Category Archives: Eschatology

“This God is your God” by Jonathan Edwards

“This God, to whom there is none in heaven to be compared, nor any among the sons of the mighty to be likened– this God who is from everlasting to everlasting, an infinitely powerful, wise, holy, and lovely being, who is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, is your God.

He is reconciled to you and has become your friend. There is a friendship between you and the Almighty. You have become acquainted with Him, and He has made known Himself to you, and communicates Himself to you, converses with you as a friend, dwells with you, and in you, by His Holy Spirit.

Yea, He has taken you into a nearer relation to Him: He has become your Father, and owns you for His child, and doth by you, and will do by you, as a child.

He cares for you, and will see that you are provided for, and will see that you never shall want anything that will be useful to you. He has made you one of His heirs, and a co-heir with His Son, and will bestow an inheritance upon you, as it is bestowed upon a child of the King of Kings.

You are now in some measure sanctified, and have the image of God upon your souls, but hereafter, when God shall receive you, His dear child, into His arms, and shall admit you to the perfect enjoyment of Him as your portion, you will be entirely transformed into His likeness, for you shall see Him as He is.

The consideration of having such a glorious God for your God, your friend, your Father, and your portion, and that you shall eternally enjoy Him as such, is enough to make you despise all worldly afflictions and adversities, and even death itself, and to trample them under your feet.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “God’s Excellencies” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1992), 435. You can read this sermon on Psalm 89:6 in its entirety here. Edwards was only nineteen years old when preached this sermon.

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“Sitting down at one table” by Herman Bavinck

“The blessedness of communion with God is enjoyed in and heightened by the communion of saints. On earth already this communion is a wonderful benefit of faith.

Those who for Jesus’s sake have left behind house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields already in this life receive houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields—along with persecutions—(Mark 10:29–30), for all who do the will of the Father are Jesus’s brother and sister and mother (Matt. 12:50).

Through the mediator of the New Testament, believers enter into fellowship, not only with the militant church on earth, but also with the triumphant church in heaven, the assembly of the firstborn, the spirits of the righteous made perfect, even with innumerable angels (Heb. 12:22–24).

But this fellowship, though in principle it already exists on earth, will nevertheless be incomparably richer and more glorious when all dividing walls of descent and language, of time and space, have been leveled, all sin and error have been banished, and all the elect have been assembled in the new Jerusalem.

Then will be fully answered the prayer of Jesus that all His sheep may be one flock under one Shepherd (John 10:16; 17:21). All the saints together will then fully comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ (Eph. 3:18–19).

They will together be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19; Col. 2:2, 10), inasmuch as Christ, Himself filled with the fullness of God (Col. 1:19), will in turn fill the believing community with Himself and make it His fullness (πληρωμα, plērōma; Eph. 1:23; 4:10).

And sitting down at one table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt. 8:11), they will unitedly lift up a song of praise to the glory of God and of the Lamb. (Rev. 4:11; 5:12)”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, Vol. 4, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 4: 722–723.

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“A most ordinary pastor” by D.A. Carson

“Tom Carson never rose very far in denominational structures, but hundreds of people in the Outaouais and beyond testify how much he loved them.

He never wrote a book, but he loved the Book.

He was never wealthy or powerful, but he kept growing as a Christian: yesterday’s grace was never enough.

He was not a far-sighted visionary, but he looked forward to eternity.

He was not a gifted administrator, but there is no text that says, ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you are good administrators.’

His journals have many, many entries bathed in tears of contrition, but his children and grandchildren remember his laughter. Only rarely did he break through his pattern of reserve and speak deeply and intimately with his children, but he modeled Christian virtues to them.

He much preferred to avoid controversy than to stir things up, but his own commitments to historic confessionalism were unyielding, and in ethics he was a man of principle.

His own ecclesiastical circles were rather small and narrow, but his reading was correspondingly large and expansive.

He was not very good at putting people down, except on his prayer lists.

When he died, there were no crowds outside the hospital, no editorial comments in the papers, no announcements on television, no mention in Parliament, no attention paid by the nation.

In his hospital room there was no one by his bedside. There was only the quiet hiss of oxygen, vainly venting because he had stopped breathing and would never need it again.

But on the other side all the trumpets sounded.

Dad won entrance to the only throne room that matters, not because he was a good man or a great man-he was, after all, a most ordinary pastor-but because he was a forgiven man.

