Since I began studying covenant theology in the past couple years, I’ve become partial to verses of hymns that speak of God being our highest treasure, portion, or inheritance.

My new favorite verse of Be Thou My Vision is:

Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance now and always;
Thou and thou only first in my heart;
High king of heaven, my treasure thou art.1

My new favorite verse of Amazing Grace is:

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.2

These hymn verses echo for me the promise of God reiterated in every progressive revelation of the covenant of grace that he will be God to us and we will be his people (Genesis 17:7; Leviticus 26:11–12; Jeremiah 31:33; Revelation 21:3). They remind me that God is indeed “the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). 

  1. Be Thou My Vision, Eleanor Hull, 1912. []
  2. Amazing Grace, John Newton, 1779. []

Like a vain woman

John Piper on C. S. Lewis on praise:

Lewis says that as he was beginning to believe in God, a great stumbling block was the presence of demands scattered through the Psalms that he should praise God. He did not see the point in all this; besides, it seemed to picture God as craving “for our worship like a vain woman who wants compliments.” He goes on to show why he was wrong:

“But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything—strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. . . . The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game. . . .

“My whole, more general difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”12

  1. C. S. Lewis (1958). Reflections on the Psalms (pp. 94–95). Harcourt, Brace & World. []
  2. Piper, John (2011). Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Kindle Locations 253–264). Random House, Inc. Kindle Edition. []

By the grace of God they were freely willing

Pocketwatch inner workings I believe in the complete sovereignty of God over all human decisions and actions, but this doesn’t mean I believe we never make decisions or choices or that we lack our own will. This position is known as Compatibilism because it asserts that free will and determinism are compatible. I was reading 2 Corinthians 8 yesterday and two passages stuck out to me with respect to this issue.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (emphasis mine):

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

So, Paul says right at the outset that he’s going to tell us about something God is doing in the churches of Macedonia. The Macedonian’s generosity, despite their great poverty, was a grace that originated from God and not from man. But then he turns right around and says the Macedonians were doing this “of their own accord”. Other translations say the Macedonians were “freely willing” or that they did this “entirely on their own” or “of their own free will”. He then turns right around again and says that the Macedonians submitted themselves to the Lord and to their leaders “by the will of God”.

So was it the Macedonian’s will or God’s will that accomplished this? It was both! Or perhaps, more accurately, it was ultimately God’s will to put it into the minds and hearts of the Macedonians so that they would will, even delight, to give so generously.

The other passage makes this connection even more explicit. 2 Corinthians 8:16-17 (again, emphasis mine):

But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord.

Again, other translations have phrases like “by his own choice” or “of his own initiative”, but the meaning is the same. God, in his sovereignty, put the care into Titus’ heart so that Titus himself would freely will to visit the Corinthian saints.

I love the few passages in the New Testament that mention free will. They do not in any way deter me from glorying in the absolute sovereignty of God. 

The “omnis” of God

I don’t know why, but the “omnis” of God have always held a sort of fascination for me1. I think everybody has heard of three of them: omnipotence (all-powerful), omniscience (all-knowing), and omnipresence (everywhere-present). A couple years ago I stumbled upon omnibenevolence (all-good).

I’ve been reading the book of Job and got a little mind-boggled this morning and went looking for context and background to help me understand what I was reading. I started with Wikipedia, not because I think it’s a really good resource for understanding the scriptures, but just because it’s as good a place as any to start. Lo and behold, in the Wikipedia article on the Book of Job, I came across two “omnis” I had never heard before: omnisapience (all-wise), and omniliberty (all-sovereign, or all-free—able to do whatever he pleases), though I can’t seem to find omniliberty anywhere else on the Internet, and wonder if whoever added it to Wikipedia just made it up2.

Are there other “omnis” I’ve never heard of? Can anybody recall any others I haven’t listed here? Is it possible that all God’s attributes can be expressed as “omnis”? 

  1. I guess, really, the attributes of God in general have always fascinated me. I started, but never finished, reading a book called What is God?: An Investigation into the Perfections of God’s Nature, a survey of all God’s attributes—immanence, transcendence, aseity, etc. Fascinating stuff. I should pick that book up again. []
  2. See this Google search. Interestingly, this post is already the number one result after having been published a little under two hours ago! Virtually all other results are copies/quotes of the Book of Job Wikipedia article. []

God’s Passion for His Glory

gods-passion-for-his-glory I just finished reading God’s Passion for His Glory, which is not a new book, but a reprint of a book by 18th-century philosopher and theologian Jonathan Edwards called The End for Which God Created the World, with a new (nearly book-length) foreword by John Piper. I greatly enjoyed this book. It has challenged and even reshaped my perceptions about God, the world, and scripture. I recommend this book to every reader. If you’d prefer not to read Piper’s foreword, at least pick up some edition of Edwards’ book and give his claims the careful consideration they are due.
Continue reading