Mike Reeves: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Those three words could hardly be more bouncy. They seem lively, lovely, and as warming as a crackling fire. But “God is Trinity”? No, hardly the same effect: that just sounds cold and stodgy. All quite understandable, but Christians must see the reality behind what can be off-putting language. Yes, the Trinity can be presented as a fusty and irrelevant dogma, but the truth is that God is love because God is a Trinity. To dive into the Trinity is a chance to taste and see that the Lord is good, to have your heart won and your self refreshed. For it is only when you grasp what it means for God to be a Trinity that you really sense the beauty, the overflowing kindness, the heart-grabbing loveliness of God. If the Trinity were something we could shave off of God, we would not be relieving Him of some irksome weight; we would
Mike Reeves: Evangelical Christians have generally resisted the demythologization of the Gospels whereby, for example, the resurrection of Jesus is interpreted as a mythical portrayal of the principle of new life. Indeed, they have argued strongly that it’s the very historicity of the resurrection that is so vital. However, when it regards the biblical figures of Adam and Eve, there has been a far greater willingness to interpret them as mythical or symbolic. The simple aim of this article is to show that, far from being a peripheral matter for fussy literalists, it is biblically and theologically necessary for Christians to believe in Adam as a historical person who fathered the entire human race. Adam Was a Historical Person Textual Evidence The early chapters of Genesis sometimes use the word ’ādām to mean “humankind” (e.g., Gen. 1:26–27), and since there is clearly a literary structure to those chapters, some have seen the figure of Adam as a literary device, rather than a historical
Mike Reeves: Psalm 130:4 is one of those verses that makes your eyes screech to a halt on the page: “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” It sounds all wrong. “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be loved” would make sense. So would “But with you there is judgment, that you may be feared.” But that is not what it says. Stranger still is the fact that the psalmist just doesn’t look afraid of God. Quite the opposite. Straight after v. 4, he goes on to write of how “his soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen [wait] for the morning” (Ps. 130:5–6). He fully embraces the fact that “with the Lord there is steadfast love” and “plentiful redemption” (Ps. 130:7). That is because the fear of the Lord that Scripture commends and which the gospel produces is actually the opposite of being afraid of God. See, for example, Exodus 20, where the people of Israel gather
Michael Reeves: The Heart’s Inclinations The fear of God is not a state of mind you can guarantee with five easy steps. It is not something that can be acquired with simple self-effort. The fear of God is a matter of the heart. How easily we can mistake the reality of the fear of God for an outward and hollow show! As Martin Luther put it: “To fear God is not merely to fall upon your knees. Even a godless man and a robber can do that.”1Scripture presents the fear of God as a matter of the heart’s inclinations. So, reads Psalm 112:1, Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,who greatly delights in his commandments! The one who fears the Lord, then, is not merely one who grudgingly attempts the outward action of keeping the Lord’s commandments. The one who truly fears the Lord greatly delights in God’s commandments! In other words, fear runs deeper than behavior: it drives behavior. Sinful fear hates God and therefore acts sinfully.
Michael Reeves: Internal vs. External Transformation The issue at the heart of the Reformation was without a doubt the question of justification. When Luther was growing up, the understanding of justification that he was taught (and which really drove him to despair) was an understanding of justification inherited from Augustine who had thought that Romans 5:5 was the clearest single text to articulate justification. It says that “God has poured his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit he’s given us.” So with that understanding, God pours his love, by the Holy Spirit, into my heart so that in my heart, I am transformed to become more and more loving, more and more holy, more and more justified. It is an internal transformative process and that’s simply not what Romans 5:5 is actually about. But that understanding of justification as the transformative process meant that you could not be sure that you’d been internally transformed enough to be worthy
Michael Reeves: 1. His ministry began in the year of his conversion as a young man. Spurgeon was raised in a Christian home, but was converted in 1850 at fifteen years old. Caught in a snowstorm, he took refuge in a small Primitive Methodist chapel in Colchester. After about ten minutes, with only twelve to fifteen people present, the preacher fixed his eyes on Spurgeon and spoke to him directly: “Young man, you look very miserable.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.” Spurgeon later wrote, ‘Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.’ 1 The ‘Prince of Preachers’ was tricked into preaching his first sermon that same year. An older man had asked Spurgeon to go to the little village of Teversham the next evening, “for a young man was to preach there who was not much
Tony Reinke: The power of a great book to awaken your soul to the majesty of God is on full display in Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves. If you get this — or if it “gets” you — your life will never be the same. Next time you look up at the sun, moon and stars and wonder, remember: they are there because God loves, because the Father’s love for the Son burst out that it might be enjoyed by many. And they remain there only because God does not stop loving. He is an attentive Father who numbers every hair on our heads, for whom the fall of every sparrow matters; and out of love he upholds all things through his Son, and breathes out natural life on all through his Spirit. And not only is God’s joyful, abundant, spreading goodness the very reason for creation; the love and goodness of the triune God is the
Tony Reinke: Here’s one quote from what I think will end up proving to be one of the very best books published in 2014, Michael Reeves, Christ Our Life (Paternoster; September 1): When Christians define themselves by something other than Christ, they poison the air all round. When they crave power and popularity and they get it, they become pompous, patronizing, or simply bullies. And when they don’t get it they become bitter, apathetic or prickly. Whether flushed by success or burnt by lack of it, both have cared too much for the wrong thing. Defining themselves by something other than Christ, they become like something other than Christ. Ugly. Our union with Christ thus has deep plough-work to do in our hearts. It automatically and immediately gives us a new status, but for that status and identity to be felt to be the deepest truth about ourselves is radical, ongoing business. That is the primary identity of the believer,