At the teacher’s invitation, I observed one of the children’s Sunday School classes before the worship service. The kids were about eight to ten years old, still young enough to offer answers to the teacher’s questions with unabashed enthusiasm, even if those answers weren’t always correct or even on topic. In the past I’ve taught junior high-aged kids whose reticence was so extreme I wondered if instead of being in a Presbyterian church I’d mistakenly stumbled into a bizarre monastery full of adolescents who’d all taken a vow of silence. But with these kids, a question was immediately followed by six little hands shooting up all at once; each child had a ready answer!
Stephen, the teacher, did a fine job instructing the kids about temptation and sin from the Lord’s Prayer. He had the children read from several different passages – his lesson had real substance. I thought as I watched the kids being taught the Scriptures that they probably have no idea just how blessed they are for this exposure to God’s Word at their young age. So many children have no such advantage, and they suffer for it as they grow older.
Since I had to be in Oregon last week for a presbytery meeting, I asked Ben Duncan, a PCA minister and Army chaplain, to fill the pulpit for me at the morning service. He preached an outstanding sermon from Hebrews 1:1-4: “Simply Supreme.” Ben showed how these few verses testify to all three of Christ’s offices as our Savior – Prophet, Priest, and King (I had not seen that before. It reinforced the teaching we’ve been covering Sunday evenings from the Westminster Shorter Catechism concerning the three-fold office of Christ). He spoke to our hearts as he preached, and I was edified as I heard Ben explain how Hebrews addresses our guilt with its repeated declaration that the sacrifice of Christ purifies our conscience. I’m sure others were equally encouraged by this message from God’s Word.
At the evening service I spoke on the humiliation of Christ from Catechism Q & A 27. That the Son of God so lowered himself for us, not only in his incarnation but also in his suffering and death, reveals the measureless depth of God’s love for sinners. The humiliation of Christ also gives us a pattern to follow. Philippians 2:5-8, where Paul speaks of Christ making himself nothing and taking the form of a servant, begins with this imperative: “Have this mind among yourselves.” When we consider how loathe we are to humble ourselves before others, how desperately we need the grace of God to be a true servant like Christ!
It’s always a happy “coincidence” (the scare quotes are for the benefit of all you Calvinists!) when the Sunday School lesson perfectly dovetails with the sermon. Sunday’s common theme was faith. Before the morning service, Richard spoke on Noah’s faith from Hebrews 11:7. And during the service, I preached on the true nature of saving faith from John 12:36 – 50.
Richard pointed out that, just by our being indoors at church on a gorgeous spring day with clear skies and a warm sun, we must be exercising faith in far greater unseen realities!
In my sermon text, John describes the unbelief of the Jews who saw the signs Jesus performed yet did not – indeed, could not! – put their faith in him as their Savior. By depicting their lack of faith in Christ, and giving us the reasons for it, John indirectly teaches us about genuine, saving faith. My four points were:
1. Saving faith is a gift of God’s grace.
2. Saving faith seeks the glory that comes from God.
3. Saving faith believes Christ is the Son of God.
4. Saving faith is made known through obedience to the Word of Christ.
I ended by reminding the congregation it’s not that we are saved by a great faith, but that we are saved by faith in a great Savior. Our faith may be weak and small at times, but if even a mustard-size faith can move mountains (Matt. 17:20), then it can also save us. By faith we overcome the world (1 John 5:4) because the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2) has overcome the world for us (John 16:33).
At the evening service, I spoke on the kingship of Christ from Westminster Shorter Catechism #26.
A common thread running through both services yesterday was the Kingship of Christ. In a world of great darkness and human misery, in which our lives are fraught with uncertainty, trouble, and tragedy, it’s always heartening to hear again that Jesus Christ reigns as omnipotent Lord over all. He rules according to his perfect goodness and wisdom, and the “scepter of uprightness is the scepter of (his) kingdom” (Heb. 1:8). The skeptic cannot perceive the reality of the reign of Christ; it is known only by faith. And though belief that Christ is King does not answer the hard questions of why he allows particular evils to occur, the heart can only find peace when it submits to the gracious rule of Christ and rests in the certainty that all questions are resolved in him. Do you believe in the present reign of Christ? Have you bowed down to him as Lord?
