Archive for the ‘Reflections on and Admirations of God’ Category

Reflections on and Admirations of God 20

June 11, 2014

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

The heart of the believer is set forth here, that is, a believer on the mountain top and the mature believer who hungers and craves to behold the glory of God whether in the valley or on the mountain. The writer (David) says that he has one thing that he is asking from the Lord and that one thing is what he seeks. This shows a great focus in his prayer and a great focus of his desire. This is what it means to have a pure heart in the Beatitudes. A pure heart is one that is single in focus and single in desire. But of course this is a heart made that way by grace rather than by self-effort and works. It is the Holy Spirit alone who can give the soul such spiritual desires and spiritual longings after God. It is the Holy Spirit who can peel back the lids over the eyes of the heart and give sight to see the glory of God. The soul must have spiritual hunger to hunger after the beauty of the LORD and that can only come from the work of grace in the soul. For those without this spiritual hunger, they need to seek it by grace.

David’s desire is to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of his life. This was in the days of the tabernacle and David wanted to be near the place where the presence of the LORD was. He wanted to be in that house as much as he could so that he could see the cross of Christ (the Messiah) in types. He wanted to be at this house in order to see the grace of God on display in accepting sacrifices as types of Christ. He wanted to be at this house that he could see the glory of a sacrifice that would take away the wrath of God.

While it is hard to know just how much David knew at that time, we do know that the Messiah was set forth in types of the cross where He was to bear the wrath of God. As the cross is the most grotesque place in history, so it is also the most beautiful place in history. It was the cross of Christ which was the zenith point of glory in all of history. It was at the cross of Christ where the glory of God was put on display and the beauty and wonder of God was set forth and manifested ever so brightly. We can assume that in the sacrifices of the Old Testament that David saw something of this glory and he wanted to be there and see the Messiah who was to come in type.

It was at the house of God that David wanted to behold the beauty of the LORD. He could see this glory of God in the Scriptures, He could see the glory of God in nature. David wrote (Psalm 19) of how the heavens are constantly telling the glory of God. He spoke of the sun as speaking all languages throughout the earth. Despite all the beauty of that, he knew where the real beauty of God was. It was in the setting forth of Christ in the tabernacle. The tabernacle itself was a picture of the flesh of Christ in that the flesh of Christ is said to be the tabernacle of the Word who is the glory of God. It was the tabernacle that held the Ark of the Covenant which housed the Ten Commandments and had the mercy seat over it. Christ Himself is the mercy seat of His people and the end of the law for all who believe.

In all of those things, however, David saw the beauty of the LORD. He saw the beauty of holiness and the beauty of mercy. He saw the beauty of perfect wrath and the beauty of perfect justice. He saw the beauty of perfect love and perfect righteousness. David saw this beauty at various points and his soul was panting after the LORD to behold this beauty and to meditate upon that beauty. The word for beauty, however, also bears the meaning of delightfulness and pleasantness. There is something delightful about the beauty of the LORD and the soul longs to taste more and more of it. There is something so pleasant about this greatness and glory of God. What must be drawn out of this is the David loved God and longed for Him more and more and wanted to taste of this greatness and glory of God. David longed to see the beauty and delightfulness of God because this was the very joy of his soul, but he also wanted to glorify his great and beautiful God.

David sets before us the truth of God. If we don’t know the beauty and delightfulness of God, we should seek Him for this since it only comes by grace alone. Grace is beautiful and delightful to the taste buds of the soul as well. Those who have tasted grace know it as more than a doctrine or as something they assent to in the intellect, but instead it is pure and delightful sweetness to the soul. To those who have really tasted of grace and know the sweetness of its taste in life, they don’t want anything but by this glorious grace. Oh for more and more souls to be awakened to the delightfulness and the glory and sweetness of sovereign grace.

