Category Archives: Doxology

“He is the apex of unchanging beauty” by Herman Bavinck

“The pinnacle of beauty, the beauty toward which all creatures point, is God. He is supreme being, supreme truth, supreme goodness, and also the apex of unchanging beauty.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2: God and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 254.

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“God is His own blessedness” by Herman Bavinck

“The term ‘the blessed God’ (1 Timothy 1:11; 6:15) also implies, in the third place, that God absolutely delights in Himself, absolutely rests in Himself, and is absolutely self-sufficient.

His life is not a process of becoming, not an evolution, not a process of desiring and striving, as in the pantheistic life, but an uninterrupted rest, eternal peace.

God’s delight in His creatures is part and parcel of His delight in Himself. God is His own blessedness.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2: God and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 251.

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“How you loved us, good Father” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Inasmuch as He was a man, He was a mediator, but inasmuch as He is the Word, He is not in the middle, because He is equal to God, and is God in the presence of God, and one God together with Him.

How you loved us, good Father, who did not spare your only Son, but handed Him over for the sake of us, the wicked!

How you loved us, for whose sake Your Son, through not considering it an act of robbery to be Your equal, was subjugated and reduced clear to death on the cross!

But He was the only one among the dead with free will, having both the power to lay down His life and the power to take it up again.

For our sake, He was both Your victor and Your sacrificial victim, and the victor because He was the victim.

For our sake He was both Your sacrificing priest and Your sacrifice, and He was the priest because He was the sacrifice. He was born from You yet acted as our slave, thereby turning us from Your slaves into Your sons.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. Sarah Ruden (New York: Modern Library, 2017), 341-342.

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“Measure the height of His love by the depth of His grief” by Charles Spurgeon

‘There was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.’ This cry came out of that darkness. Expect not to see through its every word, as though it came from on high as a beam from the unclouded Sun of Righteousness.

There is light in it, bright, flashing light; but there is a centre of impenetrable gloom, where the soul is ready to faint because of the terrible darkness.

Our Lord was then in the darkest part of His way. He had trodden the winepress now for hours, and the work was almost finished. He had reached the culminating point of His anguish. This is His dolorous lament from the lowest pit of misery— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’

I do not think that the records of time, or even of eternity, contain a sentence more full of anguish. Here the wormwood and the gall, and all the other bitternesses, are outdone.

Here you may look as into a vast abyss; and though you strain your eyes, and gaze till sight fails you, yet you perceive no bottom; it is measureless, unfathomable, inconceivable.

This anguish of the Saviour on your behalf and mine is no more to be measured and weighed than the sin which needed it, or the love which endured it. We will adore where we cannot comprehend.

I have chosen this subject that it may help the children of God to understand a little of their infinite obligations to their redeeming Lord.

You shall measure the height of His love, if it be ever measured, by the depth of His grief, if that can ever be known.

See with what a price he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law! As you see this, say to yourselves: What manner of people ought we to be!

What measure of love ought we to return to one who bore the utmost penalty, that we might be delivered from the wrath to come?

I do not profess that I can dive into this deep. I will only venture to the edge of the precipice, and bid you look down, and pray the Spirit of God to concentrate your mind upon this lamentation of our dying Lord, as it rises up through the thick darkness— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘“‘Lama Sabachtani?’’ in Majesty in Misery, Volume 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 153-154. (MPTS: 36: 133-134)

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“Gloria Patri” by Fred Sanders

“Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost! As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

The glory of God is from everlasting to everlasting, but while the praise of the Trinity will have no end, it had a beginning.

There was never a time when God was not glorious as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit. But there was a time when that singular glory had not yet disclosed itself so as to invite creatures to its praise.

To join in the ancient Christian prayer called the Gloria Patri, directing praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is to come into alignment here in the world ‘as it is now’ with triune glory ‘as it was in the beginning.’

All theology ought to be doxology, but Trinitarian theology in particular is essentially a matter of praising God. This doxological response is the praise of glory (ἔπαινον δόξης, Eph 1:6, 12, 14) that always was, and whose epiphany in time entails its antecedent depth in eternity.

Those whom God has blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ are summoned to join that praise: ‘Blessed be God the Father, who has blessed us in the Beloved and sealed us with the Holy Spirit of promise’ (Eph 1:3-14, condensed).”

–Fred Sanders, The Triune God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 25.

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“Scripture is the handmaiden of Christ” by Herman Bavinck

“If Scripture is the account of the revelation of God in Christ, it is bound to arouse the same opposition as Christ himself who came into the world for judgment (κρισις) and is ‘set for the fall and rising of many’ (Luke 2:34).

He brings separation between light and darkness and reveals the thoughts of many hearts. Similarly Scripture is a living and active word, a ‘discerner’ of the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12).

It not only was inspired but is still ‘God-breathed’ and ‘God-breathing.’ Just as there is much that precedes the act of inspiration (all the activity of the Holy Spirit in nature, history, revelation, regeneration), so there is much that follows it as well.

