Josiah Audette

"Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present." Tocqueville

Month: April, 2013

The Sabbath Rest

Sabbath

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within they gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11.

The Sabbath is a pattern of one day in seven as a holy rest oriented to God. The Sabbath provides us with meaningful work and meaningful rest. David Palison stated, “To get hard work and sweet pleasure right is to image forth the One who made you. To get hard work and sweet pleasure right is to image for the One who saved you.” 

The Sabbath is the principle of freedom under God and of liberty under law, in that it summons us to obedience to the ordinance of rest. Rest, which delivers us from ourselves and from our work.

Man’s Rest

History has record of the men who have sought this same rest, but sought it outside God, such as Stalin. According to Stalin, “If God exists, He must have ordained slavery, feudalism, and capitalism. He must want humanity to suffer, as the monks were always telling me. Then there would be no hope for the toiling masses to free themselves from their oppressors. But when I learned that there is no God, I knew that humanity could fight its way to freedom.” Consequentially, in the course of Stalin’s quest for the true sabbath, man’s true rest, he enslaved more men than any other tyrant in all history and had more men killed than any other man in all history. Stalin, like all men who attempt to enter heaven on their own terms, placed himself instead in hell.

Sabbath Rest

While the New Testament clearly practices and urges the pattern of weekly worship, the sabbath is fundamentally a day of rest, (Not exclusively a day of worship.) This rest is a soteriological reality and symbol. Sabbath rest is a salvific reality of our redemption, liberation, and wholeness of life in God’s work. Sabbath rest is also a salvific symbol of our total confidence in God as our redeemer as we cease from our own labors. Calvin gave it beautifully when he wrote in his “Catechism of the Churches of Geneva”, “We keep holiday from our own works, that God may perform his own work in us.” Summarily, the essence of the sabbath is our rest in Christ, and our growth in the knowledge of that salvation by His grace.

The Sabbath and Work

“The sabbath presupposes work, work fulfilling God’s creation mandate and performed under God’s law, and the sabbath is the joyful rest from the exercise of this godly dominion. On the sabbath, a man rejoices that the earth is the Lords, and all the fulness thereof (Ps. 24:1). In that confidence man rests, and in that joy he surveys the work of his hands, knowing that his labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)” R.J. Rushdoony. As Meredith Kline wrote in his work, “Treaty of the Great King”, “The sabbatic cycle of covenant life symbolizes the consummation principle characteristic of divine action. God works, accomplishes his purpose and, rejoicing, rests.”  The human life is a copy of the Divine life, to work and to rest. Life finds purpose in the sabbath, in that the sabbath makes labor meaningful and purposive. It does so by annexing to work, joyful consummation. Our six days of labor finds its fulfillment in the day of rest, and similarly, our day of rest finds its meaning in the preceding six days of labor. The relationship between the sabbath and work is one which brings all things into harmonious relationship to God and in universal dedication to Him.

Sabbath Conclusion

“The pattern of the sabbath is in the past, from the sabbath of creation. The entrance into the sabbath is also in the past; for Israel, it was the redemption from Egypt; for the church, it is in the resurrection. The fulfillment of the sabbath is in the new creation. The sabbath is a present rest, based on past events, with a future reference and fulfillment.” R. J. Rushdoony.

Amusing Ourselves to Death

I cam across “Amusing Ourselves to Death” at a creative arts conference and read it on the plane home. At the time I hated reading, but it was this book which radically changed such an aversion. Part of this transformation was the fear which Postman struck in my mind about the rapid decline of the “Age of Typography”  and the domination of the “Age of Television.” On the other hand, I found his repeated summons to “think” as imperative and enjoyable when practiced. You will read in the forward to Postman’s book, “Orwell feared those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would be come a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy… In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.” 

Much of today’s innocent pleasures have degenerated into obsessive, impulsive, compulsive, cancerous, and mutant diversions such as Huxley predicted. Our culture is permeated with these deformed objects of Huxley’s dystopia and our society has adopted them as its pleasures. The new “Age of Entertainment” promises opportunities of true rest, but like Stalin, rest which is devoid of God. Orwell feared Stalin’s promise of rest, Huxley fears modern-culture’s promise of rest. Both of which will only conclude in hell on earth and in our lives. For the Christian there is hope. Hope in the example of our God, and in the salvation of our God. By the work of the Holy Spirit, God brings about liberation and rest from our slavery to sin, regenerates the desires of our heart, and restores the innocent pleasures in our lives. The principles we learn in the fourth commandment are not only prohibitors of the defiled bipolar lifestyle, but induce the enjoyment the competent portion of good things in this life which God has given us.

Advertisements

Richard Baxter on Marriage

THE MUTUAL DUTIES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES TOWARDS EACH OTHER

By Richard Baxter, 1615-1691 Extracted and modernised with apologies by Scott Andersen

Selfish ungodly persons everywhere enter into all kinds of relationships with a desire of serving their own selves, and gratifying their own flesh without knowing or caring what is required of them. Their desire is for the honour, profit, or pleasure their relationship will provide them but not for what God and man requires or expects from them. [Gen 2:18, Prov 18:22] Their mind is concerned only with what they shall have and not for what they shall be and do. 1

They know what they want others to do for them, but do not care what their duty is to do for others. This is the way it is with too many husbands and wives.