And he heard the voice of Him whom he longed to hear saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.'”

–D.A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 147-148.

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“A perfect view of His glory” by Jonathan Edwards

“The souls of true saints, when absent from the body, go to be with Jesus Christ, as they are brought into a most perfect conformity to, and union with Him. Their spiritual conformity is begun while they are in the body; here beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, they are changed into the same image: but when they come to see Him as he is, in heaven, then they become like Him, in another manner.

That perfect right will abolish all remains of deformity, disagreement and sinful unlikeness as all darkness is abolished before the full blaze of the sun’s meridian light. It is impossible that the least degree of obscurity should remain before such light. So it is impossible the least degree of sin and spiritual deformity should remain, in such a view of the spiritual beauty and glory of Christ, as the saints enjoy in heaven when they see that Sun of righteousness without a cloud. They themselves shine forth as the sun, and shall be as little suns, without a spot.

For then is come the time when Christ presents His saints to Himself, in glorious beauty, ‘not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; and having holiness without a blemish’ [Ephesians 5:27]. And then the saints’ union with Christ is perfected. This also is begun in this world. The relative union is both begun and perfected at once, when the soul first closes with Christ by faith: the real union, consisting in the union of hearts and affections, and in the vital union, is begun in this world, and perfected in the next.

The union of the heart of a believer to Christ is begun when his heart is drawn to Christ, by the first discovery of divine excellency, at conversion; and consequent on this drawing and closing of his heart with Christ, is established a vital union with Christ; whereby the believer becomes a living branch of the true vine, living by a communication of the sap and vital juice of the stock and root; and a member of Christ’s mystical body, living by a communication of spiritual and vital influences from the head, and by a kind of participation of Christ’s own life.

But while the saints are in the body, there is much remaining distance between Christ and them: there are remainders of alienation, and the vital union is very imperfect; and so consequently, are the communication of spiritual life and vital influences: there is much between Christ and believers to keep them asunder, much indwelling sin, much temptation, an heavy-molded frail body, and a world of carnal objects, to keep off the soul from Christ, and hinder a perfect coalescence.

But when the soul leaves the body, all these clogs and hindrances shall be removed, every separating wall shall be broken down, and every impediment taken out of the way, and all distance shall cease; the heart shall be wholly and perfectly drawn, and most firmly and forever attached and bound to Him, by a perfect view of His glory.

And the vital union shall then be brought to perfection: the soul shall live perfectly in and upon Christ, being perfectly filled with His Spirit, and animated by His vital influences; living as it were only by Christ’s life, without any remainder of spiritual death, or carnal life. Departed souls of saints are with Christ, as they enjoy a glorious and immediate intercourse and converse with Him.

While we are present with our friends, we have opportunity for that free and immediate conversation with them, which we cannot have in absence from them. And therefore, by reason of the vastly more free, perfect and immediate intercourse with Christ, which the saints enjoy when absent from the body, they are fitly represented as present with Him.

The most intimate intercourse becomes that relation that the saints stand in to Jesus Christ: and especially becomes that most perfect and glorious union they shall be brought into with Him in heaven. They are not merely Christ’s servants, but His friends (John 15:15), His brethren and companions (Psalms 122:8); yea, they are the spouse of Christ.

They are espoused or betrothed to Christ while in the body; but when they go to heaven, they enter into the King’s palace, their marriage with Him is come, and the King brings them into His chambers indeed. They then go to dwell with Christ, constantly to enjoy the most perfect converse with Him. Christ conversed in the most friendly manner with His disciples on earth; He admitted one of them to lean on His bosom: but they are admitted much more fully and freely to converse with Him in heaven.

Though Christ be there in a state of glorious exaltation, reigning in the majesty and glory of the sovereign Lord and God of heaven and earth, angels and men. Yet this will not hinder intimacy and freedom of intercourse, but rather promote it. For He is thus exalted, not only for Himself, but for them; He is instated in this glory of head over all things for their sakes, that they might be exalted and glorified, and when they go to heaven where He is, they are exalted and glorified with Him; and shall not be kept at a more awful distance from Christ, but shall be admitted nearer, and to a greater intimacy.

