay an answer to prayer?”
In other words, why would God ever keep us asking and seeking and knocking when he could respond sooner?
Because he loves to hear the voice of...(your name here).

Question: "Are we to love the sinner but hate the sin?"

Simple Answer: John tells us clearly, that God is love. Before we cloud any issue with thoughts and opinions, let us bear this in mind, preeminently.
The Bible clearly teaches that God is love, as well as that God demonstrates love. I John 4:8-9 tells us that if you do not know love, you do not know God. In fact, it goes on to tell us that God visibly manifests his love toward us, through his son, the Christ.
Often, we use the cliché "Love the sinner, hate the sin."
However, we must realize that this is an exhortation for us, as imperfect humans. There are limits to our love and hate. We can help people out of the harmful lifestyles that they are involved in, because of our love for them, and for God.

Why should we love them? Because this is the picture God has given us. He loved us, when we were unloveable; forgives us, over and over.
The difference between us and God in regard to loving and hating is vast. Even as Christians, we remain imperfect in our humanity and cannot love completely, nor can we hate without malice. God, however, can do both of these perfectly well, because He is God! God can hate without any sinful intent at all. Therefore, he can hate sin in a perfectly holy way and still be willing to lovingly forgive.
This means that God can love a person as someone he created and can redeem them, as well as hate their unbelief and sinful lifestyle.
How glorious it is to see the love and forgiveness of God at work, in broken lives!
He who forgives, he who loves...he is my God.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Does Christ Love Sinners?
Thomas Brooks 1608-1680

