Knowing God, chapter 16: Goodness and severity

Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God (Rom 11:22, KJV)

In the verses preceding this one, Paul had  reminded his Gentile readers that God had rejected the Jews for unbelief, while at the same time bringing the non-Jews to saving faith. He invites them to take note of the two sides of God’s character as revealed in this transaction. They weren’t to dwell on His goodness alone, nor on His severity alone, but to contemplate both together. Continue reading

The Storm came and passed on

Tempesta the kitten
Tempesta the kitten

A year ago today, our household acquired a second feline resident. Within 30 minutes of being let out of her cage, the 3-month-old kitten was all over the place, chasing anything that moved. That very night, my brother gave her the name ‘Tempesta’ (‘storm’ in Italian).

Tempesta was irresistibly adorable despite her deplorable manners, a legacy from her life on the streets (she was a rescued cat). She drove everyone to exasperation—Bolla, our older cat couldn’t stand her playfulness; we couldn’t stand her penchant for jumping on the dining table, especially when our dinner was on it. She climbed up every tall piece of furniture or furnishing, and ran out the door a couple of times when we weren’t being watchful. (We didn’t want her going out for the first few months because we didn’t want more kitties. Only after she was spayed and had healed did we let her out).

Tempesta the thief
Tempesta the thief

One Monday morning, I had just finished eating my breakfast when Bolla threw up. She’d recently been diagnosed with diabetes, however, she’d suffered poor health ever since Tempesta’s arrival. (Coincidence? I don’t know). I cleaned up the mess and decided that the cats could use some fresh air, and so I opened the garden door. Bolla darted out immedialtely. Tempesta uncharacteristically lingered at the door a few seconds before following Bolla out. It was June 8th around 8:30am, the last time I saw Tempesta.

Later that day, we (there were 3 of us at home) marvelled at not having seen the kitten all day. Tempesta would normally pop back in every couple of hours or so to grab a bite or to catch her breath, so we didn’t think it very strange that we’d not seen her. She didn’t turn up for dinner at 7pm, which was strange. Midnight came and I went to bed, leaving the garden door open in case she showed up. It remained open until Wednesday or Thursday evening. Her food bowls were removed a week later. Tomorrow will be 12 weeks since her disappearance.

Tempesta and Bolla
Tempesta and Bolla

The hardest part was not knowing what had happened to her. Was she dead or alive? Had she been run over or catnapped? Or did the neighbour who’d complained about her do something to ‘fix’ the problem? We’ll never know. All we have are the memories of 9 months spent with a cat named Tempesta.

Knowing God, chapter 15: The wrath of God

According to the dictionary Packer had at the time of writing this book, ‘wrath’ is defined as “deep intense anger and indignation”. ‘Anger’ is defined as “stirring of resentful displeasure and strong antagonism, by a sense of injury or insult”; ‘indignation’  as “righteous anger aroused by injustice and baseness”.

“A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness.” –A. W. Pink, The Attributes of God, as quoted by Packer.

The biblical writers feel no inhibitions regarding God’s wrath. Why do we? Continue reading

Knowing God, chapter 14: God the judge

God is judge.

Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Gen 18:25)

I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the LORD, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites. (Judges 11:27)

But it is God who judges (Ps 75:7)

Rise up, O God, judge the earth (Ps 82:8)

God, the judge of all men (Heb 12:23)

Jesus Christ, our Saviour, is also judge. Continue reading

Knowing God, chapter 13: The grace of God

The doctrine of grace presupposes four crucial truths:

  1. The moral ill-desert of man. Man naturally incline to a high opinion of himself. He is convinced, that despite all his little sins, he is a good person, and that God shares his opinion about himself. That he is a rebel against God’s rule, guilty and unclean in His sight, fit only for God’s condemnation, never enters his head.
  2. The retributive justice of God. The general idea in society today is that punishment should be a last resort. The notion that retribution is an expression of God’s holy character is repulsive. But God is the Judge of the earth, and He will vindicate the innocent and punish the law-breakers. Continue reading

Knowing God, chapter 12: The love of God

In his first epistle, John states, “God is love” twice (1 John 4:8, 16). Paul says, “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Rom 5:5). God’s love has been poured out, suggesting a free flow and a large quantity. God’s love has been poured out, implying a completed action. By the Holy Spirit—an undervalued ministry of the Spirit, as many today seek the extraordinary and spectacular ministries of the Spirit, neglecting the ordinary, general ones.

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Packer makes two comments on John’s statement: Continue reading

Go, send or disobey

Recently, I’ve been feeling bad about not doing much in the way of reaching people for Christ, and watching this video didn’t help. I need to channel this discontent into something useful, I know. Sitting around feeling sorry for myself won’t help anyone a little bit.

Back to the video: it is very sobering and convicting, and that’s why I’m sharing it. May you be motivated to do something with the aim of seeing many come to Christ.

Knowing God, chapter 11: Thy word is truth

The Bible assumes two facts about God: that He is king and that He speaks.

A king in the ancient world would speak regularly on two levels, and for two purposes. One, he would enact regulations and laws that determined his subjects’ environment. Further, he would make public speeches whose aim was to engage the minds and hearts of his subjects, to establish a bond with them. The Bible pictures God’s word as having the  same twofold character.

In the sphere of creation, God’s word is a sovereign ‘let there be’. God’s personal address to us is in the form of royal torah (the Hebrew word translated “law”). Torah has a triple character: Continue reading

Knowing God, chapter 10: God’s wisdom and ours

The old Reformed theologians classified the attributes of God in two groups: incommunicable and communicable.

The incommunicable are those which are God’s alone and highlight His transcendence, e.g. His independence (His self-existence and self-sufficiency); His immutability; His infinity; and His simplicity (the fact that there are in Him no elements that can conflict).

The communicable attributes are those He communicated to man when He made him, and consist of moral attributes such as goodness, truth, holiness, righteousness, etc. These moral qualities were lost at the Fall, but now in fulfilment of God’s redemption plan, we believers are being renewed in the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:18) and of God (Col 3:10).

Wisdom is one of the communicable attributes, and the Bible has a lot to say about it. The first 9 chapters of Proverbs are an exhortation to seek it (Prov 3:13). A similar emphasis is found in the NT: Eph 5:15,17; Col 4:5; James 1:5.

What steps must a man take to acquire godly wisdom? Continue reading

Knowing God, chapter 9: God only wise

In Scripture, wisdom is a moral as well as an intellectual quality. To be truly wise, one’s intelligence must be harnessed to a right end.

Human wisdom can be frustrated. God’s cannot, as it is allied to omnipotence. Infinite power ruled by infinite wisdom is a common description of the divine character (Job 9:4; Job 12:13; Isaiah 40:26, 28; Dan 2:20; Rom 16:25,27).

What is God’s goal in His wisdom? That man should love and honour Him; that we should please Him entirely and praise Him adequately.

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Examples of God’s wisdom at work in the lives of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph: Continue reading