Caleb and Mallory

The word I want to emphasize at this wedding is the word heritage. We have the privilege today of witnessing, not only the wedding of two individuals in Christ, but also the wedding of two distinct, but very complementary, heritages. I want to talk about the unique blessings that we are praying that God will bring out of this blessed union.

The two streams that are coming together here are the streams of covenant commitment, centuries of it, and evangelical warmth and application, three and four generations now. They are coming together in a distinct way—not to say the former has no warmth, or that the latter has had no notion of covenant. I am rather speaking here of varying cultural manifestations, which is a matter of emphasis. And in this wedding, I see only the strengthening of both heritages.

The Lord Jesus taught us that foundations are important in the building of houses. If you have no foundation, you cannot withstand the inevitable storms that come (Matt. 7:24). The way we build houses today, that foundation is provided by the footings, and by the concrete walls that we pour to rest on those footings. That is what covenant commitment is like. This is just the way it is. Covenant understanding won’t shift or budge on you. Straight lines, unyielding, cold, gray, covenant concrete. Every house needs that, and needs it underneath absolutely everything. This not unloving—it is the foundation of love. You can always take it as a fixed given that these are my people. The lines of the house are straight because the foundation lines are straight.

No Theological Schadenfreude

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #158

Charity “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Cor. 13:7).

In this verse, we see that love does four things. Two of them are active, and two are responsive. In the middle of Paul’s thought, love believes all things and it hopes all things. This faith and this hope operate in tandem. “Believes all things” does not refer to gullibility, but rather refers to a non-cynical attitude. Love wants it to go in a positive direction, and does not want a crash so that it may indulge in a little theological schadenfreude, watching the triumph of total depravity once more.

It is striking that this is not a rose-colored glasses thing because this same charity bears all things, and endures all things. Love puts up with a lot, but does not do so in a way that makes it stop believing all things and hoping all things. This means that the “bearing” and the “enduring” are not done while muttering under the breath. The faith and hope are carrying a load, and the carrying of the load is not done in a way as to become grievous.

Love and Truth Link Arms

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #157

Charity “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).

This verse comes right to the point. There is one verb, used twice. Charity does not rejoice in one thing, and does rejoice in another. Though it is the same root verb, there is a distinction. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness (adikia), but does rejoice in the truth (aletheia). The rejoicing in the first instance is chairo and in the second synchairo. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or iniquity, but love rejoices together with the truth. Love and truth are partners in joy.

The common dichotomy that pits love and truth against one another as though they were adversaries is either a verbal slander or an enacted slander. In the verbal slander, someone dismisses someone who is standing for the truth as necessarily unloving, or dismisses someone who is full of love as some kind of a doctrinal compromiser.

The enacted slander happens when the dichotomy is assumed, and the person chooses which one he wants to adopt. He stands for truth, and blows all errorists away with his machine gun of thruppa thruppa theology. Or he picks love, which in his mind is an amorphous gas that fills the room with sweet and sticky acceptance. Whichever way it goes, this kind of behavior makes the task of the verbal slanderer much easier, because all he has to do is say see?

So what does love do? Love refuses to have any joy in iniquity. Love refuses to celebrate an ungodly or perverse wedding, for example. Love refuses to lift a glass of joy. Love will be accused of many things for this, and the central charge will be that this posture is unloving. This is because people are defining love out of the wrong dictionary. In the famous love chapter, love refuses to rejoice in unrighteousness. Not only so, but love links arms with the truth, and they rejoice together.

Outside the Pearlies

Back at the second infamous Auburn Avenue conference, when representatives of “both sides” were trying to work something out, one particular clash came over the definition of heresy. The representatives of the TRs were taking any doctrine that was out of accord with the Westminster Confession as heresy. There are enormous problems with this, as I pointed out at the time.

If a minister subscribes to the Westminster Confession, but his views are better represented by Augsburg, or the London Baptist, this is not heresy. It might be dishonest, or cowardly, or subversive. It is “out of conformity” to the Confession. But it is not heresy.

Well, it is not heresy, depending on which part of the Westminster he is denying. If he is a liberal who denies the chapter on Scripture, he is a heretic. If he is a Socinian who denies the chapter on the Trinity, he is a heretic.

The early creeds of the church (I am thinking here of the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Definition of Chalcedon) sought to establish the line between Christian and non-Christian. This over here was orthodox, and that over there was not. As time went on, and Christians continued to set down their faith in statements or confessions, the time eventually arrived when these statements set the difference between this kind of Christian and that kind of Christian. The catholic era was gradually transformed into the denominational era.

