5.20.2013

The Object of Corporate Worship

Mike Cosper, in his book Rhythms of Grace, makes a key observation about the nature of corporate worship. Here is my summary what Mike calls the worship one-two-three:
One: God is the object and the author of worship. 
Two: Worship happens when God’s people are scattered and gathered.  
Three: God, the Church, and the world witness our worship.
I was thinking about the implications of God being the object of our worship and pondered the following ponderings.

Do we worship God according to His self-revelation or to a false image of God? In our corporate worship, God is the only object of our worship and we worship God. We do not gather together to engage in an activity called “worship”; we worship something, namely, God. God is to be the sole object of our worship. When we gather, we direct all our honoring, thanksgiving, praising, exalting, and exulting towards God. As the formerly blind man fell at Jesus feet and worshiped Jesus when he received Jesus’ self-revelation (John 9:37-38), so we are to respond to God as we receive God’s story – the gospel. It makes much sense to then fill our corporate gatherings with Scripture – reading, reciting, preaching – so that there will be no doubt in the congregation as to who God says He is and so that God’s Spirit may actively work in us through the Scriptures.

God’s self-revelation should also cause us to evaluate carefully the words of the songs we sing. Consider the following:

  • Do the songs we sing accurately reflect who God is and what He has done? Are we singing false or faulty doctrine? (This implies one must have and know doctrine first.)
  • Do we have an imbalanced song collection where we focus inordinately on certain characteristics of God and neglect others?
  • Can the songs we sing be sung by one living the normal Christian life or do the songs we sing portray the redeemed life as one of all triumph or as one of gloom?
  • Do the songs we sing represent a mere mishmash of spiritual phrases? Do our songs sound more like a word-bank for worship buzzword bingo – praise, love, glory, fire, desire, king, sing – than coherent lyrics which tell God’s story that we sing along to? Contrary to the apparent beliefs of some popular songwriters, singing “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” ad infinitum might not be the best method of vocalizing our praise to God.

There is much more to be thought through and more to be said about such a topic.

3.31.2013

The Neglected Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage

Should Christians support "same-sex marriage"?

That is the question I have been considering this past week. I have seen several Christian friends and acquaintances come out in support of same-sex marriage via social media recently. I have also heard many raise their opposition to same-sex marriage. I believe that there is an argument against same sex marriage which has been tragically neglected in recent weeks. The argument had two sides, a negative and positive. Let's consider the negative first.

Same-sex marriage, as it is presently propounded, is incompatible with what is good for men and women according to what God has made plain in Scripture. Why? Because same-sex marriage is founded on something sinful - homosexuality. You cannot support same-sex marriage without supporting something which God disapproves. Christians should never encourage anyone to sin, whether they are believers or not. Standing up for same-sex marriage is to promote a life where one can accept homosexual desire and pursue it in the context of a homosexual relationship. Christians should not encourage this. To accept homosexual marriage is to accept sin and Christians should never accept that which brings death to mankind (cf. Romans 1-6).

What is the positive side of the argument? The glorious, beautiful, and tragically neglected side of the argument? Christ, the one to whom Christians should point their same-sex friends to, is scorned. Here is one way of stating the argument all too absent as of late: 

"There is something far better for the homosexual man or woman than to be married to another homosexual man or woman - to repent and believe in the Gospel of Jesus and be forever married to He who is ultimately and most fully good for men and women - Jesus!"  

We should encourage homosexuals to flee to Christ and repent of their sin (including homosexual passions) and believe in the gospel of grace. Christians can't promote something that brings death (as all sin does) and at the same time promote Christ. I think many Christians mistakenly support same-sex marriage because they have a skewed view of what is marriage, love, happiness, and the ultimate purpose of life. The Bible gives the truth of what is good for men and women: to know and be known by God in Christ. Or, as many have confessed over the years: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. 

I am deliberately leaving many things out of this post for the sake of trying to present a singular point. Comments are open.

2.24.2013

The Only Kind of Boasting Allowed - Gadsby #32

There is only one kind of boasting approved by God and that is boasting in Christ. What does it mean to boast in Christ? Is it to exult in the fact that Christ saved you? This is an unthinkable and glorious reality, but I don't think that in boasting in Christ, we become the subject of such boasting. Boasting in Christ rather is proudly exulting in who Jesus is, how He made God just and became the justifier of those who have faith in Him (Rom. 3:26). I think boasting is closer to that. Having said that, this is the only kind of boasting approved by God. Further, the litmus test for evidence of the residence of the Spirit of God is such boasting - exulting in the supreme holiness of God manifested in the Son's life, death, and resurrection with abundant love.

Also, another way to detect the Spirit's activity is to see how much people are heart-gazing at Christ. This is the dominant activity of the Spirit. Do I need to mention that some alleged manifestations of the Spirit may be exactly the opposite of what they claim to be if Christ is not lifted up as the supreme treasure?

    32    C.M.    J. Hart
    “He shall not speak of himself.” John 16:13; 15:26

    1    Whatever prompts the soul to pride,
            Or gives us room to boast,
        Except in Jesus crucified,
            Is not the Holy Ghost.

    2    That blessed Spirit omits to speak
            Of what himself has done,
        And bids the enlightened sinner seek
            Salvation in the Son.

    3    He never moves a man to say,
            “Thank God, I’m made so good,”
        But turns his eye another way,
            To Jesus and his blood.

    4    Great are the graces he confers,
            But all in Jesus’ name;
        He gladly dictates, gladly hears,
            “Salvation to the Lamb.”

2.19.2013

Useless Doctrine - Gadsby # 31

Doctrine quickly becomes meaningless if it does not affect your life. Hart repeats this several times in this hymn. What good is election to me if God has not chosen me? What good is justification if Christ' accomplished redemption is not applied to me? You get the picture. But the question still remains: is your doctrine useless?

    31    C.M.    J. Hart
    “The kingdom of God is ... in power.” 1 Cor. 4. 20
  
    1    A form of words, though e’er so sound,
            Can never save a soul;
        The Holy Ghost must give the wound,
            And make the wounded whole.

    2    Though God’s election is a truth,
            Small comfort there I see,
        Till I am told by God’s own mouth,
            That he has chosen me.

    3    [Sinners, I read, are justified,
            By faith in Jesus’ blood;
        But when to me that blood’s applied,
            ’Tis then it does me good.]

    4    [To perseverance I agree;
            The thing to me is clear;
        Because the Lord has promised me
            That I shall persevere.]

    5    [Imputed righteousness I own
            A doctrine most divine;
        For Jesus to my heart makes known
            That all his merit’s mine.]

