Yahweh Is the Sweetest Name I Know

John Piper: You are not wrong to sing “Jesus is the sweetest name I know,” even though Yahweh is. Here’s why. God gave himself the name Yahweh. No man gave him this name. It is God’s chosen personal name. He loves to be known by this name. It is used 5,321 times in the Old Testament (according to TWOT). It is almost always translated by Lᴏʀᴅ (small caps). But it is not a title. It is a personal name, like James or Elizabeth. You know the name Yahweh best from its shortened form Yah at the end of Hallelujah, which means “praise Yahweh.” I love to think about this when I sing. When I sing, “Hallelujah,” I love to really mean: No! I don’t praise you Bel, or Nebo, or Molech, orRimmon, or Dagon, or Chemosh. I turn from you with disdain to Yah! I praise Yah. HalleluYah! God announced his name to Moses in Exodus 3:15. God said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘Yahweh, the God of your

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How the Doxology Shapes Us

Zac Hicks: One drop of water on a rock has little effect, but a steady dripping will eventually wear a hole into a seemingly impenetrable stone. Singing the Doxology every week is like getting a steady drip of life-giving Trinitarian water over hardened hearts. James K. A. Smith, in Desiring the Kingdom, reminds us that the very form and rituals of worship have a shaping effect on us.  We don’t just become more godly by learning the theology of the songs and imbibing the propositional content of the sermon.  Our desires and habits, as we move along the path of the liturgy, are shaped to more subconsciously and instinctively move along the direction of that path.   For instance, I have been in a context where I have experienced the same weekly liturgy of Confession, Assurance, and Repentance for over ten years now.  I now find that I have new instincts and desires when I slip into sin.  With nearly Pavlovian certainty, my

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Does Gethsemane Separate the Trinity?

Question: When Jesus says to his Father in the garden of Gethsemane, “not as I will, but as you will” (Mt.26:39), how should we think of this relationships within the Trinity? Did the Son have a different desire or will from the Father? Answer: John McKinley, associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and author of Tempted for Us: Theological Models and the Practical Relevance of Christ’s Impeccability and Temptation: The theological term that Jesus possesses two wills, one divine and one human, is Dyothelitism. God the Father and God the Son are distinct persons, but they share the same divine will. The difference of Jesus’ will from his Father’s will in Gethsemane is his human will. By incarnation, God the Son took up a second way of living as a man. He now possesses two natures. Each nature is complete, including a will for each. I define “will” as the spiritual capacity for

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Jesus’ non-grasping attitude

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7 ESV) Bruce Ware:  …he cannot mean that Christ gave up equality with God or that he ceased being fully God. Since he is fully God he cannot cease to be fully God. God is eternal, self-existent, immortal, and immutable, and thus he cannot cease to exist as God, nor can he fail to be fully God. Surely what Paul means is this: Christ being fully God, possessing the very nature of God and being fully equal to God in every respect, did not thereby insist on holding onto all the privileges and benefits of his position of equality with God (the Father) and thereby refuse to accept coming as a man.

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What does it mean to ‘glorify’ God?

How do you explain “glorify” to a small child (anyone really!)? Biblical concepts like this pose a particular problem for parents, and author Sally Lloyd-Jones provides us with some help in her wonderful book Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. One story from her book is titled “Glorify!” GLORIFY! God tells us to glorify him. “Glorify” means “to make a big deal of.” When someone makes a big deal of you, it fills up your heart with joy. But why does God need us to make a big deal of him? Why does he need us to get joy? He doesn’t. In the beginning God the Father and Jesus, his Son, together with the Holy Spirit, were already there — a loving family, glorifying each other in this wonderful Dance of Joy. No. God didn’t create us so he could get joy — he already had it. He created us so he could share it. He knows it’s the thing your heart

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Christmas and the Trinity

Guy Davies: If it is true that all three divine persons are involved any act of God, then the incarnation of the Son involved the whole Trinity. That does not mean that the Father and the Holy Spirit as well as the Son became incarnate. It was fitting that the Son as the image of the invisible God became man, created in the image of God according to his human nature. But the Son did not become incarnate apart from the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Father sent the Son into the world as man and sustained, taught, guided and empowered him by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the incarnation was that Christ might redeem us from sin by offering himself without blemish to God through the eternal Spirit. The Father raised his Son from the dead by the Spirit of holiness and by that same Spirit exalted Christ to his right hand in glory. The

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The Governing Centre of All Christian Belief

“Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity.” – Athanasian Creed Mike Reeves: Now today that sounds overwrought to the point of being hysterical. We must believe in the Trinity or “perish everlastingly”? No, that goes too far, surely? For while we might be happy enough to include the Trinity in our list of “things Christians believe,” the suggestion that our very salvation depends on the Trinity comes across as ridiculously overinflated bluster. How could something so curious be necessary for salvation “before all things”? And yet. The unflinching boldness of the Athanasian Creed forces us to ask what is essential for Christian faith. What would we say is the article of faith that must be held before all others? Salvation by

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Digging deep into the gospel

  “Our great need is to be led further in to what we already have. The gospel is so deep that it not only meets our deepest needs but comes from God’s deepest self. The salvation proclaimed in the gospel is not some mechanical operation that God took on as a side project. It is a ‘mystery that was kept secret for long ages’ (Rom. 16:25), a mystery of salvation that goes back into the heart of God, decreed ‘before the foundation of the world’ (Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:20). When God undertook salvation, he did it in a way that put divine resources into play, resources which involved him personally in the task. The more we explore and understand the depth of God’s commitment to salvation, the more we have to come to grips with the triunity of the one God. The deeper we dig into the gospel, the deeper we go into the mystery of the Trinity.” — Fred

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The Critical Difference Between Monergism and Synergism

John Hendryx writes: This is the one point that monergism establishes and synergism in all its formsdenies: namely, that sinners are impotent to lift a finger toward their own salvation, but that salvation, from first to last, whole and entire is of the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory for ever; amen Remember, divine election, by itself, has never saved anyone. It marks out certain individuals for salvation; it is God’s “blueprint” of what he intends to do in time through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. God the Father elects, the Son redeems them, and the Spirit applies the work of Christ to the same. The Trinity works in harmony to bring about God’s purposes of election… and He gathers them through the preaching of the gospel, the seed which the Spirit germinates and brings to life. Again, salvation is of the Lord. Synergists teach that ‘salvation depends on human will’, but

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Some Musings on Biblical Marriage Inspired by the Royal Wedding

. Marriage in the Bible speaks of: Creation ordinance (Gen.2:4) Marriage (the union of one man and one woman) is God’s idea, it’s his design. Completion/Complementarity (Gen.2:18) “It is not good for man to be alone.” God makes a helper suitable for Adam. Equal but different in order to fulfil significantly different roles and thus image forth a clear reflection of God, in all his Trinitarian glory. There is order in God, and in marriage. Cleaving (Gen.2:24) Two become one. For the new bond of ‘oneness’ to develop there must be a significant ‘leaving’ of the former family ties. At least emotionally. Covenant/Commitment (Prov.2:17; Mal.2:13,14) Beyond the emotional ties lies a deeper bond of commitment in God. Companionship (Eccl.4:9, 12) “Two are better than one… a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Celebration (Jn.2:1-11) Jesus celebrates at the wedding at Cana. Marriage is worthy of celebration. His presence dignifies and hallows the sacred estate of marriage. Conditions/Commands (Matt.19:6; Ex.20:14; Mal.2 :16)

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A close and happy union

My brethren, what is it that makes God happy but God Himself? And what is it that makes Christ so happy but that He is equal with God the Father? Now, if God makes Himself happy, how happy shall we be when we communicate with God in His happiness? To be one with Him, then, must make us happy. We cannot be one with Him as Christ is, for He is the brightness of His glory, the express image and character of His person; He is the natural Son of God and of the same nature with God. But we shall be made one with Him so far as the creature is capable of being made one with Him, and we shall have the next union to that which God and Christ have with one another. — Thomas Goodwin A Habitual Sight of Him: The Christ-centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin( Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2009), 107 (HT: Of First Importance)

Created to share joy

Historian George Marsden makes a summary of what Jonathan Edwards thinks of why God created: “Why would such an infinitely good, perfect and eternal Being create?… Here Edwards drew on the Christian Trinitarian conception of God as essentially interpersonal… The ultimate reason that God creates, said Edwards, is not to remedy some lack in God, but to extend that perfect internal communication of the triune God’s goodness and love… God’s joy and happiness and delight in divine perfections is expressed externally by communicating that happiness and delight to created beings… The universe is an explosion of God’s glory. Perfect goodness, beauty, and love radiate from God and draw creatures to ever increasingly share in the Godhead’s joy and delight… The ultimate of creation, then, is union in love between God and loving creatures.” ~ The Reason for God, Belief in an age of Skepticism. Timothy Keller (Dutton, New York, 2008) P218 (HT: Rick Ianniello)

