tohu va bohu Posts

I’m going to try something I haven’t done before, which some of you will not care to read, and some of you may not be able to read. Others of you may have nightmares harkening back to junior high English classes.

My favorite thing to do for Bible study is diagram the sentences, in the original language when possible. Here’s the first three verses of the next paragraph I’m preaching in Revelation, Christ’s message to the angel of the church in Philadelphia.

diagrams

This is a meal of remembrance. We remember, and proclaim as we remember, the death of Jesus. Communion points us to the cross week after week.

It is also good to remember that Jesus remembers us. This truth could be used for selfish purposes, to puff up our esteem, as if God thought us important enough to get us on His side. But the good news is that He does choose us, and He does get us on His side, and He knows us by name.

Computing power and intelligent algorithms can collect and process a lot of data. The limits of digital databases are virtually non-existent, and columns can be matched, even with names. But it still isn’t personal.

The Father chose a people for His Son, and sent His Son as a Shepherd to lay down His life for His sheep. He calls them by name, and they recognize His voice (John 10:3-4). Their names are written in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain (Revelation 13:8). The names in the book, the names who are known by Jesus, are the names He took with Him to the cross.

Christian, you are not a number to God. You are a name. You will walk with Christ in white. Christ will confess Your name before our Father. Remember what you have received and been taught. Remember Jesus’ body and blood. Remember that He knows your name.

liturgy

Some of us are reading Dante’s Inferno again, the first third of his epic poem, in which a poet leads a Christian pilgrim through hell. As Virgil and Dante enter and then prepare to cross the first river of the underworld, the Acheron, Dante sees thousands of the wicked packed along the shore waiting to cross the darkened waters.

“They were cursing God, cursing their own parents, the human race, the time, the place, the seed of their beginning, and their day of birth.” (Canto III, lines 101-103)

The souls are eager for their judgment, while also refusing to take responsibility for their souls. They rage against reality, against all the good gifts God gave them in family, in the fellowship of other men, of their very birth and breath and existence.

Mankind are rebels; sin is rebellion against the Maker of man. As rebels we prefer to imagine that we can reject what God gives and create life as we want it to be. Our current culture is willing to lie (in rage) about reality at insane levels. Mrs. Warren states that people will have jobs if we shut down sectors of business. Mr. Sanders (and his envious offspring) says that we can pay for everything and it will be free. Judges accept that boys are the best female athletes. It’s extreme, and extremely stupid.

But our job is not to point out the foolishness of others who lie if we still lie about less obvious things. Christians, in the grip of learning to obey all things Christ’ commanded, are still tempted to deny reality, to deny their own responsibility.

If we want Marysville to be a destination, with a reputation as those who love and honor Jesus as Lord, then we must continue to confess our own sins, whatever they are, as hard as that may seem, and not merely complain about the sins of others, as obvious and easy as that is. We must not become a destination for sin-pointers, sin-coverers, or sin-complainers. We must make repentance look good.

liturgy

4 of 5 stars to Beowulf – A New Verse Rendering by Douglas Wilson

I had only read Haney’s translation, and it was good though I knew no alternative. Wilson’s rendering was different, with more alliterative snap, and also good. The whole thing is epic, poetic dragon slaying at it’s best. Wilson’s essay at the end of on “Beowulf: The UnChrist” is also worldview-gold.

Should you read this? The story is required reading, and this edition serves the story well.

Goodreads

4 of 5 stars to The Imaginative World of the Reformation by Peter Matheson

I finished this book a couple years ago but it’s been in my “currently reading” list since then. No longer! I read it in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, and I figured I’d post a review today in preparation for Reformation Day tomorrow.

Matheson argues:

“The Reformation…was more a song or a symphony than a system, more lyric than lecture, more a leap of the imagination than one of those social restructurings we are so heartily sick of today. It certainly produced systems, lectures and structures as well, but they were secondary.” (loc. 215)

This is not a disparaging word against the solas, it’s just that justification by faith alone belonged with abundant life not only clarified doctrines, let alone liberation from self-serving religious authorities. The Reformation gave Protestants freedom to read God’s Word, freedom to share communion, freedom from traditionalism and from dualism. It was a freedom to imagine (not outside reality but new concepts of reality) that daily work and survival meant something to God and was a good given by God.

