Matthew 20:17-34

Main idea
Jesus foretells His death and resurrection.
Zebedee's wife asks special favors for her sons, sparking envy among the disciples.
Jesus heals blind men in Jericho on the way to Jerusalem.

How this is about Jesus
He is prophet, foretelling His death.
He is king, who will sit on a throne.
He is priest, healing body and soul.

Sin this reveals
Rivalry and envy about who is the greatest.
Putting politeness ahead of bringing others to Jesus (31). 

Genesis 34-35

Main idea
Jacob's daughter is raped by Hamor's son.  Jacob is too passive in dealing with it, so two of his sons respond with deception and disproportionate violence.  Interestingly, Dinah was living in Hamor's house at the time (26).

How this is about Jesus
Jesus will take vengeance on the wicked, but with no deception or over-reaction.

Sins this reveals
Lust (Hamor's son) and anger (Levi and Simeon) leading to violence.
Apathy in bringing justice to those offended (Jacob).

Main idea
God restates His promises to Jacob at Bethel, after Jacob leads his family there, and to get rid of their idols (!).  Rachel and Isaac die.  Jacob's twelve sons are listed.

How this is about Jesus
The promises Jesus fulfills are repeated, and we see growth toward them.  I'm sure the pillar Jacob erects in this chapter is bigger than the one in Chapter 28.  And he has twelve sons now, instead of being a single exile last time he was at Bethel.

Sins this reveals
Clinging to idols, even though raised in the faith.

Genesis 33

Main idea
Jacob meets Esau and delicately parts from him again.
He buys a piece of land from a Canaanite named Hamor.

How is this about Jesus
Jesus like Jacob came to his own land and people and had to tread carefully to avoid problems.  Jacob couldnt fully avoid them because of his sin.  Jesus doesn't avoid them because He bears our sin.

Sins this may reveal
Willingness to compromise with those living out of Gods ways (Esau).
Overly separated from unbelievers (Hamor).
Jacob avoids both of these.


Review: A Tolkien Miscellany

A Tolkien Miscellany
A Tolkien Miscellany by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from this volume, not the whole book.

This is Tolkien's translation of a medieval and anonymous text.

It has a strong meter, about 12 beats per line, and heavy alliteration - 2-4 words in every line begin with the same letter/sound.
"When the seige and the assault had ceased at Troy,
and the fortress fell in flame to firebrands and ashes..."

But the real beauty here is the story. A lesser known classic, yet everyone should read this. It's about staying true to your word, confessing the truth when you don't, and the mercy that should follow.

"It was torment to tell the truth:
in his face the blood did flame;
he groaned for grief and ruth
when he showed it, to his shame." (verse 100)

Gawain resists falling into temptation, but does commit a small cowardly and deceptive act. He freely tells the knights of the round table of his fault when he gets back. "A man may cover his blemish, but unbind it he cannot" (101). But five lines later there is a wonderful event of mercy and grace from the covenant community round table. This is a great meditation on how to repent and extend forgiveness.

"Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed" - James 5:16.

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Genesis 31-32

Chapter 31
Main idea
Jacob runs away from Laban with more trickery but nothing sinful on his part.  Rachel steals his gods, but Jacob doesn’t know.  It’s hard to stop deceiving when it has become a habit.
Laban gets mad, but God tells him not to hurt Jacob.  Laban says he could hurt Jacob, says everything Jacob has is his, then lets him go.  Rachel deceives her father Laban.  They have left a dysfunctional situation, but took some of the trouble with them.

How is this about Jesus?
Jesus plundered the strong man’s house and took what was rightfully His from the usurper.
Jacob leaves Laban’s house with the goods God gave him, partly in rebuke of Laban’s deceptions and partly to bless the line of covenant promise.

Sins this may reveal:
Greed and claiming things that aren’t really ours (wealth or married children)
Not making a clean break with a troubled past – taking some of the gods with us when we leave.

Genesis 32
Main idea
Jacob is between two hostile family members, leaving a father-in-law and coming to a brother who wanted to kill him last time he saw him.  Jacob tries more plots to save himself, like Abraham and Isaac did with neighboring kings.  What should God’s people DO when vulnerable to hostile and more powerful neighbors?  Claim God’s promises (10-12), wrestle with (trust) Him (24-28), and turn from sin (deceit in Jacob’s case – vs 27).  Jacob asks for a blessing instead of taking one.  He tells the truth about himself instead of lying to his father.  He is only now ready to receive God’s blessing with integrity.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus is the Wrestler, with whom we must come to terms, be truthful, and trust our livelihood in His hands.  He has the right to give (and receive) God’s blessing based on our faith and truthfulness toward Him.

Sins this may reveal

Our struggle to keep trusting ourselves, though we pray, repent and claim to trust God for our safety.

Matthew 19-20

Main idea
Marriage, children and wealth – quite a chapter!
Jesus limits the grounds for divorce so much, the disciples wonder if getting married is wise.  Children should be able to come to Jesus.  Wealth can keep you from coming to Jesus, but reward comes in the remade world from following Him.  (I tend to think this new world has yet to come, though many in my circles take it as fulfilled at the Ascension.)

How this is about Jesus
Jesus the King sets the standard for entering His kingdom, and it’s unexpected.

Sins this may reveal

Using marriage or children or wealth for our own advantage instead of for Christ and His kingdom.

Chapter 20
Main idea
Kingdom reward is not always according to strict merit.  God includes many by grace who “deserve” reward far less than others.

How this is about Jesus
He is the King who can give reward at His pleasure.  He treats no one unjustly.

Sins this reveals:
The greed of comparison and complaint.


Genesis 30

Main idea
Family dysfunction continues, Leah and Rachel in rivalry for Jacob's love, trying to obtain it through children.  Laban cheats Jacob again; Jacob learns shrewd diligence instead of cheating, and prospers.

How is this about Jesus?
We do not earn God's love by our works, children, etc.  God freely loves us in Christ.
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is life.

Sins this may reveal:
Trying to earn the favor of others in a craven fashion.
Malice in trying to "one-up" siblings, co-workers, etc.

Genesis 29

Main Idea
Jacob the deceiver gets deceived, marrying Leah, then Rachel.
Leah is unloved by Jacob, so God gives her sons.

How is this about Jesus?
Jesus also serves for His bride.  He saw His seed (the fruit of His labor) and was eventually satisfied.  Before that, He also went through the frustration of working an unyielding soil - His ministry to an un-heeding people.

Sins this may reveal:
It can take years of living with consequenes of your selfishness to learn humility.
God has a way of "evening out" our inequalities that result from sin.

