Pure in Heart

The following is an excerpt from Logos Bible software’s commentary on Matthew 5:8.

Blessed are the pure in heart:  for they shall see God—Here, too, we are on Old Testament ground.  There the difference between outward and inward purity, and the acceptableness of the latter only in the sight of God, are everywhere taught.  Nor is the “vision of God” strange to the Old Testament; and though it was an understood thing that this was not possible in the present life (Ex. 33:20; and compare Job 19:26, 27, IS 6:5), yet spiritually it was know and felt to be the privilege of the saints even here (Ge. 5:24; 6:9; 17:1; 48:15; Ps 27:4; 36:9; 63:2; Is 38:3, 11 & etc).  But oh, with what grand simplicity, brevity, and power is this great fundamental truth here expressed!  And in what striking contrast would such teaching appear to that which was then current, in which exclusive attention was paid to ceremonial purification and external morality!  This heart purity begins in a “heart sprinkled from an evil conscience,” or a “conscience purged from dead works” (Heb 10:22; 9:14; and see Ac 15:9); and this also is taught in the Old Testament (Ps 32:1, 2; compare Ro 4:5-8; Is 6:5-8).  The conscience thus purged—the heart thus sprinkled—there is light within wherewith to see God.  “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with the other”—He with us and we with Him—”and the blood of Jesus  Christ  His  Son cleanseth us”—us who have this fellowship, and who,without such continual cleansing, would soon lose it again—”from all sin” (1 Jn 1:6,7).  “Whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him” (1 Jn 3:6); “He that doeth evil hath not seen God” (3 Jn 1:11).  The inward vision thus clarified, and the whole inner man in sympathy with God, each looks upon the other with complacency and joy, and we are “changed into the same image from glory to glory.”  But the full and beatific vision of God is reserved for that time to which the Psalmist stretches his views—”As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness:  I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness” (Ps 17:15).  Then shall His servants serve Him:  and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads (Rev 22:3, 4).  They shall see Him as He is (1 Jn 3:2).  But, says the apostle, expressing the converse of this beatitude—”Follow  holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

Who Really Killed Jesus?

Who really killed Jesus?  Secular scholars have been debating over this question for almost two millenia.  The crucifixion of Jesus is considered by many, Christians and non-Christians alike, to be one of the most significant events in world history.  For the believer it is the foundation of their faith and the hope of eternal life, the beginning of a new era.  For the non-believer it is also a dawn of a new era marking a new philosophy and world view.  The rise of a new religion for good or ill resulted in the death of Jesus.  Countless wars have been fought in the name of Jesus and eternal strife between cultures has arisen since the crucifixion.  We regard Jesus’ death as so important we even reckon time by it.  The ancient years being BC or before Christ, and the modern years AD or “Ano Domini” or “the year of the Lord”.  Of course now it is referred to as BCE, “before the common era” and CE, “common era” for those who don’t like to utter the word Christ.  Archaeologists have searched for the tomb and body of Jesus, people have claimed to own or have discovered artifacts related to Jesus, people wear crosses as jewelry accessories.  The point is that the death of Jesus is hugely important in our lives both as Christians and not.  It has huge implications on our beliefs about life, death, and the afterlife, and is the turning point of modern human history.