“the Reformation can be seen as an infinitely varied, but coherent and extended, metaphor for the bountifulness of God’s grace.” (loc. 99)

Should you read this? You should put it in your queue if you’ve already read a lot of Luther and Calvin first, and if you’re interested to see how preaching was (actually only) a part of how nations were turned upside down.

Goodreads

Worldliness dulls our senses. It is harder to describe what it feels like to be wet when we are submerged in water, and it is harder to stand out from the world when we’re standing in the way of sinners (Psalm 1:1). This is one of the reasons why worship sharpens our senses. Worship is a renewal of identity, of our distinct and named identity in Christ.

He names us and He gives us our essence. He makes our lives smelly.

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

I trust its not pressing the analogy too far, but, how close do others need to get to you, and how much proactive sniffing effort do others need to make to smell your life? Some of you have a distinct gospel odor; your neighbors and co-workers and unbelieving family can tell when you’re coming. Likewise your brothers and sisters in the body catch a whiff of your life and give thanks to God. Your life is a savory fragrance of life to them.

Others perhaps need our communion to renew the aroma. May the Spirit douse you with faith and love and service and patient endurance for sake of the Son.

Verse 16 ends with the question: “Who is sufficient for these things?” The obvious answer is that none of us are, but the gospel is the gospel of grace.

liturgy

When we were starting a church almost nine years ago, we considered naming it Trinity Reformed Evangelical Church. God’s triune nature is the origin of love and fellowship, which He made us to experience and to have with Him. Evangelical got shortened to Evangel, because “evangelical” is like word-soup, usually too hot or too cold, and “evangel” makes people’s tongues trip enough to wonder why (it’s the original word for gospel). As for Reformed, that didn’t make the final cut in the name, but it is still a crucial part that we care about.

“Reformed and still reforming” tags us as conscious of our history and conscious of the lessons of our history. We stand on the shoulders of many 16th Century Reformers who loved the gospel too well to see it trampled on. We give thanks to God for men such as Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Knox, and John Calvin. We consider the outcome of their way of life and we imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7).

The outcome of their lives was the glory of God in the light of the gospel of free grace received by faith alone. They turned their respective nations upside down in Christ’s name, and may we be faithful sons.

We will do that as we imitate their faith, which, of course, is not faith in them. Imitating their faith means relying wholeheartedly and completely and directly on God through Christ. We read the Reformers’ teachings on and interpretations of Scripture because they teach us to read and obey the Bible. It’s why all of them worked hard to translate God’s Word into the vernacular of their people. As we prepare for another Reformation Day on October 31, there is no better way to do so than to read, listen, meditate, and submit to God’s Word. #KeepTheFeast

liturgy

5 of 5 stars to Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader edited by James D. Bratt

Even though it took me more than five years to finish this book, I loved it. James Bratt collected and introduced sixteen of Kuyper’s essays on a variety of subjects such as modernism, common grace, Calvinism and constitutional liberties, evolution, sphere sovereignty, and education. I found this unique photo in the book, and found some current application for his thoughts on sanctimoniousness and powerlessness.

Should you read this? Probably not first, though it does give a bunch of Kuyper’s foundational thoughts in one volume.

I’d recommend starting with Lectures on Calvinism, then Wisdom and Wonder, and then Our Worship. I’ve started making my way through his Collected Works in Public Theology, but it’s quite a number of thumb’s-widths wide.

Goodreads

et cetera

I not only appreciate this Mission Statement from Fred Sanders, I am a big beneficiary of his efforts. #blessed

“I teach theology in order to increase the odds on the doctrine of the Trinity doing its proper work in the church; in particular I am a content provider for evangelical trinitarianism.”

Buy yourself a copy of The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything or buy a dozen copies and give them to your people, like a Trinitarian.

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