I have a Meditation for All Hallows Eve up over at Credenda.
Speaking Bible does not come naturally; it is a foreign language. We have to learn to name the world Christianly, and we do this chiefly in worship. Worship is language class.
But we do not learn foreign languages by listening to someone talk about the language. Teaching is essential, but so is drill, repetition, dry rote. Worship is training in godly habits, habits of speech as well as godly habits of conduct. If biblical language is to become the idiom of the Church’s speech, Christians must not only listen to but also say and sing and recite the Scriptures in worship.
-Peter Leithart, Against Christianity, 66.
For Reformation Day and All Saints:
We are all rightly distressed, and ashamed also, at the divisions of Christendom. But those who have always lived within the Christian fold may be too easily dispirited by them. They are bad, but such people do not know what it looks like from without. Seen from there, what is left intact despite all the divisions, still appears (as it truly is) an immensely formidable unity. I know, for I saw it; and well our enemies know it. That unity any of us can find by going out of his own age. It is not enough, but it is more than you had thought till then. Once you are well soaked in it, if you then venture to speak, you will have an amusing experience. You will be thought a Papist when you are actually reproducing Bunyan, a Pantheist when you are quoting Aquinas, and so forth. For you have now got on to the great level viaduct which crosses the ages and which looks so high from the valleys, so low from the mountains, so narrow compared with the swamps, and so broad compared with the sheep tracks.
- C. S. Lewis from the Introduction to On the Incarnation.
There is a fresh, sanctified I-don’t-care-ness that accompanies belief in the gospel. Whether you like me or not doesn’t matter, because my worth and my dignity and my identity are anchored in God’s approval. Christ won all of the approval and acceptance I need.
The pressure’s off. Jesus measured up so I wouldn’t have to live under the enslaving pressure of measuring up for others. And that’s good news.
Read the rest of the interview here.
1 Jn. 1:2 has a neat little chiasm:
We have seen
We have witnessed
We have proclaimed
Life (eternal with the Father) manifested
The center of the verse is the word “witnessed” or “martyred.” This suggests a progression: first there is seeing, then there is dying, then there is proclaiming. Jesus has come and manifested life, but it is not until He has been seen, crucified, and announced that the life of the Father is manifested in its fullness. Likewise, our evangelism, our proclamation must consist of the same: we are only able to manifest life as we see, die, and proclaim this life.
Having seen the truth, we must be tested, tried, persecuted, die to sin, die to the flesh, suffer with and for Christ, and only then will our proclamation go forth as a full manifestation of the eternal life of the Father.
In Mark’s gospel the word “revealed” (phaneros/phanerao) tells a fascinating story.
Initially, after cleansing a leper, Jesus is unable to “openly” enter the city because the leper has proclaimed (lit. preached) the fact of his healing (1:45). Again, Jesus strictly warns the demons not to make Him known (3:12), but later, immediately following the parable of the seed and the sower, Jesus says that “there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed…” (4:22). By 6:14, King Herod has heard of Jesus because “His name had become well known.” And Herod mistakenly things that John the Baptist is risen from the dead. Whatever reasons Herod may have had for this confusion, it functions as foreshadowing. The word is only used two more times in Mark and both times following the resurrection.
First, Jesus “appeared” to two disciples as they walked into the country (16:12), and later He “appeared” to the eleven at the table (16:14).
Mark’s gospel begins with Jesus unable to openly enter the city and warning the demons not to make Him known, but Jesus says that whatever has been hidden will be made known. Nothing hidden will not be revealed. And by 6:14, this is already on its way to happening, with the name of Jesus becoming “well known,” and Herod mistakes it for the resurrection of a prophet.
This lends support to those who have pointed out that Jesus maintains some secrecy at the beginning of His ministry (particularly in Mark) because He wants His death and resurrection to be the main event, the main revelation. It also highlights the role of evangelism and preaching in making Christ known. In the early chapters of Mark, it’s those who have been cleansed and demons making Him known to the extent that His name becomes known to Herod even. And we cannot miss the irony: when the King hears His name, he assumes there has been a resurrection.
That’s the power of the word going forth. The word goes forth in a way that requires faith in the resurrection. When we talk about Jesus, when we tell the story of how Jesus healed us, saved us, when even His enemies cry out in defiance, word spreads and even pagan kings assume there’s been a resurrection. And there has.
That’s what the seed of the Word always does. It goes down into the ground and is hidden. But there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.