    6    That Christ is God I can avouch,
            And for his people cares,
        Since I have prayed to him as such,
            And he has heard my prayers.

    7    That sinners black as hell, by Christ
            Are saved, I know full well;
        For I his mercy have not missed,
            And I am black as hell.

    8    Thus, Christians glorify the Lord,
            His Spirit joins with ours
        In bearing witness to his word,
            With all its saving powers.

2.18.2013

The Fruit of the Spirit - Gadsby #30

I'm not entirely sure if I am in 100% agreement with this hymn. Here are a few points of pushback I have:

  • What about the soul who doesn't have "sincere desires" in seeking after Jesus' love? For example, there are many who pursue God in Spirit-idolatry, where miraculous gifts are sought more than God Himself. But if the Holy Spirit only gave "breathings from above" to those who sincerely sought Jesus, we would all be lacking God's great Gift (Rom. 5:4). I am not denying that God withholds Spiritual blessings from those who earnestly seek Him. Such a thought paints the picture of a fickle and malevolent God. I guess my point is here that the Spirit will breath on those whom He wills (Jn. 3:8), through convicting them of their sin (which means that they are presently entangled in sin to be convicted of it - cf. Jn 16:8).
  • "still small voice" - I have rarely seen someone use this phrase properly. When people speak of the "still small voice" they often imply hearing little mental whispers from God. The debate around this phrase/topic is worthy of exegesis from skilled exegetes (i.e. not me). Suffice it to say, when phrases such as this are exported from Scripture and then take on a new meaning divorced from the original text, well, you're doing it wrong.
Other than those minor quibbles, here is one thing worthy of reflection: you can have your "conscience washed from sin". This is not impossible. But beware of the Accuser who will work against you to make it seem impossible.

30    C.M.    J. Hart
The Fruit of the Spirit. Acts 2:3; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9

    1    The soul that with sincere desires
            Seeks after Jesus’ love,
        That soul the Holy Ghost inspires
            With breathings from above.

    2    [Not every one in like degree
            The Spirit of God receives;
        The Christian often cannot see
            His faith, and yet believes.

    3    So gentle sometimes is the flame,
            That, if we take not heed,
        We may unkindly quench the same,
            We may, my friends, indeed.]

    4    Blest God! that once in fiery tongues
            Cam’st down in open view,
        Come, visit every heart that longs
            To entertain thee too.

    5    [And though not like a mighty wind,
            Nor with a rushing noise,
        May we thy calmer comforts find,
            And hear thy still small voice.]

    6    Not for the gift of tongues we pray,
            Nor power the sick to heal;
        Give wisdom to direct our way,
            And strength to do thy will.

    7    We pray to be renewed within,
            And reconciled to God;
        To have our conscience washed from sin
            In the Redeemer’s blood.

    8    We pray to have our faith increased,
            And O, celestial Dove!
        We pray to be completely blessed
            With that rich blessing, love.

2.14.2013

A Hymn About The Spirit's Leading

The first thing that struck me when I was reading this hymn was the phrase "ravished breasts". It is ok to realized that your heart is often beat up and you are worn down from life. We can't hide from pain in this cursed universe. But we need not fall into utter despair because of the struggles we face in life. The Spirit is ready and willing to help us. More than that, we can hope in Him, the Spirit of God, because He is powerful and He can renovate our bruised hearts. The soul the Spirit of God renews will not collapse into ruin.

It is a gospel irony that we find healing in the "bruised wounds of our incarnate God". The world would think it strange that the God believers worship is a God who guides us to a bloody crucifix where the "sinner-train" finds a new song: "We're clean, just God, we're clean."

29    8.8.6.    J. Hart
Led by the Spirit. Ezek. 37:5,9; John 16:14

    1    Descend from heaven, celestial Dove,
        With flames of pure seraphic love
            Our ravished breasts inspire;
        Fountain of joy, blest Paraclete,
        Warm our cold hearts with heavenly heat,
            And set our souls on fire.

    2    Breathe on these bones, so dry and dead;
        Thy sweetest, softest influence shed
            In all our hearts abroad;
        Point out the place where grace abounds;
        Direct us to the bleeding wounds
            Of our incarnate God.

    3    Conduct, blest Guide, thy sinner-train
        To Calvary, where the Lamb was slain,
            And with us there abide;
        Let us our loved Redeemer meet,
        Weep o’er his pierc├Ęd hands and feet,
            And view his wounded side.

    4    [From which pure fountain if thou draw
        Water to quench the fiery law,
            And blood to purge our sin;
        We’ll tell the Father in that day,
        (And thou shalt witness what we say),
            “We’re clean, just God, we’re clean.”]

    5    Teach us for what to pray, and how;
        And since, kind God, ’tis only thou
            The throne of grace canst move,
        Pray thou for us, that we, through faith,
        May feel the effects of Jesus’ death,
            Through faith, that works by love.

    6    [Thou, with the Father and the Son,
        Art that mysterious Three-in-One,
            God blest for evermore!
        Whom though we cannot comprehend,
        Feeling thou art the sinner’s Friend,
            We love thee and adore.]

2.13.2013

Gadsby #28 - The Spirit Gives Life

If this hymn does not well describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit, I am not sure what else does. Writings such as hymns, catechisms, and confessions are worthy of our meditation just as Scripture is worthy of our meditation for such writings are summaries and testimonies of the truth of Scripture. My thinking has been changed much by good hymns.

There is comfort which we may delight in and there is comfort in which we may not delight in. It is fitting to find joy in the comfort the Spirit gives us as he reminds us of Christ' eternal priesthood and accomplished redemption. It is not fitting to rest in the "false comforts" of this world (verse 5). Such comforts are akin to drinking antifreeze. Sweet but poisonous.

One question from this hymn we should apply to ourselves is: do we ask the Spirit to renovate our hearts?

28   C.M.   J. Hart
“It is the Spirit that quickeneth.” John 6:63; 14:16
   
1 Blest Spirit of truth, eternal God,
Thou meek and lowly Dove,
Who fill’st the soul through Jesus’ blood,
With faith, and hope, and love;

2 Who comfortest the heavy heart,
By sin and sorrow pressed;
Who to the dead canst life impart,
And to the weary rest;

3 [Thy sweet communion charms the soul,
And gives true peace and joy,
Which Satan’s power cannot control,
Nor all his wiles destroy;]

4 Come from the blissful realms above;
Our longing breasts inspire
With thy soft flames of heavenly love,
And fan the sacred fire.

5 [Let no false comfort lift us up
To confidence that’s vain;
Nor let their faith and courage droop,
For whom the Lamb was slain.]

