Category Archives: Quotes

Bavinck on Dogma in the Early Christian Church

 

Helpful to think this through:

In the earliest period of the Christian church, it lived by the word of the gospel proclaimed to it by the apostles, which was clarified and expanded in the Epistles and the Gospels.  There was no difference between the word received in preaching and the word passed down in writing.  The whole of it was based on the Old Testament, which was, at once and without resistance, accepted and recognized by the Christian churches as the Word of God.  From the beginning the Old Testament was, for Christians, the book of revelation augmented and completed in these last days by the word of the gospel through the oral and written preaching of apostles.  Accordingly, from the very beginning both the Old Testament and the apostolic writings held authority in the churches of Christ and were viewed as sources of knowledge.  From them people drew their knowledge of God and the world, of angels and human beings, of Christ and Satan, of church and sacrament.  From the most ancient times on, it was customary to demonstrate the truth of the faith, the confession of the church, by means of Holy Scripture, the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles.  Dogma was that which Christ and the apostles had taught, not that which had been conceived by philosophy.  Scripture was the rule of faith (regula fidei); confession and church were subordinate to it.  The most ancient and, from ancient times, the most important proof for the dogma was the proof from the Scripture.

Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (1:61)

Bavinck goes on to talk about how tradition eventually surpassed the authority of Scriptures in the church.  While the Reformation and like-minded churches have done much to recover the authority of Scripture as the rule of faith within the church, there is still much work to be done.  Sola Scriptura and regula fidei are not popular talking points in a postmodern, pragmatic church age, but it would do God’s ministers well to think these things through.

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A New Year’s Prayer to Make Our Own

Wean me from all evil, mortify me to the world, and make me ready for my departure hence animated by the humiliations of penitential love.  My soul is often a chariot without wheels, clogged and hindered in sin’s miry clay; Mount it on eagle’s wings and cause it to soar upward to thyself.

-Puritan Unknown

Infinite Obligation

Excerpt from a prayer in The Valley of Vision:

Let me never forget that I have an eternal duty to love, honour, and obey thee [God], that thou art infinitely worthy of such; that if I fail to glorify thee I am guilty of infinite evil that merits infinite punishment, for sin is the violation of an infinite obligation.

John Frame says,

To glorify God is to reflect that light wherever we are, so that we image God more perfectly, so that people everywhere can see Jesus in us.

The Lord Jesus says,

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Apostle Paul says,

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Living for the glory of God, yes, it is that important; an infinite obligation.

Names, Names, Names!

My heart sunk just a little bit a few moments ago when I came to I Chronicles 6 in my Bible reading.  I forgot that it was 81 verses long, and those names….oh, those names!  So I thought to myself, “When the reading gets tough, the tough get reading!”  No, I must confess that I didn’t think that at all!  What I did do, however, was grab my old, green hardback Matthew Henry Commentary Vol II Joshua-Esther.  It was passed down to me from my grandfather, who is in glory right now with Jesus and Mr. Henry.    I love that commentary set.  Not just because my grandfather passed it down to me, but because it has an old-book smell to it.  You know the kind I’m talking about, right?  Something about that old, musty smell makes the reading just a little bit better.

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Now, why do I bring up I Chronicles 6 and Matthew Henry?  Well, because, believe it or not, Henry had a lot of good commentary on those 81 tough verses.

For example, Henry points out about verse 10:

And Johanan begat Azariah (he it is that executed the priest’s office in the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem:)

It is supposed that this was that Azariah who bravely opposed the presumption of King Uzziah when he invaded the priest’s office (2 Chron. xxvi. 17, 18), though he ventured his neck by so doing.  This was done like a priest, like one that was truly zealous for his God.  He that thus boldly maintained and defended the priest’s office, and made good its barriers against such a daring insult, might well be said to execute it; and this honor is put upon him for it;

Azariah was a bold priest, who ventured his life by standing against wickedness.  He was zealous for his God.  That’s awesome!  Thank you, Matthew Henry for reminding me that the tough reading in I Chronicles 6 is still the inerrant, inspired, living Word of God!

Who knows, maybe Matthew Henry, my grandfather, and Azariah the priest are all kneeling together before the Lord Jesus Christ in glory right now.  After all, Azariah was simply a type of the better priest, the Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came and not only ventured his neck by standing against wickedness, but he gave his neck to the chopping block at Calvary!  Because of my wickedness!  He was the boldest of all priests, the most zealous to do the will of his Father!  And tonight, I got another fresh glimpse of my Savior, right in the midst of 81 verses of names, names, names, and more names!

What Luther and Bunyan Learned in Suffering

Martin Luther, the great reformer said this of his times of suffering…

As soon as God’s Word becomes known through you, the devil will afflict you, will make a real doctor [theologian or teacher] of you, and will teach you by his temptations to seek and to love God’s Word.  For I myself…owe my [enemies] many thanks for so beating, pressing, and frightening me through the devil’s raging that they have turned me into a fairly good theologian, driving me to a goal I should have never reached.

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John Bunyan speaking of his time in prison…

I never had in all my life so great an inlet into the Word of God as now [in prison].  Those scriptures that I saw nothing in before were made in this place and state to shine upon me. Jesus Christ also was never more real and apparent than now.  Here I have seen him and felt him indeed….I have had sweet sights of the forgiveness of my sins in this place, and of my being with Jesus in another world….I have seen that here that I am persuaded I shall never, while in this world, be able to express….I never knew what it was for God to stand by me at all times and at every offer of Satan to afflict me, as I have found HIm since I came in hither.

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Bunyan goes on to implore the people of God to suffer well and not exact revenge…

Let me beg of thee, that thou wilt not be offended either with God, or men, if the cross is laid heavy upon thee.  Not with God, for he doth nothing without a cause, nor with men, for….they are the servants of God to thee for good.  Take therefore what comes to thee from God by them, thankfully.

References:

Ewald M. Plass, comp., What Luther Says: An Anthology, vol. 3 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), p. 1360.

John Bunyan, Grace Abounding, p. 121.

Justified by Faith

Dr. Charles Hodge comments on Romans 3:23,

The sinning is represented as past; the present and abiding consequence of sin is the want of the glory of God.

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Geoffrey Wilson concerning the same text,

The natural result of the disfiguration of God’s image in man through sin, is found in man’s complete ethical disablement.  All men do constantly fall short of the glory of God, because all have sinned in Adam, and all are sinners by practice.

Thanks be to God that Paul did not stop at Romans 3:23.  The apostle goes on to say,

[Believers] are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness…that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

How does knowing that you are justified by faith and not the works of the law bring you freedom and comfort?

Admonished in Miseries

In his commentary on Genesis 3:19, John Calvin says:

So it is best that when we are admonished of the miseries of the present life, we should weep over our sins and seek relief from the grace of Christ, which not only can assuage the bitterness of grief but mingle sweetness with it.

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In my Christian life, I have experienced this to be true over and over again.  Some of my sweetest moments of fellowship with my Savior were when the miseries of this present life were most expounded to me.  As I feel humbled over my sin and misery, I am so thankful for a Savior who is there with me, admonishing me in my misery, and restoring me unto himself.

If you are a believer, I would love to hear how Jesus Christ has shown himself mighty on your behalf.

If you are an unbeliever, I would love to hear the ways in which you deal with your misery and suffering.  This is not a setup or trap.  If you are a non-believer, I would very much enjoy having a civil discussion on how you deal with the problem of suffering.