We Have Run

The Cross and Christian Ministry
D.A. Carson

[14] The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

– 1 Corinthians 2:14

 

It is not that God makes us constitutionally unable to understand him, and then toys with us for his own amusement.  Rather, he has made us for himself, but we have run from him.  The heart of our lostness is our profound self-focus.  We do not want to know him, if knowing him is on his terms.  We are happy to have a god we can more or less manipulate; we do not want a god to whom we admit that we are rebels in heart and mind, that we do not deserve his favor, and that our only hope is in his pardoning and transforming grace.  We certainly cannot fathom a powerful Creator who takes the place of an odious criminal in order to save us from the judgment we deserve.

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There Aren’t Very Many Happy People in the Bible

The Contemplative Pastor
Eugene Peterson

My job is not to solve people’s problems or make them happy, but to help them see the grace operating in their lives.  It’s hard to do, because our whole culture is going the other direction, saying that if you’re smart enough and get the right kind of help, you can solve all your problems.  The truth is, there aren’t very many happy people in the Bible.  But there are people who are experiencing joy, peace, and the meaning of Christ’s suffering in their lives.

Boasting About the Wrong Things

The Cross and Christian Ministry
D.A. Carson

[26] For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. [27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong…

– 1 Corinthians 1:26–27

God’s grace can reach anyone.  But being well regarded in the surrounding pagan society is in no sense an advantage.  If anyone approaches God on the basis of some putative wisdom or “pull” or wealth, he or she is necessarily excluded.  If God accepted people on such grounds, he would compromise himself.  He would be the worst kind of snob, the kind that is impressed by entirely superficial advantages – like a panting, third-rate social climber in a pinstripe suit, desperate to be approved and eager to fawn all over anyone who speaks with a posh accent.  Paul insists that such a vision of God is utter nonsense.  God is not impressed by the public philosophies, political clout, and the extravagant wealth that the world so greatly admires.  And the Corinthian believers should have recognized the point and disavowed such pagan allegiances themselves.  After all, the commonness of their own predominant backgrounds should have alerted them to the kind of people God frequently pursues…

Paul is not saying that Christians have nothing to boast about.  Rather, he is saying that if they boast about the things the world boasts about, they are boasting about the wrong things.

To the Good of All

Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law
J. Budziszewski

If nobody may have any special privileges, then if grown-ups are allowed to buy liquor, children also must be allowed; if citizens may vote, so may aliens; if law-abiding people may live in freedom, so may convicted criminals.  Obviously we do believe in some special privileges.  But when are they right, and when are they wrong?

The principle is this: Special privileges may be given to some, but only when doing so is to the good of all.  What this tells us is that the principle of the common good is deeper than the principle of equality; or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that equality of concern may sometimes require inequality of treatment.

The Holiness of God

No Place for Truth
David Wells

Divorced from the holiness of God, sin is merely self-defeating behavior or a breach in etiquette.  Divorced from the holiness of God, grace is merely empty rhetoric, pious window dressing for the modern technique by which sinners work out their own salvation.  Divorced from the holiness of God, our gospel becomes indistinguishable from any of a host of alternative self-help doctrines.  Divorced from the holiness of God, our public morality is reduced to little more than an accumulation of trade-offs between competing private interests.  Divorced from the holiness of God, our worship becomes mere entertainment.  The holiness of God is the very cornerstone of Christian faith, for it is the foundation of reality.  Sin is defiance of God’s holiness, the Cross is the outworking and victory of God’s holiness, and faith is the recognition of God’s holiness.  Knowing that God is holy is therefore the key to knowing life as it truly is, knowing Christ as he truly is, knowing why he came, and knowing how life will end.

Managing God

No Place for Truth
David Wells

To the extent that [we] have thus attempted to manage God, we can be sure that [we] have been alienated from him.  God has never been managed and tamed, either by unbelievers or by believers.  God is always angular and will not be made smooth.  He is always sovereign over the Church and will not be subject to it or manipulated by it.

Subject to a Law We Did Not Make

Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law
J. Budziszewski

When it [a geometry theorem is not obvious to a student] occurs in geometry, of course no one says, “Aha, geometry must have no objective basis”; instead the student says, “I don’t see it yet, but I know it must be true.”  By contrast, when it arises in ethics people do often say, “Aha, ethics must have no objective basis!” …

[Perhaps this is because] ethics threatens us in a way that geometry does not because it reminds us that we are not gods, that we are subject to a law we did not make.

The Creation of New Values is Impossible

Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law
J. Budziszewski

The creation of new values is impossible, impossible in exactly the same way that the creation of new primary colors is impossible.

Suppose someone said to you, “The old primary colors of yellow, red and blue are outdated rubbish.  I have chosen new ones to take their place: orange, green, and purple.”

You would answer, “You have not created new primary colors at all.  In fact, the only reason these can even be recognized as colors is that you mixed yellow and red to get the orange, yellow and blue to get the green, and blue and red to get the purple.  Besides, I can’t get every color by mixing orange, green and purple as I can by mixing yellow, red and blue.”

Just so, C.S. Lewis points out that “only by such shreds of the [natural law] as [the Innovator] has inherited is he enabled even to attack it.”  What purport to be new values always turn out to be “fragments from the [natural law] itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the [natural law] and to it alone such validity as they possess.” …

Suppose the Innovator holds that old-fashioned notions such as justice and good faith must give way to the fundamental value of Ending Human Need.

The [natural law] of course agrees with him about the importance of getting the people fed and clothed.  Unless the Innovator were himself using the [natural law] he could never have learned of such a duty.  But side by side with it in the [natural law] lie those duties of justice and good faith which he is ready to debunk.  What is his warrant? [C.S. Lewis] …

Lewis concludes that by whatever name one calls it, the natural law

is not among a series of possible systems of value.  It is the sole source of all value judgments.  If it is rejected, all value is rejected.  If any value is retained, it is retained.  The effort to refute it and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory…If my duty to my parents is a superstition, then so is my duty to posterity.  If justice is a superstition, then so is my duty to my country or my race.  If the pursuit of scientific knowledge is a real value, then so is conjugal fidelity.  The rebellion of new ideologies against the [natural law] is a rebellion of the branches against the tree: if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed themselves.

You Believe Lies About God

Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave
Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel
Edward T. Welch

You believe lies about God.  Guaranteed.  You think he can’t see all things; you think he doesn’t care; you think that he reluctantly forgives; you think that he is far away; you think that he loves many people but not you.  Don’t assume that you know him.  Read the Gospels.  In Jesus you will find God’s fullest revelation of himself.  Pray that God would teach you more and more about himself.