Tag Archives: Herman Bavinck

“The great disease of our age” by Herman Bavinck

“Inconstancy is the great disease of our age— agitation, restlessness.

This is manifested in many forms:

in seeking distraction and diversion,

in chasing exciting pleasure,

in pursuing recreation over solitude,

in being bored with oneself.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics: Created, Fallen, and Converted Humanity, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), 1: 126.

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“The Old Testament is the pedestal on which the Gospel rests” by Herman Bavinck

“The Gospel is the fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament. Without it, the Gospel hangs suspended in the air. The Old Testament is the pedestal on which the Gospel rests, and the root out of which it came forth.”

–Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith (trans. Henry Zylstra; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 100.

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“He was not, and is not, ashamed of us” by Herman Bavinck

“Whether Christ acknowledges a person to be His or not and confesses Him before His Father, who is in heaven, determines everyone’s lot (Matt. 10:32-33). Our acquittal and salvation depend upon His public confession.

Christ was not ashamed of us at His incarnation. To be sure, He had many reasons to be. He Himself was the firstborn of the Father, the radiance of the Father’s glory and the exact image of His being– who thought it not robbery to be equal with God (John 3:16; 10:30; 17:5; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15; Phil. 2:6).

We were laden with guilt, unclean from head to toe, and subject to decay (Ps. 38:4; Rom. 8:20-21), yet He was not ashamed to call us His brothers (Heb. 2:11). He was not ashamed of us before God or before the holy angels (Mark 8:38).

He took on our flesh and blood, assumed our nature, and became like us in everything apart from sin. In Christ, even God was not ashamed to be called our God (Heb. 11:16).

Therefore, He will likewise not be ashamed of us in the day of His future. To be sure, at that time He will come again not as a servant but as Lord, not to suffer but to be glorified, not to a cross but with a crown (Rev. 6:2; 19:16).

Nevertheless, He will not be ashamed of us, for the One who ascended far above the heavens is the same One who descended to the lowest parts of the earth. The One who judges is the Son of Man who once came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

Our Judge is our Savior; He never forgets nor forsakes His people (Deut. 31:6; Isa. 33:22). ‘So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven’ (Matt. 10:32).

In full view of the whole world so that all of creation may hear it, He will publicly stand up for His faithful confessors. However despised they may have been in this world, Christ will take their name upon His lips and proclaim it to every ear that they are His– the ones whom He has bought with His own blood and of whom no power in the world or in Hell will be able to rob Him (Rom. 8:38-39).

As Christ says, so it will be. His judgment will apply to the whole of creation. His confession will concern all creation. No one will be able to criticize it. No one will dare to oppose it. His judgment will be exalted above all criticism and will stand high above the judgment of all men and devils. The heavens and the earth and Hell and all creation will eternally submit to it.

Of greater importance than all of this is that the Father will rest in this work of His Son (Heb. 4:9-10). Just as after creation God saw all that He had made and, behold, it was very good, in that way at the end of days He will look down with divine pleasure upon the great work of redemption that Christ accomplished (Gen. 1:31).

When the church without spot or wrinkle is set before Him, and the perfected kingdom has been given to Him, then the Father will adopt all of the redeemed of the Son as His children, inviting them to participate in His communion and enjoy His presence (Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 21:2, 7).

The public confession on behalf of believers by Christ before His Father, who is in heaven, will be the guarantee of their eternal salvation and glory (Matt. 10:32).”

–Herman Bavinck, The Sacrifice of Praise: Meditations Before and After Admission to the Lord’s Supper, Trans. and Ed. Cameron Clausing and Gregory Parker Jr (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2019), 80-81.

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“A letter from one’s Father sent from heaven to be a guide to the Father’s house” by Herman Bavinck

“It is a true mark of spiritual life when our heart yearns after and longs for the Word. It is completely natural, just as one who is hungry longs for bread, the thirsty for water, and the sick for medicine.

