Sinners, Worthless

When men die for others, they die for their honored brothers, or their countrymen, or maybe for someone with high rank, like a president. Maybe a man will die to save a woman or child from a burning building. This is commendable. No one, though, would die for the evil. Evil men and women are worthless.

But when the Creator of everything decided to show his character – what kind of person he is, so to speak – he did something unheard of. He died for the worthless, for the evil, for the despicable, for the poor, for the hateful, for the impatient and unkind, for the easily angered, for the foolish, for the boasters, for the filthy prostitutes, for the greedy, for the manipulative, for the atheists, for the theives, for the bitter and selfish old men, for the abusers, for the bullies, for the persecutors, for the mean-spirited, for the unthankful, for the broken idolators who cannot break their addictions. He did this to save his people from their sins. Not a worthy man who has ever lived would be willing to die for one of these, nor able even if he wanted to, since he would only be throwing his life away, unable to change the person for whom he would be dying. But the Son of God was not only willing but able to die, and not only to die but rise again – to break the power of death and to crush the power of sin. Romans 5:7-8 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Are you a sinner? Are you the kind of person most people would never think of trying to save? Then you are the kind God has chosen to help. It is just who he is. Matthew 11:25-30.

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The City of God

All the earth! Praise the Lord for his mighty deeds! He is God and there is no other!

Psalm 48:1 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God!
His holy mountain, 2beautiful in elevation,
is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
the city of the great King.

The city of God is an illustration pointing us to consider the place on earth where God has chosen to live – that is, the congregation of those who believe in him, in their hearts and in their praises.

It is called the joy of all the earth because it is there God is found. His glory is told in stories of the past and promises for the future. Where God is true and lasting happiness is found. This world is full of darkness and misery due to sin. Man lies awake at night, in distress and turmoil because of graceless pride, keenly aware of his helpless slide toward inevitable doom, but unable to stop himself from rushing into it, more and more obstinancy. Not so where God is found! Where God dwells there is humility, broken heartedness, and silent awe – leading to refreshment in God’s word, his promises – man’s emptiness filled with divine beauty. The joy of all the earth.

It is said to be in the far north to inspire our imaginations that we might strive to reach its gates by impossible measures, that is by faith. It is said to be in the far north so as to set our minds on its future glory just as much as we set our minds on our present present sufferings. It is said to be in the far north to fill our souls with a sense of its awesome glory which no eye has seen and no heart imagined. A reality that God has in store for us, but only partially revealed in the present age.

It is called the city of the great King! It is where Christ lives. It is where songs of quiet daily contentment and shouts of Sunday victory are heard echoing through the streets as his royal procession bends and turns through her streets, that is, as Christ is honored and his people cling to him by faith. Where he stands and addresses the helpless and anguished with words of comfort and consolation and fill their ears with blessings eternal. Where he gifts the poor and needy with the presence of His Holy Spirit from the treasure-hordes of the eternal Father’s stores. Where he governs with truth and grace in perfect balanced justice calling to the whole earth saying “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden. I will give you rest! Learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart! Take my burden upon you, for it is easy and light.” That is, it is the place his word is preached and his people instructed.

His banners are not cloth, but spiritual realities – his people’s trust in him. His ramparts are not stone, but spiritual realities – grace and truth. His high towers are not bronze, but spiritual realities – the presence of the invisible and only God, made known by faith, and enjoyed in the Spirit, through the work of the Son, to the ever-enduring glory of the Father!

Her mountain is white. Her gates are lofty. Her citizens are many. Her King is Christ. Her truth enjoyed only by faith.

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God!

Paradox and Tri-unity and Simplicity and Love

The simplicity of God is harmonious diversity in perfect unity, not reduced singularity.

God is one, but he is not reduced. God is one, but he is not the sum of parts. He is the entire of all that he is, always, and at the same time. To borrow from the famous Nazianzan, but modifying it with regard to his attributes: He cannot be contemplated in his attributes without the mind being drawn to the whole. He cannot be contemplated in the whole without the mind being drawn to contemplate the attributes. Hence God is without parts.

The old theologians said that within God there are distinctions, not parts. That is, we distinguish the attributes but we cannot separate them.God’s diversity is indivisible. His knowledge cannot be divorced from his holiness, nor his love from his justice, nor any of these from his immutability, and so on. Yet we distinguish knowledge from holiness from immutability.

Therefore, when John says “God is love”, he cannot mean to say that God is love with exclusion to justice, truth, knowledge, wisdom, jealousy, wrath, or eternity. He means that God’s love is just, true, knowing, wise, jealous, fierce, never-ending, unchanging, purely actualized, and without equal.

Therefore, when theologians speak of the Trinitarian relations as a perfect bond of love, they cannot mean love with exclusion to any of God’s attributes. That the “Father loves the Son” and “the Son loves the Father” is to say that with a just, true, holy, knowing, wise, jealous, fierce, never-ending, unchanging, purely actualized, and unequalled love does the Father love-know-embrace faithfully-deal justly-pursue relentlessly the Son, and the Son likewise does the same toward the Father, and so the Father and the Son for the Spirit and the Spirit for the Father and the Son.