At the morning service I preached from John 12:27-36. The theme of the sermon was how God was glorified through the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. One point was this: at the cross Satan was dethroned and Christ was enthroned (“now will the ruler of this world be cast out”). How fitting that the placard above Jesus’ head declared “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (Matt. 27:37)!
And then at the evening service I spoke on the Kingship of Christ from Westminster Shorter Catechism #26. Several people asked insightful questions about how to understand the reign of Christ before and after the cross, and how that relates to the power and influence of the Devil. I’m afraid in my “answers” I mostly restated the questions! So I’m not sure how enlightening my responses were, but it was good for us to consider these things together.
Between the services at our house, we enjoyed the company of an Army chaplain and his family. They also have five children, who are about the same ages as ours. That makes 14 people for lunch! Over Robyn’s pizza soup (you’ll have to ask her for the recipe) and a glass of wine, we talked about all kinds of things, including ministry, preaching, family visits, plans, books, and kids.
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The Bible has fallen on hard times. Not so long ago, most people more or less agreed that the Scriptures were special, that they possessed an unique authority as the Word of God. Not everyone believed, of course, but the prevailing consensus at least upheld the idea of the Bible as a divinely-given book.
Things are different today. Not only are most people sadly ignorant of what the Bible says, but the notion that Scripture is inherently authoritative sounds increasingly far-fetched in a highly secularized culture. Scholars with imposing credentials assure us the Bible is a merely human product, at best the pious imaginings of ancient people trying to make sense of their world in a pre-scientific age, at worst the work of power-hungry men who used such (so-called) sacred writing to impose their control over others. And in the public square, in debate over matters of great moral concern such as abortion and gay marriage, any appeal to the Scriptures is dismissed out of hand as either the knee-jerk reaction of ignorant “Bible thumpers” or the bald attempt by would-be theocrats to impose their religion on others.
Because we live in an increasingly post-Christian culture, one which makes implausible the idea that the Scriptures are sacred writings, serious and thinking Christians must have a robust understanding of why we believe the Bible is the Word of God.
So why believe the Bible? One way to answer that question is to ask the experts. You can find scholars who will tell you that all the evidence of history, archaeology, biblical studies, etc., point to this conclusion: the Bible is the Word of God. But, you can also marshal many other scholars who will claim that the evidence demands a different verdict: the Bible is the word of man.
The fatal flaw in this approach is that it does not deal with the Bible on its own terms. To answer the question, “Why believe the Bible?,” we must begin with… the Bible! And the Scripture’s testimony is more than clear – the Bible is God’s Word and therefore is authoritative and without error in all it intends to say. It is God’s revelation to man, a Word from our Creator on what we are to believe and how we are to live.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, ”All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (ESV). The Greek word translated “breathed out by God” is theopneustos. “Theo” refers to God ( as in “theology”) and “pneustos” refers to breath (as in “pneumonia”). So the word literally means “God-breathed”. Although human beings wrote the Bible, the ultimate author of Scripture is God himself (2 Peter 1:21). Just as you “breathe” out your words when you speak, so God “breathed out” his words in the form of the Scriptures.
Now the obvious objection is, “Is this not circular reasoning? What kind of argument is this: the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible says it’s the Word of God?” There is no way to respond to this objection in a way that will completely satisfy the skeptic. The truth is, all of us – believer and unbeliever alike – base our thinking and reasoning on certain assumptions that we cannot “prove” to be true (i.e., can you “prove” that murder is wrong?). But the argument for the authority of Scripture does go beyond an appeal to mere words written on a page. Rather, the appeal is to the authority of God himself. We believe in the Bible because we believe in God, and we believe he has revealed himself to us by means of his Word. Therefore the authority of Scripture rests upon nothing less than the truth, character, and authority of God himself.
But if the Bible is self-authenticating (or rather, God-authenticated), and if the Bible’s own testimony is sufficient grounds for believing in it as the Word of God, then why doesn’t everybody believe? Because of sin. Sin not only manifests itself in our wrong behavior, but also in our wrong thinking. By nature, as sinners, we reject the light of God’s Word and we suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).
