Category Archives: Theology

Satan, Suffering and God’s Sovereignity

Notice, too, the instructive tension presented in this passage between Paul seeing this affliction as a messenger from Satan while praying to the Lord to remove it. This helps enormously in understanding Paul’s mindset as he considered the nature of the suffering he currently underwent. In the midst of his suffering, Paul did not look to God merely to comfort him during this time of supposedly unwanted and purpose, affliction that had been brought to him exclusively from Satan. On the contrary, Paul prayed to God to remove the affliction, believing that God had full power and authority over this affliction and could remove it if he wished. So then, while this affliction came directly from Satan to harm Paul, indirectly and ultimately this affliction was permitted by the intentional agency and sovereign ordination of God, who could allow it to be given at all, could remove it when and if he wished, and would ordain that Paul experience it only if it served the good purposes that he (God), not Satan, designed it to bring.
 
Quoted from Ware, B. A. (2004).  God’s greater glory: The exalted God of Scripture and the Christian faith . Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, p. 176.

Becoming Truly Human Through Obedience

In the life of obedience, therefore, two things come together: man in the image of God, and the law in the image of God. In declaring his law, the Lord declares what he is; in obeying the law we are being fundamentally true to what we are. Because the law reflects his image, it is the true law of our true nature. In obedience we are living according to our revealed definition, we are ‘being ourselves’ law of the Lord is the ‘Maker’s Handbook’ for the effectuation of a truly human existence and personal human fulfillment.
 
Quoted from Motyer, J. A. (2004).  Look to the rock: An Old Testament background to our understanding of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, Publications, pp. 77-78.

To be Honest … I Hate God’s Sovereignty

If I admit that God’s Will regulates the great movements of the universe I must admit that it equally regulates the small. It must do this, for the great depend upon the small. The minutest movement of my will is regulated by the will of God. And in this I rejoice. Woe is me if it be not so. If I shrink from so unlimited control and guidance, it is plain that I dislike the idea of being wholly at the disposal of God. I am wishing to be in part at my own disposal. I am ambitious of regulating the lesser movements of my will, while I give up the greater to His control. And thus it comes out that I wish to be a god to myself. I do not like the thought of God having all the disposal of my destiny. If He gets His will, I am afraid that I shall not get mine. It comes out, moreover, that the God about whose love I was so fond of speaking, is a God to whom I cannot trust myself implicitly for eternity. Yes, this is the real truth. Man’s dislike at God’s sovereignty arises from his suspicion of God’s heart. And yet the men in our day, who deny this absolute sovereignty, are the very men who profess to rejoice in the love of God, – who speak of that love as if there were nothing else in God but love. The more I understand of the character of God, as revealed in Scripture, the more shall I see that He must be sovereign, and the more shall I rejoice from my inmost heart that He is so.

 

Quoted from God’s Will & Man’s Will By Horatius Bonar.


Only a Triune God Can Redeem Time and History

As Derrida shows, it is axiomatic for Plato that supplementarity is degenerative; that is, anything added to an original, anything flowing from a source, is “worse” than the source itself, precisely because it has moved away from the source. This metaphysical assumption is parallel to mythical views of history for which temporal supplementation necessarily means degeneration For Platonic and Neoplatonic metaphysics, the lower is always lesser; for Hesiod, Ovid, and other myth-historians the later is always lesser. Such a metaphysics cannot support a comic view of history, much less deep comedy.

[In response,] orthodox trinitarian theology asserts that there is always a “supplement” (Son and Spirit) with the “origin” (Father), and, second, insists that the Son and Spirit, though “supplemental” to the Father, are “equal in power and glory.” There is no degeneration or “leakage” of glory or divinity as the Father begets the Son or, together with the Son, spirates the Spirit. trinitarian theology thus provides theological ground for a view of history where the passage of time does not necessarily mean decay, where history can move from death to life rather than the (common-sensical) reverse. Thus, for a trinitarian theology, time and history can be redeemed and brought to comic conclusion. For trinitarian theology, the “Second” is fully equal to and is in fact the glory of the “First,” and therefore for the Bible, the golden age is always out before us not behind us. Here, as elsewhere, the dominical axiom about protology and eschatology subverts the common sense of antiquity and modernity: “the last first and the first last” (…Mt. 19:30).

 

Quoted from Leithart, P. J. (2006). Deep comedy: Trinity, tragedy, and hope in western literature. Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, p. xiii-xiv.


God’s Love for Us, Fuels Our Service to Him

For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him— they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him.

Quoted from Calvin, J., MacNeill, J. T., & Battles, F. L. (1960). Institutes of the Christian religion: In two volumes. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, p. 41. (I.2.i)


We Obey God’s Law to Become like Him

“Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.” (Lev. 19:2)

Thus the intention of the law is to make the people like their God, and this, too, is the thread of unity running through the splendid diversity of the whole chapter. Fifteen times the laws enunciated are driven home by the words ‘I am the LORD/I am the LORD your God’. Thanks to the translational scruple of representing the divine Name, Yahweh, by the English convention ‘LORD’, this repeated sanction attached to the laws sounds like an assertion of authority: you must do this because, as your Lord, I command it. This is a misunderstanding. What is asserted fifteen times over is not the authority vested in the deity but the revealed nature of Israel’s God, the ‘I am what I am’ of Exodus 3:140-15. Consequently, we can paraphrase the situation in Leviticus 19 like this: ‘You are to obey all these laws, applying the law of the Lord to every detail of life in all its multiplicity, because I am what I am. It is for this reason that I legislate how you are to treat your parents, the disabled, the elderly, the alien, the poor… because I AM WHAT I AM’. In a word, the law is the perceptual replica of the divine nature; by obeying the law the Lord’s people become like him.

Quoted from Motyer, J. A. (2004).  Look to the rock: An Old Testament background to our understanding of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, Publications, p. 77.


Jesus: Our Destroyer

Jude 5 says:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

Interestingly, Jesus destroyed the rescued Israelites because they did not believe the spies’ report regarding the land of Canaan (Num. 14:29-30). Numbers 14:36-37 says:

And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land—the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the Lord.

Referring to the same incident Paul comments, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.” (1 Cor. 10:10)

To the extent Jude 5 and 1 Corinthians 10:10 reference the same incident, we see Jesus was the Destroyer.

Even more, concerning the Passover the “LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you” (Ex. 12:23). Thus, “Destroyer of the firstborn” (Heb. 11:28) was also Jesus.

Jesus: pre-incarnate Logos, God’s Beloved Son, Destroyer of the Firstborn.

Some might view this as odd—if not deplorable. However, if correct, I see it as Good News: the Destroyer came into this world and was mercifully destroyed on my behalf. The killer of the firstborns of Egypt was Himself God’s Firstborn, struck down and crushed in my stead.

Returning to Jude 5, it becomes very interesting how Jesus “saved a people out of the land of Egypt.” Not only does the unblemished lamb of the Passover ultimately foreshadow Jesus, “our Passover Lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7), but Jesus was also the agent of liberation who “struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:29).

And all this points to the Final Exodus (Lk. 9:31), the Cross of Christ, where Jesus “firstborn of creation” (Col. 1:15) became the Lamb of God (Jn. 1:36), slaughtered and destroyed for our iniquities; and now is “the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Col. 1:17)

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

    …

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 4:12-13)