God's Aseity and Impassibility

John Frame's Systematic Theology
Chapter 19.  The Self-Contained God

Aseity is from the Latin a se, from itself.  This refers to God's independent existence.
The classic text that shows this is Exodus 3:14, where God tells Moses, "I am that I am."
Theologians usually treat this metaphysically, but it also applies to how we know what we know, and how we know what is right.  Both have their starting point in God.  Truth and right are both defined by who God is, not by some standard outside to Him, to which He must adhere.

God owns all things, and anything we give Him, He gave us first.  So God has no needs (Ps 50:8-12; Acts 17:24-25).  We assume this in our worship (Rom 11:36).

Non Christian thought seeks ultimate being, truth and ethic in natural law, secular authority, human experience, reason, duty or consequences.  But they fail outside of the one God, in whom all three ultimates converge.

God as Impassible
Does God have feelings?  The bible certainly says so often.  Many theologians deny this from a Greek perspective (unbiblical) that emotions are a sign of weakness.  God can think without a brain, so He can have emotions without a body.  Emotion is usually a response to some change and event, which God can have, even if He ordained the change and event.  "God is ultimately active not passive," and the term impassible can be used to mean this.

Proper evaluation of things often requires "exciting language"!  The phrase "King of kings" is more rhetorical or emotional than to say that "God rules."  But it is also more true.  Frame: "without emotions, God would lack intellectual capacity," He couldn't fully express the truth.

There are emotions inappropriate to God.  He doesn't make decisions based on temporary feelings, isn't addicted to feelings, or anxious about things.  But this doesn't mean He can't have any emotions.

Can God suffer?
Modern theologians argue yes, while the classics said no.
God emotionally empathizes with us (Isa 63:9; Heb 4:15; John 11:35).  But this isn't the same as suffering injury or loss.  Jesus suffered on the cross, and thus God did.  It wasn't a human nature as opposed to a divine nature that suffered, it was the Second person of the Trinity.  Since He is one with the Father, He somehow shares in the suffering of the Son, but does not have the same experience the Son has.  He knows the agony.  But "God in His transcendent nature cannot be harmed in any way, nor can He suffer loss."  This would mean losing an attribute like infinity, or losing in Satan's war with Him.

So God can love and empathize with us, but that doesn't make Him vulnerable and weak in His being.

All-Present, All-Knowing God

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 4: Charnock
 on God's Attributes
Pages 66-71

The Omnipresence of God
God is not bound by space or time.  Charnock fought the Socinians (basically Deists) at this point by asserting rightly that God is present providentially sustaining the existence of all things.  He is as present in Hell as He is in Heaven.

The Omniscience of God
God knows Himself and all things such that He understands what to do.
God has practical knowledge of all that is, and speculative knowledge of all that could be.
God knows things factually, but He also knows His people with affection (Amos 3:2).
God's understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5).
Charnock and most Reformed rejected Molina's idea of middle knowledge to account for human freedom.  This asserted that God could know what totally free humans would do without decreeing or forcing them to do it.  But Charnock affirmed human freedom nonetheless.

This is a bit beyond me, philosophically, but I see the seed of Arminian thought here.  How can we be free in any meaningful way if God knows the whole future?  Only if He knows it in a way that watches it, doesn't cause it.  But then we have a helpless God.  Many opt for that to preserve man's freedom!

Sung Prayers; Awful Things; Educating at Home

You pray more than you think.  Here's an enjoyable way to enhance your prayer life.

An overhead look at Auschwitz

Miscarriage - a reflection that may be helpful

10 things for homeschoolers.  #1 and #8 are especially good.


Matthew 18

Main idea
When the disciples want to know who is the greatest, Jesus tells them to be child like, and caring for the well being of each little lamb.  He also shows them how to restore those lambs (Matt 18:15-18).  Forgiving others is essential to this.

How is this about Jesus?
He came to seek and save lost sheep, forgiving their rebellion against Him.

Sins this passage may reveal:
Our desire to be first and unforgiving hinders our service to God and neighbor.

Genesis 28

Main idea
Jacob flees.  Esau thinks marrying Ishmaelites will be better than Canaanites.
God repeats His promise made to Abraham, now to Jacob, as He sees a ladder.  He takes God as His own, thought there are lots of ifs in his statement.  Is this doubt of a deceiver?  When you deceive it's hard to believe.  Or is it faith in a tight spot, running for your life?

How is this about Jesus?
In Jacobs offspring (Jesus) all families would be blessed.
Jesus the type of Jacob is killed by His Esau.  Herod = Idumean = Edomite = Esau.

Sins this passage may reveal:
Trying to make up for past sins with halfway measures (Esau's wives).
Not realizing God is at work in your life, in your place (Gen 28:16).

Genesis 27

Main idea
Jacob steals the blessing from Isaac meant for Esau, at Rebekah's direction!  Talk about a dysfunctional family.  Esau plans to kill Jacob, and Rebekah plans to send him to her family back in Nahor.

How is this about Jesus?
Caiaphas meant to save Israel by condemning Jesus, but he winds up blessing the One God meant all along to bless.

Sins this passage may reveal:
Favoring and blessing children for emotional reasons, when they need correction (Jacob).
Trying to fix things in a passive aggressive way, instead of dealing straight with people (Rebekah).


Matthew 17 - Jesus on Taxes

Main idea
Jesus' glory is revealed more fully before some disciples, which convinces them and makes them wonder when Elijah came.
Jesus casts out a demon that His disciples couldn't.  He obviously didn't give them ALL His power.
Jesus rather cynically points out that rulers exempt their families but tax their people; He provides the tax for Peter and Himself miraculously.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus is the Son of the King, glorious and... exempt from paying taxes since He agreed to the heaviest tax penalty and audit of all time.

Sins this passage may reveal
Failing to see the glory and greatness of Jesus

Irrational, that

"Reason is a stuffed dummy," one disenchanted figure of the Enlightenment said, "which howling superstition has endowed with divine attributes."

Graeme Hunter, Touchstone, Nov/Dec 2014: 47

Genesis 26

Main idea
God restates His promises of blessing He had made to Abraham, to Isaac.  But Isaac goofs just like Abraham had (vss 6-11).  God prospers Isaac, resulting in tension with Canaanites.  Through patience and trial of well-digging Isaac achieves a settled place in Canaan.  But Esau marries Hittites - another source of tension.

How is this about Jesus?
Israel made life hard for Jesus, though God had given Him special promises of blessing.  They didn't dare harm Him for a while because of His popularity-prosperity.

Sins this passage may reveal:
Not trusting God's promises of protection, but trusting your own plans instead.
Pressing legal rights when God gives some prosperity, instead of loving your neighbor and letting God vindicate you.
Undue anger toward, rejection and separation from unbelievers when they are willing to work with you (vss 26-31).