What this means is that belief or unbelief in the Bible is a profoundly moral matter. No one believes in the Scriptures as the Word of God purely on the basis that such belief is logical or reasonable (though it is, of course), but rather because such belief is right. To believe God’s Word is to honor, and submit to, to One who is the Creator and Lord of all. Unbelief is not an intellectual decision, but a dreadful moral failure (Titus 1:15).
By the same token it is right and good to believe in the Word of God. However, this belief is a gift of God’s grace. If you believe the Bible is the Word of God, then good, but don’t boast in your superior intellect or wisdom. Rather, give thanks to God that he would cause his light to shine in your heart (2 Cor. 4:6). Without the grace of God, you would not accept his testimony in the Scriptures; the Holy Spirit engenders such faith (1 Cor. 2:12). Just as you were saved by grace alone, so by grace alone you believe the Bible.
Christian, the Word of God is your foundation for faith and life, and it is the source of your every hope and comfort. No matter what the wise of the world may say, or no matter what the culture may value, you have a solid rock on which to stand. Don’t be ashamed to take your stand with the Scriptures, no matter what others may think. And don’t be swayed or intimidated by appeals to “scholars” who claim the Bible is only the words of men. Will you trust God or man?
In the Scriptures you have the revelation of a Savior who had mercy on you despite your natural unbelief and rebellion. The Scriptures are all about Jesus and you only truly believe the Bible as you are led by it to the the living Christ, the Savior of sinners (John 5:3, 40).
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At the morning service yesterday I preached from John 12:20-26. In v. 24, Jesus says:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
In my sermon I spoke about a family trip we took two years ago to California’s Big Basin Redwoods State Park . There we admired the magnificent coast redwood trees, famous for their massive trunks and towering heights (they can grow to be over 320 feet tall). As I prepared for the sermon last week, I consulted that always-useful preaching resource, Google, and learned that the cones of these redwood trees are tiny, about an inch long. And the seeds they contain are even more minuscule – it takes over 100,000 of them to weigh a pound.
One coast redwood seed is nothing but a tiny little speck of organic matter. But if you bury it in the ground, and the conditions are just right, in hundreds of years that same seed will be transformed into a mighty redwood. In the same way, the crucifixion of Jesus was just the death of one man (speaking from a strictly historical, human perspective). Yet behold the fruit his death has borne – an ever-growing Kingdom of redeemed sinners whose numbers will exceed the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore (Gen. 22:17)! Who can fathom the coming splendor of the Kingdom of God in its full revelation (Rom. 8:18, 19; 2 Cor. 4:17), when the vast multitude of saints are joined together in a new heavens and earth, giving all praise forever and ever to Christ Jesus the Lord of all? What ineffable glory! And all because Jesus willingly died on a Roman cross some 2,000 years ago.
As I spoke of this in my sermon, I said something that prompted a theological question from one of our members. I said that if Jesus had not died, there would not be a single human being in heaven today (and nor would there ever be). Heaven would still be populated by angels and whatever other creatures God put there, but every last descendant of Adam and Eve would be barred forever because of our sin. Her question was, “What about the God-fearing people of the Old Testament, such as Moses and David? Would they not be in heaven, either?” And the answer I gave is “no”, because they also were saved by the blood of Christ shed upon the cross. Although Jesus had not yet died, still the efficacy of his sacrifice applied to the saints who lived before the cross. Like us, they too were saved by faith alone. And like us, it is the blood of Christ that saved them.
At the time I didn’t appeal to the Westminster Confession of Faith 8:6, but I wish I had because it answers that question far better than I can. Here is what it says (with proof texts):
Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after his incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; being yesterday and today the same, and forever. (Gal. 4:4-5; Gen. 3:15; 1 Cor. 10:14; Rev. 13:8; Heb. 13:8; and Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:15).
As the questioner put it, the death of Christ was “retroactive” to save the faithful who lived before his coming.
Later at the evening service I spoke on the priesthood of Christ, as part of an ongoing series of messages from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
Though I don’t feel I should include it on the blog, I also had to make a disappointing announcement to the congregation concerning a recent decision of the session. Ministry is a mixture of joy and sadness.
