May I not love praise from men more than praise from God (taken from John 12:43)
I am the Lord’s servant; let your will be done in me according to your word (taken from Luke 1:38)
God gives life to the dead and calls into being things that do not exist (taken from Rom 4:17)
4. But let our speech and petition when we pray be under discipline, observing quietness and modesty. Let us consider that we are standing in God’s sight. We must please the divine eyes both with the habit of body and with the measure of voice. For as it is characteristic of a shameless man to be noisy with his cries, so, on the other hand, it is fitting to the modest man to pray with moderated petitions. Moreover, in His teaching the Lord has bidden us to pray in secret— in hidden and remote places, in our very bed-chambers— which is best suited to faith, that we may know that God is everywhere present, and hears and sees all, and in the plenitude of His majesty penetrates even into hidden and secret places, as it is written, I am a God at hand, and not a God afar off. If a man shall hide himself in secret places, shall I not then see him? Do not I fill heaven and earth? Jeremiah 23:23-24 And again: The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3 And when we meet together with the brethren in one place, and celebrate divine sacrifices with God’s priest, we ought to be mindful of modesty and discipline— not to throw abroad our prayers indiscriminately, with unsubdued voices, nor to cast to God with tumultuous wordiness a petition that ought to be commended to God by modesty; for God is the hearer, not of the voice, but of the heart. Nor need He be clamorously reminded, since He sees men’s thoughts, as the Lord proves to us when He says, Why do you think evil in your hearts? Matthew 9:4 And in another place: And all the churches shall know that I am He that searches the hearts and reins. Revelation 2:23
5. And this Hannah in the first book of Kings, who was a type of the Church, maintains and observes, in that she prayed to God not with clamorous petition, but silently and modestly, within the very recesses of her heart. She spoke with hidden prayer, but with manifest faith. She spoke not with her voice, but with her heart, because she knew that thus God hears; and she effectually obtained what she sought, because she asked it with belief. Divine Scripture asserts this, when it says, She spoke in her heart, and her lips moved, and her voice was not heard; and God did hear her. 1 Samuel 1:13 We read also in the Psalms, Speak in your hearts, and in your beds, and be pierced. The Holy Spirit, moreover, suggests these same things by Jeremiah, and teaches, saying, But in the heart ought God to be adored by you.
6. And let not the worshipper, beloved brethren, be ignorant in what manner the publican prayed with the Pharisee in the temple. Not with eyes lifted up boldly to heaven, nor with hands proudly raised; but beating his breast, and testifying to the sins shut up within, he implored the help of the divine mercy. And while the Pharisee was pleased with himself, this man who thus asked, the rather deserved to be sanctified, since he placed the hope of salvation not in the confidence of his innocence, because there is none who is innocent; but confessing his sinfulness he humbly prayed, and He who pardons the humble heard the petitioner.
My insecurities were exposed because my christianity had been like a spiritual version of the protestant ethic. It was more about achieving than receiving. My faith was driven by a sense of duty. My self worth had come from my work, identity had come from my activity and my sense of personal value had come from my role. I needed to discover that grace is not about doing but resting in what Christ has already done for me….I realized that I had been serving the “work of the Lord” rather than the “Lord of the work.” The cream of my energy therefore needed re-directing to enjoy relationship rather than to do ministry…..David Watson, the evangelical Anglican minister who came to treasure terminal cancer as a gift that brought him into closer relationship with God. I wept as I read these words:
God showed me that all my preaching, writing and other ministry was absolutely nothing compared to my love relationship with Him. In fact my sheer busyness had squeezed out the close initimacy I had known with Him.
This was the turning point; I gave up trying to be the heroic full-time Christian worker. I stopped trying to operate out of a sense of the ideal me and came to terms with the real me. Henri Nouwen helped me when he said The need for heroic self-image is the biggest barrier to service for Christ…when I have nothing to lose I have nothing to defend. Only then can I have everything to give.
Quoted from Steve Bell’s Bell The Journey From Fear To Faith – Grace For Muslims?
WOW! What a challenging / inspiring quote!! Loads to chew on and over here.
Having recently read a biography of Francis Schaeffer it awakened some of the course and reading I had done some 16 years ago on Schaeffer (see post HERE). I went back and have begun re-reading Schaeffer (after 16 years its really like the first time of reading him).
Schaeffer was so far ahead of his time. He was tackling post-Modernism in the late 60′s and early 70′s and when you realize that this is when his books were written you then understand the immense impact Schaeffer had on others thinking so early.