6 Breathe comfort where distress abounds,
Make the whole conscience clean,
And heal, with balm from Jesus’ wounds,
The festering sores of sin.

7 Vanquish our lust, our pride remove,
Take out the heart of stone;
Show us the Father’s boundless love,
And merits of the Son.

8 The Father sent the Son to die;
The willing Son obeyed;
The witness thou, to ratify
The purchase Christ has made.

2.12.2013

Should Christians counsel unbelievers?

A few excerpts from Alasdair Groves' article in the Journal of Biblical Counseling from CCEF:
Counseling a non-Christian involves building a friendship. Get to know this person. Ask questions. Express appreciation. Show tenderness and compassion. Share things about yourself. Spend time. Listen attentively. Discern what is important. Notice strengths as well as failings. Ask how someone is really doing, and mean it. This question, asked with genuine interest, is a precious gift. If you can care about a friend who is not a Christian, why should counseling be any different? Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and “loved him.” We must know and love this person living in separation from God, just as Christ loved us when we walked in darkness.
Christian ministry is evangelism. In counseling this means we strive for a relationship where the natural next step in the relationship is speaking about the good news of the Good Shepherd. What happens when someone acknowledges shame, guilt, wounds, wickedness, weakness or loneliness? That person becomes more open to a Shepherd who laid down his life so his sheep could have glorious, endless, forgiven, painless, shameless, eternal life with God as part of his family. 
Read the whole article for free here as a PDF.

2.11.2013

Gadsby #27 - To the Holy Ghost

Oh how we need the Spirit! Who else can "dispel the darkness from our minds"?

What are the most sinister "doubts and fears" that can cross our hearts? Doubting that God cannot satisfy us. Fearing that He is impotent. Such doubts and fears are dispelled by a God-kindled love for God.

Let this hymn be our prayer to the Spirit.

27 S.M. J. Hart
To the Holy Ghost. Luke 11:13; John 14:26; John 15:26

1 Come, Holy Spirit, come;
Let thy bright beams arise;
Dispel the darkness from our minds,
And open all our eyes.

2 [Cheer our desponding hearts,
Thou heavenly Paraclete;
Give us to lie, with humble hope,
At our Redeemer’s feet.]

3 Revive our drooping faith;
Our doubts and fears remove;
And kindle in our breasts the flames
Of never-dying love.

4 Convince us of our sin,
Then lead to Jesus’ blood;
And to our wondering view reveal
The secret love of God.

5 [Show us that loving Man
That rules the courts of bliss,
The Lord of Hosts, the Mighty God,
The eternal Prince of Peace.]

6 [’Tis thine to cleanse the heart,
To sanctify the soul,
To pour fresh life on every part,
And new-create the whole.]

7 If thou, celestial Dove,
Thy influence withdraw,
What easy victims soon we fall
To conscience, wrath, and law!

8 [No longer burns our love;
Our faith and patience fail;
Our sin revives, and death and hell
Our feeble souls assail.]

9 Dwell, therefore, in our hearts;
Our minds from bondage free;
Then shall we know, and praise, and love
The Father, Son, and Thee.

2.07.2013

Thoughts from Zephaniah 3

Thinking about my sin. This is something important to do in repentance. Perhaps there are too many warnings that point us away from considering our own sin. How can we repent if we don't know our offense?

Sin has caused so much damage in my life. Why have I allowed such disobedience? Why have I put Christ to the test (1 Cor. 10:9)?

Perhaps the more shocking question is, "Why have I known such grace?" There is a definite answer to this offensive question. Ask the question, "Who is God?" and you will find the answer to the mystery of grace.

He is "a mighty one who will save" (Zeph. 3:17).
He will change our shame into praise (Zeph. 3:19).
God Himself will save us from our shameful rebellion (Zeph. 3:11) and will shape us into "a people humble and lowly," who seek refuge in the LORD (Zeph. 3:12).

God Himself performs this transformation, not you or me (Zeph. 3:9). Our salvation and hope of true change rests on God alone. He is our only hope (Zech. 4:6).

2.06.2013

Get Used to the Idea of Suffering

Carl Trueman with some good insight on suffering and Job:
The lessons of Job are manifold but it seems that a few rather stand out: this is a complicated, fallen, evil world; Christians can expect to suffer - hey, we all die in the end, no matter how jolly we might feel at points in the interim, so we had better get used to the idea; Christians are no more exempt from depression than they are from cancer or strokes; and the idea that these things are necessarily linked to our lack of faith, to our personal sin, to our outlook on life, or, indeed, to anything intrinsic to us, is nonsense and unbiblical.
Read the rest here.

Gadsby #26 - The Operations of the Holy Spirit


We don't have enough songs about the Spirit. Good songs. Not the mushy "oh fill me with your presence, you are present here, Spirit in me, blah blah blah" stuff. We needs songs that consider the wonders of [the Spirit's] grace. Ok, I'm down off my daily soapbox.

I am not one to put undue emphasis on the experiential aspect of the Christian life, but let me say that when your "troubled conscience" has heard the voice of the Spirit, this is an amazing thing.

So Spirit, come and work in us as the Scripture says, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts" (Zech. 4:6).

26 L.M. Isaac Watts
The Operations of the Holy Spirit. Zech. 4:6 
1 Eternal Spirit, we confess
And sing the wonders of thy grace;
Thy power conveys our blessings down
From God the Father and the Son.
2 Enlightened by thy heavenly ray,
Our shades and darkness turn to day;
Thy inward teachings make us know
Our danger and our refuge too. 
3 Thy power and glory work within,
And break the chains of reigning sin;
Do our imperious lusts subdue,
And guide our roving feet anew. 
4 The troubled conscience knows thy voice;
Thy cheering words awake our joys;
Thy words allay the stormy wind,
And calm the surges of the mind.

2.04.2013

Gadsby #25

25 C.M. Isaac Watts
Breathing after the Holy Spirit. Ps. 44:25,26

1 Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With thy all-quickening powers;
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours.

2 Look how we grovel here below,
Fond of these trifling toys;
Our souls can neither fly nor go,
To reach eternal joys.

3 In vain we tune our formal songs,
In vain we strive to rise;
Hosannas languish on our tongues,
And our devotion dies.

4 Dear Lord, and shall we ever live
At this poor dying rate?
Our love so faint, so cold to thee,
And thine to us so great?

5 Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With thy all-quickening powers;
Come shed abroad a Saviour’s love,
And that shall kindle ours.