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Why do we worship on Sunday? Because it is the the first day of the week, the day on which Jesus was raised from the grave (and thus, the “Lord’s Day” – Rev. 1:10). Just by worshiping on Sundays, Christians bear witness to the truth of the empty tomb.
Today at Grace OPC, on this Easter Sunday – or “Resurrection Day” – we gave special attention to the resurrection of Jesus. We tried something new this year. Before the worship service, we had an informal service of hymn singing at the church followed by a potluck breakfast. I think it went well; maybe we’ll try it again next year.
During the hymn sing I found myself wishing I was a better singer. I am the last person who should be leading others in singing but such is the reality that seminaries don’t teach future pastors how to sing. Some preachers are great singers but not this one. Maybe in my resurrection body I’ll at least be able to carry a tune (if nothing else, I won’t be leading the singing in heaven’s worship!).
At the regular morning worship service, I preached from John’s account of the events of the first Easter morning (John 20:1-18). One point I made was that the resurrection is the guarantee of our adoption as the children of God. Jesus told Mary to tell the disciples, “… ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17). If you belong to Christ by faith, how much does the Father love you? As much as he loves Jesus himself, because you are every bit as much a true son or daughter of the Heavenly Father as is Christ. I believe Jesus spoke of this truth after his resurrection because that was the capstone of the salvation he accomplished for us by his death, a salvation by which we have been made children of God.
I also spent a few minutes to clarify some misconceptions about Mary Magdalene. Contrary to popular and traditional understanding, the Bible doesn’t say she is the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50. She was a sinner, of course, but not necessarily a promiscuous woman or a prostitute. And she certainly wasn’t the wife of Jesus who had children with him, a la Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. This idea has no biblical or historical grounds – it’s about as true as the existence of the Easter Bunny!
But why should we believe such a thing about Mary Magdalene when the truth about her is so wonderful? Her devotion to Jesus was extraordinary – she was with Jesus at the end, and was the first to go to the tomb on Easter morning. She is worthy of praise for her faithfulness and love for Christ – this is what makes her so special.
Maybe I want to set the story straight on Mary Magdalene, because we have our own “Magdalene”! We call her “Maggie” but her full name is Magdalene. May she be as devoted to Christ as her namesake!
We had a fun time with a family from church at our home after the morning service, and then at the evening service I spoke on the threefold office of Christ – prophet, priest, and king (Westminster Shorter Catechism questions 23 and 24).
Here’s our Magdalene on today’s Easter morning:
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“Woman, why are you weeping?”
As she stood at the tomb of Jesus, dismayed and horrified at the thought that grave robbers had stolen the body of her beloved teacher, Mary Magdalene was asked this question twice: “Woman, why are you weeping?” (John 20:13, 15).
Has anyone ever asked this – “Why are you weeping?” – of a person overcome with grief, at the very spot the body of her loved one was laid to rest? Could any question be more out of place? Yesterday I wrote of the “strange glory of the cross.” Here is an equally strange idea, that anyone should wonder why a woman weeps at the grave of a dead friend.
But on the first Easter morning, at the empty tomb, this was the right question to ask! First the angels asked Mary this as they stood next to the place where the body of Jesus had lain. Angels in the tomb! Linen burial cloths on the floor! Jesus was not dead, he was risen! This calls for joy, not tears. But Mary didn’t understand. So next the Lord himself, standing outside the vacated sepulcher, put the question to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
It was not so much a question as a gentle rebuke. Oh Mary, why should you should cry for sorrow when Jesus – gloriously alive! – was standing before you? Was it not unbelief that kept you from seeing the truth literally before your eyes? Look and see – Jesus is not dead, but he is risen!
Christian, you may have many reasons to weep today. Death casts its dark shadow over all of life; we can’t escape sorrow. But even as your tears flow, you have the sure and certain promise of victory over death. Look into the tomb of Jesus – it is still empty! Look up to heaven – there is your resurrected Lord reigning in glory! He is risen indeed! At the empty grave of Jesus, wipe away every tear and rejoice that the Living One has conquered death forever.
I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. (Jer. 31:13)
Last Sunday, since it was Palm Sunday, I preached on the Triumphal Entry of Christ. As I studied for the sermon, John Calvin’s words on John 12:13 struck me as timely and apposite for our circumstances today.
