Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Wrath of the Lamb and the Love of the Lamb?

JESUS SPOKE MORE about hell than anyone in the Bible. His comments, thoughtfully considered, challenge thoughtful Believers. They also challenge the prevailing view of God on the street. 

The Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:16). In fact, this is an understatement. He is much more loving than any of us can comprehend. His love in the apostle Paul's words,  “surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). But,  the Bible also speaks of “The wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16), and it reminds us that the Lamb and the saints (you and I) will watch the torment of the wicked in hell (Rev 14:10). The Bible also suggests that we will rejoice over the torment and destruction of unbelievers (Rev 18:20). It is important to note that we will not rejoice in the suffering of the lost, but in the perfections of God’s justice. At that time our life will revolve around God, not people.

No wonder D. A. Carson entitled his book, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. God’s love is a difficult doctrine.

How can we reconcile the love of the Lamb and the wrath of the Lamb? First, we must always remember that, although God is love, love is never God. In other words, God is bigger than love. He is also justice and holiness. He hates evil with a holy hatred. Sin must be judged. His holy opposition towards it must be exercised. Just as the redemption of the Saints will glorify God’s grace, mercy, and love, so the judgment of sinners will also glorify his justice, wrath, and holiness. In the end, all of God’s virtues will be glorified. They will be glorified through the salvation of believing sinners or through the judgment of unbelieving sinners.

How should we respond? With awe and worship. Our God is an awesome God. His holiness is infinite. We are finite. His understanding is unsearchable. With the angels we should sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3).

For those who would like to pursue this subject further,  here is an eye-opening biblical defense by Jonathan Edwards. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: The Meaning of Marriage!

JUST FINISHED TIM KELLER'S new book, The Meaning of Marriage, "Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God."

Having enjoyed Keller's previous books I opened this volume expectantly. The first chapter covered   the state of marriage in the Western world, and was helpful. Keller described and analyzed the "Me-Marriage" syndrome and its damaging impact on people's willingness to marry. He suggested the gospel as the solution.

Another plus was Keller's emphasis on the need to build marriage around friendship. Following up on this idea was a chapter on singleness with unusually
 helpful tips on what to look for in a mate.

However, the book fell short in a couple of key areas. I had no problems with anything that Keller said. It was all useful and helpful. It was what he didn't emphasized that bothered me. In my view he did not place enough emphasis on Ephesians 5:22-34.

The New Testament only has two passages on marriage––Ephesians five and 1 Peter 3. Ephesians five is the most important. Keller emphasized companionship as the purpose of marriage. But Ephesians five is very clear. The purpose of marriage is to glorify the relationship between Christ and his church through the love of the husband and the submission/respect of his wife. Although Keller mentioned this in the first chapter, he did not emphasize it.

This book also contained an excellent chapter on wifely submission. In  light of our contemporary climate, I appreciated the courage required to discuss this. However, a disturbing weakness was a lack of corresponding emphasis on Eph. 5:25. "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Although Keller briefly mentions it in chapter one, he does not camp out on this crucial subject or emphasize it. I found this tragic. The husband's love is the engine that powers the Christian marriage. I would have liked one or two chapters applying this to daily experience. For me this was a gaping omission.

For someone looking for great pointers on how to overcome selfishness, etc. I recommend this book. But for someone eager to dig deeply into the theological mystery of marriage, there are better books on the market.