"Let us stand still, and admire and wonder at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners; that Christ should rather die for us, than for the angels. They were creatures of a more noble extract, and in all probability might have brought greater revenues of glory to God: yet that Christ should pass by those golden vessels, and make us vessels of glory,-oh, what amazing and astonishing love is this! This is the envy of devils. and the admiration of angels and saints.
The angels were more honourable and excellent creatures than we. They were celestial spirits; we earthly bodies, dust and ashes: they were immediate attendants upon God, they were, as I may say, of his privy chamber; we servants of his in the lower house of this world, farther remote from his glorious presence: their office was to sing hallelujahs, songs of praise to God in the heavenly paradise; ours to dress the garden of Eden, which was but an earthly paradise: they sinned but once, and but in thought, as is commonly thought; but Adam sinned in thought by lusting, in deed by tasting, and in word by excusing. Why did not Christ suffer for their sins, as well as for ours? or if for any, why not for theirs rather than ours? 'Even so, O Father, for so it pleased thee,' Mat. xi. 26. We move this question, not as being curious to search thy secret counsels, O Lord, but that we may be the more swallowed up in the admiration of the 'breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.'
The apostle, being in a holy admiration of Christ's love, affirms it to pass knowledge, Eph. iii. 18, 19; that God, who is the eternal Being, should love man when he had scarce a being, Prov. viii. 30, 31, that he should be enamoured with deformity, that he should love us when in our blood, Ezek. xvi., that he should pity us when no eye pitied us, no, not our own. Oh, such was Christ's transcendent love, that man's extreme misery could not abate it. The deploredness of man's condition did but heighten the holy flame of Christ's love. It is as high as heaven, who can reach it? It is as low as hell, who can understand it? Heaven, through its glory, could not contain him, man being miserable, nor hell's torments make him refrain, such was his perfect matchless love to fallen man. That Christ's love should extend to the ungodly, to sinners, to enemies that were in arms of rebellion against him, Rom. v. 6, 8, 10; yea, not only so, but that he should hug them in his arms, lodge them in his bosom, dandle them upon his knees, and lay them to his breasts, that they may suck and be satisfied, is the highest improvement of love, Isa lxvi. 11-13.
That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father, to a region of sorrow and death, John i. 18; that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature, Isa. liii. 4; that he that was clothed with glory, should be wrapped with rags of flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16; that he that filled heaven, should be cradled in a manger, John xvii. 5; that the God of Israel should fly into Egypt, Mat. ii. 14; that the God of strength should be weary; that the judge of all flesh should be condemned; that the God of life should be put to death, John xix. 41; that he that is one with his Father, should cry out of misery, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!' Mat. xxvi. 39: that he that had the keys of hell and death, Rev. i. 18, should lie imprisoned in the sepulchre of another, having, in his lifetime, nowhere to lay his head; nor after death, to lay his body, John xix. 41, 42; and all this for man, for fallen man, for miserable man, for worthless man, is beyond the thoughts of created natures. The sharp, the universal and continual sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, from the cradle to the cross, does above all other things speak out the transcendent love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners. That wrath, that great wrath, that fierce wrath, that pure wrath, that infinite wrath, that matchless wrath of an angry God, that was so terribly impressed upon the soul of Christ, quickly spent his natural strength, and turned his moisture into the drought of summer, Ps. xxxii. 4; and yet all this wrath he patiently underwent, that sinners might be saved, and that 'he might bring many sons unto glory,' Heb. ii. 10.
Oh wonder of love! Love is submissive, it enables to suffer. The Curtii laid down their lives for the Romans, because they loved them; so it was love that made our dear Lord Jesus lay down his life, to save us from hell and to bring us to heaven. As the pelican, out of her love to her young ones, when they are bitten with serpents, feeds them with her own blood to recover them again; so when we were bitten by the old serpent, and our wound incurable, and we in danger of eternal death, then did our dear Lord Jesus, that he might recover us and heal us, feed us with his own blood, Gen. iii. 15; John vi. 53-56. Oh love unspeakable! This made [Bernard] cry out, 'Lord, thou hast loved me more than thyself; for thou hast laid down thy life for me.'
It was only the golden link of love that fastened Christ to the cross, John x. 17, and that made him die freely for us, and that made him willing 'to be numbered among transgressors,' Isa. liii. 12, that we might be numbered among [the] 'general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,' Heb. xii. 23. If Jonathan's love to David was wonderful, 2 Sam. i. 26, how wonderful must the love of Christ be to us, which led him by the hand to make himself an offering for us, Heb. x. 10, which Jonathan never did for David: for though Jonathan loved David's life and safety well, yet he loved his own better; for when his father cast a javelin at him to smite him, he flies for it, and would not abide his father's fury, being very willing to sleep in a whole skin, notwithstanding his wonderful love to David, 1 Sam. xx. 33-35; making good the philosopher's notion, that man is a life-lover.
Christ's love is like his name, and that is Wonderful, Isa. ix. 6; yea, it is so wonderful, that it is supra omnem creaturam, ultra omnem measuram, contra omnem naturam, above all creatures, beyond all measure, contrary to all nature. It is above all creatures, for it is above the angels, and therefore above all others. It is beyond all measure, for time did not begin it, and time shall never end it; place doth not bound it, sin doth not exceed it, no estate, no age, no sex is denied it, tongues cannot express it, understandings cannot conceive it: and it is contrary to all nature; for what nature can love where it is hated? What nature can forgive where it is provoked? What nature can offer reconciliation where it receiveth wrong? What nature can heap up kindness upon contempt, favour upon ingratitude, mercy upon sin? And yet Christ's love hath led him to all this; so that well may we spend all our days in admiring and adoring of this wonderful love, and be always ravished with the thoughts of it."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Theophilus argues that the Invisible God is seen through His works. He writes, "For as the soul in man is not seen, being invisible to man, but is perceived through the motion of the body, so God cannot indeed be seen by human eyes, but is beheld and perceived through His providence and works." Here he pauses to examine the wind, being only perceivable by the effects thereof. He closes saying, "As, therefore, the seed of the pomegranate, dwelling inside, cannot see what is outside the rind, itself being within; so neither can man, who along with the whole creation is enclosed by the hand of God, behold God….any earthly king is believed to exist, even though he be not seen by all, for he is recognised by his laws and ordinances, and authorities, and forces and statues; and are you unwilling that God should be recognised by His works and mighty deeds?"