Genesis 25

Main idea
Abraham dies.  God prophecies the older of Isaac's twins will serve the younger.  This comes to pass partly through Esau's sinfulness in despising his birthright.

How is this about Jesus?
Jesus is the younger brother in Israel (John 8) who is chosen over His older brothers, the scribes and Sadducees.

Sins this passage may reveal:
Dishonoring a spiritual inheritance (or squandering a financial one) from your ancestors by pursuit of pleasure.
Exploiting the extreme but temporary needs of others by extorting a great price from them (what Jacob does to Esau).

Genesis 24

Main idea
Abraham sends his servant to get a wife for Isaac from their extended family in Nahor.  He succeeds with God's help and Rebekah is willing to go.  This is a LONG chapter, emphasizing the importance of a bride for Isaac.

How is this about Jesus?
God gets a bride for His Son, too - the Church.
God provides a way for the faithful remnant and lineage to succeed to future generations.

Sins this passage may reveal:
Unwillingness to leave comfort or family to follow God's will.
Too willing to compromise the right out of fear or doubt that God won't provide (Abraham could have kept a plan B in place to take a bride for Isaac from the Canaanites.)

Genesis 23

Main idea:
Abraham deals respectfully with the Canaanites, and owns his first property in the promised land.
Has he learned some wisdom from past fiascoes?

How is this about Jesus?
The path to our reward and inheritance from the Lord is to take on the humility of Christ.  Humility brings blessing and reward, for Jesus, and for us in Him.

Sins this passage may reveal:
Taking advantage of others when you have opportunity.
Treating unbelievers disrespectfully.


Ontological Argument

"Something has to be capable of giving reality to everything else."

Donald Williams, "Anselm and Aslan" in Touchstone Nov/Dec 2014: 39.

God Is a Spirit...

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 4: Charnock
 on God's Attributes
Pages 59-66

Stephen Charnock (1628-1680) is best known for his big book "Existence and Attributes of God."
Theologians often categorize this study by looking at God's names, being, attributes, work and persons (of the Trinity).
Some used the humanist model of examining a topic:  whether it is, what it is, of what sort it is.
We'll just look at the what and what sort here.

  • God is a spirit, without a body.
  • God is simple.  Not made up of multiple parts, whether Persons of the Trinity or listed attributes of God.  "Whatever is in God is God" (61).  This one is hard to grasp with the mind, like the Trinity, but nonetheless true.
  • God is eternal.  There is no measure of time in God, no succession of events in Him, no past present or future to Him.  He "has every moment at once" (63).  I liked John Frame's take on this, which I read recently and can be found not too far below on this blog.  While it's true that God is outside of time, we must also assert that for God to be "with us" in a meaningful way, He can experience or know what it means for us to wait, to regret and other things that involve time.  Jesus does this in the Incarnation, of course.
  • God is immutable; He does not change.  If He could, He would be imperfect.  Why does the Bible sometimes say He changes His mind, or "repents," then?  This accommodates our limited understanding of what God is doing, it doesn't deny His foreknowledge or prove He makes mistakes.

Review: The Giver

The Giver
The Giver by Lois Lowry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kind of a 1984 spin off.
I haven't seen the recent movie.
Social critique of collectivism, sameness, and extreme equality.
Lowry does a great job gradually making the reader aware of the deprivations that come with sameness.
The pro-life message is fairly strong, regarding the very young and old.

Worth the read, and good for middle/high schoolers, too.

View all my reviews

What the Bible Says

Matthew 16

Main idea:
Jesus warns the disciples of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus contrasts what they think with what the disciples think of Him.
Jesus calls them to deny themselves, when Peter tries to point Jesus away from suffering in Jerusalem.

How is this about Jesus?
The first two points above indicate that the teaching of the Pharisees Jesus warned them against was mainly their response to Jesus.  They didn't think He was from God.  This is going to bring conflict and suffering, and we need to be willing to have that happen.

Sins this passage points to:
We often want to test God (give me a sign, Lord!) when He has given us plenty already for us to trust Him.
We are caught up in physical stuff like the disciples, who thought Jesus was talking about bread instead of about teaching.
We doubt the church will prevail against the gates of hell.
We don't want to suffer and face rejection for Christ.

What the Bible Says

Job 41-42
God displays His power through His creation, Leviathan.
Job repents (of saying God wronged him?).
God tells Job's friends to repent to Job.  Job was right and they were wrong.
God restores Job's fortune and family.

How is this about Jesus?
Job is a pre-quel to Christ.  He is unjustly afflicted, maintains His righteousness before God in the face of persecutors (leaders and nation of Israel).  He becomes the mediator for those people, and God blesses him abundantly.

Sins this passage points to:
Admit it to others when you're wrong and when you wrong them.
Forgive others when they hurt you and come repent.
Use your wealth to bless your children.


Evaluating Ames

Section I: Introductory matters
Chapter 3: Ames and the Marrow of Theology
Ames' Influence
Pages 53-55

William Ames had the most influence among Puritans in New England like Jonathan Edwards and the Mathers.

He was read in the Netherlands, too, but many differed with his congregational polity and his emphasis on the will over the intellect.

Beeke/Jones commend Ames' revitalization of "experimental theology," the old phrase for doctrine that leads to or includes piety.  This is a central aim of theirs, I believe, and that's good.

Review: The Giver

The Giver
The Giver by Lois Lowry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kind of a 1984 spin off.
I haven't seen the recent movie.
Social critique of collectivism, sameness, and extreme equality.
Lowry does a great job gradually making the reader aware of the deprivations that come with sameness.
The pro-life message is fairly strong, regarding the very young and old.

Worth the read, and good for middle/high schoolers, too.

View all my reviews

Review: What Is The Lord's Supper?

What Is The Lord's Supper?
What Is The Lord's Supper? by R.C. Sproul

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Solid and standard.
Great to give out at church as a refresher.
Sproul at his best, dishing out seminary level theology on a college or high school reading level.

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What the Bible Says

Matthew 14:22-36
Jesus walks on water to the disciples.  Peter tries but has little faith.  The disciples worship Jesus.

Matthew 15:1-20
The Pharisees criticize Jesus over a minor matter.  He rebukes them for a major one: don't weasel out of supporting your aging parents financially with some religious talk.  He also addresses the minor matter: ingesting some dirt or unhealthy food isn't a big deal - your body deals with it.  Your soul is defiled by what comes OUT of you, though.

Job 34-35
Elihu says Job doesn't know what he's talking about.  God will do right.  Job sinned, and now he's adding rebellion to it.

