Category Archives: God’s Excellencies

“The external word is the instrument, the internal word the aim” by Herman Bavinck

“The difference between Rome and the Reformation in their respective views of tradition consists in this: Rome wanted a tradition that ran on an independent parallel track alongside of Scripture, or rather, Scripture alongside of tradition.

The Reformation recognizes only a tradition that is founded on and flows from Scripture. To the mind of the Reformation, Scripture was an organic principle from which the entire tradition, living on in preaching, confession, liturgy, worship, theology, devotional literature, etc., arises and is nurtured.

It is a pure spring of living water from which all the currents and channels of the religious life are fed and maintained. Such a tradition is grounded in Scripture itself.

After Jesus completed his work, he sent forth the Holy Spirit who, while adding nothing new to the revelation, still guides the church into the truth (John 16:12–15) until it passes through all its diversity and arrives at the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph. 3:18, 19; 4:13).

In this sense there is a good, true, and glorious tradition. It is the method by which the Holy Spirit causes the truth of Scripture to pass into the consciousness and life of the church. Scripture, after all, is only a means, not the goal.

The goal is that, instructed by Scripture, the church will freely and independently make known “the wonderful deeds of him who called it out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

The external word is the instrument, the internal word the aim. Scripture will have reached its destination when all have been taught by the Lord and are filled with the Holy Spirit.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, Vol. 1, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 493–494.

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“He could have given us nothing more excellent” by Francis Turretin

“He in whom we are beloved is Christ, the delight of His heavenly Father and the ‘express image of His person.’ He could have given us nothing more excellent, nothing dearer, even if He had given the whole universe.”

–Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology (ed. James T. Dennison Jr.; trans. George Musgrave Giger; vol. 1; Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 242. (3.20.6)

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“These four things” by Francis Turretin

“These four things in the highest manner commend the love of God towards us:

(1) the majesty of the Lover;

(2) the poverty and unworthiness of the loved;

(3) the worth of Him in whom we are loved;

(4) the multitude and excellence of the gifts which flow out from that love to us.”

–Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology (ed. James T. Dennison Jr.; trans. George Musgrave Giger; vol. 1; Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992–1997), 1: 242. (3.20.6)

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“There is none greater than this God” by Matthew Barrett

“This book is meant to fill the house with good theology proper, the type that will keep the demons away for good (Matt. 12:45).

That means dispensing with the modern theologian’s agenda to create a God in our own image, a God whose immanence has swallowed His transcendence, a God that can be controlled by the creature because He is not that different from the creature.

But it also means filling the house with a biblical understanding of God as the One who is, as Isaiah said, ‘high and lifted up’ (Isa. 6:1), whose attributes remain undomesticated. He is the God Jeremiah confessed, saying, ‘There is none like You, O Lord; You are great, and Your name is great in might,’ (Jer. 10:6).

There is none greater than this God, not because He is merely a greater version of ourselves but because He is nothing like ourselves.”

–Matthew Barrett, None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), xvi.

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“You have much more reason than angels to shout with joy” by Jonathan Edwards

“Let those who have been made partakers of this free and glorious grace of God, spend their lives much in praises and hallelujahs to God, for the wonders of His mercy in their redemption.

To you, O redeemed of the Lord, doth this doctrine most directly apply itself: you are those who have been made partakers of all this glorious grace of which you have now heard.

’Tis you that God entertained thoughts of restoring after your miserable fall into dreadful depravity and corruption, and into danger of the dreadful misery that unavoidably follows upon it.

’Tis for you in particular that God gave His Son, yea, His only Son, and sent Him into the world.

’Tis for you that the Son of God so freely gave Himself.

’Tis for you that He was born, died, rose again and ascended, and intercedes.

’Tis to you that there the free application of the fruit of these things is made: all this is done perfectly and altogether freely, without any of your desert, without any of your righteousness or strength.

Therefore, let your life be spent in praises to God.

When you praise Him in prayer, let it not be with coldness and indifferency.

When you praise Him in your closet, let your whole soul be active therein.

When you praise Him in singing, don’t barely make a noise, without any stirring of affection in the heart, without any internal melody. Surely, you have reason to shout and cry, ‘Grace, grace, be the topstone of the temple!’

Certainly, you don’t lack mercy and bounty to praise God; you only lack a heart and lively affections to praise Him with.

Surely, if the angels are so astonished at God’s mercy to you, and do even shout with joy and admiration at the sight of God’s grace to you, you yourself, on whom this grace is bestowed, have much more reason to shout.

Consider that great part of your happiness in heaven, to all eternity, will consist in this: in praising of God, for His free and glorious grace in redeeming you.

