Sometimes our shorthands come back to bite us on the bahookey. It is true enough that the concept of covenant contains within it the concept of contract. It does not, however, reduce down to contract. Covenant is the marriage of the legal and the familial. Contract covers the legal – covenants have responsibilities, obligations and sanctions. But covenant is also relational, transcending the merely mercenary. God has every right to command whatsoever He will. But He is also our God, the one who brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Right from the get go we have something of an epistemological/ontological problem. That is, there are differences that are easier to see, and then there are differences that are more central, but harder to discern. On the ontological side the whole of the order of salvation, or ordo salutis, describes the difference. The believer has been regenerated, given the gift of faith, is indwelt by the Spirit, gifted by the Spirit and grows in grace and wisdom. The unbeliever has none of these. Neither the believer nor the unbeliever, however, has magic soul-exposing glasses by which we can judge the invisible changes.
Before she went to her reward my beloved wrote letters to each of our children. It was her last days and stamina was hard to come by. Knowing she wanted to write one to me I tried to put her at ease – “You don’t have to write me a letter, dear. I have and always have had every confidence in your love for me.” She managed to write one anyway, noting therein how delighted she was to know that I never doubted her love. I’m not sure, however, that the last words of the departing are quite as important as the last words to the departing. When my time comes I would want my children to hear from me one last time what they hear from me each night before they go to bed – “Daddy loves you. Mommy loves you. Daddy and Mommy love each other. And Jesus…
My ideological awakenings were not in the order most suspect. I was well taught the Reformed faith in my catechism class in junior high school, working through GI Williamson’s Shorter Catechism for Study Groups. Though I had, of course, come from a Reformed family, and been raised in the Reformed church, that was when it all clicked for me. But before Reformed theology became a passion I was introduced to free market economics. Just as Reformed theology asked us to embrace a few basic principles, and then to work out the implications of those principles with relentless passion, so with free market economics there was a certain elegance and internal coherence that just made me fall in love.
How are you preparing your children for persecution? A few weeks ago I tweeted this: I don’t know the future but am preparing my children to 1 day face martyrdom, like my great-grandparents should’ve done for my grandparents. — R.C. Sproul Jr. (@rcsprouljr) March 13, 2015 Interestingly, I got little push back on the notion that my children might one day face martyrdom. Neither did anyone express any curiosity about what I meant about my great-grandparents and my grandparents. (I meant that every generation of believers, in every context, even those wherein the Christian faith is privileged in a specific culture, ought to prepare their children for martyrdom.) I did, however, have several people wonder just what that preparation looks like. Here’s how we look at it in my family.
If it were twenty five years from now, and you could come back to today to warn yourself, what would you say? It is, I confess, a rather convoluted question, but the principle isn’t so hard to grasp. We often try as a kind of thought experiment to ask what we would tell the us of twenty-five years ago if we can go back in time. If such is at all helpful, shouldn’t we be thinking of the other half of the equation now? What are five things me at 74 would say to me at 49 by way of warning? 1. Do not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). It is all to easy to allow long years of frustration to wear us down. When I sense I’m not making much progress in my own sanctification, weariness is at my doorstep. Our lives are marathons. And as we…
Is it wrong, or dangerous to marry someone from a different culture? I’m writing from San Francisco today. I know and love this city because thirty years ago I was in romantic pursuit of a young lady who lived here. At the time I lived in rural western Pennsylvania. The young lady was raised in the city. I was a student at Grove City College, which could likely be considered the most conservative school in the country. The young lady was a graduate of Cal-Berkeley, which could likely be considered the most liberal school in the country. I was too conservative to vote Republican, she too liberal to vote Democratic. I was a garden variety American, she a Chinese American.
Are husbands/fathers called to be priests in their homes? Yes and no. If we mean by “priest” one who intercedes for others, beseeching the blessing of God, of course fathers should be priests in their homes. We’re called to pray for our families, to storm the very throne room of heaven on behalf of those whom He has placed under our care. I can’t begin to imagine how anyone could have an objection to this. I will be first in line to object, however, to any notion that a husband or father stands as a mediator between God and man. That is strictly the work of our elder brother, Jesus. While I certainly hope to be used in my children’s lives as an agent of grace, a means in our Lord’s hands to help my children mature in their faith, I never want to stand between them and the Lord….
To too many the creeds are a dusty vestige of a happily distant past. They were written centuries ago, born out of abstract battles whose players we can’t even name. Isn’t it just better to love each other and not get caught up in all those silly questions?
I’ve been blessed, over the years, to teach a number of the Great Works courses here at Reformation Bible College. It is my contention that we ought to cover the great books of western civilization not so we can prepare our students to join in what some call the “great conversation” that back and forth over the centuries that seeks to answer the most foundational questions of our nature, purpose and end. Instead I want to prepare them for the “great confrontation.” I teach in light of the antithesis, the battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent that began in Eden and ends with the end of history. I want our students to understand the culture they are living in, the ideological water they are swimming in, so that they might both guard their hearts and press the crown rights of King Jesus.