Just as naturally, the one who is spiritual with a holy longing reaches for the Word of God and for Christ, who is offered in that Word. Those who are spiritual never grow beyond that Word.

Unlike the mystic’s dreams, the Word is not used as a ladder to ascend to a certain height, and then to spread one’s own wings and support oneself.

Anyone who tries to do so will soon fall to earth broken.

Anyone who refuses food will soon starve.

Anyone who does not heed the word of Christ does not love Him (1 John 5:3).

Anyone who rejects medicine has no need of a physician.

But the spiritual person, as long as one lives and with all one’s soul, feels bound to that Word as the means of communion and fellowship with God, because God has bound Himself to that Word.

It is only in the proportion one is planted in that Word that one grows and becomes stronger.

As ivy to a wall, the spiritual person holds fast to the Word.

As one leans upon a rod or a staff on a pilgrimage, so one leans on the Word. One becomes increasingly attached to it, and increasingly devoted to it.

The spiritual person’s love for the Word becomes stronger, considers it ever-increasing in value, and always finds in it a rich treasure for both heart and life.

For the one who is spiritual, it becomes increasingly God’s Word, a Word that comes to that person from God, a letter from one’s Father sent from heaven, to be a guide to the Father’s house.

‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (Ps. 119:105). ‘Oh how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day’ (Ps. 119:97).”

–Herman Bavinck, The Sacrifice of Praise: Meditations Before and After Admission to the Lord’s Supper, Trans. and Ed. Cameron Clausing and Gregory Parker Jr (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2019), 24-25.

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“The heart of man was created for God and it cannot find rest until it rests in his Father’s heart” by Herman Bavinck

“The heart of man was created for God and that it cannot find rest until it rests in his Father’s heart. Hence all men are really seeking after God, as Augustine also declared, but they do not all seek Him in the right way, nor at the right place.

They seek Him down below, and He is up above.

They seek Him on the earth, and He is in heaven.

They seek Him afar, and He is nearby.

They seek Him in money, in property, in fame, in power, and in passion.

And He is to be found in the high and the holy places, and with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit (Isa. 57:15).

But they do seek Him, if haply they might feel after Him and find Him (Acts 17:27).

They seek Him and at the same time they flee Him.

They have no interest in a knowledge of His ways, and yet they cannot do without Him. They feel themselves attracted to God and at the same time repelled by Him.

In this, as Pascal so profoundly pointed out, consists the greatness and the miserableness of man. He longs for truth and is false by nature.

He yearns for rest and throws himself from one diversion upon another. He pants for a permanent and eternal bliss and seizes on the pleasures of a moment.

He seeks for God and loses himself in the creature. He is a born son of the house and he feeds on the husks of the swine in a strange land.

He forsakes the fountain of living waters and hews out broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13).

He is as a hungry man who dreams that he is eating, and when he awakes finds that his soul is empty; and he is like a thirsty man who dreams that he is drinking, and when he awakes finds that he is faint and that his soul has appetite (Isa. 29:8).

Science cannot explain this contradiction in man. It reckons only with his greatness and not with his misery, or only with his misery and not with his greatness.

It exalts him too high, or it depresses him too far, for science does not know of his Divine origin, nor of his profound fall.

But the Scriptures know of both, and they shed their light over man and over mankind; and the contradictions are reconciled, the mists are cleared, and the hidden things are revealed.

Man is an enigma whose solution can be found only in God.”

–Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith (trans. Henry Zylstra; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 6–7.

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“Without losing Himself, God can give Himself” by Herman Bavinck

“A deep chasm separates God’s being from that of all creatures.

It is a mark of God’s greatness that He can condescend to the level of His creatures and that, though transcendent, He can dwell immanently in all created beings.

Without losing Himself, God can give Himself, and, while absolutely maintaining His immutability, He can enter into an infinite number of relations to His creatures.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, Vol. 2, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 159.

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“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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