Covenant of Redemption

I read the following words in Fountain of Federalism: Heinrich Bullinger and the Covenantal Tradition by Charles McCoy and J. Wayne Baker today, and I think it sparked a light bulb moment.

“Second, federalism understand the relationships between God and the world and among humans as based on covenants among their members, some tacit and inherited from the past, others explicit and made or renewed in the present” (p 12).

The idea of tacit vs. explicit covenants sparked what seems to me the implications of the above quote, and which I have attempted to state succinctly as follows:

When eternal, inviolate beings have a tacit understanding of relationship, formed in virtue of their purposive unity and common character, that agreement forms what in human terms we call a covenant.

The term “covenant” is required to lend the strength of Divine imitation to human relational compact(s). In other words, implicit agreement among the Godhead is, by virtue of their nature, a covenant in human terms, though human covenants must be explicit due to the depravity of human character.

This is why it is proper to speak of a “Covenant of Redemption” among the Trinity, even though such a covenant, as such, is never named in Scripture.

Living the Psalms

Nate,

How do I go about learning to navigate the Psalms better? I struggle to understand them unless I have a context or topic associated with them beforehand.

Earnest

text message

 

Dear Earnest,

  1. Turn to the Psalms in moments of felt need
  2. Practice

Age and experience will embed the Psalms in your affections as you find in them, sometimes, your only comfort.

Make their review a habitual part of your life. I recommend using a through the Psalms every two months approach, with psalms for every morning and evening. Only by deep familiarity can you practice biblical meditation (haggah), and then as life take its inevitably difficult twists and turns, the Psalms become the soundtrack of your sanity (or your sanctification; both are true).

A specific example comes to mind. I recall being on a six-hour road trip some 12 years ago when I was unexpectedly struck by the most intense sexual temptation I’ve ever experienced. I made it home faithfully by popping in a Sons of Korah CD and playing Psalm 116 on repeat for an hour or two, singing along at full volume like a fool for Jesus.

As you can likely imagine, Psalm 116 now has a very special place in my affections. The difficult path of discipleship, what we otherwise call “life”, brings the Psalms home to us all, if we will but listen to them. It is evidence of God’s phenomenal grace and amazing providence that He gave us such an emotion-packed and ever applicable tool.

The Magic of Suburbia. Really? Yep.

What follows is a review of I Have (Had) Enough: Memoirs of Abundance in Fatherhood, Friendship, and Faith, by Jeff Jacobson. I highly commend it to you.

A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.

Dorothea Lange

Jeff Jacobson is the greatest contemporary American author you’ve never heard of, but it’s time that changed.

Jeff is to suburban life what Photoshop filters are to pictures. Just when you thought you knew what life looks like, Jeff reminds you of the forgotten details that make all the difference. Reading his reflections on life it’s as if Norman Rockwell painted memories with words; if you can imagine a Rockwell who put brush to tragedy as well as Americana. The moments are vivid, the people are vibrant, the emotions noticed–even if belatedly–with honest reflection, and determinedly filled with wonder.

Wonder. Wonder might be the connective tissue of Jeff’s writing; it breaks out of every difficulty and every tender memory, of every moment you’ve also experienced and those you wish you might have. You are left theorizing that Jeff’s life–not short of pain–is still just a few hints more magical than yours. But, you hope, it’s probably just his filter on life; a filter that’s available to all who choose to adopt it. Normal life lived intentionally; a choice to cherish the magic of moments on living room carpet, at funerals, moments of pennies in urinals, and of sun shining on a future wife’s hair.

What was it that Wendell Berry did for farm life? The same thing Philip Gulley did for small towns, David James Duncan did for the Pacific Northwest, and Eugene Peterson did for theology. Whatever that was, Jeff does for middle class, suburban America. I never imagined wanting to live a corporate sponsored, Midwestern life in a developer designed neighborhood till I read Jacobson’s reflections. These memories read like the musings of a Leif Enger novel…but they’re real.