We should be very concerned to know what the duties of our relationships are. And how we can please God in our relationships. Study and do your part, and God will certainly do his.

Direct. I. The first duty of husbands is to love their wives (and wives their husbands). Eph 5.25,28,29,33. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.–So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies; he that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.–Let every one of you in particular so love his wife, even as himself.” See Gen 2.24.

Some directions for maintaining love are as follows:

  1. Choose a good spouse in the first place. A spouse who is truly good and kind. Full of virtue and holiness to the Lord. 2
  2. Don’t marry till you are sure that you can love entirely.
  3. Be not too hasty, but know beforehand all the imperfections which may tempt you to despise your future mate. 3
  4. Remember that justice commands you to love one that has forsaken all the world for you. One who is contented to be the companion of your labors and sufferings, and be a sharer in all things with you, and that must be your companion until death. 4
  5. Remember that women are ordinarily affectionate, passionate creatures, and as they love much themselves, so they expect much love from you.
  6. Remember that you are under God’s command; and to deny marital love to your wives, is to deny a duty which God has urgently imposed on you. Obedience therefore should command your love.
  7. Remember that you are “one flesh”; you have drawn her to forsake father and mother, and to cleave to you; 5
  8. Take more notice of the good, that is in your wives, than of her faults. Let not the observation of their faults make you forget or overlook their virtues. 6
  9. Don’t magnify her imperfections until they drive you crazy. Excuse them as far as is right in the Lord. Consider the frailty of the sex. Consider also your own infirmities, and how much your wives must bear with you 7
  10. Don’t stir up the evil of your spouse, but cause the best in them to be lived out. 8
  11. Overcome them with love; and then they will be loving to you, and consequently lovely. Love will cause love, as fire kindleth fire. A good husband is the best means to make a good and loving wife.9
  12. Live before them the life of a prudent, lowly, loving, meek, self-denying, patient, harmless, holy heavenly Christian. 10

Direct. II. Husbands and wives must live together. 1 Cor 7:2-5

Direct III. Abhor not only adultery itself, but all that leads to unchasteness and the violation of your marriage-covenant. [Mat 5.31,32; 19:9; John 8,4-5, of adultery; Heb 13.4; Prov 22.14; Hos 4.2-3; Prov 2.17; 1 Cor 6.15,19; Mal. 2.15; Prov 6.32,35; Deu 23.2; Lev 21.9; 18:28; Num 25.9; Jer 5.7-9]

Direct. IV. Husband and wife must delight in the love and company, and lives of each other. When husband and wife take pleasure in each other, it unites them in duty, it helps them with ease to do their work, and bear their burdens; and is a major part of the comfort of marriage. [Prov 5.18,19]

Direct. V. It is your solemn duty to live in quietness and peace. To avoid every occasion of fierce anger and discord.

Directions showing the great necessity of avoiding dissension.

  1. The duty of your marriage-union requires unity. Can you not agree with your own flesh?
  2. Division with your spouse will pain and upset your whole life … Just as you do not wish to hurt your own self and are quick to care for your own wounds; so you should take notice of any break in the peace of your marriage and quickly seek to heal it.
  3. Fighting chills love, fighting makes your spouse undesirable to you in your mind. Wounding is separating; to be tied together through marital bonds while your hearts are estranged is to be tormented. To be inwardly adversaries, while outwardly husband and wife turns your home and delight into a prison. 11
  4. Dissension between the husband and the wife disrupts the whole family life; they are like oxen unequally yoked, no work can be accomplished for all the striving with one another.
  5. It greatly makes you unfit for the worship of God; you are not able to pray together nor to discuss heavenly things together, nor can you be mutual helpers to each other’s souls.12
  6. Dissension makes it impossible to manage your family properly. 13
  7. Your dissension will expose you to the malice of Satan, and give him advantage for many, many temptations. 14

