Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Descriptive Words

It’s true; I love words – a whole heckva lot. They excite and enthuse, they break and hurt, and they are simple and beautiful. What is a particular joy of mine is hearing (or reading) a word that I’ve known my whole life used to describe something in a fashion I’ve never seen, or heard, before.

This happened recently as I was finishing Jonathan Edwards’ ‘The End for which God Created the World’ he, in a footnote, described the believer’s love for God as “exquisite.”

It’s a simple word really, exquisite, but the meaning of it is sensational, “Extremely beautiful; intensely felt; highly sensitive.” But in relation to the love of a believer toward God this idea of exquisite love is crippling.

For who would say my love for God is exquisite? For that matter who would say it is an exceeding love? And to become more simplistic, who would say it is love at all?

It must become clear this love for God is an outside love, a love that cannot be supported within the soul of man. For man is fickle swinging from one ‘love’ to the next and his eyes are easily befuddled to loose the dream or aim of life.

But God does grow a love for himself within our hearts – though it takes a lifetime to be understood as love. He does move and work within our souls for his own pleasure. He does exquisitely love us first as believers.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Exceedingly Exquisite

Love for God cannot nor must not be an apathetic love, but rather an exceedingly exquisite love, one in which all other loves pale in comparison, and are indeed faint, languid and insipid.

It is thus apparent that as fallen creatures we are in dire need of help to love God in such a fantastic manner. For our love, without the quickening of our King, is a garish thing not deserving of the dirt of the earth or the muck of the rubbish pile.

But in the free mercy and grace of God we may attempt at this elegant love for he has indeed loved us first, in turn freeing us to love him. The magnificence with which he loves us, his people, is more intricate than the spider's web and more vast than the heavens, it is deeper than the roots of the mountains and more wondrous than the starry night.

It is an extravagant love.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Man's Great End

I keep this little gem in the back of my moleskin. It is a Puritan prayer from the book "The Valley of Vision"

Man's Great End

"Lord of all being,
There is one thing that deserves my greatest care,
That calls forth my ardent desires.

That is that I may answer the great end for which I am made
To glorify Thee who hast given me being,
and do all I can for my fellow man;
verily life is not worth having
if it be not improved for this noble purpose.
Yet, Lord, how little is this the thought of mankind!

Most men seem to serve themselves,
without much or any regard for your glory,
or the good of others;
They earnestly desire and eagerly pursue
the riches, honors, pleasures of this life
as if they supposed that wealth, greatness, merriment could make their immortal souls happy;
But alas, what false delusive dreams are these!

And how miserable ere long will those be that sleep in them,
for all our happiness consists in loving Thee,
and being holy as Thou art holy.
O may I never fall into the tempers and vanities,
the sensuality and folly of the present world!

It is a place of inexpressible sorrow, a vast empty nothingness;
Time is a moment, a vapor,
and all its enjoyments are empty bubbles,
fleeting blasts of wind,
from which nothing satisfactory can be derived;

Give me grace to keep in covenant with Thee,
and to reject as delusion a great name here or hereafter,
together with all sinful pleasures or profits.
Help me to know continually
that there can be no true happiness,
no fulfilling of Thy purpose for me
apart from a life lived in and for the Son of Thy love."

May this encourage your heart as it encourages mine.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Response to Myself (Pt.4)

Read post 1, 2 & 3 so as to grasp the entirety of the idea.

Therefore we see two things, 1) we see common mercy, in that God restrains the judgment which he would be capable and just in raining down now and 2) we see common grace, in the unregenerate being able to perform good, know truth and experiencing blessings.

So the case has changed, from absents of common grace to the presences of common mercy. For both are here found within Scripture and therefore must both be present in our speech and belief. So it is common mercy AND common grace, for without common mercy there cannot be common grace for if mercy were not present then there would be none to be gracious to. Consequently both must be seen and held.

But here’s the deal: there is a world of difference between the center of the earth and its crust, so it is with grace and mercy. Within mercy we see we are in need of aid, our sin is in need of being tolerated, so to speak, for a time. It is the core, for in this we feel the heat of being in trouble and deserving punishment. But then in grace we feel the coolness of the breeze and the wonder of the stars for there is a receiving of a gift that is undeserved.