This book simply but also profoundly argues that when you remove God and the teaching of the scriptures from ANY area of life, science, art, mathematics, philosophy, you go below the line of despair. Schaeffer’s argument is that this is exactly what has happened. Scientists, mathematicians, artists, philosophers are searching for the answer to life and meaning in a way which will lead to despair and meaninglessness. Only Christianity has the answer. Schaeffer writes:
Christianity has the opportunity, therefore, to speak clearly of the fact that its answer has the very thing modern man has despaired of – he unity of thought. It provides a unified answer for the whole of life.
What also struck me was how poignant this book is with regards to what is happening in the Episcopall church today. Depart from the ‘true truth’ (Schaeffer’s great term – scripture is not just true, its TRUE thruth) and you will lose your moorings and descend into heresy. It is not enough, Schaeffer says, to invoke the name of Jesus or use Jesus’ name – “Jesus himself did not not make a distinction between his authority and the authority of the written scriptures.” Remove Jesus from the authority of scripture and you simply have another contentless banner.
A great little book. Let me end with a quote from Schaeffer which encapsulates his thinking:
Christ is Lord of all – over every aspect of life. It is no use saying that he is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the Lord of all things if he is not the Lord of my whole unified intellectual life. I am false or confused if I sing about Christ’s Lordship and continued to retain areas of my own life that are autonomous. Any autonomy is wrong. Autonomous science or autonomous art is wrong, if by autonomous we mean free from the content of what God has told us. This does not mean that we have a static science or art – just the opposite. It gives us the form inside which, being finite, freedom is possible.
I really liked reading this book – which both challenged me and made me eager in my prayer life. Sometimes such books can leave you feeling daunted or a little condemned that your prayer life is not quite up to scratch. Not this book – using many different sources, stories, encouragement and sound biblical advice it will encourage you (as it did me) in praying and trying different things (lectio divina, journaling, using the BCP, the Lord’s Prayer, corporate prayer and much more). A solid, well written and winsome book on prayer. Well worth reading.
….produced, sung and filmed at and by Prince George Members…
As most of you know it is Calvin’s 500th birthday. This new novel on John Calvin really attracted my attention – a NOVEL on John Calvin – how would the author pull this off? Well, he pulls it off – and he does it VERY well.
The story is told from the perspective of Jean-Louis – the son of a tanner and who grew up with Calvin. Jean-Louis is overcome with jealousy and hatred for Calvin and his success – a hatred which leads to Jean – Louis becoming Calvin’s servant and also an informer for the French Government who was trying to destroy any who professed and advanced the reform faith. The book is in fact Jean-Louis’ confession. A brilliant piece of writing which uses fiction alongside historical fact. Much of the Calvin’s words are taken from real letters and his theology form his Institutes.
This is a GREAT intro to Calvin and his life. Joel Beeke – a reformed theologian and president of the Puritan Seminary as well as author of many books on Calvin writes:
”Douglas Bond introduces John Calvin to us in a gripping way, colorfully taking us back to Geneva and its times, unveiling Calvin as the principled man of action, commitment, and love that he was. The Betrayal makes for an exciting read, showing the great Reformer’s heart for theology, piety, and doxology, while almost effortlessly and implicitly undoing caricatures about Calvin along the way. If you want Calvin and his times brought to life in a page-turner, this is the book for you!”
Vacation for me means novels. I love historical novels and so this one caught my eye. A new author, Sansom was a lawyer in London whose degree was in History. Dissolution is the first in a series of ‘Tudor’ detective novels. Set in 1537, during the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer in the service of Thomas Cromwell – Henry VIII powerful Chancellor. The murder of a commissioner at a monastery prompts Cromwell to send Shardlake to investigate and to find enough evidence to close the monastery. Shardlake is a firm reformer and fully supports the dissolution of the corrupt monasteries and the eradication of catholicism in England.
The novel revolves around the investigation of Shardlake and how he gets the murderer. On the one hand this is a simple historical detective story but on the other hand, the book is an interesting presentation of the issues of the time and how Thomas Cromwell acted, the death of Anne Boleyn and whether the destruction of the monasteries were just – al of which was fascinating to read alongside the fiction. A fun and impressive first novel.