II. Directions for avoiding dissensions.

  1. Keep alive your love for one another. Love your spouse dearly and fervently. Love will suppress wrath; you cannot be bitter over little things with someone you dearly love; much less will you descend to harsh words, aloofness, or any form abuse. 15
  2. Both husband and wife must mortify their pride and strong self-centered feelings. 16  These are the feelings which cause intolerance and insensitivity. You must pray and labour for a humble, meek, and quiet spirit. A proud heart is troubled and provoked by every word that seems to assault your self-esteem. 17
  3. Do not forget that you are both diseased persons, full of infirmities; and therefore expect the fruit of those infirmities in each other; and do not act surprised about it, as if you had never known of it before. Decide to be patient with one another; remembering that you took one another as sinful, frail, imperfect persons, and not as angels, or as blameless and perfect. 18
  4. Remember still that your are one flesh; and therefore be no more offended with the words or failings of each other, than you would be if they were your own. Be angry with your wife for her faults no more than you are angry with yourself for your own. Have such an anger and displeasure against a fault, as will work to heal it; but not such as will cause festering and aggravation of the diseased part. This will turn anger into compassion, and will cause you to administer care for the cure. 19
  5. Agree together beforehand, that when one of you is sinfully angry and upset the other shall silently and gently bear it until you have come to your sanity. 20
  6. Have an eye to the future and remember that you must live together until death, and must be the companions of each other’s lives, and the comforts of each other’s lives, and then you will see how absurd it is for you to disagree and upset each other. 21
  7. As far as you are able, avoid all occasions of wrath and quarreling, about the matters of your families. 22
  8. If you are so angry that you cannot calm yourself at least control your tongue and do not speak hurtful and taunting words, talking it out hotly fans the fire, and increases the flame; (Do not ventilate your anger as you only feed your fleshly vengeance) Be silent, and you will much sooner return to your serenity and peace. 23
  9. Let the calm and rational spouse speak carefully and compellingly reason with the other (unless it be with a person so insolent as will make things worse). Usually a few sober, grave admonitions, will prove as water to the boiling pot. Say to your angry wife or husband, “You know this should not be between us; love must put it to rest, and it must be repented of. God does not approve of it, and we shall not approve of it when this heat is over. This frame of mind is contrary to a praying frame, and this language contrary to a praying language; we must pray together; let us do nothing contrary to prayer now: sweet water and bitter come not from one spring”, etc. Some calm and condescending words of reason, may stop the torrent, and revive the reason which passion had overcome. 24
  10. When you have sinfully acted towards your spouse confess to one another; and ask for forgiveness of each other, and join in prayer to God for pardon; and this will act as a preventative in you the next time: you will surely be ashamed to do that which you have confessed and asked forgiveness for of God and man. 25

Direct. VI. One of the most important duties of a husband to his wife and a wife to her husband is to carefully, skillfully, and diligently help each other in the knowledge and worship, and obedience of God that they might be saved and grow in their Christian Life.

  1. This is not love, when you neglect each other’s soul. 26 Do you believe that you have immortal souls, and an endless life of joy or misery to live? Then you MUST know that your great concern and business is, to care for those souls, and for the endless life. Therefore if your love does not help one another in this which is your main concern, it is of little worth, and of little use. Every thing in this world is as valuable as it is useful. A useless or unprofitable love, is a worthless love. It is a trifling, or a childish, or a beastly love, which helps you but in trifling, childish, or beastly things. Do you love your wife, and will leave her in the power of Satan, or will not help to save her soul? What! love her, and yet let her go to hell? and rather let her be damned than you will be at the pains to endeavor her salvation? Never say you love them, if you will not labour for their salvation. What then shall we say of them that do not only deny their help, but are hinderers of the holiness and salvation of each other! [1Kings 11.4, Acts 5.2, Job 2.9] And yet (the Lord have mercy on the poor miserable world!) how common a thing is this among us! If the wife be ignorant and ungodly, she will do her worst to make or keep her husband in the same state as she is herself; and if God put any holy inclinations into his heart, she will be like water to the fire, to quench it or to keep it subdued; and if he will not be as sinful and miserable as herself, he shall have little rest. And if God open the eyes of the wife of a bad man, and show her the necessity of a holy life, and she resolves to obey the Lord, and save her soul, what an enemy and tyrant will her husband be to her ( if God does not restrain him); so that the devil himself will do no more to prevent the saving of their souls than ungodly husbands and wives do against each other.
  2. Consider also that you are not living up to the design of marriage, if you are not helping each other’s souls. 27
  3. Consider also, if you neglect each other’s souls, what enemies you are to one another, and how you are preparing for your everlasting sorrows: when you should be preparing for your joyful meeting in heaven, you are laying up for yourselves everlasting horror. 28

Therefore without a moment’s hesitation determine to live together as heirs of heaven, and to be a helper to one other’s souls. To assist you in this holy pursuit I will give you these following directions, which if you will faithfully practice, may make you to be special blessings to each other.

Direct. I. Before you can help to save each other’s souls you must be sure of your own. You must have a deep and living understanding of the great eternal matters of which you are required to speak to others about. If you have no compassion for your own soul and will sell it for a moment of ease and pleasure, surely then you have no compassion for your spouse’s soul. 29

Direct. II. Take every opportunity which your nearness provides to be speaking seriously to each other about the matters of God, and your salvation. 30 Discussing those things of this world no more than required. And then talk together of the state and duty of your souls towards God, and of your hopes of heaven, as those that take these for their greatest business. And don’t speak lightly, or unreverently, or in a rude and disputing manner; but with gravity and sobriety, as those that are discussing the most important things in the whole world. [Mark 8:36]

Direct. III. When either husband or wife is speaking seriously about holy things, let the other be careful to cherish, and not to extinguish the conversation. 31

