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As most of you, my readers, know by now I was diagnosed with a rare and typically incurable and thus terminal cancer back in November 2009 called Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor (DSRCT), which is in the sarcoma category of cancers. After really hard chemotherapy and then invasive resection surgery they were able to remove the cancer (miraculously)–along with my right kidney and a chunk of my inferior vena cava–back in May of 2010. After some follow up chemo I’ve been cancer free ever since then; so going on six years. Later today I am going in for what is to be my last CT scan to make sure I’m still cancer free. It is a thoroughly anxious time for me and my wife, and so we would appreciate your prayers! Even now as I write this it is the middle of the night; I can’t sleep because I am so anxious!

I appreciate your prayers! One more thing please: later today I will also find out if I am going to be laid off from my job with the railroad, it seems very likely! So as you can see there is a lot of stress going on right now. Again we covet your prayers!

Thank you, blessings!

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What a terrible day in Paris! People in general, but the Parisian in particular, needs to know that they are safe even when they are pressed into the reality–as we all are!–of the circumstances of the day, that they really aren’t; at least not humanly speaking. As the events of November 13th, 2015 illustrated in an horrific and unimaginable way, the Parisian today needs to peacefrenchknow that even if such horrific types of events intersect with their lives and their psyches, that God in Jesus Christ is for them; that He loves them, and that He demonstrated this love for them at His cross (cf. Romans 8.6). The Parisian needs to know and rest in the evangelical reality that God in His providential care has them in His big hands, and that no-one can pluck them out of His hands, not even a terrorist with a Kalashnikov or hand grenade. The Parisian knows better, or as well as anyone else today, how fragile this life is, and how the circumstances of life can change in an instant and in a very violent way! In the face of this they need prayer; they need dialogue with the Triune God who loves them, He desires that the Parisian would cry out to Him, and seek their rest and security in Him and in His mighty care. French theologian, Jean Cauvin or John Calvin says this to his countrymen about their need for prayer, and what it will supply for them in this very trying time,

Words fail to explain how necessary prayer is, and in how many ways the exercise of prayer is profitable. Surely, with good reason the Heavenly Father affirms that the only stronghold of safety is in calling upon his name [cf. Joel 2:32]. By so doing we invoke the presence both of his providence, through which he watches over and guards our affairs, and of his power, through which he sustains us, weak as we are and well-nigh overcome, and of his goodness, through which he receives us, miserably burdened with sins unto grace; and, in short, it is by prayer that we call him to reveal himself as wholly present to us. Hence comes an extraordinary peace and repose to our consciences. For having disclosed to the Lord the necessity that was pressing upon us, we even rest fully in the thought that none of our ills is hid from him who, we are convinced, has both the will and the power to take the best care of us.[1]

I cannot think of a more timely word from Calvin for our French-Parisian compatriots. The reality is that things like this can continue to happen, in Paris and elsewhere; and they most likely will! Is the ultimate answer for individual people going to be live in fear and paranoia; is the answer going to be for more surveillance, or the boning up of weaponry, is that the answer? No, the answer as Calvin has so eloquently lain bare, is for the Parisian to talk with God; to pray. To commit themselves into His hands, and it will only be here where an ‘extraordinary peace’ and sense of security will take hold; as the petitioner to God finds this in the One who holds all things together in His big hands and by the word of His power.

I am praying for the Parisians today, please join me!  le Seigneur a pitié !

[1] John Calvin, Institutes II/2, 851.

seanmathisonThis short essay is dedicated to a brother who I know through a mutual friend (Pastor Carlos Velasquez a  la Redondo Beach, CA), Sean Mathison. Sean just underwent a cancer resection surgery today (March 24, 2014) to remove a cancerous tumor from his brain; he still has one tumor that remains inoperable. Sean is just a young guy (mid-thirties) who loves Jesus, and serves the Lord at church through music-worship and other ways (I am sure!). Sean was only diagnosed with this condition just last week as he became symptomatic; so this is all happening ever so fast. I dedicate this post to Sean Mathison for the primary purpose and call on all of you who are reading this to keep him and his family in prayer. His prognosis is bleak (humanly speaking)–but then so was my cancer diagnosis–but we do not serve a God who is bounded by the ‘bleak’, but who is all powerful, and who is all loving! I will reflect on human suffering throughout the remainder of this essay.