I posted a link to Dr Peter Masters recent article slamming Piper, Dever etal and their ‘new’ calvinism. Dr Masters article was SO over the top to be laughable. Many responded on the blogsphere ridiculing Masters article (and rightly so). Yet Iain Murray, one of the fore-most experts on Puritanism and Calvinism has recently written something interesting:
First, in our circles, piety and godliness are not the characteristics of Calvinistic belief to the extent that they ought to be. We believe that divine revelation has come to us in words and in propositions, and for these we must contend. But truth is only rightly believed to the extent that it is embodied in life. The gospel spread across Europe in the sixteenth century primarily through the witness of transformed people…
Second, our example needs to be the best argument that belief in divine sovereignty does not weaken evangelistic preaching. There are prominent exceptions to the contrary—the names of some of them will be found in these pages—but in surveying the Christian scene at large, there is some justification for the idea that Calvinistic belief hinders evangelistic passion. Facing this perception, we would be mistaken to suppose we are free of blame. We have found it easier to be ‘teachers’ and ‘defenders’ of the truth than to be evangelists who are willing to die that men might be converted.”
Iain Murray reminds us that while some criticism can be laughable and rightly challenged it can blind those adherents to legitimate problems and issues which are causing a problem in a tradition and which need to be dealt with and corrected.
I don’t go back to the office until Friday but we rolled in from our trip to he mountains on Tuesday evening. Today has been spent unpacking and talking Sam to see Ice Age 3.
I have not looked at my email since Friday 3rd July. Now thats an achievement for me – and I must say I have enjoyed it.
Before I left I read CJ Mahaney’s article “Leadership and Family Vacations”.
It really is a great article and t challenged my – especially on how I am a dad and a husband on vacation. We had the best vacation we have ever had this year – and yes I fell into bed each day exhausted – but we had fun together. I came to realize that if I am to serve my family, my kids should not see me doing ANY office work, or making any phone calls or using a computer or checking email for the whole time on vacation. To do so would be to devalue them. My time and attention is on them and my wife.
My suggestion is that if you are a dad and you see vacation as your time to rest then don’t read this article. Here is a quote:
And you will know you are serving and leading effectively on your vacation when you
fall into bed at night more exhausted than at the end of the most grueling day of work.
The father must enter family vacations committed to serve, lead, plan, initiate, and
work, and do all this with joy. This isn’t your time to rest. Only your wife deserves to
rest on vacation (because no one works harder than she does the rest of the year).
A really patient man neither complains nor seeks to be pitied; he will speak simply and truly of his trouble, without exaggerating its weight or bemoaning himself; if others pity him, he will accept their compassion patiently, unless they pity him for some ill he is not enduring, in which case he will say so with meekness, and abide in patience and truthfulness, combating his grief and not complaining of it.
As to the trials which you will encounter in devotion (and they are certain to arise), bear in mind our dear Lord’s words: “A woman, when she is in travail, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world.” You, too, have conceived in your soul the most gracious of children, even Jesus Christ, and before He can be brought forth you must inevitably travail with pain; but be of good cheer, for when these pangs are over, you will possess an abiding joy, having brought such a man into the world. And He will be really born for you, when He is perfected in your heart by love, and in your actions by imitating His life.
When you are sick, offer all your pains and weakness to our Dear Lord, and ask Him to unite them to the sufferings which He bore for you. Obey your physician, and take all medicines, remedies and nourishment, for the Love of God, remembering the vinegar and gall He tasted for love of us; desire your recovery that you may serve Him; do not shrink from languor and weakness out of obedience to Him, and be ready to die if He wills it, to His Glory, and that you may enter into His Presence.
Complain as little as possible of your wrongs, for as a general rule you may be sure that complaining is sin; “Qui se plaint, peche.” the rather that self-love always magnifies our injuries: above all, do not complain to people who are easily angered and excited. If it is needful to complain to some one, either as seeking a remedy for your injury, or in order to soothe your mind, let it be to some calm, gentle spirit, greatly filled with the Love of God; for otherwise, instead of relieving your heart, your confidants will only provoke it to still greater disturbance; instead of taking out the thorn which pricks you, they will drive it further into your foot.
Some people when they are ill, or in trouble, or injured by any one, restrain their complaints, because they think (and that rightly) that to murmur betokens great weakness or a narrow mind; but nevertheless, they exceedingly desire and maneuvre to make others pity them, desiring to be considered as suffering with patience and courage. Now this is a kind of patience certainly, but it is a spurious patience, which in reality is neither more nor less than a very refined, very subtle form of ambition and vanity. To them we may apply the Apostle’s words, “He hath whereof to glory, but not before God.” Rom. iv. 2.
