God's Providence

Chapter 8 - John Frame's Systematic Theology

Providence is God preserving and governing everything.

This is a wonder and miracle of a sort.  It is ordinary, instead of extraordinary.  But Scripture often throws them together as reasons to praise God. (Psalm 107, 136)

God's providence is efficacious.  He always accomplishes what He wants to in history.

God's providence is universal, governing the natural world, human history, and the details of individual lives, decisions, sins and our faith.
Natural world.   This is a personal world that God waters, feeds, storms, etc.  Psalm 66.
History.  He raises up Cyrus, Caesar takes a census, etc.  Psalm 33:10; Josh 21:44-45; Dan 4:35.
Individuals.  What was true of Jeremiah is true of us: God knew us before we were born.  Psalm 139:13-16.  Even accidents are from God (Ex 21:12-13).  Psalm 37:23-24.
Decisions.  God brought about the decisions of Judas, Cyrus, the crucifiers of Jesus.  God directs our steps.  Prov 21:1.  The soldiers decide not to divide Christs garment, so Sxripture would be fulfilled.  This causes some problems about how we can be responsible for our choices, yet they were somehow necessitated by Gods purpose.  But it is still true, as asserted by the Bible.
Sin.  God hardened Pharaohs heart, and Israels (Ps 105:24-25; Isaiah 63:17).  This is giving them over to more sin, when they have already been against God.  He does not turn a faithful person against Him, against their will.  More examples in 2 Sam 24; 17:14; 1 Kings 12:15; 2 Chron 25:20; John 12:40; Rom 11:7-8; Act 2:23; 4:28.
Faith.  Faith is a gift of God.  Eph 1:4-6; 2:8-9; Jonah 2:9; 2 Tim 1:9.  There is a human choice involved, but it cannot merit Gods choosing to save us, or we contradict these verses and have a cause for boasting.  God gives repentance and faith (John 15:16; 6:37, 44; Acts 11:18).  He washes us (Titus 3:4-7; Deut 30:6; Jer 31:31ff; 24:7; 2 Cor 4:6).

All things are in God's complete control.  Lam 3:37-38; Rom 8:21-28; Eph 1:11; Rom 11:36.

Christians for Lockean Liberty?

The first half of this post is really helpful in sorting out how Deists like Thomas Jefferson could help found our country on Christian principles.

Doug Wilson on liberty and property.

31 Reformation Days in October

Here's a great devotional resource to highlight the Reformation this month.


A sample of the first one, today:

Understand God’s Work through the Reformation
Sola Scriptura: The Scripture Alone is the Standard

Scripture Reading (selected verses)
Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Thy law….

The Church during the medieval period had become corrupt on many fronts, particularly on the question of authority. ...

Practical reflection questions at the end.


The Acts of the Lord - Miracles

Notes on John Frame's Systematic Theology, chapter 7

God acts in His world so we will know He is the Lord (Exodus 7:17 for just one example of many).  Knowing who God is (attributes) depends on knowing what He has done (acts).  We look first at what God has done.

A miracle is "an extraordinary [highly unusual, impossible] manifestation of God's covenant lordship."  Many define it as an exception to natural processes, but this isn't always true (Ex 14:21).  They aren't always immediate, either (lacking a secondary instrument besides God's direct power).  Miracles almost always prove a prophet is really from God, but there are other purposes of miracles in Scripture (Flood for judgment, incarnation for salvation, healing out of compassion, etc.).  Miracles don't just prove revelation; they actually reveal God's control, authority and presence to us.

Miracles occur today, but "only at God's own initiative."  They aren't a normal experience for a believer, but rare even in the Bible.  Believers shouldn't feel guilty for not experiencing them.

Miracles don't so much prove God exists, as they assume God to make sense.  We cannot demand them before we believe in God.  David Hume ruled miracles impossible by definition, and many modern liberal theologians follow suit.  Miracles  are evidence, though, that call and obligate us to believe in Jesus as the Christ.  Miracles are a kind of revelation.  Those found in Scripture are historically true and accurate, because Scripture is.

Review: Is Jesus in the Old Testament?

Is Jesus in the Old Testament?
Is Jesus in the Old Testament? by Iain M. Duduid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Solid treatment by Westminster's newest professor.

After some basics, like avoiding allegory and moralism, he gives three classes of OT Scripture: history, prophetic and wisdom literature. This left out the law, noticeably!

The strength of the booklet is the last third or so: how Jesus fulfills the OT. He is historian, prophet and sage. He is the last Adam, and the new Israel who lives the story Israel should have lived but didn't. That last was my favorite two pages (32-33). Excellent.

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Review: All My Holy Mountain

All My Holy Mountain
All My Holy Mountain by L.B. Graham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This last in the series was substantially better than the middle books.
Not the greatest writing, yet, but the biblical analogies grew in depth and some great plot twists added excitement as well.

I'll take back my last assessment: you need not be desperate to give these to your kids!