For they shall be unspeakably more fit for it, and Christ in more fit circumstances to bestow on them this blessedness. Their seeing the great glory of their friend and Redeemer, will not awe them to a distance, and make them afraid of a near approach; but on the contrary, will most powerfully draw them near; and encourage and engage them to holy freedom. For they will know that it is He that is their own Redeemer, and beloved friend and bridegroom; the very same that loved them with a dying love, and redeemed them to God by His blood; Matthew 14:27, ‘It is I; be not afraid.’ Revelation 1:17–18, ‘Fear not, I am He that liveth, and was dead.’

And the nature of this glory of Christ that they shall see, will be such as will draw and encourage them, for they will not only see infinite majesty and greatness but infinite grace, condescension and mildness, and gentleness and sweetness, equal to His majesty. For he appears in heaven, not only as ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah,’ but as ‘the Lamb,’ and ‘the Lamb in the midst of the throne’ (Revelation 5:5–6); and this Lamb in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, to ‘feed them, and lead them to living fountains of waters’ (Revelation 7:17) so that the sight of Christ’s great kingly majesty will be no terror to them; but will only serve the more to heighten their pleasure and surprise.

When Mary was about to embrace Christ, being full of joy at the sight of Him again alive after His crucifixion, Christ forbids her to do it, for the present because He was not yet ascended; John 20:16–17, ‘Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not: for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ As if he had said, ‘This is not the time and place for that freedom, your love to me desires: that is appointed in heaven, after my ascension. I am going thither: and you that are my true disciples, shall, as my brethren and companions, soon be there with me in my glory. And then there shall be no restraint. That is the place appointed for the most perfect expressions of complacence and endearment, and full enjoyment of mutual love.’

And accordingly the souls of departed saints with Christ in heaven, shall have Christ as it were unbosomed unto them, manifesting those infinite riches of love towards them, that have been there from eternity. And they shall be enabled to express their love to Him, in an infinitely better manner than ever they could while in the body.

Thus they shall eat and drink abundantly, and swim in the ocean of love, and be eternally swallowed up in the infinitely bright, and infinitely mild and sweet beams of divine love, eternally receiving that light, eternally full of it, and eternally compassed round with it, and everlastingly reflecting it back again to the fountain of it.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “True Saints, When Absent From The Body, Are Present With The Lord,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 25, Sermons and Discourses 1743-1758. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 231-233.

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“Now to this God I commend you” by George Swinnock

“Now to this God, according to my power, I have, I do, and I shall commend you, to his favour and singular affection, to His power and special protection, and to His care and universal benediction.

I cannot commend you to one so faithful; though others fall off like leaves in autumn, He will never leave you that are His, nor forsake you.

I cannot commend you to one so loving; He lived in love, He in our natures died for love. His love is like Himself, boundless and bottomless.

It is impossible to commend you to one so able; He can supply all your needs, He fill all your souls to the brim; grace is lovely in your eyes, whoever beheld it.

Glory is infinitely amiable in your judgments, whoever believed it. He can build you up, and give you an inheritance, where all the heirs are kings and queens, and you shall sit on thrones, and live and reign with Christ forever and ever.

There you shall have robes of purity on your backs, and palms of victory in your hands, and crowns of glory on your heads, and songs of triumph in your mouths.

There you may meet together to worship Him without fear, and drink freely of His sweetest, dearest favour.

There your services will be without the smallest sin, and your souls will be without the least sorrow.

If pastor and people meet there, they shall part nevermore. It is some comfort now, that though distant in places, we can meet together at the throne of grace.

But oh, what a comfort will it be to meet together in that palace of glory!

But since we must part here, ‘finally, my brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind. Live in peace and the God of love and peace shall be with you.’

‘And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance amongst all them that are sanctified.'”

–George Swinnock, “The Pastor’s Farewell,” in The Works of George Swinnock, Vol. 4 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust reprint of the 1868 James Nichol edition, 1992), 99-100. Swinnock preached this farewell sermon to the congregation of Great Kimble, Buckinghamshire on Black Bartholomew’s Day, August 24, 1662.

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“Bless us, Lord God, with faithfulness” by D.A. Carson

“And now, Lord God, I ask your blessing on all who read this book, for without it there will be no real benefit.

We may have education, but not compassion; we may have forms of praying, but no fruitful adoration and intercession; we may have oratory, but be lacking in unction; we may thrill your people, but not transform them; we may expand their minds, but display too little wisdom and understanding; we may amuse many, but find few who are solidly regenerated by your blessed Holy Spirit.

So we ask you for Your blessing, for the power of the Spirit, that we may know You better and grow in our grasp of Your incalculable love for us.