This Infinite Fountain of Love

There, even in heaven, dwells the God from whom every stream of holy love, yea, every drop that is, or ever was, proceeds. There dwells God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, united as one, in infinitely dear, and incomprehensible, and mutual, and eternal love. There dwells God the Father, who is the father of mercies, and so the father of love, who so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son to die for it. There dwells Christ, the Lamb of God, the prince of peace and of love, who so loved the world that he shed his blood, and poured out his soul unto death for men. There dwells the great Mediator, through whom all the divine love is expressed toward men, and by whom the fruits of that love have been purchased, and through whom they are communicated, and through whom love is imparted to the hearts of all God’s people. There dwells

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Tim Keller’s impressions of The Shack

From The Gospel Coalition. Over the holidays I read a good (and devastating) review of William P. (Paul) Young’s The Shack in the most recent print edition of Books and Culture: A Christian Review (Jan/Feb 2010.)  It was a reminder that I was one of the last people on the planet not to have read the book. So I did. So why write a blog post about it? It had sold 7.2 million copies in a little over 2 years, by June of 2009. With those kinds of numbers, the book will certainly exert some influence over the popular religious imagination. So it warrants a response. This is not a review, but just some impressions. At the heart of the book is a noble effort — to help modern people understand why God allows suffering, using a narrative form. The argument Young makes at various parts of the book is this. First, this world’s evil and suffering is the result of our

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“God’s reconciling project”

From Tony Reinke: Graham A. Cole, God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP, 2009), 229-230: The God of the Bible is the righteous God of holy love. The trouble is, however, that we have become paradoxically the glory and garbage of the universe. Our great need is peace with God, and not just with God but also with one another. … There is no shalom, however, without sacrifice. Peace is made through the blood of the cross. The atoning life, death and vindication of the faithful Son bring shalom by addressing the problem of sin, death the devil and wrath definitively. Sacrifice, satisfaction, substitution and victory are key terms for understanding God’s atoning project in general and the cross in particular. Eschatologically speaking, the realization of the triune God’s reconciling project will see God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule living God’s way enjoying shalom in God’s holy and loving presence to God’s glory. … The broad

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The Father’s two greatest gifts

“When God planned the great work of saving sinners, he provided two gifts. He gave his Son and he gave his Spirit. In fact each person of the Trinity was involved in the great work of salvation. The love, grace and wisdom of the Father planned it; the love, grace and humility of the Son purchased it; and the love, grace and power of the Holy Spirit enabled sinners to believe and receive it. “The first great truth in this work of salvation is that God sent his Son to take our nature on him and to suffer for us in it. The second great truth is that God gave his Spirit to bring sinners to faith in Christ and so be saved.” —John Owen, The Holy Spirit, ed. RJK Law (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1998), 1 (HT: Of First Importance)

The Holy Trinity

Here are some helpful thoughts from Bavinck on the Trinity: For a true understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity three questions must be answered: What is the meaning of the word “essence”? What is meant by the word “person”? And what is the relation between “essence” and “person” and between the persons among themselves? The divine nature cannot be conceived as an abstract generic concept, nor does it exist as a substance outside of, above, and behind the divine persons. It exists in the divine persons and it totally and quantitatively the same in each person. The persons, though distinct, are not separate. They are the same in essence, one in essence, and the same being. They are not separated by time or space or anything else. They all share in the same divine nature and perfections. It is one and the same divine nature that exists in each person individually and in all of them collectively. Consequently, there is in

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The Shack, Fiction, and Non-fictional Characters

Trevin Wax reviews The Shack, finding it better than some have said, and worse than others have said! I thought this was an insightful point with regard to the challenge of using non-fiction characters in a fictional book: When you deal with non-fictional characters, you inevitably open yourself up to criticism. Let’s say you meet an author who wants to use your grandparents as the main characters in a novel. The author tells you that the narrative will be fictional, but that your grandparents will have the starring roles. Sounds great! you think. But when the manuscript arrives in your hands, you discover that the story does not accurately represent the personalities of your grandparents. The relationship between them is all wrong too. Grandma berates Grandpa. Early on, they run off and elope (which is totally out of character). At one point, they contemplate divorce. When you complain, the author responds, “Remember? I told you it would be fictional.” “Yes,” you say,

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