I Saw the Lord

High and lifted up is the LORD on a throne, and his train filled the temple where I stood, and I felt the wind of seraphim wings.

Into the throne room walked a prosecutor, the Adversary, with evil mien. From the throne a voice filled the room, “From whence have you come?”

“From going back and forth in the earth,” answered Satan, “and from walking up and down in it.”

Then the Voice replied, “Have you considered my servant?” and all eyes turned toward me.

Then with dramatic gesture, the Adversary extended his bony finger toward my heart and spoke an octave lower, “This one is a law-breaker!”

I noticed then that One stood on the right of the throne, for he leaned toward the Father and said, “For this one, I died.”

And I felt the floor under me tremble as those above the throne broke forth in thunderous voice:

“Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of Hosts! The whole earth is full of his glory!”

And suddenly I saw that I was clothed in white raiment, and with twenty-four others I cast my crown before the throne, exclaiming, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy One, to receive the glory, and the honour, and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they exist and are created!” And my voice with the others was like a trumpet filling the room, and I saw the Accuser flee.

Then from my knees I saw before my eyes a hand like a stone mason’s, thick-fingered and calloused, and following the arm up I saw an olive-skinned man who beckoned me stand. Rising, he embraced me; then arms extended to grip either shoulder, his eyes gazed into mine a moment and he spoke, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” His eyes smiled as he heard my gasp, and I saw the Lord, and he saw me.

Mature Christianity

J.I. Packer comments on mature evangelicals, but in many ways his comments apply more broadly to Christians in general.

Immature evangelicals have sometimes settled for a euphoric, man-centred pietism, concerned only with possessing and spreading the peace and joy of ‘knowing Christ as my personal Saviour’ (sadly, these precious words are nowadays a cant phrase), and never appreciating God’s revealed concern for truth and righteousness in church and community. Maturer evangelicals, however, have always recognized that though personal conversion is the starting-point, Christians must learn a biblical God-centredness and seek after ‘holiness to the Lord’ in all departments of the church’s worship, witness and work and in every activity and relationship of human life.*

Would that this understanding would permeate American churches!

*J.I. Packer, “A Kind of Noah’s Ark? The Anglican Commitment to Comprehensiveness” (1981) in J.I. Packer & N.T. Wright, Anglican Evangelical Identity: Yesterday and Today (London: The Latimer Trust, 2008) p. 126.

The Way of Salvation

Well. I began reading a new book a few days ago titled, The Way of Salvation: The Role of Christian Obedience in Justification, by Paul A. Rainbow and published in 2005 by Paternoster Press. (By the way, these guys are publishing some seriously interesting books! There’s another book coming down the pike from them that is a review of the wide spectrum of Messianic theology–I can’t wait to read that.)

Anyway, Dr. Rainbow is a man of significant intestinal fortitude, because he is daring to challenge an idea (sola fide) that has been cherished for centuries. In fact, not just cherished, but waved as the primal evidence of Protestant orthodoxy.

Read his description of his core idea:

“My thesis in a nutshell is that, though the Reformers had Paul on their side in decrying merit before conversion and rightly emphasized that God freely imputes Christ’s righteousness to a believing sinner apart from prior moral efforts, nevertheless they were wrong to exclude ‘evangelical obedience’ (as the Puritans called deeds produced by divine grace in the lives of the redeemed) from having a secondary role in the way of salvation which we tread thereafter. Paul and James alike point to good works as the pathway to God’s approval at the last judgment, and they consider this future moment an integral part of justification itself. For persons to be justified in the full sense, God’s present imputation of righteousness to those who are incorporate in Christ by faith must be legitimized in the end by his approbation of an actual righteousness which he brings about in them during the meantime. While faith is the ultimate condition for both events, deeds are proximately conditional in their own right for the culminating event. My understanding of the grammar and of the implied metaphysics of Scripture requires me to engage sharply with the Reformers over the issue of how Christian obedience relates to justification in eschatalogical perspective. Sola fide is true when it describes how we first enter into a new standing with God, but it oversimplifies the nature of the Christian journey into the coming age, with potentially disastrous effects.” (xvi)

“A fresh look at the doctrine of sola fide is needed for at least three further reasons. Its method violates the rule of the scriptural canon. In substance, stress on faith alone severs justification too cleanly from sanctification. And with regard to its effects in history, the doctrine is dangerous. Since the 1520s, it has proven powerless to check repeated outbreaks of antinomianism (opposition to the teaching of moral law) in churches indebted to the Reformation, resulting in large fringes of congregants today imbued with the heresy that without mortifying sins they can nevertheless rest assured of reaching heaven.” (xvii)

It’s too early for me to be able to evaluate whether I think his over all analysis is correct or not. However, his reading of the effects of antinomianism is dead on. I’m looking forward to finishing this book.

Piper’s 12 Theses #5

This fulfilling of God’s law in loving others through the Spirit by faith is not a perfect love in this life (Rom. 7:15, 19, 23–25; Phil. 3:12).

Agreed.

By the way, if you’re wondering what these posts are related to you can check out the rest of the pertinent posts at:

Wright, Piper and the Justification Controversy

Fulfilling the Law

Piper’s 12 Theses #1

Piper’s 12 Theses #2

Piper’s 12 Theses #4

This fulfilling of God’s law in loving others through the Spirit is rendered by faith, that is, by being satisfied with all that God is for us in Christ and him crucified—the perseverance of the same faith that justifies (Gal. 3:5; 5:6; 1 Tim. 1:5; Heb. 11:6, 24–26; 10:34).

Yes, it is rendered by faith and through faith, but it is critical to recall that the Hebrew word for “faith” and for “faithfulness” is emunah. One of the ways that the fulfillment of God’s law is rendered in us is by our obedience to it, in our walking.

…that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

according to the Spirit, who is after all writing that very same law on our hearts.

Piper’s 12 Theses #3

This fulfilling of God’s law in loving others is rendered not in our own strength but by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:13–16, 22–23).

I am in total agreement with this thesis, after all it agrees completely with the role of the Spirit as listed in Jeremiah 31:33,

…I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts….