It’s no secret that John’s Gospel often cloaks depth with simplicity. That is part of the beauty of his prose, which carries over from the Greek into many English translations. A prime example is the often-quoted John 14:6, an utterance of Christ comprised of a simple subject, a linking verb, and three subject complements: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” We might skip over the syntax as thoughtlessly as we would dance over a string of rain puddles on pavement. But I cannot seem to get over the middle part.
I’m very thankful for the opportunity to contribute a column at Place for Truth, and I pray the Lord will use my contributions for the furthering of His kingdom.
Given the Alliance’s clear emphasis on the subject (coupled with evangelicalism’s increasing murkiness), I can think of no better theme for my first post than this: “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Two texts are particularly helpful for understanding what Paul means by this.
Christians are frequently reminded to “remember the reason for Christmas,” meaning, of course, that we should turn our attention away from the cultural trappings and to the fact that Jesus was born to Mary in Bethlehem. But this Christmas, perhaps we should fix our attention a little more closely, not just on the details of Jesus’ birth, but on the miracle of the incarnation. In so doing, we join a great cloud of Christian witnesses, who have reflected deeply on this glorious mystery.
The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. (WCF 1:6a)
Calvin’s and Beza’s thought was so fertile as to spawn many followers. Summaries of Ponet, Daneau, Hotman, and many others are worth consulting at any Inauguration. Another disciple who particularly refined this theory was the Marian exile, Christopher Goodman, whose ideas will be explored briefly below.
The popular Federalist Papers in many ways reflect the continuation of Calvin’s view of man and the state. Alexander Hamilton began The Federalist Papers by asserting that the people of this country have reserved to themselves the important question of whether “societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government” (Federalist #1). While he admitted that the people must cede to that government certain prerogatives (#2), Ham
Holiness has too often been embroiled in confusion and distortion within the Christian community and, sadly, ends up being neglected rather than cultivated within the church. This is especially true in times, like our own, when the gospel becomes more ‘me-focused’ than ‘God-focused’.
I recently found myself in conversation with a pastor’s wife who was describing some of the grief her husband had endured through a turbulent time in one of his churches. Her/their experience bore all the marks of similar stories I have listened to more often than I care to remember over the past 35 years and longer. As she was speaking, the thought that went through my mind was, ‘But ministers are human too’ and by the time she had finished talking, those were the very words she used to round off the conversation.
The first Psalm sets the stage for the entire Psalter. Its attention on the covenant God and covenant blessing and cursing, as well as its preoccupation with God’s Word as the source for our understanding, focus the entire Psalter. In fact, as scholars like O. Palmer Robertson have contended, Psalms 1 and 2 serve as the “pillar or gates” to the whole edifice of the Psalter. They are the great building blocks that support the whole.
A Stew Pot
One of the more frequently visited proverbs of my childhood came to me from my mother. “A stew pot never boils,” she would say. I felt what it meant long before I actually understood it. Explanation of the phrase came in its fuller version: “A stew pot never boils when watched.”
During the Reformation, as young preachers were being trained and sent out, people complained about the quality of the preaching. Some things never change, do they? Martin Luther had little patience for such complaints, responding that the people of God 1) needed to appreciate the gift that God had given to them by providing preaching in the first place, and 2) that they needed to better prepare themselves to hear the word preached. As I understand it, Calvin echoed these sentiments, but was more forceful than Luther!
I had been a professing believer for several years when I entered college, but I needed to learn holiness. As Christians, we always need to keep learning holiness, but it was a crying need for me at that point in my development. I needed to learn not just about it, of course, but how to live it – how to practice separation from sinful patterns and devotion to God. If we are “transformed by the renewing of our minds,” as Scripture says (Rom 12:2), I had to begin by learning about it.