Some more tasty snippets for 8/30/2021


Pain may indeed be the megaphone through which God speaks in order to get our attention. Or it may be expressed in the apparently trivial disappointments we experience, which cumulatively encourage us to turn our eyes from seeking satisfaction in this fallen world onward to seek our true satisfaction in God’s new creation. Without God’s redemptive application of the rod of suffering to our lives, we would have no cause to desire something better than this world and thus to turn to God.[1]

[1] Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 203.

(Quoting Abraham Kuyper) “It is not God who exists for the sake of His creation; the creation exists for the sake of God. For, as the Scripture says, He has created all things for Himself…The starting-point of every motive in religion is God and not man. Man is the instrument and means, God alone is here the goal, the point of departure and the point of arrival, the fountain, from which the waters flow, and at the same time, the ocean into which they finally return. To be irreligious is to forsake the highest aim of our existence, and on the other hand to covet no other existence than for the sake of God, to long for nothing but for the will of God, and to be wholly absorbed in the glory of the name of the Lord, such is the pith and kernel of all true religion.”[1]

[1] Rex Ambler, “The Christian Mind of Abraham Kuyper,” in Puritan Papers: 1965–1967, ed. J. I. Packer, vol. 4 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 206.

Here then was a reaffirmation of the Sovereignty of God as the first principle of Christian theology, and in this affirmation a denial of those types of theology which begin with the needs and powers of man.[1]

[1] Rex Ambler, “The Christian Mind of Abraham Kuyper,” in Puritan Papers: 1965–1967, ed. J. I. Packer, vol. 4 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 206.

At his [Kuyper’s] farewell sermon at the Reformed Church in Utrecht he spoke of True and False Conservatism from the text in Revelation, “Hold fast that which thou hast.” He left them with the injunction: “Do not bury our glorious orthodoxy in the treacherous pit of a spurious conservatism.” Our fathers have laid the foundations. We must try to build on them.[1]

[1] Rex Ambler, “The Christian Mind of Abraham Kuyper,” in Puritan Papers: 1965–1967, ed. J. I. Packer, vol. 4 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 208.

To think and act Christianly is to think about everything and to do everything in the light of God’s sovereign rule. And since nothing in the whole creation lies outside the scope of God’s rule, there is nothing we can think or do which is not either in obedience to God or in disobedience.[1]

[1] Rex Ambler, “The Christian Mind of Abraham Kuyper,” in Puritan Papers: 1965–1967, ed. J. I. Packer, vol. 4 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 213.

Only an “R” rating portrayal does justice to the evils of Auschwitz and Belsen; similarly, sometimes only an “R” rated sermon does justice to the outrage of sin.

The ugliness in the cross. How else do you explain the obscenity of the cross? An innocent man—the only truly innocent man who ever lived—is convicted in a rigged trial, abused by his guards until he can scarcely walk, yet forced to carry his own cross on a back that has been flayed raw. Nails are forced through the living flesh of his hands and feet, and he is jerked upright to hang until, too tired to lift himself one more time, he suffocates. What good God could permit such a death? What loving God could permit his own beloved Son to undergo such agony? What awful thing could be so bad that only such an atonement could pay for it?

The answer is sin. In the cross, we see sin revealed in its starkest, most abominable ugliness. There, if we sweep away for a second the prettification with which we sentimentalize that terrible moment, we see God’s “R” rated answer to my sin. There is the “atonement” that God made (Ezek. 16:63), the ransom that he paid for his people (cf. Mark 10:45). The cost of our salvation was not silver and gold but the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18–19). This is something that we all too easily forget.[1]

[1] Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 218.

As Calvin put it: “If we desire, therefore, our sins to be blotted out before God, and to be buried in the depths of the sea … we must recall them often and constantly to our remembrance: for when they are kept before our eyes we then flee seriously to God for mercy, and are properly prepared by humility and fear.”[1]

[1] Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 219.

The same reasoning led John Newton to instruct that his epitaph should simply read: “John Newton, Clerk; once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.”[1]

[1] Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 219.

The prophets would never have begun their arguments with the words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident … .” To be righteous was to be in right relationship with the Lord, to accept him as your overlord, and therefore to accede to his demands on your life.[1]

[1] Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 240.

[MY NOTE – The following is from a paper from J.I. Packer regarding John Owen’s method of testing the validity of someone claiming to have something like the gift of tongues. I find the willing tentative position, very useful.]

1. Since the presumption against any such renewal is strong, and liability to “enthusiasm” is part of the infirmity of every regenerate man, any extra-rational manifestation like glossolalia needs to be watched and tested most narrowly, over a considerable period of time, before one can, even provisionally, venture to ascribe it to God.

2. Since the use of a man’s gifts is intended by God to further the work of grace in his own soul (we shall see Owen arguing this later), the possibility that (for instance) a man’s glossolalia is from God can only be entertained at all as long as it is accompanied by a discernible ripening of the fruit of the Spirit in his life.

3. To be more interested in extraordinary gifts of lesser worth than in ordinary ones of greater value; to be more absorbed in seeking one’s own spiritual enrichment than in seeking the edifying of the Church; and to have one’s attention centered on the Holy Spirit, whereas the Spirit Himself is concerned to center our attention on Jesus Christ—these traits are sure signs of “enthusiasm” wherever they are found, even in those who seem most saintly.

4. Since one can never conclusively prove that any charismatic manifestation is identical with what is claimed as its New Testament counterpart, one can never in any particular case have more than a tentative and provisional opinion, open to constant reconsideration as time and life go on.[1]

[1] J. I. Packer, “The Puritans and Spiritual Gifts,” in Puritan Papers: 1965–1967, ed. J. I. Packer, vol. 4 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 217.

A one-sentence definition of a [spiritual] gift, in line with Owen’s analysis, would be this: a spiritual gift is an ability, divinely bestowed and sustained, to grasp and express the realities of the spiritual world, and the knowledge of God in Christ, for the edifying both of others and of oneself.[1]

[1] J. I. Packer, “The Puritans and Spiritual Gifts,” in Puritan Papers: 1965–1967, ed. J. I. Packer, vol. 4 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 222–223.

But all [spirit given] gifts alike are increased by use of the means of grace—prayer, meditation, constant self-abasement, and active service in God’s cause.[1]

[1] J. I. Packer, “The Puritans and Spiritual Gifts,” in Puritan Papers: 1965–1967, ed. J. I. Packer, vol. 4 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 224.

 [MY NOTE: Owen’s observation that we increase the usefulness of our giftedness is increased by “prayer, meditation, CONSTANT SELF-ABASEMENT (emphasis mine) and active service” is powerfully informative. The inclusion of self-abasement is all but absent in what most profess as spiritual gifts today. And then the need to reflect on these before the throne too seems to me to be lost element.]

Do we seek to grow in grace through the exercise of our gifts? When we speak to others of the things of God, do we seek to feed our own souls on the same truths? Equally, do we seek to increase our gifts through stirring up our hearts to seek God? When we speak of divine things to others, and lead them in prayer, do we seek to feel the reality of the things we speak of?[1]

[1] J. I. Packer, “The Puritans and Spiritual Gifts,” in Puritan Papers: 1965–1967, ed. J. I. Packer, vol. 4 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004), 229–230.

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