Direct IV. Watch over the hearts and lives of one another, judging the condition of each other’s souls, and the strength or weakness of each others sins and graces, and the failings of each others lives, so that you may be able to apply to one another the most suitable help. 32

Direct. V. Do not flatter one another from a foolish love.33 Neither meanly critise one another. Do all in true, Godly love. Some are so blinded to the faults of husband, wife or child that they do not see the sin and wickedness in them. They are deluded concerning their eternal souls. This is the same as it is with self- loving sinners and their own souls, willfully deceiving themselves to their damnation. This flattering of yourselves or others, is but the devil’s charm to keep you from effectual repentance and salvation. On the other hand, some cannot speak to one another of their faults, without such bitterness, or contempt, which will cause them to refuse the medicine that could save them. If the everyday warnings you make to strangers must all be offered in love, much more between the husband and wife.

Direct. VI. Keep up your love to one another, do not grow distant. For if you do, you will despise each other’s counsels and reproofs.

Direct. VII. Do not discourage your spouse from instructing you by refusing to receive and learn from their corrections. 34

Direct. VIII. Help each other by reading together the most convicting, cutting, life-giving books. The ones most spiritual. Do not waste your time on light, weak, milk-toast ministries and books. Make friendships together with the holiest persons. This is not neglecting your duty to one another, but that all the helps working together may be the more effectual. 35

Direct. IX. Don’t Conceal the state of your souls, nor hide your faults from one another. You are as one flesh, and should have one heart: and as it is dangerous for a man to be ignorant of his own soul so it is very hurtful to husband or wife to be ignorant of one another, in those areas where they have need of help. 36

Direct X. Avoid as much as possible different opinions in religion.

Direct. XI. If different religious understandings come between you, be sure that you manage it with holiness, humility, love, and peace, and not with carnality, pride, uncharitableness, or contention.

Direct. XII. Do not either blindly indulge each others faults nor be too critical of each other’s state, allowing Satan to alienate your affections from one another.

Direct. XIII. If you are married to one that is an ungodly person, yet keep up all the love which is due for the relation’s sake. 37

Direct XIV. Join together in frequent and fervent prayer. Prayer forces the mind into sobriety, and moves the heart with the presence and majesty of God. Pray also for each other when you are in secret, that God may do that work which you most desire, upon each other’s hearts.

Direct. XV. Lastly, Help each other by an exemplary life. Be yourself, what you desire your husband or wife should be; excel in meekness, and humility, and charity, and dutifulness, and diligence, and self-denial, and patience. 38

Direct. VII. Another important duty in marriage is, to help in the health and comfort of each other’s bodies. Not to pamper each other’s flesh, or cherish the vices of pride, or sloth, or gluttony, or the sensual pleasures in each other; but to increase the health and vigor of the body, making it fit for the service of the soul and God.

1. In health, you must be careful to provide for each other (not so much pleasing as) wholesome food, and to keep each other from that which is hurtful to your health; warning each other from the dangers of gluttony and idleness, the two great murderers of mankind.39

2. Also in sickness, you are to be caring of each other; and not to spare any costs or pains, by which the health of each other may be restored, or your souls confirmed, and your comforts cherished.40

Direct. VIII. Another duty of husbands and wives is, to be helpful to each other in their worldly business and estates. Not for worldly ends, nor with a worldly mind; but in obedience to God, who will have them labour, as well as pray, for their daily bread, and has determined that in the sweat of their brows they shall eat their bread; and that six days they shall labor and do all that they have to do; and that he that will not work must not eat. 41

Direct IX. Also you must be careful to guard the honour of one another. You must not divulge, but conceal, the failings of each other; The reputation of each other must be as dear to you as your own. It is a sinful and unfaithful practice of many, both husbands and wives, who among their friends are discussing the faults of each other, which they are required in tenderness to cover up. MANY peevish persons will aggravate all the faults of their spouse behind their backs. 42

Direct X. IT is your marriage duty to assist one another in the education of your children.43

Direct XI. It is your marriage duty to assist each other in charity. 44

Direct XII. LASTLY, it is a great DUTY of husbands and wives, to help and comfort one other in preparing for a safe and happy death. 45

1. In the time of health, you must often and seriously remind each other of the time when death will make the separation; and live together daily as those that are still expecting the parting hour….Reprove everything in one another, which would be an unwelcome memory at death. If you see each other dull and slow in heavenliness, or living in vanity, worldliness, or sloth, as if you had forgotten that you must shortly die, stir up one another to do all without delay which the approach of such a day requireth.

2. And when death is at hand, oh then what abundance of tenderness, and seriousness, and skill, and diligence, is needful for one, that hath the last office of love to perform, to the departing soul of so near a friend! Oh then what need will there be of your most wise, and faithful, and diligent help!….They that are utterly unprepared and unfit to die themselves, can do little to prepare or help another. But they that live together as the heirs of heaven, and converse on earth as fellow travelers to the land of promise, may help and encourage the souls of one another, and joyfully part at death, as expecting quickly to meet again in life eternal.

