Love is kind

 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

 1 Cor.13:4-7

There are 15 virtues subsumed under love (charity). Patience is a restraint of oneself when liable to get frustrated or angry with others. Kindness is exercised with those who test us, it is gentleness in action, serving others, giving to others, greeting others and listening to others.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 

God is good!

Jehovah’s Goodness

This meditation was written by Rev. Herman Hoeksema and published in the very first issue of the Standard Bearer, dated October 1924.

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The Lord is good to all…but all the wicked will he destroy. Ps. 145:9a, 20b

Emphatically, according to the Hebrew original, the poet, who is the inspired author of this psalm, puts it: “Good is Jehovah.”

The Lord is goodness essentially.

Apart from any relation to his creatures, conceived all by himself, in himself, for himself, as the absolutely self-existent, self-sufficient, independent one, the Lord is good. His essence is goodness, his eternally adorable divine being is only good. Could we enter into the amazing profundity and explore the fathomless depths of his infinite being, the deepest depths of the incompre­hensible divine essence would reveal nothing but good­ness.

He is the light and there is no darkness in him. He is truth, righteousness, holiness, purity, love, grace, mercy and eternal life, and there is no lie, unrighteous­ness, defilement, corruption and death in him.

He is Summum Bonum, the highest good, not in a mere superlative sense, not in a sense that would compare him with other goods or goodnesses, that might perhaps be conceived as existing next to him though in a far inferior degree; but in the sense that he is the sole good, that there is no good apart from him or without him. He is the ultimate and absolute criterion of all good. He is not good in the sense that he answers to a certain standard of goodness that might be applied to him, but himself is the only standard of all that is called good.

He is good because he is God.

Very perfection in all his adorable virtues. Good is Jehovah!

The Lord is good!

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And because the very being of his adorable godhead is goodness, the divine nature in all the glorious attributes thereof is purest perfection and immaculate goodness. Neither is there any reason of want in God why he should need an object unto which to reveal and upon which to lavish his goodness. For as the triune God he lives from everlasting to everlasting the perfect life of Infinite goodness in and thru himself. Never there arises from the unfathomable depths of his perfect essence the slightest thought that is not good, perfect, true. Never the faintest thrill of imperfection there is in the will of Jehovah. Never the most imperceptible dis­cord there is in his divine feeling. Never there is the tiniest ripple of evil on the stream of life flowing from his divine heart.

No shadow of darkness ever bedims the light of life, perfect and infinite, of the divine family. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, each eternally subsisting in the unchange­able essence of limitless goodness, thinking in the perfect mind, willing with the perfect will are living in absolute self-sufficiency an uninterrupted divine life of purest goodness, dwelling in a light that is never in any wise bedimmed.

Yea, good is Jehovah!

Everlastingly, solely, unchangeably good!

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Because the Lord is good, the absolute good in himself he is also good to all his creatures.

Good is Jehovah to all!

He is the overflowing fount of all good.

All the good his creatures ever receive is solely from him and is only good because he is good, assumes an attitude of goodness to them. He is full of richest benevolence which he lavishes in profuse abundance upon all the wide creation. His goodness profuses the silvery luster throughout the starry heavens and arranges their marvelous harmony night upon night. His goodness decks the sun with that glorious attire of wondrous gold, day after day. His goodness adorns the lily of the field with purest beauty such as Solomon never possessed and clothes the royal cedars of Lebanon with strength and majesty. His goodness causes the royal eagle to renew its strength as it sweeps the firmament with powerful wing; and fills the mouth of the young raven crying to him for food. His goodness remembers the roaring lion and the chirping sparrow on the housetop. His goodness clothes the meadows in velvety green and covers the fields with golden grain. His goodness made man a little lower than the angels, adds keenness to his mind and strength to his arm and fills his heart with gladness.

Surely, all the works of his hand speak of his good­ness.

Good is Jehovah to all!

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Nor is this the last word that is to be said about the goodness of Jehovah.

It may be the last in the estimation of a natural religion, that knows of no sin and speaks of no grace.

It might be the last word had paradise not been lost. There in the midst of that Edenic virgin beauty of crea­tion, in that original state of unmarred perfection, where sin had not dropped her stain and misery had not left her scar and the groan of the sufferer was not heard,—there God’s goodness displayed itself simply as goodness, overflowing riches of benevolence, poured upon every creature according to the measure of its capacity.