Job 36-37
Elihu: God is good and majestic and just - who are you to argue with Him?


Covenant and Law for Doctrine and Life

Disclaimer: this is a summary of a 4 page summary of a huge work.

Ames' doctrine
In standard and glorious Westminsterian categories, Beeke/Jones lay out Ames' whole sytematic theology in 2 pages!  The two note-worthy items:

  • The covenant of grace is conditional in that it requires faith, but unconditional in that one of the covenant promises is to give us faith, a new heart to believe and obey.
  • Ames' blends God's decrees and historic covenant action well, avoiding the dichotomy Reformed thinkers often fall into, of playing one off the other (either stressing the decrees to a point that devalues history and the church, or stressing the visible church in a way that devalues the decrees).  In each covenant administration, we see God's decrees working themselves out.

Ames' ethics
All true obedience flows from faith in Christ.  Ames' ethical writing is based almost wholly on the moral law, found in the Ten Commandments.  He covers interpersonal relationships at the end, in 57 chapters, anchoring it all in the last 6 of the ten commandments.  Richard Baxter relied on this work in writing his own Christian Directory.  

What the Bible says

Job 30-33
Job: my friends scorn me, my soul is poured out in affliction.  If I've done wrong without righting it, go ahead and punish me.  But I haven't!
Elihu: I waited till last, because I'm youngest.  But you friends have rebuked him without proving it, and Job is justifying himself and accusing God.  How can you contend against God when He is so much greater than us frail decaying creatures?

Matthew 13:31-58
The kingdom of God will be sifted in the end between righteous and wicked.  The righteous pursues the kingdom as of utmost value.

Matthew 14:1-21
John the Baptist is executed by the lust and greed of Herod's family.  Jesus withdraws to consider, but feeds the 5000 who follow Him, instead.

Review: Yankee Doodle Boy: A Young Soldier's Adventures in the American Revolution

Yankee Doodle Boy: A Young Soldier's Adventures in the American Revolution
Yankee Doodle Boy: A Young Soldier's Adventures in the American Revolution by Joseph Plumb Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very good.
One of my sons is reading this as he studies American Revolution history.
I picked it up to see what he was reading, and was pleasantly surprised. This is a FIRST PERSON account of the entire war from the average soldier's perspective. Not all the troop movements you usually get in history, but how the normal recruit on the ground saw it. 95% walking, waiting, camping, starving and digging, 5% shooting at the enemy. He got paid once in 6 years, and that was funded by the French. You get camp stories and shenanigans, but also run-ins with General Washington. It ends at Yorktown, with him taking a redoubt (small, fortified seigework area), which is 10 minutes from my house - great story every American should know.

On firing on the enemy for the first time:
"What became of him I know not... one thing I know, that is, I took as deliberate aim at him as ever I did at any game in my life. But after all, I hope I did not kill him, although I intended to at the time."

On hunger, and his sense of humor:
"The period of the Revolution has repeatedly been styled 'the times that tried men's souls.' I often found that those times not only tried men's souls, but their bodies too; I know they did mine."

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The Ever Present God

God is Lord of space as well as of time.
He is both outside of space, a spatial, or immense (a term theologians like), and omnipresent in space.

The heavens cannot contain God (1 Kings 8:27).
Israel was tempted to think God was bound to help them, by His promised presence, regardless of their sin (Jer 7:2-7)
All of God is present everywhere.  He isn't divided into parts.
He isn't limited like we are spatially.
He is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10).
Scripture also speaks of His presence more localized, in the burning bush, the tem,ple, heaven, etc.
Scripture also has an ethical or covenant sense of God's presence.  He is with, or near to, the righteous, but far from the wicked.

No Bible verse directly states this, but it's a legitimate inference from many verses.
John 4:24 is not speaking mainly of His immateriality.  [This may be, but it's still a rather direct statement!]
God is not identified with any created thing.  The world is not part of Him, He is not the world.
But He is present IN the world.

God shows Himself visibly to us a few times, know as theophanies.
The Incarnation is like a theophany, but permanent, He grew over time, suffered, etc.  But God is not defined as a physical being.  Even the Incarnate Son was sovereign over space and time.  He isn't bound to space or time, but can enter it

God is invisible (Rom 1:20; 1 Tim 1:17).  He can show Himself,  and does.  He tells Moses that no one can see His face, but Jacob sees His face.  No one has seen God, but He who has seen Jesus has seen the Father (John 14:9).  Moses saw Him who is invisible (Heb 11:27).  How does this all fit together?
God is invisible like He's atemporal and aspatial.  He can be visible, but is Lord of matter and light.
We cannot see God unless He reveals Himself.
The new covenant is strikingly different in this.  Moses and Israel saw no form; Jesus is God visible.
In the consummation, we will see God (Matt 5:8; 1 Cor 13:12; 1 John 3:2).

The Glory of God
This is related to God's visibility, and also to His honor.
It is light shining in the glory cloud in the desert over Israel (Ex 16:6-10).
Jesus shares Gods glory (John 17:5), He is the Lord of glory (1 Cor 2:8), and His death showed Gods glory (John 12:23).
Creation shows His glory (Ps 19:1) and so does mankind (Ps 8:5).
Our sin messes up Gods glory (Rom 3:23) but redemption restores it (2 Cor 3:18).
We are meant to give glory to God in praise and obedience (1 Cor 10:31).
The three Persons of the Trinity glorify one another.

God as Spirit
This can mean His spirituality as opposed to physicality, but also refers to how God acts in the world by His wind and breath - the Holy Spirit.
Power.  He is a God of power (Micah 3:8) who gives power (Judges 13:25).
Authority.  He appoints prophets, speaks through them, and gives gifts for the church.
Presence.  The Spirit's presence blesses His people.  God breathed into Adam.
The Spirit's presence comes especially at Pentecost (Acts 2) and in our worship of the Son by the Spirit (John 4:24).


Redefining terms reactively

Section I: Introductory matters
Chapter 3: Ames and the Marrow of Theology
Major Themes of the Marrow of Theology
Pages 45-49

Ames begins with this sentence.  "Theology is the doctrine of living to God."
Theology isn't just knowledge, but living rightly before God.
I have a semantic quibble with this.  We have another word that serves better for "living to God:" piety.  Theology is more knowledge oriented, and a legitimate pursuit.  It ought never be pursued without piety, but no pursuit should.  We don't therefore redefine theology because we are concerned that right living is often divorced from right thinking.  Calvin said we have to know God to honor Him rightly, so the knowledge is not an end in itself, either.  It is to lead to piety, to fearing God with all our minds.  But sorting out the covenants of grace and works, the omnipotence of God, and the offices of the church is not itself living to God.