THE END

FOOTNOTES

Some of the following scripture references are found in Baxter’s Work, others I have added in hopes of increasing your edification.

  1. Luk 6:31-32; 1Cor 10:24; Gal 6:2; Phil 2:4; 2tim 3:2; Jam 2:15; 1Joh 3:17; Gen 4:9; 1 Sam 25:3-11; Esth 6:6; Isa 56:11; Joh 6:26
  2. Pro 18:22; Pro 19:13-14
  3. Pro 18:13
  4. Mat 5:32; Mat 19:9; 1Cor 7:39; Col 3:19; Gen 2:24
  5. Mat 19:5; Mar 10:7
  6. 1 Cor 13:7; Phil 2:3
  7. Psa 103:14; 1Cor 13:7
  8. Pro 10:12
  9. Rom 12:21; 1Pet 3:9
  10. Eph 4:1; Col 1:10; 1The 2:12; Pro 11:30; 1Tim 4:16; Jam 5:19-20; 1Pet 3:1-2
  11. Pro 19:13
  12. Mat 5:23; 1Sam 15:22
  13. Mat 12:25; Mar 3:25; Luk 11:17
  14. Jam 1:13; 1Cor 7:5; Job 2:9
  15. Lev 19:8; Psa 133:1; Pro 15:17; Rom 12:10; Rom 14:19; Rom 15:1; 1Cor 13:4-7
  16. Luk 9:23; Psa 101:5; Prov 16:5; Prov 21:4; Prov 28:25; Mat 23:12; 1Pet 5:6
  17. Psa 10:4; Hos 7:10; Prov 13:10; Prov 28:25
  18. Jer 17:9; Rom 7:24; 1Joh 1:8
  19. Eph 4:26; Eph 4:32; Jam 1:19
  20. Eph 4:2; 1Cor 13:4
  21. Ecc 9:9; Rom 7:2
  22. Gen 2:24
  23. Gal 5:15; Jam 3:5,6,8
  24. Pro 15:18; Mat 5:9; Psa 85:8
  25. Eph 4:32; Jam 5:16
  26. 2Cor 2:4; 2Cor 12:15; 1The 2:8
  27. Gen 2:18 1The 5:11; Eph 4:16; Heb 12:15; 1cor 7:5; Col 2:19; Gen 35:2; Gen 35:4; Lev 19:17; Num 16:27; Num 16:32
  28. Gen 2:18; 2Cor 13:5; Gal 6:3; Gen 25:29;
  29. Gen 25:34 Col 3:16; Heb 3:13; Heb 10:24
  30. Pro 27:6; Pro 15:12; Pro 15:31; Pro 15:32
  31. Heb 10:24
  32. Eph 4:15; Eph 4:26-5:9
  33. Pro 29:1
  34. Eph 4:11-16
  35. Jam 5:16; Eph 5:27-32
  36. 1Cor 7:13-14
  37. 1Pe 3:1; Joh 13:15; 1Tim 4:12; 1Cor 11:1; 1The 1:6; 2The 3:7-9; Tit 2:6; Jam 3:17; 2Pe 1:5-8
  38. 1Cor 6:19; Deu 21:20; Pro 23:21; Pro 19:15; Pro 6:9; Pro 10:4; 2Th 3:10 Pro 19:24; Pro 20:13; Pro 23:21; Pro 24:33; Isa 56:10; 1Tim 5:13
  39. Eph 5:29, Job 19:17
  40. Pro 31; Tit 2:5; 1Ti 5:14; 1Ti 5:8; Ex 20:9,11; Ge 3:19; 1Th 3:10-12
  41. Jam 4:11; Pro 17:9; 1Pet 4:8
  42. Gen 18:19; Gen 35:2; Jos 24:14; 1Tim 5:14; Prov 31:1
  43. Heb 13:2; Gen 18:6; Rom 12:13; 2Cor 9:6; Luk 16:9; 1Tim 3:2; 1Tim 5:10; Pro 11:20; Pro 11:28; Neh 8:1; Pro 19:17; Job 29:13; Joh 31:20 Acts 20:35
  44. Deu 32:29; Psa 39:4; Psa 90:12; Rom 14:8; Heb 13:14; 1Pe 1:17; Psa 3:5; Psa 37:37; Psa 49:15; Psa 73:24; Psa 116:15; Pro 14:32; Ecc 7:1; Luk 16:22; Luk 23:43; 1Cor 15:51-57; 2Cor 5:1; 2Cor 5:4; 2Cor 5:8; Phi 1:20-23; 1The 5:9; 2Pe 1:11; 2Pe 1:14; Rev 14:13; Psa 23:4

Sola Scriptura, Tota Scriptura

O gracious God and most merciful Father, which hast vouchsafed us the rich and precious jewel of thy holy word, assist us with thy spirit, that it may be written in our hearts to our everlasting comfort, to reform us, to renew us according to thine own Image, to build us up, and edify us into the perfect building of thy Christ, sanctifying and increasing in us all heavenly virtues. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen

The preceding prayer was one from the Reformation era and is fitting for today’s lecture on the third question from the Westminster shorter catechism.