The single light-beam of God’s goodness had not re­solved itself into the many-colored rays of his grace, tender mercy and loving kindness in contrast with his holy wrath and faultless justice.

But sin entered. And in the wake of sin came death. And with death followed suffering in all its awful forms, agony of soul and body, pain, sorrow, grief, fear. And the curse of God was pronounced upon the creature and subjected it to vanity; the chilling breath of a good God, maintaining himself in his goodness over against a sin­ful world, caused the w-hole creation to groan and travail together in pain. And even thus the creature made subject to vanity and man in his guilt bending under the cruel scourge of suffering and death are testimonies that the Lord is good and that there is no evil in him.

But more must be said.

Suffering creation, sin and guilt and misery and death and all the thick darkness from hell only became the occasion for God to manifest his goodness more abun­dantly. Darkness was employed by him as a prism thru which to resolve the pure white beam of his goodness into wonderful rays of manifold perfection. First of all there is, on occasion of sin and suffering, the beautiful and rich manifestation of God’s wonderful mercy and lovingkindness. His tender mercies are over all his works. Radiating from the cross of God’s beloved Son this tender mercy beams its warm glory first of all upon his chosen people whom he loved with love everlasting, with a love that is always first. Upon them he lavishes his tender mercy in the blood pouring from the heart of his only begotten, and in these streams of mercy he cleanses them from guilt, heals them from sin, redeems them from the power of death, comforts them forever for their misery and makes them heirs of a glory unspeakable, of a life incomparably richer, fuller, deeper than ever first paradise knew. They taste his lovingkindness and tender mercy, speak of it and sing of it, showing forth the praises of him that called them from darkness into his marvelous light. But even as the awful darkness of sin and misery spread from the first Adam till it enshrouded an entire groaning creation in its horrors, so the glad light of redemption radiates from the second Adam, falls first upon the elect, thence to spread again over the whole creation. Remembering his groaning creature with bowels of mercy and compassion, the Lord stretches the rainbow of an everlasting covenant over all. His tender mercies are over all his works.

The creature is made subject to vanity. It is subject to the yoke of bondage. It is travailing in pain together until now….

But in hope!

The whole creation shall be liberated from the bondage of corruption and be made to partake of the glorious liberty of the children of God!

Bowels of mercy!

The Lord is good to all!! His tender mercy is over all his works!

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Good is Jehovah.

But all the wicked will he destroy.

Seemingly there is irreconcilable conflict here. The Lord is good and yet he destroys. Many a sinful mind will not have it so. Many would dream of a goodness without righteousness, of a grace without justice, of a benevolence without holy wrath. And yet, upon closer investigation this apparent conflict disappears, dissolves itself into most sublime harmony. He will destroy all the wicked because he is good. The destruction of the wicked, God’s wrath upon them is but another aspect of his perfect goodness.

The wicked are the vessels of wrath, fitted unto destruction. They are those that love iniquity and righteousness. God is not in all their thoughts. They say within their hearts, they express it in their words, they reveal it in their ways,—that there is no God. They are God’s enemies and children of their father the devil. They dwell in darkness and love it. They crucify Christ and persecute his people. They make the measure of their iniquity full.

So are all the wicked.

But the Lord is good. And because he is good and there is no evil in him, because he is a light and there is no darkness in him, therefore, his soul loves the righteous and loatheth the wicked, his face beams with tender mercy upon those that love him, but burns with fierce wrath upon them that love iniquity; he preserves the righteous but destroys all the wicked.

The Lord is good. Therefore there are in him bowels of mercy and consuming fires of holy wrath!

Hallelujah!

Pursuit of Glory (9)

We want life-a life of glory, happiness, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, peace and holiness. God, in Christ is the life (John 1:4). To know him is to have eternal life (John 17:3, 1 John 5:11-12). It is abundant life (John 10:10). An unbroken covenantal relationship with God is life. The life of Christ within (Gal.2:20) is “like an everlasting river that quenches all our thirsts.” It’s the life Adam and Eve had pre-fall. Death came as separation from God leading to misery, meaninlessness, bondage, guilt, unrighteousness and shame. Spiritual death (separation from God), physical death and eternal death are all aspects of this death.