Thus it was wrong of me to be fighting against words (1 Timothy 6:4-5) for in so doing I created undue controversy. But it was right to delve deep into the Bible to learn the necessity of mercy as well as the beauty of grace, for there is now a deeper appreciation of mercy which was previously unknown in my heart.

A Response to Myself (Pt.3)

Please read Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 of this article before this portion.

Yet there still remains the issues of the unregenerate (unsaved, nonbelievers, non elect whatever you want to term it) in the areas of doing good, knowing truth and experiencing blessings, the passages for these are: 2 Kings 10:30; 12:2; Luke 6:33; Rom 1:18-21; Matt. 23:2-3; Num. 22:1-24:5; 2 Peter 2:15; Rev. 2:14; 1 Sam. 10:9-11; Matt. 10:5-8 [in terms of Judas]; 11:21-23; 13:1-9; 18:15-20; Luke 10:13-15; 1 Cor. 5:1-12; 11:17-34; Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-29; 2 Peter 2:20-22; 1 John 2:19.

If these are read then it is apparent these are graces, though the term grace is never used to describe them within the passages themselves. But it is evident these are graces, for they are unmerited underserved gifts. For the ability to do good, i.e. good not in terms of good works done solely for the glory of God but rather carrying out the commandments of God (an unnatural thing which man does, Romans 3:9-18, and thus must be a grace) is a gift.

Frame continued on in our e-mail to say,

“On the other hand, other terms like ‘goodness,’ ‘love,’ and ‘mercy’ have some of the same ambiguity [as grace], so I can’t really forbid people to use the terminology of common grace. I use it myself, because of the precedent in theological tradition.”

Thus the precedent for common grace is set with these passages and themes. Because the ambiguity for either word (mercy or grace) is self-evident and therefore to strive against either (as I did) is wrong for 1 Timothy 6:4-5 holds much weight in saying, “… He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and depraved of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

A Response to Myself (Pt.2)

Part 1 should really be read before this one

There are many Scriptures that may be used in favor of the idea of common grace those being: Gen. 3:15; 4:15; 11:6; 20:6; Ex. 1-15; 34:6; Num. 14:18; 2 Kings 19:27-28; Job 1:12; 2:6; Ps. 86:5; Rom. 2:4-5; Matt. 5:44-45; 19:8; Acts 3:25; 14:16; 17:30; 2 Thess. 2:7. Indeed Frame himself says in response to these passages on pg. 430 of “Doctrine of God,”

“So God is a God who waits. He can accomplish his will instantly. He can bring final judgment on the wicked immediately. But he chooses not to do so. He has chosen to write a drama and spread it out in temporal sequence. So he tolerates evil for a time, waiting until later to judge it fully. Now we learn that God’s decision to wait is not arbitrary, nor is it mainly in the interest of creating a more interesting story. Rather, it is a function of his love and grace.”

However, if you read all the afore mentioned Scriptures and Frame’s quote it is difficult to call it “grace” but rather to call it “mercy” or “divine forbearance” for in the idea of God’s restraining of sin and his own wrath we see mercy (or divine forbearance) because he would be completely just in pouring the cup of his undiluted wrath out upon sinful humanity instantly yet he refrains from doing so.

Frame also carries this idea of common grace being an improper term for the idea saying, “To my knowledge, Scripture never uses hen or charis to refer to his blessings on creation generally or on non elect humanity. So it would perhaps be better to speak of God’s common goodness, or common love, rather than his common grace.” He added to this in our correspondence with,

“The term ‘grace,’ both in Scripture and in theology, is weighted with redemptive significance. So the use of it for non-redemptive blessings of God has created some confusion…”

Therefore in some respect we see these things, which occur to all, are an act of common mercy, not common grace.

A Response to Myself

I stumbled across this issue a few months ago, this issue which I posted three writings about entitled ‘Common Error.’ It is still something I hold to, but in a different form. For in writing, and indeed in reading I, and you, noticed there were two ideals I was pushing against.

The two ideas are that of unlimited limited atonement and of common grace. Within those posts I was wrong to lump them together and thus wrong in some of my themes (These posts remain up so as to provide you a better understanding). However there is an element of truth to many of the themes.