What is the cure to a "cold heart"? Nothing but Christ' love, mediated by the Spirit, can kindle the fires of our worship. The "trifling toys" of this world are a bucket of water on the fires of worship. If we are loving the world, we are not loving God. The only thing, rather, the only person who can save us from a "love so faint" which decelerates our lives to a "poor dying rate" is the Spirit. Our lives, service, and worship of God are vain and full of toil if the Spirit is not present in them. If the Spirit is not present, even our corporate worship will be filled with languishing Hosannas and dead devotion. We need the Spirit far more than we realize. May he come and "shed abroad the Saviour's love" and truly, "that shall kindle ours".

1.31.2013

Gadsby #24

24 C.M. Isaac Watts
The Witnessing and Sealing Spirit. Rom. 8:14, 16

1 Why should the children of a King
Go mourning all their days?
Great Comforter! descend and bring
Some tokens of thy grace.

2 Dost thou not dwell in all the saints,
And seal them heirs of heaven?
When wilt thou banish my complaints,
And show my sins forgiven?

3 Assure my conscience of her part
In the Redeemer’s blood;
And bear thy witness with my heart,
That I am born of God.

4 Thou art the earnest of his love,
The pledge of joys to come;
And thy soft wings, celestial Dove,
Will safe convey me home.

I have sometime heard salvation by Christ described as "fire insurance". I find this description of salvation entirely deficient and quite repugnant. For one, as this hymn makes plain, the "fire insurance" moniker completely ignores the Holy Spirit, God Himself, who proceeded from the Father because of the Son, made His dwelling in the hearts of the Church, touched our conscience with assurance of regeneration, and guaranteed for us a indescribable heavenly hope. Much more than fire insurance.

1.30.2013

Gadsby #23

23 C.M. J. Hart
Christ Very God and Man. John 1:29; Isa. 9:6

1 A Man there is, a real Man,
With wounds still gaping wide,
From which rich streams of blood once ran,
In hands, and feet, and side.

2 [’Tis no wild fancy of our brains,
No metaphor we speak;
The same dear Man in heaven now reigns
That suffered for our sake.]

3 This wondrous Man of whom we tell,
Is true Almighty God;
He bought our souls from death and hell;
The price, his own heart’s blood.

4 That human heart he still retains,
Though throned in highest bliss;
And feels each tempted member’s pains;
For our affliction’s his.

5 Come, then, repenting sinner, come;
Approach with humble faith;
Owe what thou wilt, the total sum
Is cancelled by his death.

6 His blood can cleanse the blackest soul,
And wash our guilt away;
He will present us sound and whole,
In that tremendous day.

Verse two: Jesus is real. He is not just an idea. He is not an impersonal force. He is a person and He is God. We can relate with Him and He can relate with us. I miss this often. I have only begun to get to know Jesus.

"That day" will be a tremendous day indeed. I love hymns like this, but I love what they point to more.

1.28.2013

Gadsby #22

22 L.M. Isaac Watts
Christ Dwells in Heaven, but Visits on Earth. Song. 6:1

1 When mourners stand and hear me tell
What beauties in my Saviour dwell,
Where he is gone they fain would know,
That they may seek and love him too.

2 My best Beloved keeps his throne
On hills of light, in worlds unknown;
But he descends and shows his face
In the young gardens of his grace.

3 [In vineyards, planted by his hand,
Where fruitful trees in order stand,
He feeds among the spicy beds,
Where lilies show their spotless heads.]

4 He has engrossed my warmest love;
No earthly charms my soul can move;
I have a mansion in his heart,
Nor death nor hell shall make us part.

5 [He takes my soul, ere I’m aware,
And shows me where his glories are;
No chariots of Amminadib
The heavenly rapture can describe.]

6 O may my spirit daily rise
On wings of faith above the skies;
Till death shall make my last remove,
To dwell for ever with my Love.

Even though the inspiration for this song likely stems from an allegorical interpretation of the Song of Solomon, I think it still carries much value.

The fourth verse intrigues me. We see the heart believers long after in the first two lines and the immovable heart of Christ for his own in the last two lines. Christ' love for his people is far greater than they realize and are engrossed by the very thing that engrosses them: the love of Christ. Lest we wonder how we taste of such love, we have the answer here in this hymn: by "wings of faith" which take us above the skies. Because we would need to go above the skies to begin to grasp the heights of His love (Ps. 103:11).

1.25.2013

Gadsby #21

21 L.M. Isaac Watts
A Description of Christ, the Beloved. Song. 5:9-16

1 The wondering world inquires to know
Why I should love my Jesus so;
“What are his charms,” say they, “above
The objects of a mortal love?”

2 Yes, my Beloved to my sight
Shows a sweet mixture, red and white:
All human beauties, all divine,
In my Beloved meet and shine.

3 White is his soul, from blemish free;
Red with the blood he shed for me;
The fairest of ten thousand fairs;
A sun amongst ten thousand stars.

4 [His head the finest gold excels;
There wisdom in perfection dwells;
And glory, like a crown, adorns
Those temples once beset with thorns.

5 Compassions in his heart are found,
Hard by the signals of his wound;
His sacred side no more shall bear
The cruel scourge, the piercing spear.]

6 [His hands are fairer to behold
Than diamonds, set in rings of gold;
Those heavenly hands that on the tree
Were nailed, and torn, and bled for me.]

7 [Though once he bowed his feeble knees,
Loaded with sins and agonies,
Now on the throne of his command,
His legs like marble pillars stand.]

8 [His eyes are majesty and love,
The eagle tempered with the dove;
No more shall trickling sorrows roll
Through those dear windows of his soul.]

9 [His mouth, that poured out long complaints,
Now smiles, and cheers his fainting saints;
His countenance more graceful is
Than Lebanon, with all its trees.]

10 All over glorious is my Lord;
Must be beloved, and yet adored;
His worth if all the nations knew,
Sure the whole world would love him too!

Though some of this hymn surely may have some uncommon lyrical content compared to our churches' music soaked in Contemporary Christian Music, this is the type of hymn we should be seeking to bring into our hearts, individually and corporately. Why? It helps us see Jesus as more believable and beautiful (as Kevin Twit, founder of Indelible Grace, has so often said).

1.24.2013

Gadsby #20

20 L.M. Isaac Watts
Deity and Humanity of Christ. Col. 1:16; 1 Tim. 3:16

1 Ere the blue heavens were stretched abroad,
From everlasting was the Word;
With God he was; the Word was God;
And must divinely be adored.

2 By his own power were all things made;
By him supported all things stand;
He is the whole creation’s Head,
And angels fly at his command.

3 [Ere sin was born, or Satan fell,
He led the host of morning stars;
(Thy generation who can tell,
Or count the number of thy years?)]

4 But lo! he leaves those heavenly forms;
The Word descends and dwells in clay,
That he may hold converse with worms,
Dressed in such feeble flesh as they.