For almost two thousand years people have been asking the question “who killed Jesus?”  Some say it was the Romans, some say it was Pontius Pilate, some say the Jews.  Everyone seems determined to place a level of culpability on someone or some people group to bring closure to the greatest misdeed in history.  Most recognize Jesus as the meek and mild prophet and teacher who preached a message of forgiveness and love towards your neighbor.  That’s stuff everyone can agree with but Jesus was arrested and tried as a criminal, as one who sought to lead a rebellion against Rome and throw off the Roman rule of Judea.  Of this he was falsely accused.  Some say it was the Jews who’s hand was most prominent in the death of the innocent man Jesus.  The Jewish priests were the ones who brought the false charges against Jesus because he was telling people that he was the Son of God.  Blasphemy was punishable by death according to Jewish law so they sought to put an end to this ridiculous blasphemy by leveling this charge against him.  The claim to be the Son of God was made by Jesus on several occasions, but where the Jewish priests manipulated it was in the fact that the Son of God would be proclaimed as King of kings and Lord of lords and that title directly contradicted Roman rule, specifically Caesar himself.  The Jews hated being under Roman rule but here they manipulated it to bring about their own ends in a disgustingly twisted and evil way.  Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, had his hand forced by the Jewish crowd at Jesus’ trial because they were screaming “Crucify him!” and the Bible says that Pilate, fearing a riot pronounced the sentence of death upon Jesus although he found no guilt in him.

That brings us to the next group of people, or person specifically, who is said to have been responsible for Jesus’ death, Pontius Pilate.  Pilate really is in a loose-loose situation during the trial of Jesus.  The Jewish priests keep pressing him to condemn Jesus because he claims to be a king and hopes to lead a rebellion against Caesar.  Allowing Jesus to go free would pronounce Pilate as “no friend of Caesar”, which is ironic coming from the Jews who vehemently hated the Romans.  Pilate also does not want to condemn Jesus because from a legal standpoint he has done nothing to warrant death.  Pilate’s own wife intercedes on Jesus’ behalf telling her husband “have nothing to do with that righteous man for I have suffered greatly because of him in a dream”.  For fear that a riot will soon break out Pilate attempts to shift the burden from himself to the crowd by offering to release to them one criminal as is tradition during the Passover feast time, or kill Jesus.  The angry mob screams “Give us Barabbas!  Away with Jesus!”  Seeing that there was nothing to be gained by bargaining with them, Pilate reluctantly sentences Jesus to death then famously washes his hands of guilt.  The Jews cry out, “His blood be on us, and our children!”  Had Pilate been a stronger, more courageous leader who was devoted to the law Jesus might not have been killed.

But let us consider now another perspective.  The prophet Isaiah provides the most detailed and vivid description of the crucifixion of Jesus about 700 years beforehand.  In chapter 53 of Isaiah, the prophet describes Jesus as a man acquainted with grief and sorrow, being despised and rejected by his own people.  Isaiah outlines that Jesus would be poor, having no beauty that we should desire him, and that we would incorrectly judge him to be afflicted by God.  All this is freakishly accurate when we examine Jesus’ life, but then Isaiah says something completely out of left field.  In chapter 53 verses 5 and 6, Isaiah says the following:

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The LORD has laid upon him the iniquity of us all?  Really?  God did that to Jesus?  The answer is yes.  Here is further evidence from Isaiah 53:10:

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt

Clear as day right there.  It was the will of the LORD to crush him.  How can that be true?  God is not a murderer, that goes against everything we know about God.  Before you dismiss this evidence consider what the Jews were taught of old about the promised Messiah.  They believed that the Messiah would appear at the end of the age when God would make the heavens and the earth new and God’s Chosen One, the Messiah would redeem Israel from her bondage to her captives, whether it is Babylon, Assyria, or Rome, and usher in the new reign of the kingdom of God where there will be no more sin and Israel will dwell forever with God in the New Jerusalem.  At the time of Jesus the Jews were living under Roman authority.  While not suppressing their religion, the Romans required that the Jews be subject to Roman laws and taxes.  The Jews did not like this idea of paying tribute to a foreign pagan leader so they resented the Romans and hoped for their Messiah to appear and begin the revolution.  This is a drastically different picture of the Messiah from the one that is painted for us in Isaiah 53.  Isaiah paints the picture of the Messiah as a suffering servant who bears the sins of the wicked on their behalf.  The Messiah would stricken and afflicted, murdered, and buried for sinners though he himself was sinless, and Isaiah says that this was God’s plan.

