The Origins of Life

Either the universe had a personal beginning, or an impersonal beginning. The universe is therefore either an impersonal universe, or a personal one. If it is an impersonal universe, the evolvement of personality is a sad thing, because there is no satisfactory explanation giving meaning to thinking, acting, communicating, loving, having ideas, choosing, being full of creativity, and responding to the creativity of others. It is like a fish developing lungs in an airless universe. The longings and aspirations of personality drown without fulfillment.

I don’t know where he said this, but this is a quote attributed to Francis Schaeffer in his wife, Edith’s, book Christianity is Jewish (pg 17). Edith concludes this thought on page 19 saying:

If one chooses the impersonal beginning, one must go on to a logical conclusion of an impersonal universe, and an insignificant human being, and a meaningless history.

That would explain a lot about the massive despair blanketing our society…

A Refreshing Perspective

“To begin with, the OT nowhere maintains that relationship with God can be earned. Instead, the biblical statement concerning the establishment of the relationship between God and Israel can be described best under the theological heading of election. The OT consistently maintains that, in an act of unmerited and inexplicable grace, God chose and redeemed Israel well before and apart from the giving of the Law. In fact, the Hebrew word often translated “law” can be better rendered “teaching,” “instruction,” or even “principles.” That is, OT “Law” is not a set of restrictive rules, but the principles or guidance for living life as the people of God. In short, God “saved” Israel by grace, but the life God wishes for God’s people has a certain principled character. It manifests identity. Life as God’s people is neither anarchic nor formless. As Jesus put it, “By their fruits you shall know them” [Matt. 7.20]. In effect, the “Law” describes the character of the “fruits of grace.”

Biddle, Mark E. Deuteronomy, Smyth and Helwys Bible Commentary. (Macon, GA; Smyth and Helwys, 2003). 11

ht: Joel Usina

John Wesley Speaks to a Sabbath Breaker

A WORD TO A SABBATH BREAKER

” Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

Have you forgotten who spoke these words? Or do you set him at defiance? Do you bid him do his worst? Have a care. You are not stronger than he. “Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth; but woe unto the man that contendeth with his Maker. He sitteth on the circle of the heavens; and the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers before him!”

“Six days shalt thou do all manner of work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” It is not thine, but God’s day. He claims it for his own. He always did claim it for his own, even from the beginning of the world. “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” He hallowed it; that is, he made it holy; he reserved it for his own service. He appointed, that as long as the sun or the moon, the heavens and the earth, should endure, the children of men should spend this day in the worship of Him who “gave them life and breath and all things.”

Shall a man then rob God? And art thou the man? Consider, think what thou art doing! Is it not God who giveth thee all thou hast? Every day thou livest, is it not his gift? And wilt thou give him none? Nay, wilt, thou deny him what is his own already? He will not, he cannot, quit his claim. This day is God’s. It was so from the begin­ning. It will be so to the end of the world. This he cannot give to another. O “render unto God the things that are God’s,” now; “to­day, while it is called to-day!”

For whose sake does God lay claim to this day? for his sake or for thine? Doubtless, not for his own. He needeth not thee, nor any child of man. “Look unto the heavens and see, and behold the clouds which are higher than thou. If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? If thy trans­gressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him? If thou art right­eous, what givest thou him? Or what receiveth he of thine hand?” For thy own sake, therefore, God thy maker doeth this. For thy own sake he calleth thee to serve him. For thy own sake he demands a part of thy time to be restored to him that gave thee all. Acknowledge his love. Learn, while thou art on earth, to praise the King of Heaven. Spend this day as thou hopest to spend that day which never shall have an end.

The Lord not only hallowed the Sabbath day, but he hath also bless­ed it. So that you are an enemy to yourself. You throw away your own blessing, if you neglect to “keep this day holy.” It is a day of special grace. The King of Heaven now sits upon his mercy seat, in a more gracious manner than on other days, to bestow blessings on those who observe it. If you love your own soul, can you then forbear laying hold on so happy an opportunity? Awake, arise, let God give thee his blessing! Receive a token of his love! Cry to him that thou mayest find the riches of his grace and mercy in Christ Jesus! You do not know how few more of these days of salvation you may have. And how dreadful would it be, to be called hence in the abuse of his proffered mercy!