5 Mortals with joy behold his face,
The eternal Father’s only Son;
How full of truth! how full of grace!
When through his eyes the Godhead shone.

6 Blest angels leave their high abode,
To learn new mysteries here, and tell
The loves of our descending God,
The glories of Immanuel.

Immanuel - God with us. The early church rightly waged many battles with heretics over the divinity of Christ. This is a paramount doctrine to the Christian faith. And lest we get bogged down in doctrine talk, let me state things a little more colloquially: if Jesus is not God, the world should rightfully mock and disregard Christianity. But if Jesus is God, but if he was "vindicated by the Spirit" (1 Tim. 3:16) and actually checked out of the grave, then Christianity is the dominant, all-encompassing, true worldview. Again, to make things clear, this all depends on who Jesus is.

So, who is Jesus? What say you?

1.23.2013

Gadsby #19

19 C.M. Isaac Watts
A New Song to the Lamb that was Slain. Rev. 5:6-12

1 Behold the glories of the Lamb,
Amidst his Father’s throne;
Prepare new honours for his name,
And songs before unknown.

2 Let elders worship at his feet;
The church adore around;
With vials full of odours sweet,
And harps of sweeter sound.

3 Those are the prayers of the saints,
And these the hymns they raise –
Jesus is kind to our complaints,
He loves to hear our praise.

4 [Eternal Father, who shall look
Into thy secret will?
Who but the Son shall take that book,
And open every seal?

5 He shall fulfil thy great decrees;
The Son deserves it well;
Lo! in his hands the sovereign keys
Of heaven, and death, and hell.]

6 Now to the Lamb that once was slain,
Be endless blessings paid;
Salvation, glory, joy remain
For ever on thy head.

7 Thou hast redeemed our souls with blood,
Hast set the prisoners free,
Hast made us kings and priests to God,
And we shall reign with thee.

8 The worlds of nature and of grace
Are put beneath thy power;
Then shorten these delaying days,
And bring the promised hour.

I wish I had my guitar with me so I could piece together a melody to the sixth and seventh stanzas. What a wonderful chorus to sing to Jesus!

If I were to point you to one thing from this hymn, it would be the text it is based on. Go read Revelation 5. There is a certain kind of soul-strengthening that occurs in us when we consider the unthinkably heavy and glorious future in store for us and all creation. We need to be more heavenly-minded. Is there a more heavenly picture of what the future will look like outside of the book of Revelation? I don't think there is. Tolle lege!

1.22.2013

Gadsby #18

18 L.M. Isaac Watts
Glory and Grace in the Person of Christ. 2 Cor. 4:6

1 Now to the Lord a noble song!
Awake, my soul; awake, my tongue!
Hosanna to the eternal name,
And all his boundless love proclaim!

2 See where it shines in Jesus’ face,
The brightest image of his grace!
God, in the person of his Son,
Has all his mightiest works outdone.

3 The spacious earth and spreading flood
Proclaim the wise, the powerful God;
And thy rich glories from afar
Sparkle in every rolling star.

4 But in his looks a glory stands,
The noblest labour of thy hands;
The pleasing lustre of his eyes
Outshines the wonders of the skies.

5 [Grace! ’tis a sweet, a charming theme!
My thoughts rejoice at Jesus’ name!
Ye angels, dwell upon the sound!
Ye heavens, reflect it to the ground!]

6 O may I live to reach the place
Where he unveils his lovely face,
Where all his beauties you behold,
And sing his name to harps of gold!

The fourth verse reminds me of a hymn by Anne Steele, "Thou Lovely Source Of True Delight", specifically, this verse:
Thy glory o'er creation shines,
But in thy sacred word,
I read in fairer, brighter lines,
My bleeding, dying Lord. 
We are spiritually dumb and blind if we cast a look on Christ and don't see the most beautiful thing (person) in the universe. True beauty is spiritual.

But what is there to say about the beauties of creation? Specifically, the heavens? I mean, have you seen images like this or this? I'm a self-confessed astronomy nerd, so perhaps I find such images of deep space more awe-inspiring than others. Anyways, my point is this: the entire universe, in all its beauty and complexity, is a sign. And what do signs do? They point to something greater.

An interesting thing to ponder is, "Are we humans really the only life in this universe? If so, why then is the universe so big?" (For the record, I believe that earth is the only place where life exists in this universe.) What is the point of the universe having no measurable limit, and being full of wonderful things, big and small? I proffer that all that exists, the universe in its mind-boggling scale, has been created to show how great God is (Ps. 19:1). If the universe is so magnificent, then what does that mean its Creator is like? I think it means that He is higher than our thoughts can reach.

All this is to say that Jesus "outshines the wonders of the skies".

1.21.2013

Gadsby #17

17 L.M. W. Tucker
Harmony of the Perfections of God. Rom. 3. 26

1 O Love, beyond conception great,
That formed the vast stupendous plan,
Where all divine perfections meet,
To reconcile rebellious man.

2 There wisdom shines in fullest blaze
And justice all her rights maintains;
Astonished angels stoop to gaze,
While mercy o’er the guilty reigns.

3 Yes, mercy reigns, and justice too;
In Christ they both harmonious meet;
He paid to justice all its due,
And now he fills the mercy-seat.

4 Such are the wonders of our God,
And the amazing depths of grace,
To save from wrath’s vindictive rod,
The chosen sons of Adam’s race.

Not much to comment on in this hymn. I think it stands quite well on its own. The center of God's wisdom and revelation, and the universe itself, is Jesus.

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Rom. 11:33)

1.18.2013

Gadsby #16

16    C.M.    R. Burnham
Holiness. Lev. 19:2; 1 Sam. 2:2; Heb. 12:14

1 The Father is a holy God;
His holy Son he gave;
Who freely shed atoning blood,
A guilty world to save.

2 The Spirit brings the chosen race,
A holy Christ to view;
And while by faith they see his face,
Their souls grow holy too.

3 In holiness the saints delight,
While here on earth they dwell;
By faith they wrestle day and night,
More holiness to feel.

4 The Holy Spirit leads them on,
His holy truth to know;
Inscribes his laws in every son,
And works obedience too.

5 He makes them feel the cleansing grace,
That flows through Jesus’ blood;
Unites in love the holy race –
The new-born sons of God.

God, and everyone united to Him, is wrapped up in holiness. "Holy" is His very name (Luke 1:49).
What is the secret of sanctification? How is one made holy - set apart for God's possession and purpose? The secret for men to progress in holiness is seeing Jesus - "while by faith they see his face, their souls grow holy too" (2 Cor. 3:18).