Calvin writes we must learn from the crowds who so enthusiastically welcomed Jesus as their King. They were eager to see the Kingdom of God established (though of course mistaken in their conception of it). But are we? We say, “Thy Kingdom Come,” but do we mean it? Calvin writes:
If only we are not lazy or become weary in asking, He will be a faithful guardian of His kingdom and defend it by His invincible power and protection. It is true that even if we remain slack, His majesty will continue to stand. But as often as it does not flourish as magnificently as it should, or even collapse – as we see today a terrible scattering and desolation – this definitely happens through our fault. And when the restoration is small, or negligible, or at least is slow in advancing, let us blame our own sluggishness. Daily we pray God that His kingdom may come, but hardly one in a hundred with seriousness. We are justly deprived of that blessing of God which it is too much trouble for us to ask.
First, notice how Calvin stresses the link between our praying and God’s bringing in his Kingdom. Whoever thinks Calvin’s theology amounts to little more than a grim determinism that stifles all human effort should reckon with the words of the man himself. Hardly the remarks of a resigned fatalist!
But more to my point, I wonder, are we as Christians today serious about wanting God’s Kingdom to come? Do we really pray for it to come? We’re alarmed by a culture daily taking another frightening turn from any semblance of biblical morality, and so we pray for a restoration of our nation. We so desperately want things to improve in our society and in politics. But how badly do we want to see the church thrive, sinners converted, the gospel proclaimed, and the Spirit’s work of renewal and revival?
Maybe we should redirect some of our anxious energy and pray more diligently that Christ will further establish his Kingdom in our midst.
We Calvinists have a problem. And it’s not Calvin or Calvinism, but our failure to communicate to other Christians what we believe concerning God and his saving work. According to Greg Forster, the five points we traditionally use as a summary of Calvinistic teaching, that is, our beloved flower TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints), not only fail to convey the beautiful truths contained in our theology, but they tend to misinform others about what we actually believe. As a result, Christians outside our theological world know only a caricature of Calvinism – a cold, heartless jumble of “formulas, technicalities, and negations” (pg. 17). What’s more, “Because we don’t communicate clearly, our own congregants have a very inadequate grasp of what lies at the heart of Calvinism” (pg. 17).
Forster wrote The Joy of Calvinism to address this problem. He aims to give Calvinistic theology a fresh recasting, explaining the Reformed doctrines of grace in ways that not only head off misunderstanding, but also show why they will produce joy in the heart of all who embrace them. Though the book is intensely theological, and demands some abstract thinking, Forster wants his readers to come away rejoicing in the glory of God’s sovereign and saving grace towards sinners. And as long as the reader takes to heart the truths he expounds, I believe he succeeds.
I thought Forster would go about his task in this way: present the traditional five points (TULIP), point out their inadequacies, and then go on to rename each of the five points so we end up with a different acronym altogether. But he takes a completely different tack (though in the appendix he does offer his own version of TULIP by replacing it with WUPSI, “as in, ‘Whoopsie, we just realized that TULIP is giving everyone heinously false ideas of what Calvinism is all about’”!, pg. 167). He structures the book along these Trinitarian lines:
Chapter 1. God Loves You Personally - When Jesus died and rose again, he saved you.
Chapter 2. God Loves You Unconditionally - Nothing is more important to your heavenly Father than saving you.
Chapter 3. God Loves You Irresistibly - The “new birth” in the Holy Spirit is a radical, supernatural transformation.
Chapter 4. God Loves You Unbreakably - You can do all things, persevere through all trials, and rejoice in all circumstances.
Though Forster introduces no novel theology, I found his explanation of Calvinism unique, provocative (in the right sense), edifying, and soul-stirring. His focus on the sovereign love of God, and his ability to illustrate this love with human analogies is effective in bringing out the profound and glorious truths of the grace of God towards sinners in Jesus Christ. God didn’t love me in a vague way as a faceless, nameless member of an amorphous “humanity”, but he loved me personally and Jesus died specifically for me (chapter 1). In his love for me, God didn’t make a system of salvation more important than me, but loved me more than anything in all nature or creation (chapter 2). And in his love, God didn’t merely assist my fallen nature so that I might choose him (as though I would), but his love gave me an entirely new nature (chapter 3). As he unpacks these truths, Forster interacts with non-Calvinist theologies and helpfully shows how they fail to do full justice to the love, grace, and power of God. Only consistent Calvinism (i.e., a thoroughly biblical theology) does this.