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Reflections on and Admirations of God 19

March 16, 2014

Isaiah 53:8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

The glory of God is the primary issue in Isaiah and in all of Scripture. God does all for the glory of His own name. In Isaiah 6:3 we see the angelic beings crying out “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” The very holiness of God in some way consists in the fact that the whole earth is full of His glory and that is true whether men see it or not. The darkness and blindness of men to spiritual things does not negate the fact that the light of the glory of God is shining forth at all times and in all places.

Isaiah 35:2 It will blossom profusely And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, The majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, The majesty of our God.

Isaiah 40:5 Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.

Isaiah 42:12 Let them give glory to the LORD And declare His praise in the coastlands.

Isaiah 60:2 “For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.

The Son of God bearing the guilt and sin of many sinners to the point where God was and is satisfied is glorious to the LORD of hosts. The pleasure of the LORD is crushing the Son is glorious. Beholding the glory of God’s perfect wrath is glorious as we behold it when it poured forth upon the Son. We can behold the glory of God’s pleasure in His own glory in beholding the cross. We can behold the glory of God’s love for the body of His Son in the Church that He purchased. We can behold the glory of the self-sufficiency of God in saving sinners instead of sinners being able to do something of themselves. We can behold the glory of God’s perfect and eternal plan of making a place for the display of His glory of justice and wrath where they met at the display of His perfect love and grace. It may be the case that academics can spend many years studying nuances of the text of Isaiah 53 or of various things about the cross, but for those with eyes to see the glory of God they will see far more.

For those who love God they will love the sight of a crucified Savior and know that the wrath of God was fully satisfied by the Son. They will behold a satisfied justice and know that Christ alone is the way for their sins to be fully and totally propitiated. Those who love God and His glory will learn to look at the cross know that the glory and the majesty of God was displayed and is displayed at the cross. Those who love God and His glory will see that the glory of the LORD has been revealed. Those who love God and His glory can know by a gaze of the cross that God will not give His glory to another. Those who love God and His glory will know that all should live to the glory of God. Those who love God and His glory will know that while the earth is in deep darkness at the moment, at some point the LORD Himself will arise and His glory will appear. Those who love God and His glory know that His glory is shining even now for all those with eyes to see. For those who don’t see His glory, they need a new heart with new spiritual eyes that they may behold the most beautiful things that can be beheld.

Reflections on and Admirations of God 18

March 15, 2014

Isaiah 53:4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

The passage above is a passage of glory if we have the eyes to see. In it is a display of the glory of God at the cross of Jesus Christ where He suffered and died for the sins of sinners across history. In the prayer that Christ prayed and we have recorded in John 17, there are many places where the glory of God shines ever so brightly. In verse 1 of that chapter Christ said this: “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.” This chilling verse tells us how Christ viewed His work on the cross. He saw it as the Father glorifying the Son so that the Son could and would glorify the Father. In verses 4-5 of John 17 He said this: “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” The work of Christ was all about complete and total obedience to the Father and in doing so shining forth the glory of God.

Verse 10 if Isaiah 53 tells us that “the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief.” If we are not numbed by hearing this passage to much or simply by darkness of heart, we would be shocked at this. Just before the text says that it tells us that “He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” This is to say that Christ was completely and totally innocent in and of Himself and there was no guilt on His part. Yet the LORD was pleased to crush Him and to put Him to grief. How can the LORD take pleasure in crushing the Son and put Him to grief? Can the LORD do something so unjust as this and yet take pleasure in it?

Before we accuse the LORD of being unjust we should take note that this passage in Isaiah says over and over again in different ways that it was for the sins of others that Christ suffered for. In New Testament language, the sins of the people of God were imputed to Christ and He willingly took them to Himself. When the LORD beheld the Son on the cross the Son was guilty of the sins of all those who would be saved. It was because the LORD hated sin and loved righteousness that He crushed the Son. It was because the LORD loved His own glory that He put His own glory on display through the Son at the cross and there we can behold the beauty and glory of righteousness, holiness, wrath, and love. It was at the cross where the Son’s love for the glory of the Father is seen at its very brightness, but it is also where the glory of the Father and love for the Son’s glory is also seen. If the Son had taken on the guilt of sinners and the Father would have withheld His wrath, that would not have been a display of love but instead of sentimental feelings.