– What do the Scriptures principally teach?

– The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THIS DOCTRINE

“This Bible is for the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” This maxim certainly sounds familiar, yet who do you suppose announced it? First translator of the English Bible, John Wyclif, made this  reformist pronouncement. This doctrine of God’s special revelation of the Scriptures being the only means of grace in both  the knowing of God and the obedience to God has reconstructed whole societies and nations. As forerunners of the protestant reformation both John Wycliff of England and John Huss of Bohemia promulgated the doctrine of the authority of Scripture and consequentially both were burnt at the stake for heresy. With the introduction of this Biblical doctrine to society from these martyrs, Martin Luther, followed by John Calvin, established the defining reformation doctrine of, “Sola Scriptura.” Thus, the reformation in the midst of a renaissance age much like ours, one which saw humanistic man as the autonomous centre of the universe, removed the humanist distortions which had entered the church. At the time, humanism within the church had foisted the man’s authority upon Scripture’s authority.  The church had consequentially begun to synthesize the Biblical thesis of God’s sovereignty and the humanist antithesis of man’s centrality. Dr. Francis Schaeffer acutely observed, “One could say that the Renaissance centered in autonomous man, while the Reformation centered in the infinite-personal God who had spoken in the Bible.”  The reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura hoisted the philosophy of humanism on its petard in proffering a unified answer to the the humanistic problems of discovering knowledge and existence.

WHAT DO THE HUMANIST’S PRINCIPALLY TEACH?

This catechism question addresses knowledge (belief) and existence (duty required in life.) The question of knowledge and existence has not been limited to the realm of the Church. Men throughout the centuries have endeavored to establish the source of both these elements. The Catechism states that our knowledge is found in Scripture. And that our existence is also found in Scripture. Furthermore it states that both our knowledge and existence are defined in terms of God and his law. Now if there was a humanist catechism I suppose it would state thus: “What does the Humanists principally teach?” “The Humanists principally teach what humanists are to believe concerning humanists, and what expressions humanism requires of humanists.” Let us compare the two. The Church places prime importance on matters pertaining to the existence of God. The Humanist places prime importance on matters pertaining to the existence of Man. The Church embraces Scripture as being the principle authority on what is to be believed. The Humanist embraces humanistic experience and rationality as being the principle authority on what is to be believed. The Church seeks to exist in accordance to God. The Humanist seeks to exist in accordance to himself as a humanistic man. The Church’s existence is derived and validated by God’s decree in Scripture. The humanist’s existence is derived and validated by his act of will in life. Much like the Church in the renaissance age, modern evangelism attempts to synthesize humanist notions of man’s divinity with the Christian affirmation of Scripture’s authority. This, “Soft evangelical humanism” informs us that God cannot be sufficiently understood in Scripture. Especially, it is warns we cannot solely take Scripture for our instruction in practice.

SCRIPTURE IS THE PRINCIPLE REVELATION OF GOD

Scripture brings this resolution to the humanist dilemma in telling men and women true things about God which they in return are to embrace. God has expressly told us who He is in Scripture. No longer is He a just a “philosophic other” of humanistic thought, but the God of the Bible.  The contrast which was between the reformation and humanism was the understanding that what we believe about God is not to be based on wisdoms originating with man, but with the wisdom of God. “Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Cor 2:5. It was the acknowledgment that man is errant and a spurious authority on the verity of God. “For what man knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”  1 Cor. 2:11. It was the embracement of God’s Word over man’s words “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Collisions 2:8. It was the receiving of the tradition of Christ and the refusal of the tradition of men. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith.” Collisions 2:6-7. The revelation of God is not unattainable, unreachable, or unknowable to us. “It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in they heart, that thou mayest do it.” Deut. 30:12-14. Therefore it is evident that we will know God through sola Scriptura and tota Scriptura, only the Scriptures and all the Scriptures.

