25 February 2015

A Multitude of Mercies

God hath a multitude of all kinds of mercies.

As our hearts and the devil are the father of variety of sins, so God is the father of variety of mercies. There is no sin or misery but God hath a mercy for it. He hath a multitude of mercies of every kind.

As there are variety of miseries which the creature is subject unto, so he hath in himself a shop, a treasury of all sorts of mercies, divided into several promises in the Scripture, which are but as so many boxes of this treasure, the caskets of variety of mercies.

If thy heart be hard, his mercies are tender.

If thy heart be dead, he hath mercy to liven it.

If thou be sick, he hath mercy to heal thee.

If thou be sinful, he hath mercies to sanctify and cleanse thee.

As large and as various as are our wants, so large and various are his mercies. So we may come boldly to find grace and mercy to help us in time of need, a mercy for every need.

All the mercies that are in his own heart he hath transplanted into several beds in the garden of the promises, where they grow, and he hath abundance of variety of them, suited to all the variety of the diseases of the soul.
--Thomas Goodwin, Works, 2:187-88

24 February 2015

United in Redeeming Love

Mankind, spiritually bankrupt, has nothing to offer, but God, prompted by pure grace, and drawing on his eternal wisdom, prepares a counsel of salvation in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are united in redeeming love and pity for the human race. The triune God resolves to save the world, and to accept the good offices of a Mediator who shall act for mankind as their representative and suffer for them as their substitute: so accommodating is the divine will, and so predisposed to forgive our transgressions.
But the Three-in-One, acting to save the world, go further: they resolve that the salvation shall be free to the human race. It will cost them nothing. For them, it will be an act of pure love and mercy. From sinners as such no satisfaction will be required. Instead, everything will flow from the loving-kindness of God. He will bear the whole cost. He will provide the one who will take the sinner's place.

But he will go even further: he will become the one who takes the sinner's place. God the Son will suffer for the world's sin. God the Father will suffer in the Son's pain. God the Holy Spirit will share in the pain of both.

At Gethsemane and Golgotha the Three will be One, as God, not sparing himself, takes blood, his own blood, and sheds it to redeem the world.
--Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (IVP, 2014), 177

21 February 2015

Who He Most Deeply Is

From one perspective all God's attributes are equally non-negotiable. For God to cease to be just would un-God him just as much as if he were to cease to be good.

But Thomas Goodwin and John Bunyan are convincing me that from another, deeper angle there are some things that pour out of the heart of God more naturally than others.

God is unswervingly just. But what is his disposition? What is natural to him?

Who is he?

Volume 2 of Goodwin's works is 500 pages devoted to sermons on Ephesians 2. He slows way down especially in the first 10 verses of this great chapter and reflects at length on the programmatic assurances of God's love and mercy. It is unspeakably wonderful.

Here's part of his reflection on the phrase "rich in mercy" in describing God in Ephesians 2:4.
It is his disposition to be merciful. It is his nature, his being.

The mercies of God n Scripture are called his bowels; now there is nothing so intimate or so natural to a man as his bowels are. And they are called his bowels because they are his inwards; and all that is within him, his whole being and nature inclines him to it. . . .

Mercy is is nature and disposition, because when he shows mercy, he does it with his whole heart. . . .

My brethren, though God is just, yet his mercy may in some respect said to be more natural to him than all acts of justice itself that God does show, I mean vindictive justice. In these acts of justice there is a satisfaction to an attribute, in that he meets and is even with sinners. Yet there is a kind of violence done to himself in it, the Scripture so expresses it; there is something in it that is contrary to him. 'I will not the death of a sinner'--that is, I delight not simply in it, for pleasure's sake. The Arminians slander the other party, accusing them of making God delight in the death of a sinner. No; when he exercises acts of justice, it is for a higher end, it is not simply for the thing itself. There is always something in his heart against it.

But when he comes to show mercy, to manifest that it is his nature and disposition, it is said that he does it with his whole heart. There is nothing at all in him that is against it. The act itself pleases him for itself. There is no reluctance in him.

Therefore in Lamentations 3:33, when he speaks of punishing, he says, 'He does not from his heart afflict nor grieve the children of men.' But when he comes to speak of showing mercy, he says he does it 'with his whole heart, and with his whole soul,' as the expression is in Jeremiah 32:41. And therefore acts of justice are called his 'strange work' and his 'strange act' in Isaiah 28:21. But when he comes to show mercy, he rejoices over them, to do them good, with his whole heart, and with his whole soul.
--Thomas Goodwin, Works, 2:179-80; language slightly updated

And this from the man who stood up and spoke more often (357 times) than any other Westminster divine at the creation of the Westminster standards in the 1640s, that great, precise, hell-believing, justice-affirming statement of faith. Goodwin was not mushy.

There is a kind of preaching that has not felt the heart of God for his fickle people, has not tasted what naturally pours forth from him, which for all its precision ultimately deadens its hearers. 

19 February 2015

Come As You Are

'Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal.'

02 February 2015

01 February 2015

How Do I Apply This to My Life?

Pop, preaching on John 5:
We sometimes think in terms of “applying the truth to my life.” That’s good, as far as it goes. But applying the truth to our lives still leaves us in control. We decide how far we will go with Jesus, we decide where he will fit in, which is why he inevitably ends up crowded out to the margins of our already overcrowded lives.

31 January 2015

The Scandal

What we expect to find when we penetrate to the heart of a great world faith is a magnificent cathedral, glorious music, visual splendour and cathartic eloquence. When Pompey and his soldiers entered into the Holy of Holies in AD 63 they were scandalized to find no image there: not a 'god' in sight. 
The scandal of Christianity is even greater. Its holy of holies is a cross where its Saviour hangs, bloodied and beaten, between two thieves. 
--Donald Macleod,  Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (IVP, 2014), 108-9

30 January 2015

Chevaliers de Sangreal by Hans Zimmer

Haven't seen the film, nor will I. But the soundtrack is enchanting. A gift of common grace.

28 January 2015

You Can Be Glorious Again

My brother Eric, reflecting on Jeremiah 2:
It's tantamount to a spouse (you can imagine it as either the husband or wife without the analogy losing anything) cheating flagrantly, repeatedly, openly on their marriage partner. The news is all over town. And the offender contracts an STD. The years of their infidelity sucks the youthfulness and life out of the person--the spouse has lost everything that would have made him/her initially attractive. And the wounded party goes to visit the faithless husband/wife in the poor house, after everything is lost, after everyone the adulterer ran to has forsaken them, when no-one will sleep with them any more, and says, "I still love you. I want to marry you again. I can restore all that you've lost, all that your sin has taken away. You can be glorious again. I've got two plane tickets for our honeymoon right now. But can you please stop this nonsense that you did nothing wrong? No, dear one, don't turn away. Look me in the eye, please. It's not hopeless. I love you. Please say you love me back. Will you commit yourself to me again? I'm happy to commit myself to you."

27 January 2015

As Old as God Himself, and as Free

In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the hilasmos for our sins.
--1 John 4:10
This is incomparable love and immeasurable love, God giving his Son as a sacrifice to cover the sins of those who had treated him with rejection and contempt. It is a love as old as God himself, and as free.

Yet in its impulse toward forgiveness it does not set aside the need for sin to be expiated. Deep in the nature of God himself there is a necessity for a hilasmos.

But God not only requires it. He provides it; and he not only provides it, he becomes it. 
-Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement (IVP, 2014), 128