We can see the glory of the LORD’s pleasure as He loves perfect justice and the display of His holiness. We can see the glory of the LORD’s pleasure in His Son’s obedience. We can see the glory of the LORD’s pleasure in the people He would save by pouring forth His wrath upon His Son. We can see the glory of the LORD’s pleasure in satisfying His own wrath and as such making a way for sinners to become objects of His mercy, grace, and love. The love of the LORD is put on display at what He was willing to do in order to save sinners. The glory of such grace is put on display as we can see what sinners deserved at the cross. The cross shines forth His glory.

Reflections on and Admirations of God 17

March 14, 2014

Isaiah 53:4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

The Gospel of the glory of Christ is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shining in the face of Christ. This cannot be unless the sufferings and death of Christ on the cross shone forth the glory of God as well. While it is easy for people to think of the cross and the propitiatory work of Christ on that cross as being all about them, if we fail to look for and behold the glory of God we have yet to see the real issue of the cross. Scripture tells us that sin is falling short of the glory of God, so if the sufferings and death of Christ did not fall short of the glory of God and in fact fulfill the glory of God in the place of sinners, then He failed to make up for the failure of sinners. But Christ did not fail and in the Gospel in general and on the cross in particular the glory of God shines. The darkness in the hearts of men want to think of themselves when they think of the cross, but in doing so they miss the point.

The text in Isaiah 53:6 tells us that “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way.” This is certainly parallel to Romans 3:23 which tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sinners seek themselves and seek to do what they want to do according to their own wisdom and they seek their own honor and glory, but all of that is contrary to doing all to the glory of God. It is not just that sinners fall a little short in doing what they do for the glory of God, but they don’t do anything for the glory of God and this shows that they don’t love Him.

In contrast to those who like sheep go astray and go their own way, the Lord Jesus was the Lamb of God. Even though He was like a lamb led away to slaughter, yet He came for that and He did not open His mouth in protest or in complaining. Instead of that, He showed the world how much He loved His Father by going to the cross to suffer and die. His perfect obedience was our of love to the Father and was to the glory of God. “But so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here” (John 14:31). This was in the last few days of the life of Christ and He knew exactly where He was going and what He was heading for.

The beauty and glory of perfect love that the Son had for the Father was on display. His love for the glory of the Father was far more than His love for safety, security, and no pain. He was keeping the commandment to love God with all of His being. His love for the glory of God was such that He turned down the demands of the people to be king over them and instead went to the cross where the glory of God shown forth with much glory. It is something like the resurrection of Lazarus when He told Martha that if she believed she would see the glory of God. For those who believe and look to behold the glory of Christ at the cross, they see a glory there that makes them love the cross of Christ and never tire of hearing more and more of Christ and the cross of Christ. This is so much more than just a story with facts about Jesus, but instead it is all about the glory of God shining forth in and through His Son. We must behold Christ and in that behold the glory of God.

Reflections on and Admirations of God 15

March 6, 2014

God all-sufficient must needs be His own happiness; He has His being from Himself, and His happiness is no other than His being radiant with all excellencies, and by intellectual and amatorious reflexions, turning back into the fruition of itself. His understanding has prospect enough in His own infinite perfections; His will has rest enough in His own infinite goodness; He needed not the pleasure of a world, who has an eternal Son in His bosom to joy in; nor the breath of angels or men who has an eternal Spirit of His own; He is the Great All, comprising all within Himself; nay, unless He were so, He could not be God. Had He let out no beams of His glory, or made no intelligent creatures to gather up and return them back to Himself, His happiness would have suffered no eclipse or diminution at all, His power would have been the same, if it had folded up all the possible worlds within its own arms, and poured forth never an one into being to be a monument of itself. Edward Polhill

The understanding and view of the beauty and glory of God manifested by this statement (above) is simply breathtaking. The one and true God is absolutely and utterly self-sufficient and all-sufficient. He needs nothing and no particular person and not even all together. He has His being from Himself and is perfect in all things and in all ways and no one can add anything to Him. He reigns supreme in, though, and above the world and all creation.