SCRIPTURE IS PRINCIPALLY FIRST REVELATORY OF GOD

Concluding that God’s Words in Scripture is thee authoritative revelation over man’s words we proceed to perceive the principle revelation of Scripture concerns the truth about God. The most important, that is, the principle parts, are those which teach us faith and practice. Theologian Wayne Grudem writes, “The Bible alone tells us how to understand the testimony about God from nature. Therefore we depend on God’s active communication to us in Scripture for our true knowledge of God.” Dr. Joseph Morecraft commented, “To believe in what the Bible says about God is to give assent, trust and adoring submission to the infallible truth and divine authority of the Bible, and principally, to the living God, who has revealed Himself and to His glorious perfections in the Bible. It is to believe what the Bible teaches solely upon the authority of God, whose Word the Bible is.” As confessed previously, God is unable to be understood by man except from the divine revelation in Scripture, and even with Scripture God still is unable to be fully understood. Notice the key word here is “fully.”  It is not the case with Scripture that God is unable to be understood, but rather that He is unable to be fully understood. Naturally, the reason being is the incomprehensibility of God. As David observed in Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” Psalm 145:3. Even Paul had to conclude after consummating 11 glorious chapters in the books of Romans, engaged with peerless theological truths, that, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36. While we are unable to fully understand God as revealed in Scripture we may understand something about the interminable Person of God. This human limitation of divine knowledge is a predicament with magnificent repercussions. Though we advance in our understanding of God from dawn to dusk we may be assured that under no circumstances, even in the perfections of heaven, that we shall ever encompass the knowledge of God without reservation. This is the eternal pursuit of the Christian from regeneration, to know God. This is the fervid quest of the Christian for time and eternity. We will on no account rest our intellectual anchor in the fathomless depths of Scripture. As much as this is an encouragement to the Christian it is equally a injunction. Do not at any time postulate you have attained sufficient knowledge of God, for such is mere pretense. Furthermore, that part which we may understand of God from Scripture we may be assured is true. Grudem writes, “We have true knowledge of God from Scripture, even though we do not have exhaustive knowledge.” “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight.” Jer. 9:23-24.

SCRIPTURE IS PRINCIPALLY SECOND REVELATORY OF LAW

The post-reformation Church has given credence to Scripture being the principle revelation of God and furthermore is cognizant of the revelation of God as being Scripture’s principal part and so the humanistic idea of the centrality of man’s mind has been supplanted by the centrality of God’s Word. Although when it comes to the Church’s concession of law as being the second principle part of Scripture, humanistic distortions once again emerge. The reformist notion that “This Bible is for the government of the people, by the people, and for the people” has been put to rout by the dogma’s of humanistic society. “In Western culture, law has steadily moved away from God to the people as its source, although the historic power and vitality of the West has been in Biblical faith and law.”  said R.J. Rushdoony. Humanistic ideology repudiates God’s law as having any binding force for man today. God’s law is either contested altogether, delimited in its scope, minimized in its demands, diminished in its importance, or underestimated in its relevance. Antipode to the humanistic ideal is Scripture. God’s statutes are not to be taken away from any more than they are to be added to. Deutoronomy 4:2, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” Deut 12:32. God’s commandments are not to be partially followed, “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.” Deutoronomy 5:32-33. God’s commandments are not to be put on a shelf, “Beware that thou forget not the Lord they God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day.” Deut 8:11. We are to do that which is right and good in the eyes of God, not our own. “And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord: that it may be well with thee.” Deut 6:18. God’s commandments are not to be neglected, “That he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” Deut 8:3. God’s law is not trivial, “For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life.” Deut 32:47. Above all, God’s law is not to be denied, “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.” Deut 27:26. Positively, we are to hearken, to give attention to, God’s laws, “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you.” Deut 4:1. We are to observe God’s Word, “Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the Lord thy God.” Deut 12:18. We are to keep God’s laws, “Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deut 4:6. We are to fear God and keep his commandments, “O taht there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” Deut. 5:29. We are to store up God’s laws in our hearts, “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.” Deut 11:18. We are to teach God’s law to our families and the next generation, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” Deut 6:7-9. Scripture is not only an infallible revelation of God to mankind, it is furthermore the holy revelation of the will of God for mankind. God has vouchsafed in His external Word, the Scriptures, a vocable revelation and exposition of the functions which we are obligated toward for all of life.

THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT

The modern humanist contrivance of controverting Scripture’s law as being sufficient and applicable for all of life is no new defiance. This is a function which God parlously  forbid of man from the beginning of his existence. From the moment of Adam’s introduction to this created world God denied him but one thing. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I have always wondered the significance of this. What could possibly be so wrong with the knowledge of good and evil? Why that  specific branch of knowledge? Why not the knowledge of Election and Reprobation?  The Trinity and Lucifer? For mercy’s sake why couldn’t it be the knowledge of biology and spelling? Why good and evil? Reading Francis Bacon’s “The Advancement of Learning” I encountered a statement on this matter of incredible perspicacity. “It was not the pure knowledge of Nature and universality, a knowledge by the light whereof man did give names unto the other creatures in Paradise as they were brought before him according unto their properties, which gave the occasion to the fall; but it was the proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself, and to depend no more on God’s commandments, which was the form of the temptation.” Astounding. It was man’s attainment of the knowledge of good and evil for the purpose of creating a law unto himself that God forbid the tree from mankind. It was the desire of the knowledge of good and evil for the purpose of founding a new law and order that was the temptation to our first parents to which they had so grievous a fall. Just as our first parents desired for and partook of the forbidden function of law in Paradise, we too collude against God in mounting our own knowledge of good and evil today. This is the essence and peerless transgression of humanism. We still have a proclivity as evangelicals to ingest the selfsame fruit today. Modern Christianity capitulates with one foot in man’s law and one foot in God’s law. Upon each point where we would contest the viability, sufficiency, and totality of Scripture’s ruling we directly become humanists and atheists on that matter. I would again quote Dr. Joseph Morecraft as I did in my last lecture “To make the assumption that there is an area of life or thought, however limited, that can be understood without reference to the written revelation of God is to be a humanist at that point. It is to think as an atheist. A humanist/atheist is one who thinks he has the right and ability to determine good and evil, truth and error, reality and illusion by himself without submission to the governing and enlightening authority of the divinely-revealed, all-sufficient Bible.”When we so impugn the government of Scripture we eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is a sin not oft mentioned, yet it is the very transgression which overset this world from a state of paradise to a fallen nature.