But, dear child, be sure that we must patiently accept, not sickness only, but such sickness as God chooses to send, in the place, among the people, and subject to the circumstances which He ordains;—and so with all other troubles. If any trouble comes upon you, use the remedies with which God supplies you. Not to do this is to tempt Him; but having done so, wait whatever result He wills with perfect resignation. If He pleases to let the evil be remedied, thank Him humbly; but if it be His will that the evil grow greater than the remedies, patiently bless His Holy Name.
Follow Saint Gregory’s advice: When you are justly blamed for some fault you have
committed, humble yourself deeply, and confess that you deserve the blame. If the accusation be false, defend yourself quietly, denying the fact; this is but due respect for truth and your neighbour’s edification. But if after you have made your true and legitimate defence you are still accused, do not be troubled, and do not try to press your defence—you have had due respect for truth, have the same now for humility. By acting thus you will not infringe either a due care for your good name, or the affection you are bound to entertain for peace, humility and gentleness of heart.
A brave man can easily bear with contempt, slander and false accusation from an evil world; but to bear such injustice at the hands of good men, of friends and relations, is a great test of patience. I have a greater respect for the gentleness with which the great S. Charles Borromeo long endured the public reproaches which a celebrated preacher of a reformed Order used to pour out upon him, than for all the other attacks he bore with. For, just as the sting of a bee hurts far more than that of a fly, so the injuries or contradictions we endure from good people are much harder to bear than any others. But it is a thing which very often happens, and sometimes two worthy men, who are both highly well-intentioned after their own fashion, annoy and even persecute one another grievously.
Be patient, not only with respect to the main trials which beset you, but also under the accidental and accessory annoyances which arise out of them. We often find people who imagine themselves ready to accept a trial in itself who are
impatient of its consequences. We hear one man say, “I should not mind poverty, were it not that I am unable to bring up my children and receive my friends as handsomely as I desire.” And another says, “I should not mind, were it not that the world will suppose it is my own fault;” while another would patiently bear to be the subject of slander provided nobody believed it. Others, again, accept one side of a trouble but fret against the rest—as, for instance, believing themselves to be patient under sickness, only fretting against their inability to obtain the best advice, or at the inconvenience they are to their friends.
An Introduction to A Devout Life is really worth reading – today and for the next few days here is a section on patience – yes its old english – but its worth wrestling with:
“YE have need of patience, that, after ye have done the Will of God, ye might receive the promise,” says Saint Paul; 6060 Heb. x. 36. and the Saviour said, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” 6161 S. Luke xxi. 19. The greatest happiness of any one is “to possess his soul;” and the more perfect our patience, the more fully we do so possess our souls. Call often to mind that our Saviour redeemed us by bearing and suffering, and in like manner we must seek our own salvation amid sufferings and afflictions; bearing insults, contradictions and troubles with all the gentleness we can possibly command. Do not limit your patience to this or that kind of trial, but extend it universally to whatever God may send, or allow to befall you. Some people will only bear patiently with trials which carry their own salve of dignity,—such as being wounded in battle, becoming a prisoner of war, being ill-used for the sake of their religion, being impoverished by some strife out of which they came triumphant. Now these persons do not love tribulation, but only the honour which attends it. A really patient servant of God is as ready to bear inglorious troubles as those which are honourable.
Sovereignty in Suffering
We experience all kinds of suffering in this present age, whether health, finance, family or friends. Sometimes we find the sovereignty of the Father difficult in these times as we wonder why He would allow such suffering if He wants to abolish all injustice and suffering.
Praise God that the Scriptures are so real and down to earth. The Bible is full of people going through the very same sufferings that we experience and we are given so many examples of how to keep our eyes on Christ through all these times.
The Scriptures equip our minds and hearts to be “Cross-shaped” – that is, to have the wisdom and power of the Cross of Jesus through all our thinking and feeling. From a human perspective all the suffering seems pointless and empty. Sinful ‘wisdom’ whispers in our ear that all these seeds of suffering are sown into an empty ground, disappearing into a bottomless abyss. However, the wisdom of the Cross knows a sovereign Father who brought an infinite harvest from the suffering of Jesus. In our sufferings we can be nearer to Jesus than at any other time, as we share fellowship in His sufferings. The power of His resurrection is known only in the shadow of the Cross.
