God’s Love and God’s Wrath

My thanks to Tony Reinke for posting this: Dr. Don Carson writes the following in his outstanding article “God’s Love and God’s Wrath” published in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 156 (1999), pages 388–390: The Bible speaks of the wrath of God in high-intensity language. “The Lord Almighty is mustering an army for war. … Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. … See, the day of the Lord is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it” (Isa. 13:4, 6, 9). Even allowing for the unusual nature of language in the apocalyptic genre, Revelation 14 includes some of the most violent expressions of God’s wrath found in all literature. … How, then, do God’s love and His wrath relate to each other? One evangelical cliché has it that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. There is a small element of truth

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What matters supremely

“What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it- the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands. I am never out of His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him because He first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment…when His care falters.” J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 42 (HT: John Fonville)

God’s Great Grace

I’m preaching through Romans midweek, and Ephesians on Sundays for my friends at King’s Church, Southend. I like this from Justin Taylor: One of the beautiful things about the book of Ephesians is the way in which Paul celebrates God’s grace, power, might, wisdom, love, and glory. Follow the adjectives and superlatives to see an example of worshipful pastoral theology in action. We are saved “to the praise of God’s glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6) Our redemption and forgiveness through the cross is “according to theriches of his grace, which he lavished upon us” (Eph. 1:6-7). We are called to know “the riches of [God’s] glorious inheritance in the saints” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power . . . and his greatmight” (Eph. 1:18-19). Because God is “rich in mercy” and because of his “great love” toward us, we were saved” (Eph. 2:4). In the coming ages God will show us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). Paul

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Let his love win your love

“When we go to the cross, we see our God dying for us. If you let any other god down, it will beat you up. If you live for people’s approval or your career or possessions or control or anything else and you don’t make it or you mess up, then you’ll be left feeling afraid, downcast, or bitter. But when you let Christ down, he still loves you. He doesn’t beat you up; he died for you. Let his love win your love, and let that love replace all other affections. The secret of change is to renew your love for Christ as you see him crucified in your place.” – Tim Chester, You Can Change (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 128. (HT: Of First Importance)

What Does the Cross Demonstrate?

Thabiti Anyabwile has reprinted a helpful section from Sinclair Ferguson’s Growing in Grace. Ferguson asks, “How do we find the grace of God in the cross? How has it become God’s instrument of salvation to those who have faith?” His answer is that the cross of Christ demonstrates: the love of God the justice of God the wisdom of God (HT: Justin Taylor)

Reflecting on the Love of Christ

From D.A. Carson’s Scandalous: Lazarus’s sisters refer to their brother as “the one you love” (John 11:3), an expression that hints of all kinds of human relationships that Jesus had of which we know rather little. I do think, though, that it is one of the common features of those who become intimate with Jesus that they think of themselves not as those who love him particularly well but those who are particularly well loved by him. Thus, John, the writer of this Gospel, refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:23; 21:7, 20; cf. 20:2). Or Paul, referring to Jesus in an atonement passage, adds the clause “who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Paul prays that the Ephesians “may have the power, together with the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19a). Those who draw

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God’s self-exaltation

“Here is the end of the matter: God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is not the act of a needy ego, but an act of infinite giving. The reason God seeks our praise is not because he won’t be fully God until he gets it, but that we won’t be happy until we give it. This is not arrogance. This is grace. This is not egomania. This is love.” – John Piper, Is Jesus an Egomaniac? (HT: Of First Importance)

Does God Hate Haiti?

Albert Mohler’s comments are worth quoting at length: Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God’s direct and observable judgment. God does judge the nations — all of them — and God will judge the nations. His judgment is perfect and his justice is sure. He rules over all the nations and his sovereign will is demonstrated in the rising and falling of nations and empires and peoples. Every molecule of matter obeys his command, and the earthquakes reveal his reign — as do the tides of relief and assistance flowing into Haiti right now. A faithful Christian cannot accept the claim that God is a bystander in world events. The Bible clearly claims the sovereign rule of God over all his creation, all of the time. We have no right to claim that God was surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, or to allow that God

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Beholding Glory and Becoming Whole: Seeing and Savoring God as the Heart of Mental Health

Last night John Piper addressed the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) at their world conference in Nashville on the topic “Beholding Glory and Becoming Whole: Seeing and Savoring God as the Heart of Mental Health.” The manuscript of John’s message is available here. Here’s a sample: […] God has done everything with a view to one great end—namely, that the glory of his grace should be praised by innumerable redeemed human beings. You, and everybody you counsel, were made by God to praise him. More specifically, you were made to praise his glory. And more specific yet, you were made to praise the glory of his grace. […] This is why we were created. This goes to the heart of what it means for us to be fully human and for God to be fully honored. And the amazing thing is that the two happen together. They happen in the same act. God is profoundly honored and glorified in the very act

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There in Heaven

“There, in heaven, this infinite fountain of love — this eternal Three in One — is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it, as it flows forever. There this glorious God is manifested and shines forth in full glory, in beams of love. And there this glorious fountain forever flows forth in streams, yea, in rivers of love and delight, and these rivers swell, as it were, to an ocean of love, in which the souls of the ransomed may bathe with the sweetest enjoyment, and their hearts, as it were, be deluged with love!” Jonathan Edwards, “Heaven is a world of love,” Charity and its Fruits, pages 327-328. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