Bless us, Lord God, not with ease or endless triumph, but with faithfulness. Bless us with the right number of tears, and with minds and hearts that hunger both to know and to do your Word.

Bless us with a profound hunger and thirst for righteousness, a zeal for truth, a love of people. Bless us with the perspective that weighs all things from the vantage point of eternity.

Bless us with a transparent love of holiness. Grant to us strength in weakness, joy in sorrow, calmness in conflict, patience when opposed or attacked, trustworthiness under temptation, love when we are hated, firmness and farsightedness when the climate prefers faddishness and drift.

We beg of You, holy and merciful God, that we may be used by You to extend Your kingdom widely, to bring many to know and love You truly.

Grant above all that our lives will increasingly bring glory to Your dear Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip us with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

–D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992), 225-226.

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“The orb of Jesus’ sovereignty” by D.A. Carson

“What would you have chosen to describe God’s power? When you think of God’s sovereignty, to what does your mind turn?

I confess I am inclined to think of God’s power in creation. He speaks, and worlds leap into being. He designs the water molecule, with its remarkable atomic structure that ensures greater density is achieved at four degrees Centigrade than at the freezing point, so that lakes and rivers freeze not from the bottom up but from the top down, providing a blanket of ice with water underneath so that fish can survive.

I think of God calculating the mathematics of quarks, with half-lives in billionths of a second. I think of God designing each star and upholding the universe by His powerful word. I think of the pleasure he takes in the woodpecker, with its specially designed tailfeathers that enable it to peck with such force. I marvel at a God who creates emus and cheetahs and the duck-billed platypus. His power extends beyond the limits of our imagination.

But that is not what Paul turns to. After all, for an omnipotent God there cannot be degrees of difficulty. There is no one act that is ‘most powerful.’ Paul does not hunt for the most powerful or the most difficult displays of God’s power, since such categories are essentially meaningless. Rather, he hunts for the most glorious, the most revealing. As a result, he focuses on three events.

Paul mentions the power exerted when Christ was raised from death. The power that Christians must experience is like the power God exerted in Christ ‘when He raised Him from the dead’ (1:20). Paul thinks of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here is the undoing of death, the destruction of sin; Christ’s resurrection is the firstfruits of the mighty resurrection that will mock the death of death and inaugurate a new heaven and a new earth. Small wonder Paul elsewhere declares that he wants to know Christ and the power of His resurrection (Phil. 3:10).

Paul describes the power displayed in the exalted Christ. The power that Christians must experience is like the power God exerted in Christ ‘when He … seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come’ (1:20–21). There are levels of authority of which we know very little, demonic powers and seraphic powers, not only in this world but in the heavenlies (see Col. 1:16). But over all of them is Christ Jesus, elevated to the Father’s right hand in consequence of His obedience to death and His victorious resurrection (see Phil. 2:6–11).

Indeed, this vision controls part of the line of argument in chapter 2. There Paul says that although we were dead in our trespasses and sins and were by nature objects of wrath (2:1), nevertheless because of His great love for us, God, ‘who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.… [and] raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus’ (2:4–6). Of course, in one sense I’m still here, not there. But because God views me as ‘in Christ,’ and Christ is seated with His Father in the heavenlies, therefore God views me as there in principle. That is my destination; that is where I properly belong, because of God’s great love for me. That is why my Canadian citizenship can never be more than secondary: I’m already a citizen of the new Jerusalem, and I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies.

Paul declares the power exercised by Christ over everything—for the church. ‘God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way’ (1:22–23). All of God’s sovereignty is mediated through Christ (see 1 Cor. 15:27; Ps. 110:1), and all of this sovereign power is for the good of the church. Christ is the head over everything: that is, He exercises authority over everything. But this ‘head’ metaphor takes a sudden shift when the ‘body’ is introduced. Although Christ is the head over everything, He is in particular the head of the church, which is His body. He is ideally placed to ensure that all of His sovereignty is exercised for His people’s good.

Not a drop of rain can fall outside the orb of Jesus’ sovereignty. All our days—our health, our illnesses, our joys, our victories, our tears, our prayers, and the answers to our prayers—fall within the sweep of the sovereignty of One who wears a human face, a thorn-shadowed face. All of God’s sovereignty is mediated through One who was crucified on my behalf.”

–D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992), 178-180. Carson is commenting on Ephesians 1:3-23.

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