This infinitely glorious God exists in tri-unity (Trinity) and as such exists in perfect love within Himself and has perfect and infinite happiness within Himself and His own perfections. His happiness, as noted by Polhill, is simply the radiance (shining forth) of His excellencies. As He shines forth in His excellencies, He has “amatorious reflexions.” The word “amatorious” is derived from amatory, which has the idea of relating to or being expressive of love, but particularly if sexual love. The word “amatory” can be described as have a relation to a stirring of sexual desire. What this points to, then, is not the idea of sexual relations within the spiritual nature of God, but it points to the nature of the love within the Trinity. God the Father shines forth out of Himself and that shining forth is the Son Himself (Hebrews 1:3). But the Son also loves the Father and so we have this strong and expressive love between the Father and the Son. This is a demonstration of at least one aspect of why God is said to be love.

This idea of God having perfect love and joy in Himself shows that “He needed not the pleasure of a world, who has an eternal Son in His bosom to joy in.” The Father existed from eternity and will exist for all eternity future with the eternal Son in His bosom and they have lived in this perfect amatorious love. In this love there is the shining forth of the perfections and infinite excellencies of God and in that shining forth, dwelling in, and admiration of the perfect and infinite joy and pleasure of God did not need an addition, but even more it could not have an addition to it. What could a created world add to a God that had infinite joy and pleasure in Himself? What could a created world do to fulfill a so-called need in the One who had and has and will never have a need? What can a small speck of dust one a planet that is itself a planet in the universe that is called man add to such a perfect and infinite Being?

What can a human being who has ever breath given to him or her do for a God that exists of Himself and holds the very being and every breath of every being in His hands to be given or not given as He pleases? However easy it may be for a human to fall on his or her face in utter fear of such a great God, this great God from a grace that is motivated by Himself and not the sins of men has decided to manifest His glory to these humans and to bring human beings (some) to rejoice and delight in Him and His glory. This God who had and has and never will have a need has created the world and all things in it because it pleased Him to do so and because it is an expression of the love God has within Himself and for Himself. This great and glorious God created all things because the Father loved the Son and the Son loved the Father and they lived in this great and infinite love and in some way this love created all things to display this glory to themselves.

We should just stand back or fall on our faces in admiration of a God such as this. Yet despite all the glory that shines forth in this created world, the cross of Jesus Christ is the roadmap of His glory and is the place where the greatness and glory of God is manifested the most. This great and eternal God has in some indescribable way has manifested His love for His own glory and perfections at the cross and it is there that poor and helpless sinners may behold God and His glory by grace and grace alone.

Reflections on and Admirations of God 14

February 28, 2014

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied—if not directly, then indirectly. More and more men in their philosophizings and theorizings are relegating God to the background…But who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God or the Devil? Attempt to take a serious and comprehensive view of the world…Sin is rampant; lawlessness abounds; evil men and seducers are waxing “worse and worse” (II Tim 3:13)…After nineteen centuries of Gospel preaching, Christ is still despised and rejected of man. Worse still, He (the Christ of Scripture) is proclaimed and magnified by very few. Despite frantic efforts to attract the crowds, the majority of the churches are being emptied rather than filled…Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? What saith the Scriptures? If we believe their plain and positive declarations, no room is left for uncertainty. They affirm again and again that God is on the throne of the universe; that the scepter is in His hands; that He is directing all things “after the counsel of His own will.” A.W. Pink

Psalm 46:8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth.

