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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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God does not Reveal His Secret or Hidden Purposes

The Reformation Study Bible ESVJames Montgomery Boice:

I need to clarify something before we go on. When we speak of knowing the will of God, we commonly think of that which God does not promise to reveal and, usually, does not reveal. God does not reveal His secret or hidden purposes (Deuteronomy 29:29). What He does reveal is that kind of life or character which pleases Him.

Thus, we see already that there are different meanings attached to the word will. In the Bible, one is that of the sovereign or efficacious will of God. This will is beyond anything we can fully know on earth. Indeed, it provides the origin of all things and orders them. God’s will is absolute. It is unlimited. It is determined only by God Himself. God does not need to consult anyone in formulating His plans, and He does not need help from anyone in carrying them out. God’s will is independent. It is fixed. It does not need to adapt to changing circumstances. It is omnipotent. This is the sense in John 6:40, in which Jesus says, “This is the will of My Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life.”

Another meaning of will in Scripture is the disposition of God, or, what pleases Him. In the Lord’s Prayer is the petition which says, “Thy will be done.” This does not refer to the sovereign or efficacious will of God for, if that were the case, there would be no need to pray for it. God’s will, in that sense, will be done whether we pray for it or not. In the Lord’s Prayer, the request is, rather, that what pleases God might be increasingly realized in our lives and in the lives of others.

So, when we speak of wanting to know God’s will, are we asking to know God’s hidden councils, those which are the expression of His sovereign will, or are we seeking to James Montgomery Boiceknow what pleases Him? If it is the former, we are doomed to frustration. We will not learn God’s hidden councils for the simple reason that they are hidden. If we are seeking to know what pleases God, much can be said, for God has revealed that to us. “God wills our righteousness. God wills our obedience. And the law of God clearly reflects something of His will in the perceptive sense, the sense of His disposition.” (Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive and Readable Theology, p. 476)

Scaling the Peaks of Ignorance

Robert JastrowRobert Jastrow:

For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.

Jesus is Truly God and became Manifest in the Flesh

John CalvinJesus, even though a member of the Godhead, became manifest in the flesh that we might see His manhood and receive Him. Jesus is truly God, and yet one with us. He is our justification and with Him we are children of God who have been delivered from the burden of our sins. John Calvin writes:

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)

[Christ] took upon Him our flesh, and became our brother. Yea and … He was made like unto us, that He might have pity upon us, and help our infirmities. He was made the seed of David, that He might be known as the Redeemer that was promised, whom the fathers looked for from all ages. Let us remember that it is written, the Son of God appeared in the flesh; that is. He became very man, and made us one with Himself; so that we may now call God our Father. And why so? Because we are of the body of His only Son. But how are we of His body? Because He was pleased to join Himself to us, that we might be partakers of His substance.

Hereby we see that it is not a vain speculation, when men tell us that Jesus Christ put on our flesh: for hither we must come, if we will have a true knowledge of faith. It is impossible for us to trust in Him aright, unless we understand His manhood: we must also know His majesty, before we can trust in Him for salvation. We must know moreover that Jesus Christ is God and man, and likewise that He is but one person.

Here again the devil tries to stir up the coals of strife, by perverting or disguising the doctrine which St. Paul teaches us. For there have been heretics who have endeavored to maintain that the majesty and Godhead of Jesus Christ, His heavenly essence, was forthwith changed into flesh and manhood. Thus did some say, with many other cursed blasphemies that Jesus Christ was made man. What will follow hereupon? God must forego His nature, and His spiritual essence must be turned into flesh. They go on further and say Jesus Christ is no more man, but His flesh has become God.

These are marvelous alchemists, to make so many new natures of Jesus Christ. Thus the devil raised up such dreamers in old times to trouble the faith of the church; Jesus Christ is God!who are now renewed in our time. Therefore, let us mark well what St. Paul teaches us in this place; for he giveth us good armor, that we may defend ourselves against such errors. If we would behold Jesus Christ in His true character, let us view in Him this heavenly glory, which He had from everlasting: and then let us come to His manhood, which has been described heretofore; that we may distinguish His two natures. This is necessary to nourish our faith.

If we seek life in Jesus Christ, we must understand that He hath the whole Godhead in Him; for it is written, “For with thee is the foundation of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psa. 36:9). If we would be maintained against the devil, and withstand the temptations of our enemies, we must know that Jesus Christ is God. To be short, if we would put our whole trust and confidence in Him, we must know that He possesses all power; which He could not have, unless He were God. Who is He that hath all power? It is He that became feeble and weak; the Son of the virgin Mary; He that was subject to death; He that bore our sins: He it is, that is the wellspring of life. (“The Mystery of Godliness”)

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