Christ rejoiced throughout his life except for the hours of separation fromhis father. He was full of joy because he found pleasure in obeying God and he delighted in him at all times (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 45:7, Heb.1:9, he obeyed Phil.4:4). All that we seek (the headings of this book’s chapters) is found in Christ-we are complete in him (Col.2:10). The lost, born deceived, think that by feeding their bodily appetites, they will fulfill the deep longings of their hearts but these are insatiable till rest is found in Christ.

Excellent little book in it’s analysis of human need, human motives and human satisfaction!

Pursuit of Glory (8)

Holiness

 

Do we not all want to be good? I think not! We all want to please ourselves and  naturally despise God’s authority. The nature of sin is such that it leads to more sin and the conscience gets weaker. God punishes sin with more sin. Religious cloaks cover much evil and actually perpetuate it-think of suicide bombers who believe murdering infidels will bring them to their idea of heaven. We naturally love to sin.  We do self-righteous acts in an attempt to counterbalance the evil. No act is good unless the motive is to plaese God, it is done in faith, in obedience and for his glory. Unregenerate peoplecannot please God (Rom.8:8)-all is selfish. They sin because the come short of God’s glory (Rom.3:23). “Our thoughts, affections and deeds are all tainted by sin.” Only the Spirit resident in believers enables us to return love to God, bear fruit and have pure motives.(to be continued)

Pursuit of Glory (7)

Peace

“All humanity is at war with God since the first act of treason.” Humans hate and fight each other, wars, genocide, killing the unborn and terrorism. God and Satan are at war, and since Satan cannot affect God he wars against God’s church.  Man has no peace internally (Isaiah 48:22) because of guilt. Perfect peace comes only with perfect love, the love in the trinity. Religion and good works cannot expunge guilt, neither the numbing effect of drugs or alcohol or the distraction of entertainment and pleasure.  Christ alone earned peace and righteousness for us. Reconciliation comes by faith  in his finished work and the acknowledgement we are vile depraved sinners who must repent.

Pursuit of Glory (5)

Companionship

This chapter is about companionship and marriage.  The author describes a trip to Europe where he saw spectacular scenery in Switzerland but had no-one to share it with. “God did not design us to experience life alone” (Gen.2:18).

We crave companionship but we were created originally for fellowship with God, the fellowship that is enjoyed in the Trinity, and the fall destroyed that and our relationships with each other. Selfishness creates conflict in marriage. He quotes the example of a mega-rich businessman whose job priority was at the expense of family. “It is family and friends that make this life so special. We must invest our time in the things that matter most–God, family, and friends.”

God’s law commands us to love him and our neighbour. Counterfeit love is lust. “Love seeks the betterment of others while lust is for the satisfaction of self.” “Lust has more in common with hate than love, it uses people for personal pleasure then throws them in the wastebasket after their resources are used up”–witness Amnon and Tamar (II Samuel 13). Real love is from God and is supernatural (I Cor.13)-love will sacrifice without seeking to receive. “A loving mother understands it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Love delights in bringing joy and blessings to others. To love someone and to be loved by someone is the most treasured of all blessings.”

But even the best earthly relationship falls short. We need the love of God because his love is perfect, unconditional and unchangeing. Out of sheer love Christ gave everything for his people (Rom.5:5,8, 2:4, 8:31-39). We were saved to enter covenant love with God and his people–the fellowship of the saints. Heaven needs no marriage because the earthly type is swallowed up in the reality it typified, namely the marriage of Christ and his church.

Further reading: Keeping God’s covenant (Engelsma/Hanko), Communion with God (John Owen), Handle with Care (Dr Julian Kennedy), Walking in the Way of Love (Nathan Langerak)

Book Review-“The Pursuit of Glory.”

Book Review

The Pursuit of Glory by Jeffrey D. Johnson

Paperback 113 pages published by Reformation Heritage books Grand Rapids 2018

Amazon Books £5.73p

 

This book is useful as an evangelistic tool and as a spur to believers. By reading it I believe, God uses it to answer the prayer of David in Psalm 139:23,24 to search us and know us and lead us in the way everlasting. This book, like Scripture is a sharp sword (Hebrews 4:12) to expose our motives-why we do things, in the same way as we know God looks at our hearts.

