“Jim Hamilton’s Recommendations for Books”

Linked up at Patrick Schreiner’s blog, Hamilton gives his top ten books that every seminary graduate should read and the same with particular regard to biblical theology.  Check it out and whatever you don’t have, create an Amazon wish list and add these to it.  Go here.

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Jesus Christ, Treasury and Priest

The mutual love of God and the saints agrees in this, — that the way of communicating the issues and fruits of these loves is only in Christ.  The Father communicates no issue of his love unto us but through Christ; and we make no return of love unto him but through Christ.  He is the treasury wherein the Father disposeth all the riches of his grace, taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love; and he is the priest into whose hand we put all the offerings that we return unto the Father. . . . Though the love of the Father’s purpose and good pleasure have its rise and foundation in his mere grace and will, yet the design of its accomplishment is only in Christ.  All the fruits of it are first given to him; and it is in him only that they are dispensed to us, so that though the saints may, nay, do, see an infinite ocean of love unto them in the bosom of the Father, yet they are not to look for one drop from him but what comes through Christ.

John Owen, Communion with God, 26-27, italics last sentence mine, otherwise his.

“An Open Letter to North American Churches”

Written by Fletcher Matandika, pastor of New Westminster Chapel.  Letter summarized by Jonathan Parnell at the Desiring God blog.  The entire PDF is given there.  Go here.

Rest, Holy Happiness, and the Unveiled Manifestation of Christ

It is a striking circumstance that each of the three great Puritan divines wrote a treatise on the subject of heaven, and that each had his own distinct aspect in which he delighted to view it.  To the mind of (Richard) Baxter, the most prominent idea of heaven was that of rest, and who can wonder, when it is remembered that his earthly life was little else than one prolonged disease?  To the mind of (John) Howe, ever aspiring after a purer state of being, the favourite conception of heaven was that of holy happiness.  While to the mind of Owen, heaven’s glory was regarded as consisting in the unveiled manifestation of Christ.  The conceptions, though varied, are all true; and Christ, fully seen and perfectly enjoyed, will secure all the others.

Andrew Thomson, John Owen: Prince of Puritans, 121.

The last sentence is most true; still, what gleam of light of that diamond of glory captures your heart and attention most?  I find myself speaking and thinking most in terms of Howe and Owen’s emphases.

If They Go To Christ

Those who come to Christ, need not be afraid of God’s wrath for their sins; for God’s honor will not suffer by their escaping punishment and being made happy.  The wounded soul is sensible that he has affronted the majesty of God, and looks upon God as a vindicator of his honor; as a jealous God that will not be mocked, an infinitely great God that will not bear to be affronted, that will not suffer his authority and majesty to be trampled on, that will not bear that his kindness should be abused.  A view of God in this light terrifies awakened souls.  They think how exceedingly they have sinned, how they have sinned against light, against frequent and long-continued calls and warnings; and how they have slighted mercy, and been guilty of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, taking encouragement from God’s mercy to go on in sin against him; and they fear that God is so affronted at the contempt and slight which they have cast upon him, that he, being careful of his honor, will never forgive them, but will punish them.  But if they go to Christ, the honor of God’s majesty and authority will not be in the least hurt by their being freed and made happy.  For what Christ has done has repaired God’s honor to the full.  It is a greater honor to God’s authority and majesty, that, rather than it should be wronged, so glorious a person would suffer what the law required.  It is surely a wonderful display of the honor of God’s majesty, to see an infinite and eternal person dying for its being wronged.  And then Christ by his obedience, by that obedience which he undertook for our sakes, has honored God abundantly more than the sins of any of us have dishonored him, how many soever, and how great soever.  How great an honor is it to God’s law that so great a person is willing to submit to it, and to obey it!  God hates our sins, but not more than he delights in Christ’s obedience which he performed on account.  This is a sweet savor to him, a savor of rest.  God is abundantly compensated, he desires no more; Christ’s righteousness is of infinite worthiness and merit.

Jonathan Edwards, Sermons of, “Safety, Fullness, and Sweet Refreshment in Christ,” 24-25.

“How to Ask God a Question”

A post from Justin Taylor, an excerpt from Mark Galli’s new book God Wins in response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins.

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” (Luke 1:18

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34)

Mark Galli writes in God Wins:

So what’s the difference here? The questions are so similar. Why is Mary’s treated with respect while Zechariah’s is an occasion for spiritual discipline? Why does the angel seem indifferent to Mary’s natural curiosity and angry about Zechariah’s?

Go here for the rest of Galli’s excerpt.

The Highest Style of Thought and Authorship

Andrew Thomson, the 19th century biographer of John Owen and expert in the Puritans generally, offers his fair share of wisdom vignettes throughout his telling of Owen’s story.  In the following paragraph, he perhaps unknowingly includes Owen in the long line of theologians who desired for themselves a life of literary leisure but found God’s providence to draw them into the ecclesiological, political and cultural issues of their day; and by this providence, much lasting fruit has been born for our profit:

A wish has sometimes been expressed that men who, like Owen, have contributed so largely to the enriching of our theological literature, could have been spared the endless avocations of public life and allowed to devote themselves almost entirely to authorship.  But the wisdom of this sentiment is very questionable.

Experience seems to testify that a certain amount of contact with the business of practical life is necessary to the highest style of thought and authorship; and that minds, when left to undisturbed literary leisure, are apt to degenerate into habits of diseased speculation and sickly fastidiousness.  Most certainly the works that have come from men of monastic habits have done little for the world, compared with the writings of those who have ever been ready to obey the voice which summoned them away from tranquil studies to breast the storms and guide the movements of great social conflicts.  The men who have lived the most earnestly for their own age, have also lived the most usefully for posterity.

Andrew Thomson, John Owen: Prince of Puritans, 77.