It is through the shadow of injustice and suffering that the sovereign power of the Father shines so brightly. In my own experience, I spent two months going through a time when I often wondered how I could get through another hour. Yet, the Scriptures pointed me to the sufferings of Jesus. I found that there was even joy in the terrible darkness as I shared in the Way that Jesus walked. As I focussed on Him and tried to follow His example, so I found that He became more real to me than ever before. I understood so much more of His teaching and the teaching of His prophets and apostles. Looking back, I find the strange truth that it was one of the hardest of times… yet also one of the most fruitful times.
Knowing that the endless treasures of Jesus were unlocked by His Cross tells us that no matter what suffering we pass though, He has sanctified the path of suffering and transformed it into the holy way of resurrection and glory. When we see the sovereign power of the Father from the Tree, then we can, with suitable joyful fear and trembling, step forward into whatever today has for us.
Sovereignty in Salvation
Humanity is utterly ruined in our sin and rebellion. Under the power of the devil, dead in our sins and wilfully ignorant of Christ, we are conceived in sin and happily enlist in the world’s war against the LORD’s Christ. Foolish combatants in a hopeless war, the only logical and just outcome is our eternal torment in the fires of Hell.
If there is to be any salvation for us then it must all lie in that free, evangelistic sovereignty of the Father. If it were down to us to devise or implement a way of escape then we would only further damn ourselves. The way, truth and life of Jesus has to emerge entirely from the sovereign evangelism of the Father.
The Bible goes to great lengths to show that human efforts at salvation, whether based on genetic heritage [being descended from Abraham] or any activities [good or bad], are excluded from the Father’s way of salvation. He has announced, without any consultation or input from lost humanity, the way of salvation in Jesus. The only possible response to this is… simple trust. Instead of relying on our own ‘sovereignty’ or ‘religion’ or ‘ethics’ or ‘sincerity’, we must look only to Jesus as the true and only expression of the Father’s glorious, gracious and just sovereignty.
If this problem of injustice is the deepest philosophical challenge, as always Jesus is the perfect philosopher. Far from seeing injustice as a problem, He sees this as the demonstration of the Father’s perfection! Yes, because the Father is perfect, He loves His enemies, causing the blessings of sun and rain to fall on even the evil. Far from trying to explain this injustice away, Jesus actually wants all His followers to practice this same injustice in our own lives!
Matthew 5:43-48 – “You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Now, if the perfection of the Father is found in the fact that He loves and blesses even His enemies, then what do we really mean when we speak about the sovereignty of the Father? The sovereignty of the Father is shown in His grace. Human wisdom tells us that sovereign power is all about ‘getting your own way’, but the Living God teaches us that real sovereign power is self-sacrificial and serves others.
The view from the Cross
The fact that good things happen to bad people must fit into this bigger picture of the kind of sovereign power that the Father wields. So, the injustice of the world cannot be because the Father does not have the power or authority to change things. We must conclude that the Father desires a world where bad people receive good things and bad things can happen to a good person.
In Romans 3:23-26 the apostle Paul looks to the cross for the answer to this frightening problem. Everyone has sinned and therefore deserves only bad. However, our Righteous God decided to ‘overlook’ this and refrain from punishing our evil. Instead He decided to wait until He could punish the completely innocent Messiah, Jesus. This decision to allow evil to go unpunished and to punish the innocent Man was actually a demonstration of His justice!
If we are to understand the glory of the Father’s sovereign power then we need to understand His righteousness and justice. If we start our ‘justice’ and power thinking from the Crucified God only then will we see why He governs the world with such amazing generosity and wisdom.
Sometimes people think of the ways of the Living God only from the perspective of decisions made before the creation of the universe. It is a very tempting place to begin. We want to celebrate the glory and power of our Majestic God and by starting our thinking from such an elevated viewpoint it guards against becoming lost in the maze of human sin and responsibility. However, one possible danger is that the actual life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus is also swallowed up in the ocean of eternity. We must make sure that the Cross is not just one more heading under the ‘Sovereignty of God’. We mustn’t assume that we know how the Father uses His sovereign power until we are viewing everything from the highest point of all – the Cross of Jesus.
The Cross shows us how Divine sovereignty and human responsibility collide. Whereas the human wicked intention was to destroy the Author of Life, yet our Gracious Father’s intention was to freely save humanity… even the very people who nailed Jesus to the Cross.