Redeeming love and retributive justice

“God’s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice. But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to His Father’s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place.” […] “Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed Himself to be ‘just, and the justifer of him who hath faith in Jesus’. Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel. No version of that message goes deeper than that which declares man’s root problem before God to be his sin, which evokes wrath, and God’s basic provision for man to be propitiation, which out of wrath brings peace.” – J.I. Packer, In My Place Condemned He Stood (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 40-41. (HT: Of First Importance)

God’s love shown through Christ’s substitution

“It is a strange thing that when men talk about the love of God, they show by every word that they utter that they have no conception at all of the depths of God’s love. “If you want to find an instance of true gratitude for the infinite grace of God, do not go to those who think of God’s love as something that cost nothing, but go rather to those who in agony of soul have faced the awful fact of the guilt of sin, and then have come to know with a trembling wonder that the miracle of all miracles has been accomplished, and that the eternal Son has died in their stead.” – J. Gresham Machen (HT: Todd Pruitt)

God loves us because he loves us

The fact that God loves us tells us more about God in his grace than it tells us about ourselves. We are certainly not desrving of his love. Tony Reinke quotes Thomas Manton: In a sermon on John 3:16 (“God so loved, that he gave…”), Puritan Thomas Manton makes the following point on God’s indescribable love towards sinners in sending His Son: “Love is at the bottom of all. We may give a reason of other things, but we cannot give a reason of his love, God showed his wisdom, power, justice, and holiness in our redemption by Christ. If you ask, Why he made so much ado about a worthless creature, raised out of the dust of the ground at first, and had now disordered himself, and could be of no use to him? We have an answer at hand, Because he loved us. If you continue to ask, But why did he love us? We have no other

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Is God Punishing Me?

From John Bloom at Desiring God: As a Christian, when you experience a painful providence like an illness or a rebellious child or a broken marriage or a financial hardship or persecution, do you ever wonder if God is punishing you for some sin you committed? If you do, there is some very good news from the letter to the Hebrews. The original readers of this letter had been experiencing persecution and affliction for some time. They were tired, discouraged, and confused—why was God allowing such hardships? And some were doubting. So after some doctrinal clarifications and some firm exhortations and a few sober warnings (so they could examine if their faith was real) the author of the letter brought home a very important point. He wanted his readers to remember that the difficulty and pain they were experiencing was not God’s punishment for their sins or weak faith. Chapters 7-10 beautifully explain that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin was once

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The Glorification of the Grace and Power of His Son

“The deepest need that you and I have in weakness and adversity is not quick relief, but the well-grounded confidence that what is happening to us is part of the greatest purpose in the universe – the glorification of the grace and power of his Son – the grace and power that bore him to the cross and kept him there until the work of love was done. That’s what God is building into our lives. That is the meaning of weakness, insults, hardships, persecution, [and] calamity.” – John Piper (HT: Symphony of Scripture)

Technique or Truth?

“Sometimes as I have gone witnessing with a group of people, I have wondered whether I’m sharing Christ or selling a line of products. It is interesting to see how some of the airport cults have picked up on some of our successful formulas and patterns of communicating. These cult members are so predictable we can see them coming a mile away. Like us, they tend to offer simplistic pitches. Because of election, we realize that we as Christians do not have to resort to such packages of last-chance tactics. We know that, in the final analysis, only God’s electing, redeeming grace, and not Madison Avenue or the latest fads of pop psychology, will bring lasting reconciliation between humans and God. With this knowledge we can be more comfortable with the biblical message and biblical methods. We can approach unbelievers as human beings rather than targets, consumers, numbers, and converts. I am tired of evangelical conferences where more time is

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Why God Doesn’t Always Heal

Why God Doesn’t Always Heal, by Sam Storms (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) God loved the apostle Paul. Yet God sovereignly orchestrated his painful thorn in the flesh and then declined to remove it, notwithstanding Paul’s passionate prayer that he be healed. We are not apostles. Yet, as his children, no less so than Paul, God loves us too. We don’t know the nature of Paul’s thorn, but each of us has undoubtedly suffered in a similar way, and some considerably worse. We, like Paul, have prayed incessantly to be healed. Or perhaps knowing of a loved one’s “thorn” we have prayed for them. And again, like Paul, God declined to remove it. Why? It’s hard to imagine a more difficult, confusing, and controversial topic than why God chooses not to heal in response to the intercessory pleas of his people. I don’t profess to have all the answers, but I think I’ve got a few. I’m sure that this meditation will

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God is Not Your Butler

Thomas Watson, a Puritan pastor from 350 years ago, asked in his book, Body of Divinity, “Why does God delay an answer to prayer?” In other words, why would God ever keep us asking and seeking and knocking when he could respond sooner? He gives four answers: 1. Because he loves to hear the voice of prayer. “You let the musician play a great while before you throw him down money, because you love to hear this music.” 2. That he may humble us. We may too easily assume we merit some ready answer, or that he is at our beck and call like a butler, not as sovereign Lord and loving Father. 3. Because he sees we are not yet fit or ready for the mercy we seek. It may be he has things to put in place—in us or in our church or in the world. There are a million pieces to the puzzle. Some things go first

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