O what mercy hath God prepared for you, if you do not trample it under foot! “What mercy hath he prepared for them that fear him, even before the sons of men!” A peace which the world cannot give; joy, that no man taketh from you; rest from doubt and fear and sorrow, of heart; and love, the beginning of heaven. And are not these for you? Are they not all purchased for you by him who loved you, and gave himself for you? for you, a sinner? you, a rebel against God? you, who have so long crucified him afresh? Now “look unto him whom you have pierced!” Now say, Lord, it is enough. I have fought against thee long enough. I yield, I yield. “Jesus, Master, have mercy upon me!”

On this day, above all, cry aloud, and spare not, to the “God who heareth prayer.” This is the day he hath set apart for the good of your soul, both m this world and that which is to come. Never more disappoint the design of his love, either by worldly business or idle diver­sions. Let not a little thing keep you from the house of God, either in the forenoon or afternoon. And spend as much as you can of the rest of the day, either in repeating what you have heard, or in reading the Scripture, or in private prayer, or talking of the things of God. Let his love be ever before your eyes. Let his praise be ever in your mouth. You have lived many years in folly and sin; now, live one day unto the Lord.

Do not ask any more, “Where is the harm, if, after church, I spend the remainder of the day in the fields, or in a public house, or in taking a little diversion?” You know where is the harm. Your own heart tells you so plain, that you cannot but hear. It is a base mis-spending of your talent, and a barefaced contempt of God and his authority. You have heard of God’s judgments, even upon earth, against the profaners of this day. And yet these are but as drops of that storm of “fiery indignation, which will” at last “consume his adversaries.”

Glory be to God who hath now given you a sense of this. You now know, this was always designed for a day of blessing. May you never again, by your idleness or profaneness, turn that blessing into a curse! What folly, what madness would that be! And in what sorrow and anguish would it end! For yet a little while, and death will close up the day of grace and mercy. And those who despise them now, will have no more Sabbaths, or sacraments, or prayers for ever. Then how will they wish to recover that which they now so idly cast away! But all in vain. For they will then “find no place for repentance, though they should seek it carefully with tears.”

O my friend, know the privilege you enjoy. Now “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Your day of life and of grace is far spent. The night of death is at hand. Make haste to use the time you have; improve the last hours of your day. Now provide “the things which make for your peace,” that you may stand before the face of God for ever.

* The Works of Reverend John Wesley, A.M. in Seven Volumes. Vol VI. (New York: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1839) pgs 352-354.

Food

Food joyfully shared is the heart of human happiness and well-being, and food shared in the context of prayer and thanksgiving is definitive of both Jewish and Christian thought and practice. For millennia Jewish identity and the Jewish faith have been sustained by the gathering of the household for the Shabbat meal, and for Christians too the central prayer takes the form of a shared meal, the Eucharist.
– Eamon Duffy, Professor of the History of Christianity, University of Cambridge

This quote is from the Foreword to Food in Due Season: Daily table graces for the Christian year by David Goode, a member of the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, published by Canterbury Press.

I highly recommend the book and plan to post several quotes from it over the next couple of days.

The book was available here via Amazon in the US, but I think I may have bought their last copy (even though there is still one advertised). However, if you’re interested, copies may still be purchased through Amazon UK. Also, there is a website for the book: http://www.food-in-due-season.info

Unique by Design

The following note was found penciled in the flyleaf of C.S. Lewis’ copy of Eternal Life: A Study of Its Implications and Applications by Baron Friedrich von Hugel:

It is not an abstraction called Humanity that is to be saved. It is you, . . . your soul, and, in some sense yet to be understood, even your body, that was made for the high and holy place. All that you are . . . every fold and crease of your individuality was devised from all eternity to fit God as a glove fits a hand. All that intimate particularity which you can hardly grasp yourself, much less communicate to your fellow creatures, is no mystery to Him. He made those ins and outs that He might fill them. Then He gave your soul so curious a life because it is the key designed to unlock that door, of all the myriad doors in Him.

This intrigues me for a couple reasons. First, it is fascinating to read something scribbled by Lewis for his own reflection. Second, I’m convinced that we need to spend a lot more time on what Lewis said was “yet to be understood,” the uniqueness of our individual bodies and the role they play in our spiritual formation. Third, I’m fascinated by the concept we are uniquely designed both to uniquely relate to God, and to relay particular facets of God’s character to the rest of His children.

This note was quoted in Corbin Scott Carnell’s book, Bright Shadow of Reality: C.S. Lewis and the Feeling Intellect, but I ran across the quote in Eugene Peterson’s book, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work.