Beeke/Jones also point to Ames' emphasis on the will in our response of faith to God.  Most reformers said faith began in the mind and wound up in the will.  Ames said the will was primary.  One can assent passively and mentally without true conversion.  Again, the authors link Ames with Calvin, who assumes a conversion will result in the whole man drawn to God.  But this doesn't prove the point.  Calvin says "faith is a knowledge of the divine benevolence toward us and a sure persuasion of its truth" (Institutes III.2.12).  So we have the same problem we had with the definition of theology above.  A concern (very warranted!) that faith will stop with mere knowledge and not penetrate the heart and will, is not sufficient warrant to redefine faith as primarily will-oriented.

This is an affliction I've found among theologians old and current.  Some do it unwittingly out of mere zeal for their concerns.  Others do it knowingly as a tactic to shape the debate.  Either way, it often brings confusion over the theologian's intent.  If knowledge isn't primary (at least chronologically) in faith, then are you out to re-balance emphases without rejecting the role of knowledge in faith?  Or are you subversively and indirectly working against an established definition?

Given the authors' love of Ames, and my critique, I can see I'll differ with them in emphasis often.  Still, I do have a lot of sympathy for Ames' concern.  Our knowledge always outstrips our obedience, and we should appeal to the will as often as we do the mind.  The more intellectually minded in the Reformed world especially need this reminder from Ames.  This hit home to me personally after a Sunday of preaching to persuade of certain arguments regarding communion, then doing a membership interview hearing professions of faith and recalling that communion with God is the main point.

Answering Muslim Objections; Children in Church; More

Apologetics interaction with a Muslim the way it ought to be done.

William Willimon: "The point is not to speak to the culture. The point is to change it. God’s appointed means of producing change is called “church”; and God’s typical way of producing church is called “preaching.” "

Great encouragement here for parents keeping young children in the worship service with them.

What did Jesus mean that His disciples would do "greater works than these" (John 14:12)?

What the Bible says

Job 25-29
My friends aren't helping when they just say, "The wicked don't prosper."  Wisdom can't be dug up like a commodity; it starts with fearing God.  I am righteous and don't deserve what God has given me, yet He won't answer.  O, for the days when I was respected in the gate and gave justice to the oppressed!

Matthew 12:22-50
The Pharisees get quite a reaction from Jesus, blaming Satan for His work!
Don't blaspheme the Spirit like that (31-32). You will be condemned by such words (33-37).  One great than Jonah is here, and you aren't repenting like Nineveh did (38-42).  You are trying to be righteous but demons of rebellion are overtaking you (43-45).

Matthew 13:1-30
They also can't understand His teaching, but God gives understanding to disciples (10-17).
People respond to the Word with (a) immediate rejection, (b) temporary but not lasting acceptance, (c) or permanent and fruitful acceptance (1-23).  God's kingdom has weeds in it that He lets grow until the end, when He will sort it out (24-30).


William Ames

Section I: Introductory matters
Chapter 3: Ames and the Marrow of Theology
Brief Biography of Ames
Pages 41-45

Ames (1576-1633) was a professor and minister at Cambridge and became converted by the preaching of William Perkins.  Being converted AFTER being ordained (not uncommon in the days of an established church), Ames' concern was inward piety.  You may look Christian outwardly but have no sincere faith inwardly.

When King James suppressed the Puritans in 1604 he left Cambridge and wound up in the Netherlands, crossing paths with other English there preparing to establish Plymouth Plantation in the New World.  He served as secretary  to the president of the Synod of Dort (1618-1619).

He taught for 11 years at a newly established theological school in Friesland, urging reformation of life, not just doctrine, among the faculty and students.  This was his main concern - that doctrinal reformation would happen WITH reformed hearts and lives.


How the Puritans Read the Bible

Pages 31-40

Toward Christ
The Puritans had a strong sense that Christ was the focus of Scripture. He is to be found on every page, if not in every line. He was set forth in the Old Testament through ceremonies and prophecies, etc., and in the New directly by description. They were willing to read texts as types and allegories pointing to Christ.

Westminster rejected a multifold sense of Scripture (WCF 1.9) such as the medieval four-fold sense. We ought not seek an allegorical and moral point to every text. But there are plenty of texts that lend themselves (literally) to such an interpretation. If the literal sense leads us there, fine, but don't impose some system or allegory arbitrarily on the text. Yet, one text may have several applications, even a literal and spiritual sense. Song of Solomon is the best example of this. It is a love poem, but not merely that.

With Types
Many events and circumstances in the OT prefigure Christ in some way.  Unlike allegory, these are necessarily historical, factual, and more limited in scope of application.  Thomas Goodwin is quoted teasing out how Adam's fall in the garden of Eden is an anti-type (points ahead by negative example) to Christ: Adam would sweat, Jesus sweat drops of blood in Gethsemane; Adam would have thorns to deal with, Jesus gets a crown of thorns; Adam disobeyed in a garden, Jesus did much of His obedience in a garden.

as a Consistent Whole
The Bible doesn't contradict itself.  When there are several possible interpretations, they are limited by what other Scriptures say.  This is called the analogy of faith.  Interpretation should be guided by what the rest of Scripture says.  We know what was going on in Abraham's mind in Genesis 22, but not because THAT passage tells us (Hebrews 11:19).  We may not speculate that Abraham assumed God wouldn't really ask him to kill Isaac.  Beeke/Jones cite Goodwin as even allowing for two senses of Ephesians 1:5, given Romans 2:4-6.  Did God elect us for Christ or for Himself?  The "one sense of Scripture" rule (above, WCF 1.9) doesn't narrow interpretation so drastically that we must choose one or the other.  So there are times comparing Scripture with Scripture will expand a text's meaning.

Drawing out implications
Many things we infer from Scripture - they aren't directly stated.  Examples: infant baptism, or that women partake of Communion.

With the Spirit's Help
Since the Spirit inspired it, we ought to seek the author's guidance in understanding it.  "Reason was helpful, but it had its limits" (39).  God's works and words aren't unreasonable, but are often beyond our finding out.  We will not understand or accept God's Word without the Spirit's aid.


Grace with the Errors of Others; Claiming Promises; How to Man up

Here's a challenging proposal for how to personally fight back against an increasingly immoral culture.

John Calvin wants you to not make a stink over minor theological errors.
5 out of 5 stars, a must read for conservative, doctrine-minded Christians.
I only wish the Calvin quotes had been footnoted...

An important reminder about claiming promises in the Bible for ourselves personally

It's important for church and family leaders to love their people, more than they love their vision for how the people should be.  This was convicting and helpful.


Review: Henry V

Henry V
Henry V by William Shakespeare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pretty good.
Henry is King of England, and he claims part of France as his kingdom as well. He goes and fights for it and wins it. His tone of the happy warrior appeals to the heart and produces loyalty in his men.

But Henry also knows his troubled past, that his ancestors took the crown from another king. It's harder to claim divine right of kings when you took the crown from another king! Henry is pious and gives God all the glory for his victories. He also wants to make up for his fathers' sins while acknowledging he can't do enough works of merit for that.

His general solution is to be the people's king. He lives among them, gets to know them, rubs shoulders with the common man. He seeks to derive legitimacy at least in part from popularity with the commoner. He is a transitional figure in this way from medieval to modern times.

A few quotes:
"We happy few, we band of brothers"
Harry motivates his men to fight at Agincourt by appealing to their brotherhood with him.

"Once more unto the breach"
Courage in fighting, and returning to the fight.

"Love is blind"
Henry woos the King of France's daughter with appealing modesty, magnanimous in victory.

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Works and Grace

Product Details

Pages 27-31

Beginning a chapter on assumptions the Puritans had in interpreting the Bible, Beeke/Jones begin with the covenant of works and covenant of grace, detailing similarities and differences.  They refer most to Patrick Gillespie's The Ark of the Testament Opened (1681).

With the Puritans and Westminster, I see the need for a distinction between these two covenants, before and after the fall, and appreciate similarities pointed out.  I think they contrast the two slightly erroneously at a couple points.

In both covenants, the grace of God brings them about, the reward promised is gracious not merited, God gives the strength needed to keep the covenant, a perfect righteousness is required, both faith and works are required.  There is more, but these are the ones more often denied when we simplistically contrast the two.  To call the first a covenant of works can be mislead us to think Adam had to obey on his own with no help from God, devoid of any grace.  It's all his own merit, by works not by faith.  Not true.  Adam had to believe God's word about the tree to obey and not eat of it.

In contrasting the two covenants, we see God's glory and Christ's mediation more clearly in the second.  Everything the covenant of grace commands the covenant of works also commanded.  Ethically there is no "dumbing down" of God's moral standards.  So far, so good.

But then it seems we take away some of the similarities asserted on the previous page.  Faith is the condition to fulfill the covenant of grace; works was the condition to fulfill the covenant of works (I thought faith and works are operative in both).  The ability to keep the covenant was innate to Adam, but is not for us (I thought God's grace was needed for us to keep both).  I understand faith and works can both be present in the CoW, while God makes the sole condition the works.  But I don't think this is accurate.

I would put it this way:  the first covenant was dependent on Adam's faithful obedience.  The second is dependent on our faith in Christ's faithful obedience.  The Puritans made such a sharp line between faith and works (as we should, following Romans and Galatians), but carried this distinction too far into the pre-fall, post-fall covenants.  They had a "dichotomous reading of the Bible" (31).

One example of this is the assertion that after the fall, Adam and all mankind had to go outside of themselves for their righteousness.  In one sense this is accurate.  Keeping covenant was up to Adam's own obedience and faith before his sin.  But part of that faith/work was worshiping God and looking to Him for grace, help, rest, fellowship, etc.

When we empty the covenant of works of God's unmerited (not demerited) grace and Adam's faith (trying to reserve those elements solely for the covenant of grace), we tend to also do the reverse and empty the covenant of grace of our works which flow from faith, and become antinomians ("it's all grace; we don't have to try to keep the law").  That's bad, but we also must avoid the legalism of asserting that the covenant of grace is really about us keeping faith with God as shown by our works.  There is a strand of "monocovenantalism" that rejects the distinction between these two covenants that can lead to this.  No, our sincere though imperfect faith in Christ leads to imperfect works,  God graciously accepts this faith in Christ, imputing the faithful obedience of Christ to our account.


Bible reading; the Atrocity of Hobbit Movies

Trying to keep up with a Bible reading plan right now?

David Mathis:
"One piece of counsel for any Bible reading plan, however ambitious, is this: Don’t let the push to check boxes keep you from lingering over a text, whether to seek to understand it (what we might call “study”) or to emotionally glory in what you understand (“meditation”)."

Mathis, again
"It takes about 70 hours to read the Bible from cover to cover... If most people would trade their TV time for Bible reading, they’d finish the entire Bible in four weeks or less.”

The more I read about the new Hobbit movies the less likely I am to go see them. The title of this article is spot on: Peter Jackson must be stopped.
Dutch Calvinism in Modern America: A History of a Conservative SubcultureDutch Calvinism in Modern America: A History of a Conservative Subculture by James D. Bratt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dutch Calvinism in Modern America


Fascinating, since I grew up in the Reformed Church in America (RCA) near Grand Rapids.  Reading biographies of ancestors familial or religious is usually a helpful self-reflective experience, and doubly so when the forebears are both ethnic AND theological kin.  The first chapter mentions Albertus Van Raalte, an early pioneering pastor who led a group of immigrants and established the Reformed church in which I grew up.  They left the Netherlands for two main reasons: the state church’s liberal decline following the Enlightenment, and the famine that left many farmers nearly destitute.  Emigration was a natural move once they had seceded from the state church.  Bratt spends a bit of time on Kuyper, the father of worldview and “back to principles” thinking.

  Four Options to Relate to the World

His most useful analysis was the grid with four mentalities among the Dutch Reformed.  Two factors led to these four groups.  Some stressed a Kuyperian worldview, others personal piety.  Some stressed an outward optimism, others an inward defensiveness.  The piety-minded optimists were found largely in the mainstream RCA, self-consciously moderate and decent.  Norman Vincent Peale came from this stream.  The worldview optimists or neo-Calvinists stressed engaging with the world and applying Scriptural principles to institution building, like Kuyper.  The more defensive pietiests stressed the confessions and looked to doctrine as the engine of faith, like J. Gresham Machen would later for the Presbyterians.  The more defensive Kuyperians were the “Antitheticals,” always stressing the opposition and incompatibility between worldlings and the regenerate.  Herman Hoeksema and Van Til are representative.

This really helped me place my experience on a map.  Like a fish can’t analyze the water it’s in without help, we analyze our own stories least objectively.  I grew up with a fairly optimistic-pietist church and family (#1, RCA), then had a theological awakening of self-conscious rejection of liberalism (#2, thanks to confessionalists like RC Sproul), went to Calvin College where I had a healthy dose of (#3) neo-Calvinism in its optimistic form, and then landed in a denomination that has drunk its fill of the antithesis (#4, Van Til, Rushdoony, etc.).  What has been disorienting to me is the ignorance or disagreements these camps have with each other.  I picked up scads of RC Sproul tapes for free at an RCA seminary that no longer wants much to do with confessional boundaries and distinctions.  An inquiry of an RCA pastoral search committee of a confessional nature gets near-blank stares.  Calvin College (in camp #3) disdains defensive orthodoxy and creationism that usually goes with camp #2.  Lots of folks introduced to Reformed theology through Van Til (camp #4) aren’t even aware there are other Reformed options!

