Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Excellencies of Christ Illustrated in Nature - Desiring God

(by Tyler Kenny)

The triune God had a purpose when he set his final creation, man, in the midst of such a marvelous universe. He wanted every aspect of that universe to teach man something about him.

Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 tell us this. "The heavens declare the glory of God"; that is, they show forth "his eternal power and divine nature," along with the rest of creation.

In this excerpt from Miscellanies #108, Jonathan Edwards lists a variety of scenes from nature and suggests which attributes of Christ they were made to picture.
[T]he Son of God created the world for his very end, to communicate himself in an image of his own excellency. . . .
So that when we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ; when we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see his love and purity.
So the green trees and fields, and singing of birds, are the emanations of his infinite joy and benignity; the easiness and naturalness of trees and vines [are] shadows of his infinite beauty and loveliness; the crystal rivers and murmuring streams have the footsteps of his sweet grace and bounty.
When we behold the light and brightness of the sun, the golden edges of an evening cloud, or the beauteous bow, we behold the adumbrations of his glory and goodness; and the blue skies, of his mildness and gentleness.
There are also many things wherein we may behold his awful majesty: in the sun in his strength, in comets, in thunder, in the towering thunder clouds, in ragged rocks and the brows of mountains. That beauteous light with which the world is filled in a clear day is a lively 1shadow of his spotless holiness and happiness, and delight in communicating himself.
(Paragraphing added.)


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hitchens on "Hitchens Prayer Day"

Although cancer and chemotherapy have clearly taken a toll on Hitchens, he still hopes to be remembered as one of those, “who are attempting to uphold reason and science against superstition.” But if life is just a cosmic accident, what does it matter?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

God's outrageous love and the scandal of forgiveness

There is an aspect of God's love and forgiveness that is simply offensive to our natural sensibilities. While we are not offended by His love and forgiveness for us, we quickly become offended when forgiveness is extended to “the worst kind of sinner”. Think about it, what is the worst thing someone has done to you, or to someone you love? What if that person truly repented and cried out to God for forgiveness. Does that thought bring you comfort?

Truth be told, we are probably more like Jonah than we would like to admit. When God told Jonah to preach to the Ninevites, his immediate response was to catch the first ship in the opposite direction. The Ninevites were a cruel and bloodthirsty people. They tortured, slaughtered, and enslaved those they conquered, including the Jewish people. After Jonah finally obeyed God (with a little encouragement) and warned Nineveh of pending judgement, the entire kingdom repented in sackcloth and ashes. This resulted in God's forgiveness of Nineveh, and Jonah's anger.
But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” - Jonah 4:1-3
Jonah was not happy about this sudden turn of events. He wanted God to finally judge Nineveh and pour out His wrath. He wanted justice for all the blood they had shed. Have you ever wanted to see someone get what they deserved? I know I have. Although, I must admit, I'm not nearly as eager to get what I deserve.
Next, consider the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31). We all know the story. The younger son demanded his inheritance, which was a great insult by itself. To add insult to injury, he also squandered his inheritance on loose living.

After his money ran out, he eventually came to his senses and decided to go home. His heart contrite and broken, he would not dare ask to be restored as a son. His only hope was to work as a hired hand and, in some way, make restitution for what he had done. But his father would have none of it. As soon as he saw his son from a distance, he ran to hug him and smothered him with kisses. He immediately forgave his wayward son, restored him to full sonship, and had a lavish party to celebrate his return. All of this was very undignified behavior for a family patriarch. Like Jonah, the elder brother was greatly displeased.
The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' - Luke 15:28-30
There it is again, the scandal of forgiveness. It was a scandal that this father would so eagerly forgive a son who had lived so shamefully, and disgraced the family name.

Corrie ten Boom faced a similar dilemma as a WWII concentration camp survivor. Many years after her release, she was approached by a former camp guard who was also one of the cruelest. The last time Corrie had laid eyes on this man was in the living hell called Ravensbrück. In the years that followed the war, this cruel man would eventually come to repentance and faith in Christ. When he approached Corrie and extended his hand, for a moment, she hesitated. Then she reached out and took his hand and forgiveness flooded her heart.

She would later write about that incident saying, "For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then."

Once again, there it is, a scandal. How could anyone forgive a Nazi, a prodigal, or a Ninevite? To many, the very notion of doing so is absurd. That is certainly how Jonah must have felt. The Ninevites were every bit as cruel as the Nazis and something inside of Jonah wanted justice. Something inside of us demands justice. And yet, God is a God of mercy.

Lest we forget, all of these stories point to an even greater reality. We all were once prodigals and enemies of God. We do not deserve mercy, we deserve the just hand of God's wrath. Nevertheless, God had mercy on us, and forgave our sin debt at great cost to Himself. Christ bore our sins and drank the cup of God's wrath in our place, so that we might drink the cup of Communion and enjoy fellowship with God. Amazing love, How can it be, That You my King should die for me?

Bob Glenn of Redeemer Bible Church takes a look at the issue of forgiveness in a message called "The Outrageous Love of God". Glenn makes the point that we must understand the scandal of God's forgiveness to understand the greatness of God's forgiveness. You can listen at the link below.

The Outrageous Love of God

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Turn My Heart From Vanity to an Eternal Interest in Christ! - New Demonstration

Thou great I Am,

Fill my mind with elevation and grandeur at the thought of a Being…
with whom one day is as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day,
A mighty God, who, amidst the lapse of worlds,
and the revolutions of empires,
feels no variableness,
but is glorious in immortality.

May I rejoice that, while men die, the Lord lives;
that, while all creatures are broken reeds…
empty cisterns,
fading flowers,
withering grass,
he is the Rock of Ages, the Fountain
of living waters.

Turn my heart from vanity…
from dissatisfactions,
from uncertainties of the present state,
to an eternal interest in Christ.

Let me remember that life is short and…
and is only an opportunity for usefulness;

Give me a holy avarice to redeem the time…
to awake at every call to charity and piety,
so that I may feed the hungry,
clothe the naked,
instruct the ignorant,
reclaim the vicious,
forgive the offender,
diffuse the gospel,
show neighbourly love to all.

Let me live a life of self-distrust…
dependence on Thyself,

Taken from The Valley of Vision—A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.