Sin is a big deal to God.  Sin is the opposite of God’s holiness.  God hates sin because at the heart level it is a rebellion against and rejection of God.  Back in Genesis, God declared that the penalty for sin is death and that all those who sin shall die.  After the story of the exodus from Egypt God instituted the sacrificial system in which animals would be killed to take the guilt away from people so that God’s wrath against sin would be averted.  By sacrificing an animal and confessing your sins over it God would agree to forebear with the sinner and hold back his holy wrath from the actual sinner.  But the death of an animal could never truly pay for the sins of a human so the sacrificial system was imperfect.  It was designed to foreshadow the ultimate work of redemption that God promised way back in Genesis 3.  The sacrificial system was given with a promise, a promise that compliance with the gory rituals in faith that there will one day be a perfect sacrifice that would truly and wholly deal with sin would be made, will make a man righteous in the sight of God.  In Isaiah 53, Isaiah is describing that perfect and final sacrifice.  The Man of Sorrows, the Son of God, Jesus is the Lamb of God.  John the Baptizer proclaims in the gospels before the baptism of Jesus “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”  John the Baptizer knew his Old Testament and recognized that Jesus would be the fulfillment of the sacrificial system.

When Jesus died on the cross He willingly took upon Himself the full burden of the sins of the world.  Although He was entirely sinless in life, Jesus puts Himself in our place and invites upon His soul the full and terrible wrath of God for all of our sins past, present, and future.  He becomes the sacrifice for our sins and obtains forgiveness from God on our behalf.  Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel’s sacrificial system and it was the will of the LORD that He be so.  God’s plan all along was for Jesus to accomplish this divine rescue mission to rescue us from slavery to sin and to redeem us, to literally buy us with his blood, to the kingdom of God.

So the answer to the question of who killed Jesus is not the Jews, or the Romans, or Pilate, but God.  God the Father killed Jesus in order that by His death, many would be made alive.  The death of Jesus is the greatest act of love the universe has ever seen.  Jesus says in John 15:13, “Greater love no one has than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”  That we would be called friends of God as sinners and then God sacrifice His life for us is astonishing!  But that is not where the story ends.  Easter is just a few days away and it is appropriate that we celebrate the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead.  After three days in the grave Jesus rose again to life!  This ensures for us that Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin was accepted by God and that we are guaranteed to be resurrected like Him if we believe in His death.  Surely there is nothing in me that is worthy of such a deed by God so I am convinced that it is purely of grace that I have faith in this marvelous promise!

So this weekend remember that God sent Jesus on a rescue mission to pay your punishment for your sins so that you wouldn’t have to.  Reflect on the truth of the gospel and marvel at the unfathomable love that Jesus would lay down His life to save yours!

The God of Physics

The relationship between science and faith is one of a friendship gone sour.  The two used to be good friends who used to spur each other on to higher understanding. Early astronomers like Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler who were devout men of the Christian faith sought the mysteries of the cosmos to better understand the mind of God.  Even Sir Isaac Newton himself after publishing Principia Mathematica believed that the tightly-bound universe governed by mechanics and gravity was an insight into the mind of God and the brilliance of creation.   But over time science starting hanging out with other people and faith didn’t appreciate that much and got angry so they’re friendship became a bit testy.  In the mid 17th century science and faith signed what you could call a “non-aggression treaty” to agree to not intrude into the other’s territory.  For about 200 years science and faith were cordial at best as the Enlightenment gained momentum and the humanistic and materialistic culture of the 19th century took shape.  For many it was Charles Darwin’s work The Origin of Species that introduced evolution and natural selection that was the final nail in the coffin of the relationship between science and faith.

