“Some people think that true spirituality is so mystical that we really do not need the church with its creeds and confessions, and its forms of worship, so long as we follow what God says to our hearts. A personal relationship with the Lord trumps everything else, even the plain teaching of the Bible. Other people put so much stock in the sacraments that they think receiving baptism, attending church, and taking the Lord’s Supper virtually guarantees their salvation unless they do something really bad. Reformed Christianity, in contrast to these extremes, does not separate the life of the visible church and the invisible work of the Spirit, but emphasizes both as crucial to knowing and pleasing God.”
Page 4 of 112
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8
“There is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained by hearsay, but the latter only by seeing the countenance. There is a wide difference between mere speculative rational judging any thing to be excellent, and having a sense of its sweetness and beauty. The former rests only in the head, speculation only is concerned in it; but the heart is concerned in the latter. When the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a person’s being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the idea of it is sweet and pleasant to his soul; which is a far different thing from having a rational opinion that it is excellent.”
Jonathan Edwards, A Divine and Supernatural Light, https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/edwards_light.html
This is the great question, from Romans 9:14, that has caused much debate over the centuries as it pertains to election, going back to Pelagius and Augustine, and even as Paul shows, during his own day. If God chooses to have mercy on one and not another, is He at fault, is it unjust? Paul’s answer? By no means! But why? He gives two pieces of evidence from the old testament to back up his claim that God is indeed not unjust in His sovereign election:
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t ever taken a selfie. Still do with the kids occasionally. However, something about this just feels wrong. So much of the endgame of what the enlightenment has wrought (though much good was brought about to be sure) can be summed up in this one picture; that we would memorialize as important something so vain and trivial. As the center-point of what defines objective reality shifted from the external to the inner-self, the subjective, how could this not be the end? A society centered on making itself great and known to a watching world. As we’ve soaked in celebrity culture, and now possess mediums to broadcast ourselves, how could we not become our own celebrities with our own fans? And how much, in such a short time, has social media enabled all of us to put this narcissistic tendency in full throttle? And now we memorialize such overt self-centeredness? What an age we live in.
Churches planted by riding the waves of the latest sociological fad movement can’t last, because their ecclesiology is like a house built on the shifting sand of the sociology of the prevailing culture. In other words, when a church’s ecclesiological philosophy is rooted more in the whims of the outside, secular world and what they esteem as satisfying and energizing, the foundation has been laid for its inherent compromise and collapse, sooner or later.
Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved Thee! For behold Thou were within me, and I outside; and I sought Thee outside and in my unloveliness fell upon those lovely things that Thou hast made. Thou were with me and I was not with Thee. I was kept from Thee by those things, yet had they not been in Thee, they would not have been at all. Thou didst call and cry to me and break open my deafness: and Thou didst send forth Thy beams and shine upon me and chase away my blindness: Thou didst breathe fragrance upon me, and I drew in my breath and do now pant for Thee: I tasted Thee, and now hunger and thirst for Thee: Thou didst touch me, and I have burned for Thy peace.
Augustine, Confessions, Book X, Ch. XXVII
This is the time of contemplation and remembrance in the church calendar when we consider the intentionality of Christ in pursuing the cross. The love of God is magnified and displayed in its brilliance at Calvary: the complete and total orchestration, pre-planning, ordering, and sovereign, loving providence surrounding the events leading up to and fulfilled in Christ’s incarnation, life, death, and resurrection on behalf of His people, unto the ultimate restoration of all creation.
“Everywhere there rises before our eyes the spectre of a society where security, if it is attained at all, will be attained at the expense of freedom, where the security that is attained will be the security of fed beasts in a stable, and where all the high aspirations of humanity will have been crushed by an all-powerful state.”
Classic Dave, preaching on Romans 4 and justification …