And if you would spend more time about it on earth, you would find this world would be much more of a heaven to you than it is. Wherefore, do nothing while you are alive, but speak and think and live God’s praises.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Glorious Grace,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720–1723 (ed. Wilson H. Kimnach and Harry S. Stout; vol. 10; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1992), 10: 399. Edwards preached this sermon on Zechariah 4:7 when he was 19 years old.

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“The people of Jesus Christ have great cause to glory in their Savior” by Jonathan Edwards

“The people of Jesus Christ have great cause to glory in their Savior.

What reason have we to praise God, who has given us so much cause to glory in Christ Jesus, that we that deserve so much shame should have so much cause to glory!

We were in a forlorn condition:

  • we were depressed to the lowest depths of misery and wretchedness;
  • we were filthy and abominable,
  • we had made ourselves viler than the earth,
  • we deserved nothing but shame and everlasting contempt;
  • we had nothing to glory in, but all the circumstances of our case were such as administered to us just cause of shame and confusion of face (Daniel 9:8).

But God has been pleased to provide One for us

  • to take away our guilt and disgrace,
  • and to be the glory in the midst of us;
  • to put great honor upon us,
  • to be as a covering to hide our nakedness,
  • and not only so, but to adorn us and make us glorious;
  • to be to us wisdom,
  • to bring us from our shameful ignorance and darkness;
  • to be our righteousness for the removal of our guilt
  • and to procure acceptance with God for us;
  • to be our sanctification,
  • to change us from sinful and loathsome to holy and amiable;
  • to be our redemption,
  • to deliver us from all trouble and danger,
  • and to make us happy and blessed forever;
  • to bestow upon us gold tried in the fire, that of poor we might become rich, and that He might exalt us from the dunghill and set us among princes (1 Samuel 2:8).

That God should take us, who were under bondage to sin and Satan, and give us such a glorious victory over our adversaries, and cause us thus to triumph over those that had us captives and were so much stronger than we, and that God gives us so much greater privileges than others, that we should have such a king, is reason enough to praise God.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Glorying in the Savior,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1723–1729, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 14 (Ed. Harry S. Stout and Kenneth P. Minkema (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1997), 14: 468.

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“The happiness of the believer shall endure as long as God endures” by Jonathan Edwards

“Believers shall live in a most glorious place, the heaven of heavens, God’s throne and the palace of His glory. If the palaces of earthly princes are so glorious, how glorious must that be which is the palace of Jehovah!

If the temple at Jerusalem, a temple of men’s building, was so splendid and glorious as to cause the Queen of Sheba even to swoon at the very sight of it, how glorious must that temple be which the Almighty has built for Himself with His own hands!

But dwelling in such a glorious place is but the least part of the happiness of heaven. There is the conversation with saints: with holy men of old, Moses, Job, David, Elijah, with the prophets and apostles, and besides that, with the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5) who was crucified for mankind at Jerusalem.

Neither is that the chief thing, the Beatifical Vision of God: that is the tip of happiness! To see a God of infinite glory and majesty face to face, to see Him as He is, and to know Him as we are known, and to be admitted into the most intimate acquaintance with Him, to be embraced as in His arms: this is such a privilege as Moses himself could not be admitted to while on earth.

The vision and fruition of God will be so intimate and clear as to transform the soul into the likeness of God: ‘We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is,’ says the Apostle (1 John 3:2).

This happiness shall be eternal. This crowns it!

However great the happiness of heaven were in itself, yet it would detract from it if it were not to be eternal. If the saints in heaven were sure they should enjoy heaven some thousands of years, and after that it should be at an end, it would cast a great damp upon their joys and delights.

It would much grieve them to think that they should lose so great a happiness, and at last it would be a cloud in their light, a bitter in the midst of their sweet.

But it is not so. They are sure that they shall enjoy it forever, and this redoubles the joy: Rev. 22:5, ‘And they shall reign forever and ever.’

So great is the happiness of the saved soul! They shall be delivered from all manner of sin, temptation, trouble and affliction, and shall live in the palace which God has built and where He Himself doth dwell, and there shall enjoy everything they wish for.

They shall enjoy the company of prophets, apostles, martyrs, angels and archangels. They shall see the man Christ Jesus, and even Jehovah Himself, the Eternal Three in One, and shall be intimately united to Him.

And this happiness of theirs shall endure as long as God endures. How precious, then, must the salvation of that soul be in whose salvation is so much happiness.”

—Jonathan Edwards, “The Value of Salvation,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720–1723, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 10, Eds. Wilson H. Kimnach and Harry S. Stout (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1992), 10: 324–325.

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