Thus, it is here that I wish to speak (well… write) about the latter of the two, namely that of common grace. For I have spoken with a much more intelligent man, who has written on this matter and thus provided me a much more coherent idea.

In John Frame’s book “The Doctrine of God” he speaks to the idea of common grace on pages 429-437. After reading I e-mail Dr. Frame with a myriad of questions to which he responded. His response and my better-informed thoughts seem to go hand in hand thus I wish to express them here, in the next few posts (not sure how many there will be yet.).

(Be warned they will be extremely heady but will end in a more will informed and proper manner. Thus I request you bear with me as we descend into the depths (or ascend into the clouds) of biblical sifting and questioning. The definitions being grace: an undeserved gift and mercy: not getting what is deserved, though it is in the capacity of God to give.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Common Error (Pt. 3)

Now the matter of Matthew 5:43-48, which is used as one of the major Scriptural proponents for common grace or unlimited atonement; this is a sticky area for me. Admittedly, there is no direct application within the passage referring to common grace or divine forbearance; it is indeed applicable to both. The thrust of the passage, however, is not whom the sun rises or the rain falls on but rather it is verse 48, “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Thus treating individuals in the same manner whether they by wicked or righteous, friend or foe.

Thus to say it is common grace that the sun rises and falls on the wicked is similar to say God in his divine forbearance allows the sun to rise and rain to fall on all, but they are not the same.

“But this is grace.” Might be your first thought, to which I would respond, “Is it?” For if grace is an undeserved gift and divine forbearance is waiting while looking to justice then they are indeed two very different things. While one is a complete gift the other is apart of a divine plan, within which glory will be had.

Lastly, the idea of grace being bought for all who ever lived as opposed to those elect cheapens the grace given and, quite frankly, spits in the hand of the giver. For a gift that is given to only a few is a much more treasured gift, but a gift that is bought at Wal-Mart with a thousand others just like it is often forgotten in some remote corner of a toy box… Do you see what I mean? To say Jesus died to give all men a choice is to say Jesus died to give you a Hot Wheels car – cheap plastic.

The juxtaposition is clear. Either he died to save the elect or he died to give all men grace.

You cannot have both, either Christ died to purchase grace for believers or he died to give all men grace. For either it is expensive grace (i.e. treasurable grace) or cheap grace (common grace), it cannot be expensively cheap grace. Why not? Because the purpose of creation is the glory of God (so says Scripture) and as such it is necessarily important that God receives glory, which is not what cheap grace does. For cheap grace is the means by which the lost live in unrepentant sin. Whereas saving grace is that which leads to repentance and the transformation of lives.

Common Error (Pt. 2)

Post 1 may be read here, and I highly recommend reading it before this post.

First, these ideas (Common grace and unlimited atonement, Spurgeon said 'Common grace' Driscoll has re-termed it 'unlimited limited atonement') are really one in the same, though separated by a 100 years. Within which we are told that Christ purchased saving grace for those that believe and the right to breath and feel everything in the first paragraph of post 1 for both believer and unbeliever alike.

However the issue with this is seen in various ways and in various places. For in Romans 3:25-26 we see God passing over the sins of believers by looking to the cross for their redemption. “In his divine forbearance he passed over former sin,” to show his righteousness. He looks to the cross where the believer is judged and justified thus his wrath is propitiated.

Therefore why should not God look similarly to the judgment of unbelievers?

Additionally, we see Jesus often speaking of the purchasing of grace for his sheep that come at the call of his voice (i.e. John 17), but he does not speak of buying common grace for the lost rather he speaks more about hell than any one prophet in all of the Bible. Finally, Romans 1 comes into play very heavily in its three mentions of God giving people up to the passions, lust and/or desires of the flesh (Romans 1:24,26,28). That they have been divinely handed over to sin and will taste the unbridled undiluted cup of God's wrath.

It is thus not simply reasonable but also congruent to say that there is no common grace or unlimited atonement for it is not clearly spoken of in Scripture. Also to see that throughout the entirety of Scripture God is on a clear mission for his own glory but to see the grace which he affords all used for various kinds of sin with no remorse by those that are lost is a travesty of justice which is unthinkable and a robbery of his glory. Therefore to see that God is storing up his holy wrath for the Final Judgment as opposed to lavishing grace only to damn later is a reasonable thing.

