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Gradually I came to learn what every great philosophy has been up to now, namely, the self-confession of its originator and a form of unintentional and unrecorded memoir, and also that the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy made up the essential living seed from which on every occasion the entire plant has grown. In fact, when we explain how the most remote metaphysical claims in a philosophy really arose, it’s good (and shrewd) for us always to ask first: What moral is it (is he —) aiming at? Consequently, I don’t believe that a “drive to knowledge” is the father of philosophy but that knowledge (and misunderstanding) have functioned only as a tool for another drive, here as elsewhere.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Future Philosophy (Kindle Locations 163-168). The University of Adelaide Library. Kindle Edition.
Worship is what is evoked by the presence of God. It is a response, not a self-initiated, creative activity on our part. Worship is the only activity that can involve the totality of our personality without any residue. All other relationships are partial. Worship is always extravagant; Elders throw down their crowns, Mary pours out precious ointment, people prostrate themselves. We don’t worship for what we can “get out of it”
Worship is the submission of all our nature to God:
- The quickening of the conscience by His holiness
- The nourishment of mind with His truth
- The purifying of imagination by His beauty
- The opening of the heart to His love
- The surrender of the will to His purpose.
All this is gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable, and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.
-Edmund Clowney. “unpublished sermon,” in Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People, 3rd ed. (Downers Grove, Il: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 156.
So between the death of Christ and the Last Day it is only by a gracious anticipation of the last things that Christians are privileged to live in visible fellowship with other Christians. It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God’s Word and sacrament. Not all Christians receive this blessing. The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community (New York, NY: HarperOne, 1954), 18.
Great words from a man who knew what it was like to be among “the scattered lonely.” The ability to visible gather with believers is a blessing to be thankful for. Not the local body that you wish you were apart of. But the body you are apart of now. The body full of weak Christians who sing music off key. You are there, gathered, as the exiled believers encouraging one another till the Final Day. This is a grace and privilege!
Can there be a legitimate time to leave a church? There can be times.
But what we can learn from Bonhoeffer is the needed attitude of our heart. And attitude of gratefulness for the fact that we have a fellowship to gather with. Not every believer gets to experience it week in and week out.
Yes things are not as you want them to be. The preaching is not of great quality. The youth program is next to nonexistent. The style of worship is strange. The policies are indecipherable. But it is still a gathering of believers.
So be thankful for the grace to visibly gather with the believers you do.
How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty;…
The apprehension of God’s infinite knowledge should fill the Christian with adoration. The whole of my life stood open to his view from the beginning. He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding; yet, nevertheless, fixed his heart upon me. Oh, how the realization of this should bow me in wonder and worship before him!
Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God (Grand Rapids, MI: 1975), 26.
Christ’s union with us in the incarnation is the foundation for our union with him, both now and in the eternal future. It is a pledge of our sonship, as Calvin wrote, for “our common nature with Christ is the pledge of our fellowship with the Son of God; and clothed with our flesh he vanquished death and sin together that the victory and triumph might be ours. He offered as a sacrifice the flesh he received from us, that he might wipe out our guilt by his act of expiation and appease the Father’s righteous wrath.”
-Robert Letham, Union with Christ: In Scripture, History, and Theology (Phillisburg NJ: P&R, 2011) 41, quoting John Calvin, Institutes, 2.12.3
…weakness may be consistent with the assurance of salvation. The disciples, notwithstanding all their weaknesses, are bidden to rejoice that their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Failings with conflict, in sanctification should not weaknen the peace of our justification and assurance of salvation. It matters not so much what ill is in us, as what good; not what corruptions, but how we regard them; not what our particular failings are so much as what the thread and tenor of our lives are, for Christ’s dislike of that which is amiss in us turns not to the hatred of our persons but to the victorious subduing of all our infirmities.
Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Carlisle, PA: The Banner Of Truth Trust, 1998), 96.
After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks. Even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder or pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy…
Hence we learn that we must not pass too harsh judgement upon ourselves or others when God exercises us with bruising upon bruising. There must be a conformity to our head, Christ, who ‘was bruised for us’ (Isa. 53:5) that we may know how much we are bound unto him.
Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Carlisle, PA: The Banner Of Truth Trust, 1998), 5.
By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world…Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both…He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.
God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly.
…because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ…we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness, and His promise.
…Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it is so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deed, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together-the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York, NY: HarperOne, 1954), 27-29.
Genesis I-II is `primeval history’ or `prehistory’. It is concerned with beginnings: the origin of the world, and also the origin of things that play an important part in the lives of human beings, such as sin, death, marriage, conflict (between husband and wife, within families and communities and between nations), the nature of God and his relationship with human beings, judgment, forgiveness and covenant. The OT believers are confronted with the same world as their counterparts in Babylon and Ugarit. They are also aware of the mythologies of surrounding nations, in which those nations seek to account for the world as they see it, though from a very different perspective; and they present their own explanation of the way things are, an explanation that puts God at the centre. That is not to suggest that this is a human attempt to explain origins. It continues to be divine revelation, but revelation given in a form that would make most sense to those who would receive it rather than necessarily appealing to modern standards of scientific and historical enquiry.
-Robin Routledge, Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2005)
This section brings out a lot of helpful information when reading the Old Testament
1. The main aim of texts in the Old Testament, such as Genesis 1-11 and others, is to teach about theology (who God is, who we are, and how this relates to the world around us) not history or science. That is why the texts are not at all interested in explaining facts like where the wife of Cain came from. It does not make-up anything about history and science but it is not concerned with it. If, thus, we are going to let the bible speak we must approach the texts as they were meant to be read as theological. Not as discussion starters about whether or not Adam had a belly button.
2. The texts of the Old Testament were written in a world like ours with real world questions. Work was hard, relationships where rampant with conflict, and death was an unwelcomed guarantee. My, how things have not changed much. The Old Testament is not a collection of abstract historical facts but a revelation of God’s workings in this broken world with broken people. Texts like Genesis 1-11 are giving explanations to the real issues and problems people in that day, and ours as well, face.
3. There is an apologetic purpose in the Old Testament narratives. They were not written in a bubble. Surrounding people had their own explanation of how the world came to be and how a person was suppose to live. The Hebrews needed counters to these ideas and so we have the Old Testament. The text was not just written to inform but to delineate.
4. The Old Testament was written for the people of the day to understand it. When the bible starts talking about the “foundations of the earth” and such it is not making a scientific claim about the tetonic plate structures. God is using the language and understanding of the people He is speaking with to adequately communicate His truth in a comprehensible manner. It was not God’s aim to give secret scientific information to his followers so that they would know the different magma layers of the earth while others didn’t. His aim was that they would know Him! And thus, for humans with small brains and small language capacities He spoke in forms they could understand.
5. All this should make us give praise to our loving and compassionate God who stoops down to bring His word to us. He is not distant but speaks our frail language to our limited minds about the issues which matter to our well being. He wants us to know Him, to know Christ, and to be in relationship with Him. How low the infinite becomes so we could live with Him!
What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his scenario in his weekly sermon…Barnhouse speculated that is Satan took over Philadelphia,
all of the bars would be closed,
and the pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other.
There would be no swearing.
The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,”
and the churches would be full every Sunday
…where Christ is not preached
-Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 15. Emphasis his.
This is a good reminder that we do not proclaim good morals. We proclaim Christ! “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)