Tyson and Laura

Don't mind me. I am just trying to learn some new WordPress tricks.

Don’t mind me. I am just trying to learn some new WordPress tricks.

The whole earth is full of God’s glory. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it. Everything that exists was created by Him, and so it is that everything declares the weight of His glory. No matter how small—whether a tiny rock flower, or a sub-atomic particle, or a grain of sand—every discrete and particular thing speaks about God. The supernovas and galaxies do the same. Every finite thing has the privilege of speaking about an infinite noun, maker of Heaven and earth. Each created thing in some sense carries the eternal weight of glory, and of course it can only do this because the source of that glory, God Himself, has willed it.

So every last thing manifests His glory, and this is why we, dulled by sin, can start to take everything for granted. We begin to think that the world is “just the way things are.” When everything is glorious, we think that nothing must be.

This is why God in His mercy will often take special pains to manifest His glory. He goes out of His way. When He does this, we are not moving from no glory to glory, or from dull glory to radiant glory, but rather from constant glory to manifest glory. God does this through the Incarnation of Jesus, through the giving of Scripture, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, through the kindness of miracles, and through the revelation brought to us by various poetic and prophetic insights.

What a miracle does is draw our attention to what God does all the time. When Jesus turned water to wine at Cana He was simply doing in fast forward what God has done in every vineyard since the beginning of the world. He enables us to see the whole by showing us a part, sped up a little.

When we pray for a glimpse of glory, we are not asking to be let in on a wonderful secret against the context of the ordinary and mundane. We are not seeing vivid color against the background of a dull sepia tone. No, we are being invited to see the whole world rightly.

And all this relates to our prayer for this new household, just now forming. The prayer is taken from the words of Moses in Psalm 90.

“Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands” (Ps. 90:16-17, NKJV).

Sam and Grace

In the course of His ministry on earth, the Lord Jesus taught us that we were to learn how to accept kingdom disruptions. We are supposed to learn how to rejoice at the arrival of kingdom inversions.

Jesus taught that the way to become great in the kingdom was by becoming least in the kingdom. He taught that the way to the head of the line was to go to the back of the line. Up is down, and down is up. He taught that the way into adult wisdom was to embrace the faith of a child. Out is in, and in is out. In this stipulated theological sense, the hokey-pokey is what it’s all about—but only in this stipulated sense. To take it any further than that would disrupt the solemnity of the occasion.

So in that spirit, I want to begin with something heavy, so that we may, at the invitation of Christ, move to the direct consequence of it, which is the ease of His yoke and the lightness of His burden (Matt. 11:30). If you were to pick up His yoke, heft it in your hands to evaluate whether you wanted to put it on, it would seem intolerably heavy to you. But actually put it on, and you will laugh at the relief.

This is what Christian marriage seems like in the hands: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

Whoa. This is not what we usually mean by “focus on the family.” This is a call to discipleship that necessarily relativizes marriage and family. It contextualizes marriage and family, but it does so without annihilating it. It places marriage in the light of eternity. Matthew clarifies for us what was meant in the parallel passage. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37). In other words, we are to love Christ so much that every other love pales in comparison. But something strange then happens. The love that pales in comparison actually become vivid and bright. What do I mean?

The Backdrop of Resurrection

This meal commemorates the death of Jesus Christ. This bread represents His body, and this wine represents His blood. This Table is all about the crucifixion. The cross is what we are talking about. The affliction He went through on our behalf is the message.

But we have to presuppose the resurrection in order to be able to do this. If Jesus had not come back from the dead, then His death would have been just one more obscure execution, wherein a prophet was swallowed up by the system—devoured by the cruel machinery of death. We have the privilege of proclaiming the Lord’s death two thousand years later because we are proclaiming the death of one who rose.

This dark world was utterly transformed by the resurrection. In the very middle of history—necessarily transforming the very meaning of history—Jesus came out of the tomb. This world is now a world in which the first man rose from the dead.

Open Carry & Worship

We have noted that a church building is architectural speech. But in order to speak truly as a church, it needs to speak gospel.

Made out of brick, and steel, and wood, and so forth, the architectural vocabulary is limited when it comes to doctrines like propitiation, substitutionary atonement, and so on. The task with such is to avoid speaking of a false propitiation, by building an altar instead of a table, for example. But there is one doctrine of the gospel which architecture can declare very plainly, and without ambiguity.