Acts 2:22-24, 37-38 – “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him… When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”
The sovereign power of God, them, did not over-rule the injustice of the Cross. Rather, precisely through the injustice of the Cross, another work of injustice was accomplished… the salvation of people who deserve only Hell.
The problem is so acute because the Biblical writers are so convinced that the Sovereign Father is completely in control and completely good. If He were not good then we could understand why He prospers the way of the wicked. If He were not powerful we could understand how the powers of evil were able to steal such blessings away from the throne room of heaven. However, how can we make sense of the world if the Father really is completely sovereign and also completely good?
What kind of sovereign power does the Father wield if He allows such outrageous injustice in His world?
The Bible makes it very clear that there is no limitation to the Father’s sovereign power. He does whatever He pleases and nobody can limit or question what He does – Psalm 115:3. The Father may direct the heart of a king however He wants – Proverbs 21:1. Even things we think of as ‘random’ are all under the sovereign determination of the Father. Proverbs 16:33 – “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”
Daniel 4:35 puts it most simply – “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No-one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?””
Every aspect of our lives are determined and framed by the sovereignty of the Almighty Father. In Acts 17:26-30 we are told that He determines exactly where everybody is going to live and the precise length of their lives. Yet, why would He do this? What is the point of going to such extraordinary lengths to decree the precise details of the world and human life?
Acts 17:26-31 – “From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us… now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed.”
The wonderful sovereign power of the Father determines all the details of His creation out of a gospel passion! He has sovereignly created a world in which all that can be known about the Living God is manifestly displayed in all the glorious facets of life and history – Romans 1:19-20 & Psalm 19:1-6. He surrounds every person with His Sovereign power so that anyone and everyone may come to know Him in Christ.
OK, as you may have guessed by the previous few posts – I really like this book. In my humble opinion it is way better than Vaughn Roberts , God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Story-Line of the Bible.
The primary reason I like this book is the theology. Levy does not just give an overview but he unpacks, and (more bravely) he lays out HIS theological view of each section. I say bravely because lots of people write books such as these so not to upset or offend people. Levy lays out what will be for some a radical, and in my opinion, completely right theological understanding. The bonus of this book is the appendix whereby Paul Blackham answers common questions / objections to some of the positions espoused by Levy. while not diminishing Levy’s work – the cost of the book is worth this alone. A book I will recommend.
……. is the foundation of the rest of the Old Testament and the Bible. …Our understanding of the Pentateuch will affect the way we read the rest of the Bible. (Steve Levy – Bible Overview pg 141)
How many times have we (you know you have) skipped over the building of the tabernacle in Exodus. You need to read Steve Levy’s chapter “When God Moves In” in his book Bible Overview.
Levy writes that the tabernacle and temple are huge pictures to help them (and us) understand the gospel. The tabernacle represents heaven and earth and God’s relationship with humanity – it represents man’s fall, his sin and separation from God – it represents God’s redemption and looks forward to the restoration of humanity – the building of the tabernacle in exodus tells the gospel story.
Maybe we will read Exodus with new eyes.
The family is heading out for some vacation this week. I have prepared some posts while I am gone – Paul Blackham on the Sovereignty of God and francis De Sale on Devotions.
See you later!
The sovereignty of God has drawn out some of the deepest thinking from the Christian church. The classic question of divine sovereignty for the church has been the problem of injustice.
Statement of the problem
Although some people accuse God of allowing too much evil in the world, in the Scriptures the problem is presented in very different terms.
1. The world is full of darkness, wickedness, unbelief and selfishness. The devil and his legions are the ‘gods’ of this present darkness and corruption.
2. All good gifts come from the Sovereign Father in heaven.
3. There is an amazing level of goodness and blessing throughout the world. Even the most wicked people often enjoy tremendous blessings from the Sovereign Father.
Now, how can this situation be explained? How can we continue to trust in a truly Sovereign God when there is so much goodness and blessing in this sinful world? It is a constant puzzle to the greatest minds in the Bible.
The Biblical Question
Job wrestles with this deepest problem in Job 21:7-15. It almost destroys the faith of the psalmist in Psalm 73. Jeremiah finds this question of injustice almost unbearable. Jeremiah 12:1-3
You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts. Yet you know me, O LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you. Drag them off like sheep to be butchered! Set them apart for the day of slaughter!
Habakkuk states the philosophical puzzle in the simplest terms in Habakkuk 1:13 – “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”
If God is good, why does He bless the wicked? Why does He fail to punish evil?