Karl Barth in his short book Dogmatics In Outline, which is his explication of The Apostles’ Creed, offers a deep and rich reflection upon suffering, the cross of Christ, and how we ought to approach suffering in the light of God’s wondrous grace demonstrated therein. Let’s here from Uncle Karl:

But the present time of His life is really suffering from the start. There is no doubt that for the Evangelists Luke and Matthew the childhood of Jesus, His Birth in the stable of Bethlehem, were already under the sign of suffering. This man is persecuted all His life, a stranger in His own family—what shocking statements He can make!—and in His nation; a stranger in the spheres of State and Church and civilization. And what a road of manifest success He treads! In what utter loneliness and temptation He stands among men, the leaders of His nation, even over against the masses of the people and in the very circle of His disciples! In this narrowest circle He is to find His betrayer; and in the man to whom He says, ‘Thou art the Rock . . .’, the man who denies Him thrice. And, finally, it is the disciples of whom it is said that ‘they all forsook Him’. And the people cry in chorus, ‘Away with him! Crucify him!’ The entire life of Jesus is lived in this loneliness and thus already in the shadow of the Cross. And if the light of the Resurrection lights up here and there, that is the exception that proves the rule. The son of man must go up unto Jerusalem, must there be condemned, scourged and crucified—to rise again the third day. But first it is this dominant ‘must’ which leads him to the gallows.

What does it mean? Is it not the opposite of what we might expect from the news that God became Man? Here there is suffering. Notice that it is here for the first time in the Confession that the great problem of evil and suffering meets us directly. Already, of course, we have frequently had to refer to it. But according to the letter this is the first time we have an indication of the fact that in the relation between Creator and creature everything is not at its best, that lawlessness and destruction hold sway, that pain is added and suffered. Here for the first time the shadowy side of existence enters into our field of view, and not in the first article, which speaks of God the Creator. Not in the description of creation as heaven and earth, but here in the description of the existence of the Creator become creature, evil appears; here afar off death also becomes visible. The fact that this is so at least means this: that discretion is demanded in all descriptions of wickedness and evil as being to some extent independent. When that was done later, it was more or less overlooked that all this enters the field only in connexion with Jesus Christ. He has suffered, He has rendered visible what the nature of evil is, of man’s revolt against God. What do we know of evil and sin? What do we know of what is called suffering or what death means? Here we get to know it. Here appears this complete darkness in its reality and truth. Here complaint is raise and punished, here the relation between God and man is really made clear. What are all our sighs, what is all that man thinks he knows about his folly and sinfulness and about the lost state of the world, what is all speculation about suffering and death beside what becomes manifest here? He, He has suffered, who is true God and true man. All independent talk on the subject—that is, talk cut loose from Him—will necessarily be inadequate and imperfect. Unless talk on this matter goes out from this centre, it will be unreal. That man can bear the most frightful strokes of Fate and comes through untouched by anything as through a shower of rain: that can be seen by us to-day. We are simply untouched either by suffering or by evil in its proper reality; we know that now. So we can repeatedly escape from the knowledge of our guilt and sin. We can only achieve proper knowledge, when we know that He who is true God and true man suffered. In other words, it needs faith to see what suffering is. Here there was suffering. Everything else that we know as suffering is unreal suffering compared with what has happened here. Only from this standpoint, by sharing in the suffering He suffered, can we recognize the fact and the cause of suffering everywhere in the creaturely cosmos, secretly and openly.[1]  