Is. 27:5 literally says: “or let him grasp or cling to my strength; let him make peace for me; peace he will make for me.” This seems to be the climax of Yahweh’s song of love to Israel, His vineyard, His bride. The song climaxes with this insistence, this burning desire for peace, repeated for emphasis surely, but repeated out of love, out of determination, out of passion. What could be put between God and His people? What could keep God back from His bride? Briars and thorns in pitched battle? Yahweh says that He would burn right through them: His love cannot be held back.
The final verse then seems like a continuation of his defiance of all obstacles: just let somebody try to bind me, take hold of me, capture me and make me submit. Just try to keep me at peace, away from my love, away from my bride. Just try it. Apart from this little apocalypse, Is. 24-27, the only other place the word “peace” has been used previously is in chapter 9 in the prophecy of the Child who would be born called “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end…” This suggests that perhaps the reason for the repetition of this phrase: he will make peace for me; peace he will make for me – is that this exactly how God has established His peace in this world. Ultimately, God came for His bride in Jesus: overcoming every obstacle, overcoming every briar and thorn, all armies. But ultimately they took hold of his strength, and they nailed the strength of God to the cross. He was a trouble maker, come to destroy their world and make a new one, and so they sought to destroy Him so that they could have peace. And in that act of crucifying the Prince of Peace, when they took hold of His strength and sought to destroy him and make peace for themselves, God used their violence to make peace for Himself. Let him make peace for me; peace he will make for me.
In the very act of treason, betrayal, a cursed and violent death, God was overcoming every obstacle to His love, to His vineyard, His bride. What can keep your God back? What can keep Him from you, His people? Nothing. And in the very struggle, the resistance, the betrayal, the doubt, God is determined to overcome. So that at the very point at which some seek to tame His love, His love overwhelms. At the very point some seek to make their own peace, He establishes His peace for us. This is the table of peace, the table of the Prince of Peace whose government and peace will only increase.
Your God loves you and will not stay away, will not remain outside. From the mundane and trivial to the horrific and scandalous. Jesus is God with Us. He is determined to fill our lives. He will be Lord of the dishes and Lord of the cooking. He will be Lord of office work, the Lord of committees, the Lord of healthcare, the Lord of armies. Jesus is Lord, and He insists that His love and His peace fill it all. So come.
“And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will thresh, from the channel of the River to the Brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel.” (Is. 27:12)
Isaiah describes a particular scene, a particular day of judgment and deliverance for Israel, but these events point forward to Jesus who has come to be our faithful Shepherd, the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep and knows them all by name. He has gathered and He will continue to gather all of them one by one until all of the children of Israel are safe in the fold of His Kingdom.
Baptism is of course one of the central places where God insists that we believe that this true. Baptism is God’s insistence that He is our Faithful God and He will be our Faithful Shepherd. And He insists upon this by gathering us one by one, always as children, naming us after Himself, insisting that we belong to Him, that we are part of His family, and that He will watch over His children. He will feed and keep watch over His sheep.
Joseph you mentioned to me that you named your son Thaddeus for its meaning: a gift of God or in some translations “heart” or “friend.” Likewise his middle name “Grant” resulted from the simple recognition that as you prayed, you regularly pleaded with God to grant you a child, grant you this child, and in God’s goodness, He has. Continue Reading…
“For it is a people of no understanding; therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them, and He who formed them will show them no favor.” (Is. 27:11)
Here, like many other places in Scripture God holds people to a standard of understanding, a standard of knowledge. Children love the excuse, “but I didn’t know,” and adults are frequently no better. We all tend to marinate in our ignorance and then protest when we face the consequences of our folly. But to know God, more specifically to fear God is to begin a life-long journey of seeking out wisdom, seeking out understanding, seeking to know God, to know His word and his world, to grow in skills of living and loving well. But fools despise wisdom and understanding. And it’s just easier to go with the flow, or just do what seems to make the most sense to you. Maybe that means mindlessly doing what your parents did; maybe it means doing anything but what your parents did. But Proverbs says that we ought not to lean on our own understanding, that we must not be wise in our own eyes. Pride is content with thoughtlessness. Fools hate knowledge. Continue Reading…
Hearing the stories of God’s works as they are read from Scripture, listening to the preaching of the Word, singing about Yahweh’s heroics against Philistine and Canaanite, reciting the creeds, and commemorating Christ’s victory on the cross at the Lord’s table, we, the new Israel, are renewed in the story of God. In worship, the gospel becomes the narrative atmosphere in which we live and move and have our being.
Worship is remembering and celebrating God’s saving acts, and therefore worship is history class.
-Peter Leithart, Against Christianity, 65-66.