It used to be said that God was the God of the gaps.  Man used to wonder why it rained and so he said “God makes it rain” until we discovered that water vapor forms clouds that produce rain.  We used to ask why the sun rises and sets every day so we said “God moves it from east to west”.  Then we discovered that the planet rotates on its axis.  Eventually human curiosity and scientific observation filled almost all the gaps so there was essentially no more need for God in human thinking and God was confined to the minds of pious men of faith who were labelled “dim-witted” and “afraid of progress”.  By the end of the 19th century the thought of a divine being who had the ability to create and govern the universe was laughable to the vast majority of mainstream scientists and empirical evidence supposedly supported a universe that was un-ordered and chaotic and disproved the very idea of a creator.  Then there were physicists such as the great Albert Einstein who (based on his theory of general relativity) believed more or less that God was creation itself, that the universe was more ordered and desinged than we could ever imagine that a Creator must be behind it.  However,  the Creator of Einstein’s mind was the creation itself.  God was in the very stars, planets, nebulae, and black holes.  Very different from the personal, and anthropomorphic God of the Bible was this belief that is sometimes referred to as Pantheism.

There are a few people like myself (I am not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination!) who still hold to the belief that science and faith are not enemies, in fact they are more closely related than you could possibly imagine.  I can’t give a full discourse on why I believe this #1 because I am not as scientifically learned as required for such a proof and #2 because this is a blog, not a dissertation at Cambridge.  I am a man of faith, faith in the God of the Bible I might add.  I am equally fascinated in both science and faith.  My faith tells me that humans are created in the likeness and image of God and as such we are gifted with a mind capable of understanding the world we live in.  Not to exercise that gift, to stifle it, would in my mind be an insult to God.  For the sake of brevity (I may have already violated it) I will outline just one reason why I believe science and faith are friends still.  That reason is the theory of stellar and planetary formation known as accretion.

Accretion is the theory that stars and planets form from clouds of dust and gas that gravity causes to clump together to create a “runaway” effect of mass creation.  I will just focus on planetary accretion for now.  Once a star’s nuclear life has begun when hydrogen is fused into helium in the star’s core the outer elements are expelled and are thrown into an orbit around the new star.  The chaos of the elements causes them to constantly bombard other elements at massively high speeds and they begin to clump together.  The clumps get bigger and bigger as they begin to assert gravity of their own which attracts the smaller clumps and particle around them until a main bulge is created which is the skeleton of the new protoplanet.  Over many millions of years this process continues until all the dust and gas has been either accreted or expelled from the newborn solar system.  Accretion is not unlike a snowball being rolled down a snowy hill.  The snowball is small at the top of the hill but as it rolls down it gathers more and more snow making it larger and larger.  As it gets bigger and bigger the snowball has more surface area which allows it to gather more snow faster until it gets to the bottom as a huge and well-rounded snowball fit for a snowman.  This is the theory that explains how our planet and the others in our solar system were formed billions of years ago when the Sun was an infant.

Accretion of Earth Credit: Don Dixon/cosmographica.com

If you’ve hung in there with me so far here’s where I make the connection with my faith.  In the Bible the book of Job is the story of a man named Job who is righteous before God and who has been blessed with prosperity and wealth.  Job has many possessions, a large family, and he is respected in the community as an elder and a wise man who is learned of the ways of God.  A conversation takes place between God and Satan where Satan is asking permission of God to test one of His people.  God suggests Job who is righteous in all his ways.  Satan claims that if he could just take away all his wealth and possessions Job will curse God.  God grants Satan permission to do so.  Job has every material blessing suddenly stripped away from him, he looses his flock and herd, his house is destroyed, all his children die, and Job is left with no claim to anything on the Earth.  What ensues is a very lengthy discourse between Job and three of his friends about why this horrible calamity has happened to Job.  They all suggest that Job must have sinned to bring such disaster and punishment upon himself, whereas Job questions God’s goodness because he knows his heart has always been upright before God.  Near the end God Himself enters the discussion and directly questions Job for his accusations against God’s goodness and power.  In chapters 38-39 God declares Himself as the One who caused creation to be and He declares His power over all the wonders of the Earth and the universe.  In Job 38:37 God says something very interesting regarding His creative technique.  It reads, Who can number the clouds by wisdom?  Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs together into a mass and the clods stick fast together?”  This sounds remarkably like the process of accretion!  As far as we know, the ancient Hebrews had no knowledge of planetary formation so it is astonishing that God would say something like this to someone who would have no idea what He is talking about.  I believe it is clear that the “waterskins of the heavens” is a reference to the planets which the ancient people would have thought were just stars.  The dust that runs together into a mass sounds a lot like the accretion disk that forms around the newborn star which eventually becomes a planet or moon that “sticks fast together”.