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Frame chapter 6 - The Family of God

Systematic Theology, by John Frame

As Lord, God is the normative and authoritative head of His covenant with us.
As king, God pursues His purposes in history.
As Father, God relates to His people intimately.

God is Father and we are brothers and sisters as believers in Christ.  We are part of a royal family.  The promised Deliverer comes through birth.  We are adopted into God's family, made joint heirs with Jesus.  God extends His covenant blessings to the children of believers.

Some modern theologians argue for gender neutral language referring to God, or even feminine pronouns.  The Bible does occasionally use feminine metaphors to describe God's relationship to us, but the overwhelming and significant descriptions are masculine (Lord, husband, Jesus is male, priests were, church as bride, etc.).

This was he most disappointing chapter so far.  Frame spent too much time rejecting a fringe "God is female" view, instead of enveloping the idea of family as he did kingdom and covenant.  Some of this, like adoption, he will cover later, though.


Book deals

Hanegraff and easy History of the Church, for a steal.

A Prayer for Muslims

This is from 1923, and still relevant.

Goodness, Leading to Repentance

Romans 2:1-4
"Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"

We are a Romans 1 people, and rightly so.  It is true that ungodly people suppress the truth in their ingratitude.  God turns them over to their sinful desires as part of His judgment.  We accurately assess unbelievers in this.  But as believers we are targeted in Rom 2.  We are without excuse.  The difference between believers and unbelievers isn’t that we don’t sin and they do.  It isn’t even that we admit the truth and they don’t.  The difference is that we repent and admit our wrong and seek God’s forgiveness.  We need lots of training and reminding to do this, and so we pause and think about it at this point in the service.

It is God’s goodness that leads us to repent.  He holds back judgment to give us opportunity to admit our fault.  We easily take this as God letting it go.  But He is waiting for repentance, not letting it slide.  Don’t take God as one who overlooks sin.  He wants you sanctified.

But also don’t take God as an angry, frowning, scolding God.  Psalm 103 says He will not always chide.  It is God’s goodness that helps us have the boldness to admit our wrong and hope for favor from Him anyway.  He is not a hard master, but a loving Father.



Grace before Sin?

Here's a well done but heavily theological article on the covenant of works.

Many have sought to ostracize this position in the Reformed world today, yet it appears to be a respectable position among the Reformed historically.

Lots of theology humor going on, too...


Effectiveness of worship music

Bob Kauflin at a Desiring God conference.  This is really good.

:45-1:30 is actually why I dislike RUF and Sovereign Grace melody re-writes of classic hymns.

Turn Your Family to God, instead of Just Shaking Your Head

The early church didn’t say, “Look what the world is coming to!”
They said, “Look what has come into the world!” —Carl Henry

Here are two articles on family worship.  Practical.



Frame chapter 5 - The Kingdom of God

The Bible as a story of God's covenants with man shows us the norms and structure by which we are to live.  The Bible can also be told as the story of the kingdom of God, showing us the historical situation we find ourselves in.  God takes millennia to fulfill His purposes, not according to the timeline of human kings.

We live in two ages.  The present age will pass away at Christ's return, but for now sin is still present and people live without thought of God.  The coming kingdom of Christ is already here since His resurrection, but not yet fulfilled.  So this is a time of suffering for the church, but also victory.

God is king and lord of His kingdom (Ex 15:18; Ps 93-99; 1 Sam 8:7).  The ark is His throne.  Jesus is God's appointed king of his kingdom (Ps 2), the greater King than David (Matt 22:41-46), who told Pilate he was a king and welcomed the crowd's praises as their king at His triumphal entry.  He has all authority as the highest king of all kings (Phil 2:9-11; Matt 28:18; Rev 19:16).  Now that He ascended, His people carry on His kingdom work in evangelism, discipleship, cultural and social change, seeking to bring all the world to keep His ways in all things.

Heralds announce good news in God's kingdom - the Gospel of God's favor to us in Christ's death and resurrection.  God's vengeance on His rebellious enemies is part of His Kingdom work.  Proclaiming God's law is also important.  We aren't saved by keeping it, but it does more than drive us to Christ for having broken it.  It also shows us how to live in the present and future.

There is not a kingdom of law (the state) ruled by a religiously neutral natural law, and a kingdom of grace/gospel (church).  There is one kingdom of God, and the social order beyond the church either acknowledges and submits to God or it doesn't.  Modern secular society is not neutral in religion, but rebellious against the true God.  [Another way of saying this: God is not okay with governments trying to be neutral regarding Him.  He expects kings to bend the knee to Him in this world (Ps 2:10-12).]

Jesus describes kingdom life in the sermon on the mount.  The church is kingdom headquarters, but isn't the boundary of the kingdom.  The kingdom has deeply shaped human cultures in the past, as it should.

Review: Father of Dragons

Father of Dragons
Father of Dragons by L.B. Graham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Worldview is solidly Biblical, but the writing isn't the highest quality. It's long and it plods. If you're desperate for something for your kids to read, you could do worse, but I wouldn't pay more than the kindle prices.

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