The earth is full of crime and evil. The church appears to have virtually disappeared in terms of purity of doctrine, morality, and worship. Can God still be the sovereign of the universe? Pain, even agonizing and unrequited pain (both physical and mental) seem to be there no matter where we glance. So many point at things like that and declare that God cannot be both good and omnipotent and allow things like that. But instead of being an argument that God does not exist, this shows the glory of God in punishing sin. No, it is not a pleasant sort of doctrine to set out and explain, but it does set forth the reality of God instead of a children’s story about Him. The perfections and glory of God shines through in His wrath, holiness, and justice, though it must be admitted that these are the attributes of God that people hate the most. But the hatred of people toward the true God should not surprise anyone who has read the Bible.

The only god that the unregenerate world will tolerate and/or like is a god that is the god of their own making. The unregenerate world is full of the nicest and even most religious people around. The unregenerate world is full of the most popular and the cleanest and even richest people around. They are most likely the most respectable and perhaps the most educated, but they will come up with the most specious arguments and show their hatred of God when He is presented to them in truth. But the Scriptures are plain to those who really want to know God and His ways. The world today is what it is precisely because it has been ordained to be that way according to the eternal plan of God and He has poured out His wrath upon it by hardening hearts turning people over to sin as punishment for their previous sin.

The world is the way it is because of the wrath of God being poured out on it for its rejection of Him and for its enmity toward Him. While that is not a popular view, in reality it is the only view that leaves us with any hope at all. The Gospel is for sinners and for helpless sinners. The Gospel is not for those who think of themselves as having failed at a few things here and there, but it is for those who have been complete failures at earning the righteousness of God. The Gospel is not for all the nice people who think that they are good because they are nice, but the Gospel is for those who know that they have never loved anyone and especially God as they should have in their whole life. The Gospel is not for the religious people who think that they have a righteousness of their own in following their sacraments and rituals, but the Gospel is for those who have no power and no ability to earn a right standing before God.

The Gospel, then, is exactly fitted to a world of people who are in reality sinners and really bad sinners. The Gospel is the only answer to a world where no one has the ability to repent of his or her own power. The Gospel is the only answer to a world that has no way of obtaining righteousness at all much less enough to enter the gates of heaven. The Gospel is for the chief of sinners and for the lame. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of the power of an omnipotent God to save sinners for His own sake by grace and grace alone. Only those who come to the knowledge of their extreme sinfulness and inability will see how glorious this Gospel really is, but more importantly they are the only ones who will want it. For the rest, they will remain proud and want to contribute something to their own salvation and righteousness. But the Gospel will not allow this at all and people hate that.

Reflections on and Admirations of God 13

February 26, 2014

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied—if not directly, then indirectly. More and more men in their philosophizings and theorizings are relegating God to the background…But who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God or the Devil? Attempt to take a serious and comprehensive view of the world…Sin is rampant; lawlessness abounds; evil men and seducers are waxing “worse and worse” (II Tim 3:13)…After nineteen centuries of Gospel preaching, Christ is still despised and rejected of man. Worse still, He (the Christ of Scripture) is proclaimed and magnified by very few. Despite frantic efforts to attract the crowds, the majority of the churches are being emptied rather than filled…Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? What saith the Scriptures? If we believe their plain and positive declarations, no room is left for uncertainty. They affirm again and again that God is on the throne of the universe; that the scepter is in His hands; that He is directing all things “after the counsel of His own will.”     A.W. Pink

If we truly believe that God is sovereign over all things, then we must see that all the problems in the world are in His hands. The world appears to have been taken over by sin and more sin. A flood that appears to have come from a large moral sewer is about to cover the earth. It certainly appears that the deniers of Christ and those who preach a false Christ or a moral or historical Christianity are a vast majority in the world today. While this does shake the faith of some, the Bible tells us with great clarity that God works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11). How can it be, people say, that there is so much suffering in the world among animals and among innocent people, even children? How can it be that there is so much immorality that is flooding the world? Is God really on the throne of the universe?