To me this appears as clear evidence, not only that the Bible is more factual than most people could ever imagine, but that there are confirmations of our modern scientific knowledge in the Bible.  This proves both that our understanding of the universe has gotten us closer to the mind of God and that there is a divine Creator who operates the universe by a skillfully crafted set of rules.  The complexity and beauty of the universe is a testament to the unfathomable brilliance of God and His glory.  As Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above (the expanse in Hebrew) proclaims His handiwork”.  According to this knowledge my faith tells me that God created the universe and strictly governs it by a complex, yet beautiful set of laws that we are beginning to understand.  How marvelous is the prospect of being able get a glimpse into the mind of God by discovering the laws by which the universe operates!  Sadly, much of academia does not see it this way.  They assert the power of man’s mind and give no thought to a creator.  Let me close with another quote from Job.  Job 32:7-8 says “I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’  But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty , that makes him understand.” God grants wisdom to all men, but it is the Spirit of God that allows us to understand the true meaning of our wisdom…that it all points back to God.

Famous Last Words

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Do last words have any special meaning?  Are they the last messages conveyed by a dying person left for instruction, wisdom, or legacy?  Are they just random nerve endings firing in our brain in a last-ditch effort to keep our body from dying which are uttered as words?  I suppose we’ll never know for sure.  However the subject is quite intriguing.  It is often said that a person’s last words can summarize what their life was all about, the essence of their personality represented in one final sentence.  Sometimes last words are viewed as a glimpse into the afterlife when the dying person is somehow able to see the eternal aspect of the soul and supposedly see heaven or hell.  Are any of these true?  We’ll never know until we experience death ourselves.

One instance of famous last words that I believe will become very famous are those of the recently departed Steve Jobs.  Jobs’ last word are very intriguing for a couple reasons.  Jobs’ sister Mona Simpson gave his eulogy at his funeral when she mentioned his last words.  He had his children, his wife, and his sister by his side when he died and gazing at each in turn, he then looked past them and remarked, “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow”.  Now it is unclear in what tone of voice he uttered these words because it was read at his funeral and then published.  But the tone is what is so interesting.  The fact that he clearly was looking beyond his family and looking at something behind them that was not there leaves me to think that he might have had a revelation of something, or saw something for the first time.  What he saw must have either been beautiful or terrifying.  The tone of his voice would have indicated which emotion he was feeling but we are left to guess.

Was the late Apple CEO gazing at eternity?  What was it like?  Apart from the “Oh wow” we know of, we have no idea what was going on inside of his head at that instant before he fell into a coma.  There have been numerous stories of people glimpsing heaven or hell before death, and even dying and coming back describing what it is like.  The Bible tells us that we die and after that we experience the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).  We’ve all been taught that after we die we go up to heaven where we give an account to God for our entire life.  Every deed we’ve done, thought we’ve thought, everything we’ve not done will questioned and then according to God’s justice we’ll be congratulated or sentenced.  While this is partly true, the way the Bible really teaches it is that God will read to us the deeds of our life from a book as we stand and listen.  It will be more like a court trial when the accused is read the charges against him by the judge.  God judges according to His holiness, which just means His “otherness” from us or His “set apartness” from us.  God’s holiness is so pure and is the embodiment to moral perfection.  He is everything we aren’t but should be.  His holiness incites in our souls a fear because we are so imperfect compared to Him.  Deep down we know that we should not be near to God because He and His holiness is so terrifying that we are afraid.