  If you’re not Dutch, you’re not… left out

Now these options aren’t unique to the Dutch Reformed.  Most Christians land in one of these camps or the other, and we should think it through deliberately.  Is your spirituality defined more by private exercises like Bible reading or evangelism, or by involvement in a Christian school or missions or social work?  It’s a false dichotomy and we shouldn’t choose, but most of us lean a certain way.  Is your thinking more pro-active and engaging with Joe-at-the-office, or do you tend to see them more as the adversary to be defended against?  We can so vilify Muslims or Arminians or Democrats that we won’t think to strike up a conversation with them.  Or we can be so winsome that we don’t keep distinctions like we should.

  The War

Reading of the Dutch experience in America at the onset of WWI was sad.  Several professors or ministers pointed out the American hypocrisy of demanding to be treated as a neutral party while supplying England with arms.  They tended to see England as the culprit more than Germany.  In the patriotic frenzy of war time Americans lashed out at these sentiments.  The papers printed suggestions of their deportation or execution for this sedition, or maybe eugenics (forced sterilization) was the answer.  But many congregations supported the war, and they wrapped their sanctuaries in the flag as a show of support for the war effort – at least those in camps 1 and maybe 3, above did.  Others steadfastly refused, given the transcendence of the church over any nation.  One minister took to carrying a pistol, he received such public hostility over this refusal.  It wasn’t an over-reaction; he was threatened on the streets of Holland, Michigan.  Other ministers called his refusal to allow the flag in church both treasonous and criminal.  The war intensified the disagreements over how the church should relate to the world.

After the war, the infighting turned theological, over common grace and general revelation.  One synod renounced a professor for being too cosy with the modern science behind archaeology.  Soon after it rejected Herman Hoeksema for denying common grace.  Has God “left much good in the world” (113), or is there no common denominator between the believer and the unbeliever?

In later chapters, Bratt gives more time to Dutch Reformed novelists who mainly reject their roots, than he does to Berkhof, Van Til, Berkouwer, Lewis Smedes, and Dooyeweerd.  This was unfortunate.  Still, the history is immensely helpful as a case study for how one group of Christians sought to live in the world while not becoming of the world, through their own immigration, eking out a living, wartimes and prosperity.  Much of it comes down to this question: how do we keep our young people faithful to Christ, and from going after the allures of the world?  I leave you with camp #3’s answer, which tends to be my own:

“Whoever believes that we can remain outside the world… by urging our young people to embrace the Anabaptist error is badly mistaken.  It is exactly the opposite.  If we understand with our children that God in His Common Grace has left much good in the world, and that even a Christian, yes especially a Christian as a child of the Lord, can and may be thankful for it, then our coming generation… shall maintain our precious Calvinism….  Along the line of the Anabaptist error, through the denial of the good that God gives to his creatures, we shall within a few decades die of spiritual anemia” (113).

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Review: Unbroken: An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive

Unbroken: An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive
Unbroken: An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Most amazing biography I’ve read for years. READ THIS BOOK. I read an adaptation for young adults – I don’t know how it’s different from the original. The writing style is very good: straight-forward, plain, and quite compelling.

Going through one harrowing experience after another with sharks and prison guards, Louie comes through unbroken. Now, the secular version would marvel at the resilience of the human spirit through all this. But I found the last 2 chpaters or so more powerful than all the sensational experiences he went through. You see, Louis Zamperini did NOT survive with an unbroken spirit. Once home in Hollywood, he gave in to a deep alcohol addiction, anger toward God, and the quest for vengeance to kill the main prison guard who beat him mercilessly. What saved him was the Lord Jesus Christ. The book goes a little light on the person of Jesus, focusing instead on Billy Graham. But without Louie’s obvious Christian conversion, he would have remained a broken man.

Unbroken is a book not so much about the awful things men can put other men through, or the survival of castaways by extreme methods. Unbroken is in the end about the power of forgiveness in Jesus Christ to deal with the scars of such events.

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Receiving Revelation

Product Details
Reflecting on A Puritan Theology
Pages 21-26

The Holy Spirit
Sticking with Owen on Scripture in his "The Reason of Faith," the Holy Spirit is critical to helping us accept and understand the Word of God.  A supernatural giving of faith is required to understand supernatural revelation from God.  The Spirit and Word are very closely linked.  Owen argued against the Quakers of his day that Scripture is the only means of supernatural revelation now.  The Spirit does not speak to us "of the Word, but by the Word" (23).

The Word of God is self-autheticating.  It needs no proof of its authority or authenticity.  Light is like this to the human eye.  We don't ask for proof that the sun is up; we know it by seeing it.  So with the Word, which calls itself light (Ps 36:9; 119:105).

Christ is our sole mediator, not just for our salvation, but for our communication with God.  Since we were made through Christ and for Him, only He can truly reveal God to us (John 1:18; 5:39).  All the written words of God we have are from Christ and point to Him.

The purpose of revelation is to redeem.  It is for God to relate to man (and man to God) again.  This means we are talking about covenant - a structured relationship.  All revelation comes to us in the context of covenant.

This is really a practical thought.  Every time we go to our Bibles and read, we must be careful not to read for information alone.  The living God is speaking to our heart and it will call for a heart response from us.

Knowing God after the Fall

Knowledge of God doesn't disappear among men after the fall.  We still have His image stamped on us, to know of His power and being (Rom 1:20).  At the same time unbelievers suppress and distort that knowledge.  Goodwin calls it a false knowledge and he (or Beeke/Jones) appeal to 1 John 2:3-4.  I think this is off base.  Knowing God in the context of that verse is more of a profession of faith in God, not an awareness of His existence and attributes that leaves one without excuse.  As the old joke goes, the atheist claims God isn't there, and hates Him.  The atheist can't suppress the truth that God exists, even if he rejects the Christ who is the sole means of knowing God.

This is the old saw between emphasizing the antithesis, the difference between believer and unbeliever, and emphasizing the common truth implanted in all men and in nature about who God is. Theologians and philosophers will debate this endlessly and systematize all thought to fit their preference.  I tend to think that the apologetic circumstance should direct what we emphasize.  If an unbelieving friend wrestles with an impending sense of doom, or finds a philosophical argument proving God's existence compelling, seize that "natural" knowledge of God within him, instead of denying it is there and trying to supply a more certain epistemological foundation!  But if a friend is in the throes of postmodern uncertainty, it may help to point out that all our knowledge is beating the air without some anchor point outside us and our reason.  Both aspects are true and both have their advantages in different conversations.