Instead of backing off from that question, this should lead us to reflect on and admire the living God. Romans 1:18-32 is a powerful text to study in this regard. What we learn is that God shows His wrath from heaven “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” If you care to read deeper in the text of Romans 1, what you see is the unsettling truth that answers many of our questions. God punishes sinners for their sin by turning them over to more sin. Sinners are blinded by their pride and so they think that they are going free, but in fact their sin is punishment for their previous sin. Their present sin will be punished by hardness of heart that will turn them over to more sin.

In light of the previous paragraph, the fact that there is a lot of sin in the world and that this sin appears to be getting worse is no argument against the sovereignty of God, but in fact is an argument for the glory of His holiness, righteousness, justice, and wrath. The world is a theater of and for His glory, but we have to have spiritual eyes to see these things and humbled and broken hearts to praise God for them. Our great and glorious God is not ashamed of His wrath and of His punishments upon sin, but instead calls for His people to worship and Him while He does these things. He is glorious in His wrath as well as His grace and love toward humans.

Psalm 46:7 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. 9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

We see in verse 8 that the people are called to behold the desolations that God has wrought on the earth. He is exalted among the nations and in the earth, but how? In the text it appears that it comes about by His wrath. In reading Psalm 136 the people sing of praise to the Lord for His great lovingkindness. How is that lovingkindness seen? In the facts that He smote the Egyptians in their firstborn, killed Pharaoh and his army by drowning them, and other events like that. The Israelites praised in song God for those things. Is this to say that we are to make up and sing songs about our enemies being killed now? No, but it is to say that God is sovereign and He is on the throne. As the world is given over to more sin or perhaps if God chooses to bring a great revival, let us know that He is worthy of praise and adoration. We are to live humbly before Him and seek His glory regardless of what goes on around us. We can know that He is sovereign over all and is glorious in all that happens. Let us worship.

Reflections on and Admirations of God 12

February 23, 2014

“In the beginning, God” (Gen 1:1). There was a time, if “time” it could be called, when God, in the unity of His nature (although subsisting equally in three Divine Persons), dwelt all alone. “In the beginning, God.” There was no heaven, where His glory is now particularly manifested. There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to hymn His praise; no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was nothing, no one, but God; and that, not for a day, a year, or an age, but from “everlasting.” During a past eternity, God was alone: self-contained, self-sufficient, self-satisfied; in need of nothing. Had a universe, had angels, had human beings been necessary to Him in any way, they also had been called into existence from all eternity. The creating of them when He did, added nothing to God essentially. He changes not (Mal 3:6), therefore His essential glory can be neither augmented nor diminished. A.W. Pink

It seems that words can almost hide the glory of God when we attempt to use them in certain ways, such as trying for an exhaustive description, rather than simply trying to point toward the glory. In this section (and in the context) Pink uses language in such a way where he simply points at the glory of God rather than try to be exhaustive in his descriptions, which should bring the soul to worship. Instead of thinking that we can comprehend God, we are to stand back and apprehend knowing that there is infinitely more to God than we can comprehend or have a comprehensive knowledge of. There is more to the glory of God than our finite minds and beings can contain and that includes growing in knowledge for all eternity.

It is hard to comprehend, though we can admire, a God that was totally and utterly alone in His Divine glory. It is hard enough for human beings to be locked up in a solitary confinement for extended periods of time, but God was alone for eternity past. This shows that He needed nothing, never has needed anything, and will never need anything or anyone. This also shows us that God has no need of earth, the planets, angels, or human beings. As He existed from eternity past self-sufficient in Himself and His own love and glory, so He had no need of the praise of any being at any point and will never need the praise of any being. This should set forth and exalt the living God in His absolute freedom to create when He pleased and how He pleased. No human power, intellect, or wisdom can limit Him in any way.

It is vital to recognize this essential self-sufficiency of God in all things. It is in light of that that we can understand the true plan and goal of creation, but also in sending the Son to save sinners in the Gospel. In creation and in the Gospel we see the eternal plan of God to manifest His glory. He planned this from eternity to manifest His glory to Himself, to created beings in the heavens, and then to and through human beings. He uses the weak and the ignoble (primarily) to manifest His glory through rather than the strong, the wise, and the noble. This living God had no need at all when He created and there was no way for Him to increase or diminish He essential glory, so we are left in utter admiration and wonder that He did these things to manifest His glory to the praise of His own name.