Could this be what Steve Jobs saw in the final moments of his life?  Did he see with unveiled eyes the holiness of God?  Was then his exclamation of “Oh wow” one of fear and terror as his human unholiness was revealed to him compared to God’s?  As Hebrews 10:31 states, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Sinners who fall into the hands of God have everything to fear because of the judgment approaching them.  The fire of hell is a stark reality that they will soon experience for eternity.  Constant torment as retribution for a lifetime of wickedness and rebellion against God is what they are about to be condemned to, with no way out I might add.  The sentence is final and the execution swift, the consequences, forever.  It is truly a frightful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But perhaps there was hope for Steve Jobs.  His biographer, Walter Isaacson, had wrote that Jobs had been thinking a lot more about God when he found out that he was terminal.  He told Isaccson that he wanted to believe in an afterlife and that he was about 50-50 on the concept.  Perhaps he had heard the Gospel and was contemplating it, or maybe even believed it.  Whether he did or not we’ll never know.  But that would have certainly changed how we interpret his last words.  For someone who dies in faith in Jesus, the judgment is not something to be feared, but something to rejoice in because they have been declared righteous and justified before God.  God’s holiness is not seen as a fearful indictment but a beautiful sight leading to praise and worship.  If that was the case with Steve Jobs, his “Oh wow” could have been an exclamation of beauty having finally been able to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.

But the rest of the story of Steve Jobs is unknown to us, at least this side of eternity.  The question is, what will your eternity look like?  Will it be infinite agony and torment in hell for the wickedness of your life?  Or will it be infinite joy with God in heaven for the faith of your life?  The time remains for you to affect the ending of your story.

Happy Reformation Day

The far, far lesser known holiday celebrated on October 31st is Reformation Day.  It is the remembrance of the day when Martin Luther, then a monk in a Roman Catholic church, protested the sale of indulgences to be made righteous before God.  His letter of complaint and essay of his position on man’s justification was nailed to the door of the Schlosskirche cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany which became known as the “95 Theses”.  The year was 1517 and the Roman Catholic Church was moving throughout Europe selling indulgences to raise money to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  The Roman Catholic theology stated that man was not justified and made righteous by faith alone, but that faith must be active in charity and good works to be saving faith.  So by extension, donating money to the church could contribute to one’s good works and thereby his salvation.  Luther asserted that since forgiveness is God’s alone to grant, the Catholic church was in error claiming that indulgences had the power to forgive sins.  Although Luther never intended to confront the church, the protest against Roman indulgences sparked a European shockwave that spread to all reached of the continent.  The new movement called the Reformation was fueled by such people as Luther, William Tyndale, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and John Knox and quickly spread like wildfire.  The Reformation liberated thousands of parishes from the chains of the Roman Catholic Theocracy and lead a restoration back to God’s Word as the only source of divine revelation.  The key points of the Reformation were established as the Five Solas: Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, by grace alone, faith alone, Sola Scriptura, scripture alone, Solus Christus, in Christ alone, and Sola Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.  These five “solas” became the battle cry of the reformation leaders and they were held dearly, even to the death.

From the Reformation sparked many new denominations of churches that we categorize as Protestantism.  These denominations developed from various Reformation leader such as Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, John Calvin, and others.  The Reformation forever changed the way the world views God and reads the Bible and we have so much to be thankful for from the brave men who stepped out of line to ask tough questions and challenge the daunting status quo.  Today, while the rest of the world is celebrating Halloween and dressing up as zombies or whores, maybe spend the evening reflecting on God’s power to awake the dead from the bondage of slavery and give new life, both to the soul and to the Church.  The Reformation was certainly one of the most important events in human history so let’s not easily forget it or take it for granted.  Peace.

What Did He Just Say?

Rev. Jonathan Edwards, a leader of the Great A...