I confess that my life is seldom characterized as a battle where I fight by faith in God against the world so that I may have "more holiness to feel". Nevertheless, here are our marching orders: "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" (Lev. 19:2, cf. 1 Pt. 1:16).

1.16.2013

Gadsby #15

15 C.M. Isaac Watts & J. Needham
The Holiness of God. Ps. 111:9; 145:17

1 How shall I praise the eternal God,
That infinite Unknown?
Who can ascend his high abode,
Or venture near his throne?

2 Heaven’s brightest lamps, with him compared,
How mean they look, and dim!
The holy angels have no spots,
Yet can’t compare with him.

3 Holy is he in all his works,
And truth is his delight;
But sinners, and their wicked ways,
Shall perish from his sight.

4 None but his favourites may draw near,
Who stand in Christ complete;
Those holy ones shall all appear
And worship at his feet.

5 In Jesus’ image shining bright
With rapture they adore
The holy, holy, holy Lord,
In glory evermore.

If any human would desire to get to know God and who He is, they will quickly run into a rather big problem. You see, God dwells in "unapproachable light" (1 Tim. 6:16), a kind of light that doesn't have "opaque" in its dictionary. This light penetrates the dark hearts of men and luminates their murky contents. So if we would try to approach God - and there is no way to sneak up on Him - we will have all our sin exposed for God to see. Our problem is God's response to our sin. It is not a favorable response. God always recoils against sin with wrath. He can do nothing else. "But sinners, and their wicked ways, shall perish from his sight."

Now I am not ignorant of God's grace, but consider this - has there been or will there ever be a situation where God will not respond to sin by unleashing His righteous wrath? Our conundrum boils down to this: either we will face God's wrath for our sin, head on, or someone else will for us. Or perhaps I should say it as the hymnwriters say, we need God to shine His light on someone else's image. An Image who is "shining bright" by Himself. You could call it the ultimate mirror-image. But it, He, is more than a mirror, He is also a prism. 

1.15.2013

Some Motivation Towards Evangelism


In my weekly small group gathering with my local church, we seek to keep each other accountable towards engaging lostness and living an evangelistic lifestyle.

Here are some notes I wrote about Paul in Romans 1 which I shared with our small group recently.

(1:1) He was given a mission to preach the gospel where it had never been before ("called to be an apostle").
(1:1) His mission was not a goal Paul set for himself, but he was commissioned by God himself for the transcendent, universe-defining purpose of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ ("set apart for the gospel of God").
(1:5) Paul shared the gospel not for his own sake, but "for the sake of his name among all the nations".
(1:14) Paul sensed an obligation to preach the gospel to all people. Lost people hearing the gospel message was not a low-priority thing for Paul.
(1:15) Though Paul was "under obligation", he was also eager to share the gospel.
(1:16) Why was Paul eager to share the gospel of Christ? Because Paul knew that the gospel's power was not in Paul, but that the power of the gospel flows from God. We know that the whole world lives in the depths of sin and guilt, but the gospel communicates the power of God to save hopelessly damned sinners.
(1:17) The power of God to save lies in God freely crediting Jesus' righteousness to sinners who believe and trust in the content of the gospel - the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Gadsby #14

14 C.M. Isaac Watts
Faithfulness of God. Numb. 23. 19; Ps. 89. 1-8

1 Begin, my tongue, some heavenly theme,
And speak some boundless thing;
The mighty works, or mightier name,
Of our eternal King.

2 Tell of his wondrous faithfulness,
And sound his power abroad;
Sing the sweet promise of his grace,
And the performing God.

3 Proclaim, “Salvation from the Lord,
For wretched dying men”;
His hand has writ the sacred word
With an immortal pen.

4 [Engraved as in eternal brass,
The mighty promise shines;
Nor can the powers of darkness rase
Those everlasting lines.]

5 He that can dash whole worlds to death,
And make them when he please,
He speaks, and that almighty breath
Fulfils his great decrees.

6 His every word of grace is strong
As that which built the skies;
The voice that rolls the stars along
Speaks all the promises.

There are few things in this world that are "boundless". So few, that I can't even think of one right now. Perhaps that goes to serve the point of Watts here: God is boundless in faithfulness (Ps. 89:1-8).

How often do we consider the fact that God has already made the decision to save sinners and he has caused such salvation to come to pass? God is not vacillating over whether or not to save dying men - "His hand has writ the sacred word with an immortal pen."

Is there a greater power imaginable than the power of one to speak, and all that is spoken comes to pass? I think so many imaginations of magic and speaking magical spells stems somewhat from the reality that God speaks. That God possesses this ultimate power of speech should instigate great fear in men, for we are wholly at the whim of the words of God. That God should speak promises of grace to men...this is unstoppable love, full of glory. It's like Switchfoot said: "Oh, your love is a song, your love is strong."

1.14.2013

Gadsby #13

13 C.M. J. Hart
The Everlasting Mercy of God. Ps. 136; 100. 5

1 God’s mercy is for ever sure;
Eternal is his name;
As long as life and speech endure,
My tongue this truth proclaim.

2 I basely sinned against his love,
And yet my God was good;
His favour nothing could remove,
For I was bought with blood.

3 [That precious blood atones all sin,
And fully clears from guilt;
It makes the foulest sinner clean,
For ’twas for sinners spilt.]

4 He raised me from the lowest state,
When hell was my desert;
I broke his law, and, worse than that,
Alas! I broke his heart!

5 My soul, thou hast, let what will ail,
A never-changing Friend;
When brethren, friends, and helpers fail,
On him alone depend.

"His favour nothing could remove, For I was bought with blood." God has no interest in spurning acceptable blood sacrifices made to Him, namely, the sacrifice of the Son.

Sin is never merely a legal violation, it is personal. God is grieved by our sin (Eph. 4:30).

If you ever doubt God's mercy to you, consider reading Psalm 136. You will probably notice the excessive repetition (was that redundant?) in the psalm. The psalmist is not an insane poet, but he is an intentional broken record. But the record really isn't broken. The record rings with repetition, it echos the chorus that "His steadfast love endures forever" with seemingly endless repetition.

Stanza five - your friends will fail you. As a young adult who has grown up in a culture somewhat obsessed with the idea and often idol of "best friends", it would behoove all of us to know that our friends will fail us. But there is a Friend who will never fail us. Ever. So, as the hymn says, "On him alone depend." And as the psalm says, "Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever" (Ps. 136:26). More than that, give thanks forever (1 Thess. 5:18).