Jacobson’s memoir is a tool for learning how to recall your own life. It’s a master class in cherishing that will rewrite your own memories as you tour through Jeff’s with a vibrancy you forgot was possible: memories in 4k.

Want to change your life–even the part you’ve already lived? Read Jeff Jacobson.

Finding Healing for Our Hurts & Clarity for Our Confusion

“By the discovery of God, … I do not mean anything mysterious, or mystical, or unattainable. I simply mean becoming acquainted with Him as one becomes acquainted with a human friend; that is, finding out what is His nature, and His character, and coming to understand His ways.”

“My own experience has been something like this. My knowledge of God, beginning on a very low plane, and in the midst of greatest darkness and ignorance, advanced slowly through many stages, and with a vast amount of useless conflict and wrestling, to the place where I learned at last that Christ was the ‘express image’ of God, and where I became therefore in measure acquainted with Him, and discovered to my amazement and delight His utter unselfishness, and saw it was safe to trust in Him. And from this time all my doubts and questioning have been slowly disappearing in the blaze of this magnificent knowledge.”[i]

My experience, which may not be universal but seems to me as if it should be, is that our pain or confusion is best sorted in the Divine Presence. The immediacy of His reality puts ourselves into proper perspective, while the intensity of His love for and attitude toward us heals our hurts. We arrive at these moments via study, practice, intentionality, and His sovereignty.

I had the opportunity to pray to God with a good friend listening a few mornings ago. He happened to invite me to pray when I had just been moved in spirit by contemplating a truth about God’s character. I knew that if I began praying in that moment it was going to be very personal—the kind of praying that only happens in my prayer closet and even then is restrained by my (damnable) reluctance to seem (to myself, ironically) as if I am so enchanted by God as to have no thought of dignity—I was reluctant to go there, as I am unaccustomed to anyone else being privy to my personal prayer life with God, and because I care too much about what others might think, but after a few moments of hesitation I went there anyway. In His Presence all thoughts of my friend’s opinions or even attendance were erased, as I was caught up in the recognition of God’s character.

I came away from this experience—of a few moments—a changed man. This is the kind of thing I have in mind, and am trying to capture in my first paragraph.


[i] Hannah Whitall Smith, The Unselfishness of God (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1903), p. 14. as quoted in Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life: The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

Religion & Liberty

But although the blessings are innumerable which God, with a liberal hand, has thus far poured out and this day pours out upon it [the city of Geneva]; yet there are two illustrious above the others which commend its dignity: religion, than which nothing is more holy, and liberty, than which nothing is sweeter.

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

The Church’s One Foundation

The church’s one foundation
is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
she is his new creation
by water and the Word:
from heav’n he came and sought her
to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her,
and for her life he died.

Elect from ev’ry nation,
yet one o’er all the earth,
her charter of salvation
one Lord, one faith, one birth;
one holy name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses,
with ev’ry grace endued.

Though with a scornful wonder
men see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping,
their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.

The church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
to guide, sustain, and cherish,
is with her to the end;
though there be those that hate her,
and false sons in her pale,
against both foe and traitor
she ever shall prevail.

‘Mid toil and tribulation,
and tumult of her war,
she waits the consummation
of peace forevermore;
till with the vision glorious
her longing eyes are blest,
and the great church victorious
shall be the church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
with the God the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion
with those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,
like them, the meek and lowly,
on high may dwell with thee.

Source: Trinity Psalter Hymnal #404

Samuel John Stone, a clergyman of the Church of England, the son of Rev. William Stone, was born at Whitmore, Staffordshire, April 25, 1839. He was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he was graduated B.A. in 1862. Later he took orders and served various Churches. He succeeded his father at St. Paul’s, Haggerstown, in 1874. He was the author of many original hymns and translations, which were collected and published in 1886. His hymns are hopeful in spirit and skillfully constructed. He published several poetic volumes. He died November 19, 1900 –Hymn Writers of the Church, 1915 (Charles Nutter)