Human beings should bow in utter humility and with broken and contrite hearts cry out for grace that they may be used of Him to shine forth His glory, rather than trying with all their might to do things to make God look good. When you look at what the churches are in light of God’s eternal plan, all of the human works and endeavors must be viewed in that light. He does not need human beings to add to His glory, but instead human beings should seek the Lord that He would use them to manifest His glory through. God is totally self-sufficient and without any need of help or assistance, but in His sovereign beauty and glory He uses frail and dependent human beings as instruments of His glory. The fact that human beings are used to glorify Him teaches us of the nature of grace. It is not because of the merits of man or anything about man, but instead it is all about God. How beautiful and delightful is this grace that is displayed because it is God that is on display through Christ. How amazing is this grace that was not only moved by God when man did not deserve it, but man ill-deserved it. This grace and love of God totally depends upon Him and there is nothing a human being can do to earn or merit it in any way. This grace is amazingly free and uncaused by human works or merit, but is because God is moved by His own glory.

Reflections on and Admirations of God 11

January 29, 2014

Hence we learn [see quote from Reflections on and Admirations of God 6] how all God’s love may be resolved into His love for and delight in Himself. His love to the creature is only His inclination to glorify Himself and communicate Himself, and His delight is in Himself glorified and in Himself communicated. There is His delight in the act and in the fruit. The act is the exercise of His own perfection, and the fruit is Himself expressed and communicated.       Jonathan Edwards

In this section we see many beautiful aspects of God on display. In this we can behold the glory of a Being that is so beautiful and glorious that His obligations and beauty of justice and holiness are to manifest His own glory and to seek Himself in all things. For creatures that are still in the bondage of pride and self-centeredness, that will be hateful to them and they will resist based on (even) their view of the Scriptures, morality, and of the nature of love. But that shows the basic problem of sin. Man starts with himself and ends with himself, but true holiness starts with God and ends with God. God, who is thrice holy, will always love Himself as triune because He is the basis and source of true love. There can be no other object of a perfectly holy and infinite love other than Himself, so the perfect God loves Himself within the Trinity.

We can see the perfection of God in having Himself as His highest love and His glory as His highest end. We can see this perfection in the fact that when God loves the creature it is not opposite to His highest love and end, but in fact it is in perfect accord with it. When God loves Himself and makes Himself the object of His highest goal and love, He can love sinful men out of a love for Himself. When God loves Himself in such a way that He loves sinful men, sinful men see this as grace. In the glorious perfection of that love for Himself we can stand back and admire the glory of God as it shines out in His grace to sinners. One of the if not the most beautiful glories of grace is that there is no cause in God shining forth His grace to sinners but what is found in Himself. God delights in showing grace because His ultimate delight is in the perfection of His own love for Himself and His own glory.

We can see that God is a God of perfect delight and joy. His delight is always in Himself (primarily) and as such it is a delight with a perfect object and a perfect source and that requires that the delight itself be perfect in all ways. Sinners should behold the delight the Father has in the Son and bow in worship and adoration. When we read the passages concerning the spoken words of the Father about the Son (see below), we should be struck with the understanding and glory of a perfect delight that flows within the Trinity. When we read the words of John 14:31 (see below), we should see the love that the Son has for the Father and understand something of the perfection and glory of Divine love. What was Christ referring to when He spoke of love to the Father? He was referring to Himself getting up and then going to the cross. The Lord Jesus Christ who was and is the very shining forth of the glory of God went to the cross in perfect obedience to the Great Commandment and He loved the Father even as the Father poured out His wrath upon the Son for the sins of sinners.

Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

John 14:31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.