1.11.2013

Gadsby #12

12 8s R. Burnham
The All-Sufficient Mercy of God. Ps. 89. 28

1 All glory to mercy we bring,
The mercy that reigns evermore,
The infinite mercy we sing,
The mercy eternal adore.

2 The mercy converting we prize;
In mercy forgiving delight;
For conquering mercy we rise,
We rise and triumphantly fight.

3 [And when we are wounded by sin,
And scarcely a prayer can repeat,
The mercy that heals us again,
Is mercy transportingly sweet.]

4 What though in the furnace we fall,
Free mercy the Saviour proclaims;
Free mercy in Jesus we call,
And glorify God in the flames.

5 For mercy upholding we pray;
For mercy confirming aspire;
And mercy will bear us away
To God and the glorified choir.

The extent of God's mercy is much greater than we realize. God's mercy flows from the "the love that will not let me go" as another hymn tells.

Mercy is not only forgiveness flowing from a high authority to a lowly criminal, it is comprehensive. When God has mercy on us, he changes, forgives, and enlists us to join the unstoppable advance of His kingdom in the hearts of men.

Mercy often will meet us in such a sweet manner, even when we are sick with sin, and melt hearts of stone. Oh that God may further shape us!

May God have mercy on us!

1.10.2013

Gadsby #11

11 11s J. Stocker
Singing of Mercy. Ps. 89. 1; Rom. 15. 9

Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song,
The joy of my heart, and the boast of my tongue;
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Has won my affections, and bound my soul fast.

Thy mercy, in Jesus, exempts me from hell;
Its glories I’ll sing, and its wonders I’ll tell;
’Twas Jesus, my Friend, when he hung on the tree,
Who opened the channel of mercy for me.

[Without thy sweet mercy I could not live here;
Sin soon would reduce me to utter despair;
But, through thy free goodness, my spirits revive,
And he that first made me still keeps me alive.]

[Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I found.]

The door of thy mercy stands open all day,
To the poor and the needy, who knock by the way.
No sinner shall ever be empty sent back,
Who comes seeking mercy for Jesus’s sake.

Great Father of mercies, thy goodness I own,
And the covenant love of thy crucified Son;
All praise to the Spirit, whose whisper divine
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.

Songs like these present a picture of what it means to be a mature Christian. For example, the first verse expresses the proper exultation one engages in when they praise God for His free grace, but often we may find we have a different "theme of my song" and "boast of my tongue". Nevertheless, when we sing hymns like this, we express both the picture of Christian maturity and the desire to mature further.

This hymn wonderfully depicts the blessed benefits of God's mercy.
Mercy makes us exult.
Mercy saves us from hell.
Mercy sustains us in a sin-wrecked world.
Mercy demolishes and reshapes hard hearts.
Mercy is free.
Mercy is wrapped up in God's covenantel steadfast love.

1.09.2013

Gadsby #10

10 L.M. J. Kent
The Everlasting Love of God. Jer. 31. 3; Eph. 2. 4, 5

1 ’Twas with an everlasting love
That God his own elect embraced;
Before he made the worlds above,
Or earth on her huge columns placed.

2 Long ere the sun’s refulgent ray
Primeval shades of darkness drove,
They on his sacred bosom lay,
Loved with an everlasting love.

3 Then in the glass of his decrees,
Christ and his bride appeared as one;
Her sin, by imputation, his,
Whilst she in spotless splendour shone.

4 O love, how high thy glories swell!
How great, immutable, and free!
Ten thousand sins, as black as hell,
Are swallowed up, O love, in thee!

5 [Loved, when a wretch defiled with sin,
At war with heaven, in league with hell,
A slave to every lust obscene;
Who, living, lived but to rebel.]

6 Believer, here thy comfort stands –
From first to last salvation’s free,
And everlasting love demands
An everlasting song from thee.

A few excerpts from a great quote of Archibald Alexander I read last year are in order:
"There is a defect in our belief of the freeness of divine grace. To exercise unshaken confidence in the doctrine of gratuitous pardon is one of the most difficult things in the world... the doctrine of free grace, without any mixture of human merit, is the only true object of faith." 

The glory of God's grace shines brightest when we begin to realize that "from first to last salvation's free". Every other conception of God's orientation to those in Christ falls woefully short. Never underestimate the freeness of God's grace. Never restrict the freeness of God's grace. Don't underestimate the true state of God's Church - a spotless people shining with the glory of Christ' righteousness. Don't underestimate what it means to be "in Christ" (Rom. 3:21, 6:11, 8:1; 1 Cor. 1:2, 15:22; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 1:3, 2:10, 2:13; 1 Pt. 5:10).

The love of God is the prism of prisms, it shines into our hearts in a million different splendid colors. One ray of God's love shines brightly in His electing unborn, naturally-guilty, rebellion-bound, children of wrath. He chose us before we were. More than that, He loved us before we were.

1.08.2013

Gadsby #9

9 L.M. Samuel Medley
The Loving-Kindness of God. Ps. 36. 7

1 Awake, my soul, in joyful lays,
And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise;
He justly claims a song from me;
His loving-kindness, O how free!

2 He saw me ruined in the fall,
Yet loved me notwithstanding all;
He saved me from my lost estate;
His loving-kindness, O how great!

3 [Though numerous hosts of mighty foes,
Though earth and hell my way oppose,
He safely leads my soul along;
His loving-kindness, O how strong!]

4 [When trouble, like a gloomy cloud,
Has gathered thick and thundered loud,
He near my soul has always stood;
His loving-kindness, O how good!]

5 Often I feel my sinful heart
Prone from my Saviour to depart;
But though I have him oft forgot,
His loving-kindness changes not!

6 Soon shall I pass the gloomy vale;
Soon all my mortal powers must fail;
O may my last expiring breath
His loving-kindness sing in death!

7 Then let me mount and soar away
To the bright world of endless day,
And sing with rapture and surprise,
His loving-kindness in the skies.

I love hymns like this. Hymns which tell a story, which more resemble thoughtful poetry than a type of buzzword bingo with worship words.

"Lays" are songs, in case you were wondering what that word meant. I think our churches should sing more lays with pictures of our glorious future (see the last stanza). Considering the coming eternal ages of God's consummated kingdom should greatly affect our living today. Seeing the future with eyes of faith changes our hearts as a storm-tossed sailor is renewed with energy and strength at the sight of land. Let's consider the glorious future God has in store for us more often. Doing so will surely change our lives and the lives of those we encounter in our sojourning.

1.07.2013

Gadsby #8

8 L.M. B. Beddome
The Justice and Goodness of God. Deut. 32:4

1 Great God! my Maker and my King,
Of thee I’ll speak, of thee I’ll sing;
All thou hast done, and all thou dost,
Declare thee good, proclaim thee just.

