Desperation and Deliverance

I think about “the rhythm of desperation and deliverance” all the time.

A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit—which is the only kind that matters—knows neither God nor himself. A pastor who does not know the rhythm of desperation and deliverance must have his sights set only on what man can achieve.

—John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, 54

Eminent and Transcendent Love

John Owen on John 3:16: “The love here intimated is absolutely the most eminent and transcendent love that ever God showed or bare towards any miserable creature.”

So” that is, in such a degree, to such a remarkable, astonishable height: “God,” the glorious, all-sufficient God, that could have manifested his justice to eternity in the condemnation of all sinners…: “loved,” with such an earnest, intense affection, consisting in an eternal, unchangeable act and purpose of his will, for the bestowing of the chiefest good: “the world,” men in the world, of the world, subject to the iniquities and miseries of the world, lying in their blood, having nothing to render them commendable in his eyes, or before him: “that he gave,” did not, as he made all the world at first, speak the word and it was done, but proceeded higher, to the performance of a great deal more and longer work, wherein he was to do more than exercise an act of his almighty power, as before; and therefore gave “his son;” not any favourite or other well-pleasing creature; not sun, moon, or stars; not the rich treasure of his creation; but his Son: …that believers, those who he thus loved, “might not perish,” –that is, undergo the utmost misery and wrath to eternity, which they had deserved,– “but have everlasting life,” eternal glory with himself, which of themselves they could no way attain.

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, 211-12

Cultures Are Incarnational

If it’s true that men become and live like who/what they worship (and God says it is, see Psalm 115:4-8), then there can be no truly secular space.

All cultures are the incarnational outworking of a religion or combination of religions. When you deny a transcendent God, this does not eliminate the need for a god at the top to make the system coherent. It just means that the applicants for the position of deity are all, to use one of Hitchen’s favorite words, mammals…If there is no God above the system, then the system is god. All societies are religious organisms, not just the ones with a religious exoskeleton…All human societies are theocracies. The only issue that confronts us is which theos we will serve. The atrocious cultures are the ones who serve atrocious gods. (Doug Wilson, God Is, 95-96)

Even Harder to Find

We may recognize it when we meet it, but we may not meet it very often.

Spiritual authority is hard to pin down in words, but we recognize it when we meet it.

It is a product compounded of conscientious faithfulness to the Bible; vivid perception of God’s reality and greatness; inflexible desire to honor and please him; deep self-searching and radical self-denial; adoring intimacy with Christ; generous compassion manward; and forthright simplicity, God-taught and God-wrought, adult in knowingness while childlike in its directness.

The man of God has authority as he bows to divine authority, and the pattern of God’s power in him is the baptismal pattern of being supernaturally raised from under burdens that feel like death.

—J.I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness, 77. (via Dane Ortland)

A Certain Kind of Person

[O]ur time of confession ought not to be about a list of items, kept or broken. We are in the process of becoming a certain kind of person. Everything we confess is that which interfered with that process. If it did not interfere with it, then there is nothing to confess. But the rules are not floating above our heads, independently autonomous. No, God’s rules are simply a description of what He is like, and what we would like to become like.

—Doug Wilson, Becoming a Certain Kind of Person

Available Space

“Keeping a rule,” however technically correct, falls easily into the trap of abstraction and impersonalism. As a result we oppose sin with a false standard of holiness, and then are surprised at its impotence. But gratitude, thanksgiving, contentment, and joy are always personal, by definition. Jesus is there, and if you thank Him, then that gratitude fills up all the available space.

—Doug Wilson, Clean Contentment

Love of the Congregation

Sometimes a minister tends to think too highly of himself as a clergy-man. He stands before the congregation; he, as God’s spokesman, pronounces the blessing; he is the holy person facing a congregation that is on a lower level. To prevent this attitude, it is well that he counteracts his sense of self-importance by affirming that he lives among brothers as a brother, and that he loves the congregation. May all God’s servants be of such a mind. Love of the congregation, and of brothers and sisters, is the highest incentive for administering that which is holy, and from which we may expect rich fruit.

—Abraham Kuyper, Our Worship, 116-117