In chapter 4, true to the title of the book, Forster brings everything he writes to bear on the matter of joy in the Christian life. He knits together the strands of God’s grace, our love for him (produced in us by him, of course!), suffering and perseverance, and shows how they work together to produce true joy. And this joy “is not an emotion,” but a “settled certainty that God is in control” (pg. 146).
He also deals with some of the more egregious misrepresentations of Calvinism in a preliminary chapter he calls a “Detour” (saying, for example, “Calvinism does not say we are saved against our wills”). And there is a lengthy appendix (which I skimmed) that addresses more specific questions about Calvinist doctrine, including an enlightening history of the famous (infamous?) acronym TULIP.
I would put this book into the hands of any non-Calvinist believer who has questions about our theology. I also recommend it for those, like myself, already in the Reformed camp. I was blessed as I pondered in a new way God’s sovereign grace towards me in Christ. Forster’s writing is engaging and non-technical, but to profit from this book you will need to think carefully on his words as you read.
I offer only one minor critique, or perhaps just an observation. I wish Forster would have at least mentioned that Calvinism includes more, much more, than a distinct understanding of God’s sovereign grace in our salvation. Calvinism teaches covenant theology, and embraces the entirety of Christian life, practice, and worship. Of course Forster could not include all that in his book, especially since his focus is on the doctrines of grace. So I understand why he didn’t expand his discussion. But perhaps some, having been convinced by this book of the truth of Calvinistic soteriology (theology of salvation), will go on to discover the many other truths taught by Calvin and treasured by Calvinists.
Overall a welcome and superb apologetic for Calvinism.
Right now many people in the church are struggling with adversity. We have two members with cancer, one of whom just learned of it. A family’s adult daughter, who lives out of state, was struck by a car and has spent the last six days in the ICU. She has brain damage, and we are praying it is not long-lasting. One man in the church lost a friend this past week to a tragic death. This evening I took a prayer request from another man whose father was just diagnosed with throat cancer.
All these afflictions are unwelcome reminders that we live in a fallen world, and that we need a Savior.
I hope today’s Palm Sunday message encouraged those who are suffering. I preached from John 12:12-19, the Triumphal Entry. The theme of my sermon was the Kingship of Jesus Christ, specifically, the nature of his sovereign and universal reign. First, the reign of Christ is spiritual. He does not rule by human or earthly power. One thing this means is that even if all the human strength in the world was united to thwart the rule of Jesus, it would fail. Second, Jesus reigns in glory now but only after he first humbled himself for our salvation (thus he mounted a lowly donkey). If we are his disciples, we must be willing to serve others without seeking glory for ourselves. And third, Jesus’ reign is invincible (as the Pharisees unwittingly testified in v.19: “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”). For that reason, he is able to fulfill every promise he makes to us in his Word.
Between services, we had a delightful time sharing pizza with a family from church. For some reason, we got on the subject of the really dumb things people do. When the story was told of a person who wrecked his RV after putting it in cruise control, and then leaving the driver’s seat to make a sandwich, Sander (8 years old) could hardly contain his laughter. Just watching him laugh made the rest of us laugh. (But whoever committed this particular numbskullery apparently had the last guffaw – he sued the RV maker and won!).
At the evening service, I spoke on the incarnation of Christ from Westminster Shorter Catechism #22. One implication that God became man – and an insight which was a delight for me to consider for the first time in my preparatory study – is that God’s love comes to us with human contours. That is, we are loved by a God who, in Christ, has experienced our humanity and therefore can love us with understanding and sympathy. These words from Alexander Whyte say it better than I can:
All the indescribable attributes of Divine Love, and all the lovely and familiar, tender and yearning attributes of human love are now mingled together to make that new manner of love, the love that passeth knowledge, the love of god which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.