2 Thy ancient thoughts and firm decrees;
Thy threatenings and thy promises;
The joys of heaven, the pains of hell –
What angels taste, what devils feel;

3 Thy terrors and thy acts of grace;
Thy threatening rod, and smiling face;
Thy wounding and thy healing word;
A world undone, a world restored;

4 While these excite my fear and joy,
While these my tuneful lips employ,
Accept, O Lord, the humble song,
The tribute of a trembling tongue.

"The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is he."
(Deuteronomy 32:4)

You may know the catchphrase, "God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good," but we can and must also say that God is just, all the time, and all the time, God is just. God does not waver in his justice. No wrong will go unpunished.

The sticking point for us - sinners - is that we are guilty before God and God, according to his justice, will punish our sin. So, is there any way to escape God's justice? No, for God is just and he will do right. Sin will be punished. The beauty, miracle, and wisdom of God shines forth in the only way whereby we who will face God's justice can be saved from the just sentence of death - the cross of Christ. God acts justly towards all who put their faith in Christ, but the miracle of grace is that God in his justice poured out the punishment for our sin on Christ and fulfilled the penalty of the law instead of laying such wrath on us. The justice of God is seen and met at the cross of Christ and no where else.

Where are we looking to see God?

1.03.2013

Gadsby #6

6 L.M. B. Beddome
The Wisdom and Knowledge of God. Ps. 139

1 God’s ways are just, his counsels wise;
No darkness can prevent his eyes;
No thought can fly, nor thing can move,
Unknown to him that sits above.

2 He in the thickest darkness dwells;
Performs his works, the cause conceals;
But though his methods are unknown,
Judgment and truth support his throne.

3 In heaven, and earth, and air, and seas,
He executes his firm decrees;
And by his saints it stands confessed,
That what he does is ever best.

4 Wait, then, my soul, submissive wait,
Prostrate before his awful seat;
And, ‘midst the terrors of his rod,
Trust in a wise and gracious God.

Imagine God as He is, except that he lacks one thing: goodness. The thought of an omniscient, omnipotent deity without any benevolence is a horror. This is not to say that we should not fear the God who is good. His power rightly evokes terror, but for those who know God, His power should rightly evoke our faith because He is "wise and gracious".

And how God is not like men! Who on this planet does what is "ever best"? Honest thought would lead us to the conclusion that man is about as good as a politician's promise. "His saints" have tasted and seen God's goodness (Ps. 34:8; 1 Cor. 11:26) manifest in its highest form on a small hill outside Jerusalem.


1.02.2013

Gadsby #7

7 C.M. Samuel Medley
The Wisdom and Goodness of God. Exod. 34. 6

1 God shall alone the refuge be,
And comfort of my mind;
Too wise to be mistaken, He,
Too good to be unkind.

2 In all his holy, sovereign will,
He is, I daily find,
Too wise to be mistaken, still
Too good to be unkind.

3 [When I the tempter’s rage endure,
’Tis God supports my mind;
Too wise to be mistaken, sure,
Too good to be unkind.]

4 [When sore afflictions on me lie,
He is (though I am blind)
Too wise to be mistaken, yea,
Too good to be unkind.]

5 What though I can’t his goings see,
Nor all his footsteps find?
Too wise to be mistaken, He,
Too good to be unkind.

6 Hereafter he will make me know,
And I shall surely find,
He was too wise to err, and O,
Too good to be unkind.


In the end, all our doubts of God will prove utterly false. He is the only one who never makes mistakes. He is the only one who is all-powerful. He is our support in temptation. He uses "sore afflictions" for our unthinkable good. He doesn't reveal to us everything He is doing. He will make it plain that all things in history have served his purposes.

Gadsby #5

5 C.M. Isaac Watts
The Wisdom of God. 1 Cor. 1:24; Eph. 3:9-11

1 The Lord, descending from above,
Invites his children near,
While power, and truth, and boundless love
Display their glories here.

2 Here, in thy gospel’s wondrous frame,
Fresh wisdom we pursue;
A thousand angels learn thy name,
Beyond whate’er they knew.

3 Thy name is writ in fairest lines;
Thy wonders here we trace;
Wisdom through all the mystery shines,
And shines in Jesus’ face.

4 The law its best obedience owes
To our incarnate God;
And thy revenging justice shows
Its honours in his blood.

5 But still the lustre of thy grace
Our warmer thoughts employs;
Gilds the whole scene with brighter rays,
And more exalts our joys.

What unimaginable condescension it is for God to reach down to rebels with favor. More than favor - love! Love as a father for his children. The Lord knows we are so very wayward and sin-sick and He invites us in the power, truth, and love of the gospel.

When we pursue "fresh wisdom" as we seek God, we are not seeking an enhancement in our wisdom, but rather we are seeking wisdom incarnate, Jesus Christ.

God exacting justice according to the law is a terrifying thought, but also simultaneously incredibly glorious and joy-exalting. Consider the cross.

1.01.2013

Gadsby #4

4 C.M. Isaac Watts
The Sovereignty of God. Job. 23:13; Rom. 9:15-18
 
1 Keep silence all created things,
And wait your Maker’s nod;
My soul stands trembling while she sings
The honours of her God.

2 Life, death, and hell, and worlds unknown,
Hang on his firm decree;
He sits on no precarious throne,
Nor borrows leave TO BE.

3 Chained to his throne a volume lies,
With all the fates of men,
With every angel’s form and size,
Drawn by the eternal pen.

4 His providence unfolds the book,
And makes his counsels shine;
Each opening leaf, and every stroke,
Fulfils some deep design.

5 Here he exalts neglected worms
To sceptres and a crown;
And there the following page he turns,
And treads the monarch down.

6 [Not Gabriel asks the reason why,
Nor God the reason gives;
Nor dares the favourite angel pry
Between the folded leaves.]

7 My God, I would not long to see
My fate with curious eyes;
What gloomy lines are writ for me,
Or what bright scenes may rise.

8 In thy fair book of life and grace,
O may I find my name
Recorded in some humble place,
Beneath my Lord the Lamb.

God borrows no leave TO BE. In other words, God isn't taking any vacations from being God. "Our God is in the heavens" and that means he is always in the heavens.

I feel bad for atheists. True atheists, that is. Those who deny any purpose to the universe. I can respect an atheist who sticks to his principles. Although, I have yet to meet one of those, but I digress. It is a pitiful life not to take notice of God's deep designs in, well, everything.

Stanzas seven and eight of this hymn are the best ones, wouldn't you say? Though many of us sinfully pine for omniscience in delusions of control, life as a human is better lived as a human - not knowing all, but knowing the One who does.