By covering all the basic human needs it shows us how fallen humanity perversely seeks to satisfy them. In the main it is theologically sound and very readable. The forward spells out its basic thesis which is Augustinian namely, “ You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” The chapters in turn show that the pursuit of happiness, purpose, truth, freedom (from sin, death and selfishness), companionship, peace, holiness and life (abundant) are all only found in relationship with God.

One basic error he repeats, and it is one widely believed among evangelicals, is that we (though fallen) are made in God’s image. Had he said we WERE made in God’s image he would be correct but now as fallen creatures and totally depraved we have lost all of that image which consisted true knowledge of God, righteousness and holiness which is only renewed when we are born again (Ephesians 4:24). He also ought to have said that pursuing God was part of our original humanity but now no man naturally seeks for God (Romans 3:11). He gets the “ordo salutis” (order of salvation) wrong when he says, “ By faith in God we are not only born again but empowered by the Spirit…” Regeneration precedes faith which is one of its fruits!

Some very pithy sayings include, “The biblical contrast to glory is vanity.” He maintains that the deep seated longings of our hearts (he ought to qualify this by saying regenerated hearts) is for eternal glory that is only found in God, it is the satisfying inter-trinitarian glory (John 17:5). As Westminster Confession states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.” We can never be self-sufficient simply because unlike God we are dependent creatures. “The cause of sin stems from a heart that desires to satisfy a legitimate craving with an illegitimate experience.” “Finite and perishable things were not designed to fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts.” “The end of love is the betterment of the other while the end objective of lust is the satisfaction of self.”

Near the end of the book he says something I had to contemplate but eventually had to agree with namely, that Christ was the “happiest” i.e. most joyful person who ever lived despite the fact he was a man of sorrows. He never lost his joy and was able to obey the Pauline injunction to rejoice evermore (Philippians 4:4) except when he was deserted in those awful last hours before he said ,”It is finished.”Hence the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Dr Julian Kennedy, Ballymena.

The Pursuit of Glory (3)

PURPOSE

Without purpose life is meaningless. We all want our lives to count. We were made to work (Gen.2:15). Work responsibilities give us purpose. We work for the glory of God (Col.3:23). Purpose in the approval of others?  Purpose in getting a following on social media? Purpose in possessing a lot? (Luke 12:15).These perish. Self glory is no glory. Glory is not in self-worth.

Doing whatever you do to the glory of God is what counts. God’s  approval is what counts! To know God is something to glory in (Jer,9:23,24). Every good work (done for God’s glory, in faith and obedience to his word) will be rewarded. (Rev.14:13). What we leave in this life will be given back in the next (Matthew 19:29, Mal.3:16, Matthew 26:7,13). Everything has eternal value when it is carried out for the glory of God, we lay up treasure in heaven. This brings purpose. Purpose comes from living for God and eternity.

The Pursuit of Glory (2)

Happiness

The world is depressed. The author really ought to use the Biblical word joy because that is what he means– enduring joy, not just passing pleasure (I Peter 1:8). It is a satisfaction and contentment deep in the soul. Either immediate or future happiness is behind all we do. We must seek it in enjoying and glorifying God. Happiness in self-love? No, because we are never self-sufficient and not designed to be selfishly independent, only God is completely and eternally happy.

Materialism is empty. God’s providential gifts are designed to draw our affections to him. All of creation is designed to tell of the glory of God, not feed the lusts of our flesh. Of course we have needs but all the seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling  are things to enjoy and be thankful for as his gifts. Being ungrateful, and coveting what we don’t have, is idolatry (witness Adam and Eve).  The vast majority of sin and crime is caused by this. (James 4:1,2 and subsequently breaking all of the second table of God’s law, the ten commandments).

   Christ, the fount of living water is substituted  by broken cisterns. Being deprived of spiritual joy necessarily makes people get addicted to physical pleasures (Eccles. 1:8, Proverbs 27:20). Perverse appetites are insatiable. “We must pursue God with all our heart, mind and strength.”  We go after fool’s gold…

when Christ must be our supreme treasure. We must deny ourselves and whatever is hindering us to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). ” Those who find pleasure in God will find pleasure in every situation”-Henry Scougal. This was how Paul and Silas could rejoice in prison. The loss of all we have ought not to diminish our joy. We must relinquish all to follow him….and this is practiclally outworked by believers seeking to belong to a true church where Christ is present-JK. Blessed is the nation (or man) whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12).