Supernatural revelation
John Owen wrote most and best about this of any Puritan.
Scripture was inspired by God, and the Spirit testifies to our hearts that it is so.
God also revealed himself through audible voice, dreams, visions.  These have ceased since the New Testament time (Heb 1:1).

It's interesting that older theologians tended toward a mechanical view of inspiration - they wrote down the words God suggested to their minds.  With the advent of lower criticism, noting literary differences between various human authors, we've become more attuned to the personalities and style of those authors.  The authors do a good job showing that this sensitivity was not lacking even in Owen, though, before we got so smart.  This is sarcasm aimed at self-congratulating Christian academics enamored with liberal textual criticism of the Bible.  We've learned some things, to be sure, but we weren't benighted imbeciles before the nineteenth century, either.


Natural Theology

Natural theology is knowledge of God we get from creation, not a supernatural revelation through prophecy, visions or Scripture.  It leaves us without excuse and guilty before God, but cannot bring us saving knowledge of Christ.  This means Adam had a moral sense of gods will before the fall.  He wasn't naive and clueless, as we often think of him and Eve.  Did they really have NO knowledge of good and evil until they ate the fruit?

Some puritans asserted that there was no supernatural knowledge of God before the fall, to keep a strong distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, but this was a  minority view.  It's hard to deny when we read that Adam walked with God in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8).  Thomas Goodwin said Adam's faith had no supernatural knowledge of God at all, and that no grace existed before the fall.  The authors admit this as a minority view, too, but give it lots of attention.  It's true Adam wouldn't have trusted God the same way after the fall as before it.  But Adam certainly enjoyed God's unmerited favor before he sinned.

This knowledge of God comes from within ourselves, God having implanted it in us, and from the world around us.

A Puritan Theology

A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life
As if I didn't have enough of fat theology books with John Frame's Systematic Theology, I've decided to read through A Puritan Theology by Beeke and Jones this year.

With Frame I'm mainly summarizing his work.  Here I'll give more thoughts of my own in response to what I read.

Introduction - The authors summarize Puritanism in a mere seven pages!
They were reformed and Calvinist in theology, rejecting Catholic, Arminian and Lutheran thought.
They had a dynamic fellowship with God that shaped their affections and worldview.
They sought to apply the word of God to every area of life.
It ended as a movement around 1689 with freedom of worship granted to Protestant non-Anglicans.
This study focuses on puritans in "England from the 1560s to the 1660s." (Pg 5)

This definition makes sense pragmatically, to narrow the scope of such a book to a mere thousand pages.  But theologically it seems odd to leave out Jonathan Edwards.  They take a more historically oriented definition of Puritan, than a theological orientation, perhaps.

There is little to no defense of the Puritans.  I guess if you open such a book, the author can assume already that you're not prejudiced against Puritans!  I would just say briefly that the public school characterization of the Puritans that I got was woefully inadequate.  The Enlightenment has taught us to view any reverence or seriousness toward God that goes beyond one's private thoughts, as fanaticism or grouchiness.

 Too bad.

It's like the lost texts of Gondor have been not destroyed but despised.  We don't burn books anymore, we just so revise and distort the good ones that no one wants to read them.

Be a Gandalf.  Go probe the depths of long ages past.  Much was lost that should not have been forgotten.


The Lord of Time

A summary of John Frame's Systematic Theology, chapter 17

In discussing God's metaphysical or incommunicable attributes, such as infinity, eternity, immutability, etc., it's more biblical to refer to God as the Lord of time.

Infinity isn't really discussed in the Bible.  It's a substitute for the prefix "omni," for the perfection of other attributes, or it means He is free from the limits of creatures.

God is the King Eternal (1 Tim 1:17), the Everlasting God (Gen 21:33).  He is beyond time.  Some have argued against this, the temporalist view, that God has no beginning or end but experiences the time He has made with us, not being above it.  This is motivated by wanting to defend libertarian human freedom and to deny divine foreknowledge, and we reject it.  God obviously acts within time, though.

God and Time
We will have everlasting life, but this doesn't mean we will not experience time.
God experiences time differently from us:
  • Time began at Gen. 1:1, but God and the Word (and Spirit) were there before this.
  • God is unchangeable (Mal 3:6).
  • God sees past, present and future equally vividly.  He may not experience a succession of moments, but He does know all chains of all events.
  • God isn't frustrated by time going too quickly or slowly (Ps 90:4; 2 Pet 3:8; Gal 4:4).
The main question isn't if God is within/in time or outside/beyond time, but whether He is Lord of time.  History is made up of "times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority" (Acts 1:7; cf 17:26; Mark 13:32).

History is linear, with a beginning, middle and end.
God is present here and now to us; He knows the flow of time.
He is in time, but not confined to it.

Immutable - Unchangeable
To measure change accurately, there must be a fixed point - that is God.
God stays the same, His plans don't vacillate - Psalm 102:25-27; Mal 3:6; James 1:17; Num 23:19.

The Relenting God
Many texts show God relenting, even describing Him as a relenting God, generally (Jon 4:1-2; Jer 18:5-10; 1 Sam 15:35; Joel 2:13-14.
Others say He does not relent (1 Sam 15:29; Num 23:19).
These all use the same Hebrew word.
Relenting is response to repentance.  Predictions of judgment are often warnings that can be changed.  God's relenting isn't His decretive will violated, but His sovereign choice.  It doesn't undercut prophetic words, since God's relenting is implied in calls to repent, in promises of blessing and warnings of curses to come (Jonah 3:9).

God does not change:

  • "'in himself,' but does change 'in his relations to creatures.'"  How does God not change, yet sovereignly bring about the change from hating a sinner to regenerating Him in His mercy?
  • in His essential attributes of wisdom, knowledge, power, goodness, etc.
  • in His decreed will.
  • in His covenant faithfulness (context of Mal 3:6; Ps 89:34-37; Heb 6:17-20).
  • in His revealed truth.  Scripture remains infallible despite changing times and cultures (Matt 5:17; 2 Tim 3:16-17).
God within Time
When God acts within history, He does so in sequence.  There is some level of change from making and naming day and night, to seeing that it is good.  His interests change from one moment to the next, "according to His unchanging plan."

Modern views hold that God doesn't know the future, that He is confined by time and unknowable future human decisions.  Or that He is primarily future in a way that affirms both His omnipotence and our freedom.  But this denies that God is Lord of the past or present, and that He is really beyond time.