We miss more than the mind can comprehend when we don’t look at the Scriptures for the glory of God and how He does all things for Himself. We miss the real teaching of Scripture on what love is, what holiness is, and what grace is. In other words, we miss out on the revelation of God about God. We take the Scriptures and conform them to our ideas of love and holiness are, thus we think of grace in a man-centered way as well. God created all things for His own glory and that shows that God loves Himself and His own glory above all. The chief end (purpose) of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, which shows that the chief end of man is in line with God’s greatest love and that is that all would be out of His love for Himself and all would be for His glory.

Reflections on and Admirations of God 10

January 28, 2014

Hence we learn [see quote from Reflections on and Admirations of God 6] how all God’s love may be resolved into His love for and delight in Himself. His love to the creature is only His inclination to glorify Himself and communicate Himself, and His delight is in Himself glorified and in Himself communicated. There is His delight in the act and in the fruit. The act is the exercise of His own perfection, and the fruit is Himself expressed and communicated. Jonathan Edwards

When a person truly longs to see the glory of God, that person must begin to seek humility for Christ to dwell in him or her more and more. Christ will not dwell in a proud heart and He will not share the glory with another which is precisely what a proud heart will try to do. The person that longs to see the glory of God should then long to be an instrument of His glory which means to seek Him to be humbled and broken as clay in the hands of the Potter. God does not use vessels that are used for other purposes, but instead He uses vessels that He has made to be set apart from all other uses and then for His own purposes. Oh how so many have been deceived into thinking that as long as they use the words “for His glory” or think that what they are doing honors Him that they are living to His glory. But instead a vessel must be prepared to be full of His glory so that He may manifest and communicate His own glory by grace and His will and wisdom.           (From Reflections on and Admirations of God 9)

When we see from Scripture (and the writings of Edwards) that God does not desire men to work up from themselves things to glorify Him, but instead what He desires is to communicate Himself and delight in His own fruit, this changes everything (or how we should understand this). A good work, then, is not that which is good which men do in their own strength and power even if they think they want to honor God, but it is when God communicates Himself to and then through men and what they do is a manifestation of the glory of God. The beholder of that glory, however, is not primarily men but God Himself. This is to say that no matter what it is that a human being does, if that human being does it from the strength and love of self what is done is idolatry. God does not long to see what men can do of themselves as that is nothing but self and pride, but He created men to manifest His glory so that He could behold His glory in and through them.

Spiritual fruit is not what man can come up with from his own pride and self, but it is truly fruit that the Spirit works in and through the man (Galatians 5:22). When Jesus said that we can do nothing apart from Him, He did not mean that as long as He is with them in some way they can do something. Instead of that, and in the context of the branch and the vine, Jesus was teaching that no man can have any true fruit but what comes from Him. As the branch cannot bear fruit except what comes from the vine, so no one can bear spiritual fruit except that which comes from Christ the vine. This, of course, leaves man with nothing that he can do in his own strength and so leaves him no room for seeking honor for himself and his pride. Even though man has no real room for that, however, his proud heart will seek it anyway.

This whole picture that Scripture gives shows how utterly necessary it is for man to be stripped of his filthy pride and wicked heart that is full of self (the love of self and the honor of self). This shows us how horrible it is for men to have pride in spiritual things. Despite the warnings of Scripture men will take great pride in being winners of souls and in their great acts of evangelism. Not only does that display and amazing amount of pride, it displays a terrible theology as well. God alone can draw souls to Himself and God alone can make men to be instruments of His glory. Men are to preach the Gospel as instruments of His glory and they should be humbled that He may use their preaching as He is pleased to use it, but there is no room for pride at all.

The unhumbled and proud heart of man seeks self and the honor of self and it is appalling to that proud heart that man can do nothing good in and of himself but instead must do all for the glory of God from the strength that God provides and God works this in man so that God may see His own glory. Man does not exist for himself but for the pleasure and glory of God, but that is not acceptable to a proud heart. Man wants to live for himself and seek his own honor, though Scripture tells man that he cannot believe when he seeks the honor (glory) from men and not from God (John 5:44).