THE NATURE OF LAW

Law is religion externalized. All law is unequivocally moral in nature or is “modus operandi” (Way of operating) to a moral concept. Consequentially a religiously neutral law is a mythical concept. Because law governs man and society and because law defines justice, righteousness, and restitution, the law is inescapably annexed to religion. Concomitant to the principle of the religion nature of law, it can be ascertained that whoever gives the law in society is ultimately the superior of that society. Rushdoony commentated, “In any culture the source of law is the god of that society.” The Christian establishes law in God and His Special Revelation. Modern Humanism locates law in the state, or the people as they are a component of the state. Furthermore we can deduce that no disestablishment of religion is achievable in any society. A particular religion or church could be disestablished in society, but society can only replace it with another. The religious foundations of law are inexorable, and no society can exist without a law-system which codifies the morality of that societies religion. Another fallacy of the humanist’s law-system is that it can be tolerant to law-systems of other religions. Modern humanism professes to be an “open” system. But the reality depicted in history of such a notion has only revealed nations using toleration to introduce a new law-system as a prelude to a new intolerance. We have witnessed many such intolerances through the decades in our own province and nation. For a society to corroborate a new religious law-system it commits social suicide to its own. Modern humanism also promulgates the theory of law as being a changing, evolving, and adapting concept. Humanism recongizes law only as a social convention which transmogrifies throughout the ages at the capricious volatility of society. For instance, capital punishment may have been appropriate in “Biblical times”, it even may have been suitable in Canada just 60 years ago, but it is no longer pertinent for this day. The Christian,  on the other hand, upholds the eternality of God’s Word and Law. Man, times, culture, and societies may change, but God’s law does not. Modern humanism also bruits about a proposition called, “Natural law.” They believe law can be determined from  what Christians call General Revelation. As Christians we affirm that God has created the universe in such a way as to be revelatory of Himself but we also recognize creation’s limitations. General Revelation is not sufficient in its declaration of how we are to live and what duty God requires of us. This deficiency is due to the reality of the fall which directly affected General Revelation. General Revelation in its current state is only a present evidentiary analysis of physical things around us. It is not a transcendent code, it does not fulfill the role of God’s Special Revelation. I summarize once again with Rushdoony, “There is no law in nature but a law over nature, God’s law.” Summarily it is either God or chaos. The quintessential question of law is, “Hath God said?” As Christians we hold to be true the principle of Higher Law, the belief that God has revealed Himself in Scripture and that this revelation is sufficient for faith and practice as the Catechism states. We do not dissent on whether Scripture should be authoritative. We rather exhort one another to best apply and obey the authority of Scripture. While we renounce the humanists in declaring that God’s law is good, we also deny those who would state that the law saves. Or that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New. Or that salvation was different in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. Or that the Old Testament is nullified by the New Testament. Or that the law binds the consciousness of the believer and deprives his liberty in Christ. We affirm that God has revealed law by His Special Revelation in the Scriptures through principles and accompanying case laws, all of which are designed to restore God’s creation order. Scripture principally teaches what duty God requires of man.

SUMMARY

We have observed today the two principle teachings of Scripture. The truth about God. The duty of man. The first relates to faith, and the second to practice. The one must come before the other. “Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else. Thou shalt therefore keep his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.” Deut 4:39-40. We must first be redeemed and embrace God before we can keep his law. This is the sequence we observe in Scripture. Isreal was redeemed and crossed the red sea before they were given the ten commandments. This typifies the Christian, who, is first redeemed to God and then enabled and summoned to offer himself up as a living sacrifice daily. Scripture equally admonishes those who would controvert Biblical law, “And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: 20 The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.” May we as followers of Christ live according to Sola Scriptura and Tota Scriptura. Only Scripture and all of Scripture.

Life Comes to Us in Such Little Bits

We should be thankful that
life comes to us in such little bits.

We can always live one day well enough.
We can always carry one day’s burdens.
We can always do one day’s duties.
We can always endure one day’s sorrows.

It is a blessing that one day is all that God ever gives us at a time. We should be thankful for the nights that cut off our tomorrows from our view, so that we cannot even see them until they dawn. The little days, nestling between the nights like quiet valleys between the hills, then seem so safe and peaceful.

J.R. Miller