Inspiration is not an isolated event. The Holy Spirit does not, after the act of inspiration, withdraw from Holy Scripture and abandon it to its fate but sustains and animates it and in many ways brings its content to humanity, to its heart and conscience.

By means of Scripture as the word of God, the Holy Spirit continually wars against the thoughts and intentions of the ‘unspiritual’ person (ψυχικος ἀνθρωπος). By itself, therefore, it need not surprise us in the least that Scripture has at all times encountered contradiction and opposition.

Christ bore a cross, and the servant (Scripture) is not greater than its master. Scripture is the handmaiden of Christ. It shares in his defamation and arouses the hostility of sinful humanity.”

–Herman Bavinck, Eds. John Bolt and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 439-440.

 

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“An ever-continuing battle” by Herman Bavinck

“All believers have the experience that in the best moments of their life they are also most firm in their belief in Scripture. The believer’s confidence in Christ increases along with their confidence in Scripture and, conversely, ignorance of the Scriptures is automatically and proportionately ignorance of Christ.

The connection between sin and error often lies hidden deep below the surface of the conscious life. One can almost never demonstrate this link in others, but it is sometimes revealed to our own inner eye with respect to ourselves.

The battle against the Bible is, in the first place, a revelation of the hostility of the human heart. But that hostility may express itself in various ways. It absolutely does not come to expression only—and perhaps not even most forcefully—in the criticism to which Scripture has been subjected in our time.

Scripture as the word of God encounters opposition and unbelief in every ‘unspiritual’ person. In the days of dead orthodoxy, an unbelieving attitude toward Scripture was in principle as powerful as in our historically-oriented and critical century. The forms change, but the essence remains the same.

Whether hostility against Scripture is expressed in criticism like that of Celsus and Porphyry or whether it is manifest in a dead faith, that hostility in principle is the same. For not the hearers but the doers of the word (James 1:22) are pronounced blessed. ‘The servant who knew his master’s will but did not make ready or act according to his will will receive a severe beating’ (Luke 12:47).

It remains the duty of every person, therefore, first of all to put aside his or her hostility against the word of God and ‘to take every thought captive to obey Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5). Scripture itself everywhere presses this demand.

Only the pure of heart will see God. Rebirth will see the kingdom of God. Self-denial is the condition for being a disciple of Jesus. The wisdom of the world is folly to God. Over against all human beings, Scripture occupies a position so high that, instead of subjecting itself to their criticism, it judges them in all their thoughts and desires.

And this has been the Christian church’s position toward Scripture at all times. According to Chrysostom, humility is the foundation of philosophy. Augustine once said: ‘When a certain rhetorician was asked what was the chief rule in eloquence, he replied, ‘Delivery’; what was the second rule, ‘Delivery’; what was the third rule, ‘Delivery’; so if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second, third, and always I would answer, ‘Humility.’ ” Calvin cites this statement with approval. And Pascal cries out to humanity: ‘Humble yourself, powerless reason! Be silent, stupid nature!… Listen to God!’

This has been the attitude of the church toward Scripture down the centuries. And the Christian dogmatician may take no other position. For a dogma is not based on the results of any historical-critical research but only on the witness of God, on the self-testimony of Holy Scripture.

A Christian believes, not because everything in life reveals the love of God, but rather despite everything that raises doubt. In Scripture too there is much that raises doubt. All believers know from experience that this is true. Those who engage in biblical criticism frequently talk as if simple church people know nothing about the objections that are advanced against Scripture and are insensitive to the difficulty of continuing to believe in Scripture. But that is a false picture.

Certainly, simple Christians do not know all the obstacles that science raises to belief in Scripture. But they do to a greater or lesser degree know the hard struggle fought both in head and heart against Scripture.

There is not a single Christian who has not in his or her own way learned to know the antithesis between the ‘wisdom of the world’ and ‘the foolishness of God.’ It is one and the same battle, an ever-continuing battle, which has to be waged by all Christians, learned or unlearned, to ‘take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5).

Here on earth no one ever rises above that battle. Throughout the whole domain of faith, there remain ‘crosses’ that have to be overcome. There is no faith without struggle. To believe is to struggle, to struggle against the appearance of things.

As long as people still believe in anything, their belief is challenged from all directions. No modern believer is spared from this either. Concessions weaken believers but do not liberate them. Thus for those who in childlike faith subject themselves to Scripture, there still remain more than enough objections. These need not be disguised. There are intellectual problems in Scripture that cannot be ignored and that will probably never be resolved.

But these difficulties, which Scripture itself presents against its own inspiration, are in large part not recent discoveries of our century. They have been known at all times.

Nevertheless, Jesus and the apostles, Athanasius and Augustine, Thomas and Bonaventure, Luther and Calvin, and Christians of all churches have down the centuries confessed and recognized Scripture as the Word of God. Those who want to delay belief in Scripture till all the objections have been cleared up and all the contradictions have been resolved will never arrive at faith. ‘For who hopes for what he sees?’ (Rom. 8:24).

Jesus calls blessed those who have not seen and yet believe (John 20:29).”

–Herman Bavinck, Eds. John Bolt and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 440-442.

 

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