Jonathan Edwards: America's greatest theologian Image via Wikipedia

I just started reading the book Think:  The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper and so far, as is to be expected when one reads a Piper book, is pretty academic and mind-exploding!  In chapter 2 Piper is extolling his love of Jonathan Edwards and his musings on the Trinitarian God.  This quote from Edwards comes from his paper “An Essay on the Trinity” and it is simply too good to not share.  I had to read it a couple times before I totally understood it, but it seems to me the most complete and robust explanation of the Trinity and how each Person relates to the Other.

This I suppose to be the blessed Trinity that we read of in the Holy Scriptures.  The Father is the deity subsisting in the prime, unoriginated and most absolute manner, or the deity in its direct existence.  The Son is the deity generated by God’s understanding, or having an idea of Himself and subsisting in that idea.  The Holy Ghost is the deity subsisting in act, or the divine essence flowing out and breathed forth in God’s infinite love to delight in Himself.  And I believe the whole Divine essence does truly and distinctly subsist both in the Divine idea and Divine love, and that each of them are properly distinct persons.

That totally blew my mind!  And it gets even crazier because on the next page Piper includes another excerpt from Edwards’ paper on how the Trinity glorifies itself and delights in itself.

God is glorified withing Himself these two ways: (1) By appearing…to Himself in His own perfect idea [of Himself], or in His Son, who is the brightness of His glory. (2) By enjoying and delighting in Himself, by flowing forth in infinite…delight towards Himself, or in his Holy Spirit.

…So God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: (1) By appearing to…their understanding. (2) In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself…God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.  When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified  than if they only see it.  His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart.

God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart.  He that testifies his idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it.

So there it is.  A rather complete and robust exegesis on the doctrine of the Trinity in less than 200 words!  I didn’t think that existed!  Just some food for thought since I don’t have time to write any more.

Peace.

True Beauty

Last night we learned of one of the most tragic and saddening deaths of perhaps this young century.  Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple passed away from a several year long battle with pancreatic cancer.  Steve Jobs’ influence in the world of technology is one that simply cannot be regarded with anything else but praise.  Jobs took a fledgling desktop computer company called Apple in the early ’80’s trying to compete against giants such as Microsoft and IBM and turned it in to one of the world’s most valuable companies at the time of his death.  After being fired once from his post at Apple, Jobs is widely remembered as the Comeback Kid success story of the business world.  Under Jobs’ guidance and brilliance, Apple has created some of the most amazing computers and devices the world has ever seen, from Macintosh computers, iPods, Macbooks, to the revolutionary iPhone.  Apple products have long set the standard for industry change while also raising the bar aesthetically as well.  Steve Jobs will be missed by all those whose lives have been impacted by Apple in any way, shape, or form.  The world has lost a true visionary and genius.  My prayers go out to the Jobs family; may they find comfort and peace in their Creator in this time of intense grief and sorrow.

But this post is not about Steve Jobs.  This post is about Someone else.  That someone knows a thing or two about creating beautiful things and being a revolutionary and genius.  He also happens to be the creator of ALL things, including Steve Jobs.  He is the Sovereign Creator of the universe…God.  While all the things in this world may hold a unique beauty, they all declare something about the One who created them.  Humans for example are created in the image of God.  Our primary purpose in life is to model God with all the things we do with the gifts He has given us, our brains, our talents, our ability to think and reason, our creativeness, and our emotions.  All of those are gifts from God and were meant to be used to say something awesome about the One who endowed us with those gifts.

Our God’s beauty is on display all the time in nature and the beauty of the heavens.  Have you ever been stargazing on a clear night and been captivated by the sheer beauty of the cosmos?  It’s an amazing feeling because you are gazing at the beauty of God and his wisdom and power.  God is the source of all the beauty in this world and we, as His image-bearers have the responsibility, and the privilege, of giving Him praise as we behold it.  Martin Luther once said “All of a Christian’s life is one of repentance.”  While that is true I think in light of the truth of God’s beauty and wisdom, and power we should also say “All of a Christian’s life is one of praise!”  He alone is worth of all our praise.