Common Error (Pt. 1)

Hello all,

This post will be a three part post which I will post throughout today (May 17, 2011). The reason for this is that I see this as an issue that will insight much discussion (or anger) and therefore I have broken it into pieces to make for easier commenting/citing. It is my sincere hope that you read all of the posts before going back and commenting on individual posts. Additionally, understand that I mean for this to inspire awe in you, the reader, for it has done much awe-inspiring within my own heart and has been an area of great joy and giving of thankful praise to God.

May the God who brought to life again our Lord Jesus give us minds to comprehend, discernment to see and wisdom to be humble. May he, and he alone, receive all praise and honor.

Fight the good fight of faith,
Sam Morris
Romans 7:24-25

(As you read be mindful of the fact we do not nor cannot comprehensively know our sovereign God and therefore we must cling all the more tightly to Scripture for in it we have the revelation of who He is as He has revealed himself.)

The sprinkler spun lazily around. The smoke wisps lingered in the air. The birds chirped in the honeysuckle, which wafted through the cool air. A good book and my feet perched on a table. The sun warming the breeze cooling me, while squirrels did acrobatics to get the birdseed. This was the scene a few hours ago.

Sounds good, right, like a completely underserved gift? This is something I’ve been thinking about for a few months now. Something many Christians have heard in various terms, whether they are ‘special grace, common grace’ or ‘unlimited limited atonement’ they’re the same things. But here’s the thought – and it will be one a lot of people don’t like – there is no such thing as common grace or unlimited atonement.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

This will be Controversial

I'm aware that this post will probably not be too popular for two reason: 1)Because the subject matter seems rather heartless, and 2) because of the difficulty of the language.

Romans 9:22-23
“Here it is evident the last verse comes in, in connection with the foregoing [Isaiah 43:3-4; Psalm 136:10; 10,15,17-20], as giving another reason of the destruction of the wicked, viz. showing the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy: higher degrees of their glory and happiness, in a relish of their own enjoyments, and a greater sense of their value and of God’s free grace in bestowing them”

“I am convinced that hell torments will be eternal from one great good the wisdom of God proposes by them, which is by the sight of them to exalt the happiness, the love, and joyful thanksgiving of the angels and men that are saved; which it tends exceedingly to do. I am ready to think that beholding the sight of the great miseries of those of their species that are damned will double the ardor of their love, and the fullness of the joy of the elect angels and men. It will do it in many ways. The sight of the wonderful power, great and dreadful majesty and authority and the awful justice and holiness of God manifested in their punishment will make them prize his favor and love exceedingly the more; and will excite a most exquisite love and thankfulness to him, that he chose them out from the rest to make them thus happy, that God did not make them such vessels of wrath, according to Romans 9:22-23”
~Jonathan Edwards “The End for which God Created the World” pg 226-227, footnote 85

Now, as to my first point of the unpopularity of this post I have this to say: This is not heartless, this is how Scripture presents the issue. In the beholding of the torments of the damned the redeemed will be all the more happy, thankful and joyful for, though nothing made them any better than those damned, God redeemed them from their just damnation for his own glory.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Often we forget the reason for which we are apart of something. Often seeing the occurrences around us as more important than the grand picture. Becoming overwhelmed by the smallest happenings with a band, a girl or a boy and now during finals, our grades.

But the difficulty is not realizing your eyes are staring at your feet in the mud rather than the glorious face of Jesus; the difficulty is moving the muscles in your neck to turn your gaze from the mire to the Redeemer. Seeing him as glorious as opposed to your state as overwhelming.

“But this is just a shifting of your focus away from the problem,” you might say. And I would agree, there is an element of this, however the purpose for shifting focus is not for forgetting, but for reminding. Looking to Jesus to be reminded that your biggest problem is taken care of, looking to Jesus to remember this world is not your home that though the flood comes and the valley is scary Jesus has fought our decisive battle and won.

Thus, the present situation becomes a light and momentary affliction for you are not looking for a solution your looking at the Redeemer. And it is here that the grace of God is felt most, for it is here that your heart sings and your eyes weep for joy, because the present task is simply a tool to be used in the same employment as the rest of creation, to glorify God.