Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chief of Our Affections

"Affection. This is part of the glory we give to God, who counts Himself glorified when He is loved. Deut. vi 5. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul." There is a twofold love: (1.) Amor concupiscentiae, a love of concupiscence, which is self-love; as when we love another, because he does us a good turn. A wicked man may be said to love God, because He has given him a good harvest, or filled his cup with wine. This is rather to love God's blessing than to love God. (2.) Amor amicitiae, a love of delight, as a man takes delight in a friend. This is to love God indeed; the heart is set upon God, as a man's heart is set upon his treasure. This love is exuberant, not a few drops, but a stream. It is superlative; we give God the best of our love, the cream of it. Cant. viii 2. "i would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate." If the spouse had a cup more juicy and spiced, Christ must drink it. It is intense and ardent. True saints are seraphims, burning in holy love to God. The spouse was amore perculsa, in fainting fits, "sick of love." Cant. ii 5. Thus to love God is to glorify Him. He who is the chief of our happiness has the chief of our affections."

-Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, pg. 8.

I have said in my preceding post that biblical orthodoxy is a crucial preamble to proper divine worship, and many have surely departed from this truth; especially with movements like the emergent church, postmodernity, and pluralism. But, respectively, is there any hidden danger in the affirmation of orthodoxy? Yes, when the right apprehension of the doctrines of God and His glory becomes the ultimate end, instead of worship, we become paralized and remain expressionless in our joy, if indeed we have had real knowledge of Him. It may be said that our orthodoxy is "dead" when we do not express it in worship and affections. It may also be argued that those who affirm biblical orthodoxy with absent affections do not have knowledge of the truth, but a superficial one; knowledge and affections go together. One cannot love someone, or something, that he knows nothing of. What glory we give to Him when all our affections are stirred by the very thought of Him. To have God as the chief of our affections is to honor Him of His due worth, for we find in Him the greatest of all treasures!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Royal Prerogative

"Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship. Psa. xxix 2. "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." There is a twofold worship: (1.) A civil reverence which we give to persons of honour. Gen.xxiii 7. "Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the children of Heth." :iety is no enemy of courtesy. (2.) A divine worship which we give to God as His royal prerogative. Neh. viii 6. "They bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces toward the ground." This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of His eye, the pearl of His crown; which He guards, as He did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God Himself has appointed, else it is offering strange fire. Lev. x 1. The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, "according to the pattern in the mount." Exod. xxv 40. He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of worship, how exact will He be about the matter of His worship! Surely here everything must be according to the pattern prescribed in His word."

-Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, pgs. 7-8.

In my previous post, I spent some time looking into what it means to glorify God, in terms of Him having the supremacy in our thoughts. Now, out of that admiration (setting Him highest in our thoughts) for God flows the stream of worship, or adoration. With glipse of His stunning glory are we able to grasp worship as His royal prerogative. It is only when we rightly see and comprehend His holiness and beauty can we truly worship Him.

Many, I suppose, think the idea of confining our worship as prescribe by the Scriptures puts God in a box, but it is God who designates such patterns for worship. Therefore, to worship God in any other manner is to offer "strange fire," and do so in disobedience. Therefore, let us never succumb to the grievous error of worshiping God without the knowledge of who He is. An error which I am convinced has plagued the modern church. Thoughtless-worship seeks to center in on feelings and detach believers from doctrines and confessions. This is not worship, but idolatry. Worship stems from Biblical orthodoxy. The Scriptures prescribe us how we must worship, as Thomas Watson accurately points out.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Highest In Our Thoughts

"To grorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and to have a venerable esteem of Him. Psa. xcii 8. 'Thou, Lord, art most high for evermore.' Psa. xcii9. 'Thou art exalted far above all gods.' There is in God all that may draw forth both wonder and delight; there is a constellation of all beauties; he is prima causa, the original and springhead of being, who sheds a glory upon the creature. We glorify God, when we are God-admirers; admire His attributes, which are the glistering beams by which the divine nature shines forth; His promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called 'the work of His fingers.' Psa. viii3. To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem Him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only."

-Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, pg. 7.

To many, the idea of setting God 'highest in our thoughts' is but a pitiful maudlin that serves to boost our self-esteem. But it is painfully obvious that Thomas Watson's assessment of what it means to glorify God is not a 'you can do it' encouragement, but stunning rebuke of the depravity in the human heart, for we do not esteem Him as we ought. It displays our need of Him.
Behind all our ideas and affections, God must be preeminent; His superiority must ultimately presupposed. God's glory radiates when all our conducts find their end in Him. However, the reality is that we 'search for diamonds' in other rocks, which are ultimately inadequate; we find no diamonds in them, only filth. We constantly run to destructive idols. The remedy for our straying is in God who renews us and sanctifies us, and ultimately glorifies us that we may never again stray from Him. May God grant His people to 'draw forth both wonder and delight' in Himself. Endless beauty.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Small Group Questions Acts 2:1-13

*We will be reading Acts 1:12-26 and Acts 2:1-13, but examining more intently on the latter. Please read the passages along with these questions.

Acts 2:1-4

What is the significance of the following events occurring on this specific day, namely, Pentecost? What may have been the Jewish attitude during this event?

How do you think the disciples reacted when they suddenly heard “a mighty rushing wind” (v.2) coming from heaven?

Statement to consider:
“The violence of the wind did serve to make them (disciples) afraid; for we are never rightly prepared to receive the grace of God, unless the confidence (and boldness) of the flesh be tamed.”

In light of your experience and/or biblical knowledge, would you agree with the statement above? Why or why not? Also, please interact with the above statement and its relation to the world around us.

God used wind, a symbol of the Holy Spirit’s presence (Jn. 3:8), and fire, a symbol of His cleansing and judgment (Matt. 3:11-12). What do you think is the function of “divided tongues” (v.3) that rested on the disciples? How might the spread of the Gospel be different if this miracle was not given?

Acts 2:5-8

Relevant Scriptures:
Let us look at Genesis 11:1-9.
What are the correlations between the above texts and Acts 2? What was the motivation of each event?

Statement to consider:
“At Babel the nations came into being, the nations in their religious alienation from God, in all their earthly power and achievement, and in all their ultimate and spiritual powerlessness. At Pentecost they began to be resolved into the "people of God" as the message of the gospel was addressed to Jewish representatives of the nations of the world.”

What are the differences between a man-centered unity and a God-centered unity? What means does God use to bring about unity with the “people of God?”

Last week we examined the Kingdom of God. What does this event tell us what the kingdom of God is like? Who does the Holy Spirit invite to the Kingdom?

Acts 2:9-13

What is significance of the disciples proclaiming “the mighty works of God” (v.11)? What does this reveal about the Holy Spirit’s agenda? How do we know that the Holy Spirit is at work amongst us?

Relevant Scriptures:
“He will glorify me (Christ), for he will take what is mine and declare it to you,” John 16:14.

Statement to consider:
“So that if the Spirit that is at work among a people is plainly observed to work so as to convince them of Christ, and lead them to Him”

How does this knowledge safeguard us from mysticism and pride?