Once again, I humbly present to you: the enjoyable work of my photographically spectacular daughter and fellow Downton Abbey groupie, Lydia Francis…….
“…conscious justification, such as Luther contended for, shut out priesthood and penance; giving a man the joy of true liberty and divine fellowship at once, without the intervention of another party or the delay of an hour.
This conscious justification started the man upon a happy life, because relieved from the burden of doubt and the gloom of uncertainty;
it made his religion bright and tranquil, because springing so sweetly from the certainty of his reconciliation to God;
it delivered him from the cruel suspense and undefined fears which the want of assurance carries always with it;
it rescued him from all temptations to self-righteousness, because not arising from any good thing in himself; it preserved him from pride and presumption, because it kept him from trying to magnify his own goodness in order to extract assurance out of it;
it drew him away from self to Christ, from what he was doing to what Christ had done; thus making Christ, not self, the basis and the centre of his new being;
it made him more and more dissatisfied with self, and all that self contained, but more and more satisfied with Jesus and His fulness;
it taught him to rest his confidence towards God, not on his satisfaction with self, not on the development of his own holiness, not on the amount of his graces and prayers and doings, but simply on the completed work of Him in whom God is well pleased.”
Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness, Ch.9
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31).
Here is a Speaker who claims for himself the greatest authority in the universe, and an existence greater than, and independent of, that universe. There are only 2 rational responses to this statement (and this Speaker): either to hate and oppose him as the most dangerously self-deceived megalomaniac in history or to bow before him in worship and allegiance and love as the Lord of history. To be unmoved (in either direction) is the ultimate irrationality.
“Suppose we think of a man made of water in an infinitely extended and bottomless ocean of water. Desiring to get out of water, he makes a ladder of water. He sets this ladder upon the water and against the water and then attempts to climb out of the water. So hopeless and senseless a picture must be drawn of the natural man’s methodology based as it is upon the assumption that time or chance is ultimate. On his assumption his own rationality is a product of chance. On his assumption even the laws of logic which he employs are products of chance. The rationality and purpose that he may be searching for are still bound to be products of chance.”
—Cornelius Van Til
I love this poem by George Herbert. The different metaphors he employs as descriptions of prayer are as startling as they are edifying. My favorites: “the soul in paraphrase” and “reversed thunder.” I’ve chewed on these descriptions of prayer for several months now.
Prayer the Church’s banquet, Angel’s age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;
Engine against th’Almighty, sinners’ tower,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world-transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted Manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well dressed,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices; something understood.
Genesis 20 presents us with a familiar pattern: Abraham lies about Sarah’s identity as his wife. In doing so, he jeopardizes two covenants at once.
First, Abraham jeopardizes his marriage covenant. To save his own skin from a perceived, not an actual threat, he lies: “She is my sister” (v.2). In the process, he leaves his bride utterly exposed to exploitation by Abimelech. The only reason she isn’t ultimately violated is that the Lord Himself personally intervenes through Abimelech’s dream (vv.3–7). It would be one thing, I suppose, for Abraham to have lied about Sarah’s identity to make her safer: to expose himself to danger so that he might insulate her. But in fact he does precisely the opposite: he lies about Sarah to make himself safer, and by so doing exposes her to great moral and physical danger.
By comparison to his greatest son, Abraham is a poor specimen of a husband indeed: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies….” (Ephesians 5:25-28). Abraham gave Sarah up for himself, and did not guard her purity.
The second covenant Abraham puts into jeopardy is the Lord’s covenant with him. The Lord had promised that Abraham & Sarah would be given a son (Chs.17-18). Abraham’s deception in Ch.20 raises the possibility that, if Sarah becomes pregnant, it would appear that Abimelech, rather than Abraham, was the father, thus casting a shadow of uncertainty over the heart of the Lord’s covenant with Abraham.
But the Lord intervenes to protect, not merely Sarah’s purity, but the integrity of His covenant with Abraham. Again and again throughout Genesis, the treasure of the covenant is placed into hands that are not sufficiently faithful to guard it well. The only hope is always that the Lord’s own zeal to uphold the covenant exceeds man’s that it be upheld.
This is the plotline of the entire Bible. This the plotline of history. This is the story of the Christian life: it is He who began a good work in us, who will also be the One to bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
I’m doing some reading today from John Frame’s The Doctrine of God, and have been helped by his observations concerning the relationship between the richness of God’s life and His Trinitarian character. Here are a couple of quotes from Dr. Frame that brought the issue into focus for me:
“The very greatness of God, the richness of His inner life, entails some kind of plurality within Him.”
“Although God is numerically one and simple, He has many attributes, thinks a vast number of thoughts, and performs innumerable actions. His attributes are one, but that oneness can be characterized in many ways. His thoughts are one, but they pertain to innumerable objects. His actions are one, but they have vast numbers of effects in the world. His life is the ultimate in richness and fullness. Scripture explains this richness in various ways, eventually bringing its specifically Trinitarian character into focus.”
(both quotes can be found on p.631 of The Doctrine of God by John Frame)
“The Old Testament may be likened to a chamber richly furnished but dimly lighted; the introduction of light brings into it nothing which was not in it before; but it brings out into clearer view much of what is in it but was only dimly or even not all perceived before. The mystery of the Trinity is not revealed in the Old Testament; but the mystery of the Trinity underlies the Old Testament revelation, and here and there almost comes into view. Thus the Old Testament revelation is not corrected by the fuller revelation which follows it, but only perfected, extended and enlarged.”
B.B. Warfield, “The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity”.
Another fabulous series of photo posts from my favorite photographer!
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