As usual there are a diverse amount of rich threads ready to be pulled upon by this tightly packed précis on suffering by Barth, but I want to focus on the dominant thread. The thread which dominates Barth’s indomitable commitment to a Christ-centered reading of everything; in this case, suffering. What Barth develops is the idea, as we just read, that we do not really understand suffering and its purpose within the grander scheme of things apart from understanding it in Christ. When we suffer, according to Barth, it is not part of some sort of random, abstract thing fragmented from other things and other people; but it is part of the grand narrative that God in Christ has entered into for us, and where our understanding, as with everything else, becomes informed by God’s life which sustains and undergirds all of reality; including the foreign reality brought on by the atmosphere of evil, sin, suffering, and a host of other attendant things.

Personal Application

When I was living through my own experience of cancer I had moments where something like what I just wrote might have helped me and my perspective, but most days, it would not have. And so this kind of thinking about suffering (above) might be more for people around Sean, in particular, and those of us praying for him in general.

One of the scariest things for me, when I first found out that I had cancer, was this idea that some sort of alien force had entered my body, and that it was running around in my body in an insidious way as if it was totally out of control. I remember, specifically one night, when I was at work (Toyota Logistics Services at the time), driving around in new Toyotas (at this point I only knew I had a large mass in my body, presumably cancer, but we did not know what kind it was yet), and thinking about this invasive monster in my body. And as I was just beginning to think this way, and give way to the fear that came with it, the Lord broke into my heart and contradicted this kind of demonic inspired thinking; he said to my heart: ‘that He is the Lord of my body, and that He is even Lord of this mass in my body,’ and this instantly brought peace to my heart, at least in regard to this line of fearful thinking.

We are all different, and respond to trauma inserted into our lives in different ways, and even as Christians, based upon where we are at with the Lord, etc. But whatever way we respond, whatever kinds of fears we entertain or rebuke, the Lord suffered first. He is the touchstone of all suffering. He places it into its proper and intelligible order within the economy of his life, and thus provides us with the conceptual capacities to know how to think about suffering when we are able. When we are faced with tragedy upon tragedy like this (like Sean’s cancer), we don’t do so independent from God’s life, but right from the center of His life for us in Jesus Christ.

I am praying for you, my dear brother, Sean, and for your family and friends as the days and nights continue to unfold for you and you all within the domain of God’s life in Jesus Christ for you. amen.  

 

[1] Karl Barth, Dogmatics In Outline (London: SCM Press, 1949), 102-04.

Have you ever thought deeply or self-reflectively about what the human conscience is; what your conscience is? The Apostle Paul did, he wrote:

12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. ~Romans 2:12-16

And:

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. ~I Corinthians 2:10-13

Usually when we think of conscience we think of it as some sort of autonomous inner light, a free floating island that serves as a self-governing, self-determined, deliberative ‘thing’ (Libertarian Free Agency) that we can appeal to as our objective (subjectively possessed) rudder that guides us through the complexities of our day to day lives. For Christians what I just described is usually qualified in a way that we have a Spirit guided or enabled conscience (which would be Semi-Pelagianism, theologically); nevertheless, it is still functionally understood as an autonomous thing with or without the Holy Spirit’s enablement.

Karl Barth, as narrated by John Webster, offers an alternative account of what the conscience is; his account, true to form, starts, principally, in Christ. Barth saw Christ as the external ground of conscience; this is in contrast to the usual and classical (and even ‘secular’) conception of conscience as something that is an internal and introspective possession of the human agent. For Barth, according to Webster, the moral self does not primarily have ‘self reference’, but a Christic reference that is given to us in his Self giveness for us.  John Webster tells us of Barth (at length),

[T]his refusal of moral and temporal self-referentiality provides the backcloth for one of the most significant and successful discussions in the Ethics, the treatment of conscience in paragraph 16. From the beginning of the discussion, Barth very deliberately sets himself against the assumption that conscience is a natural, self-evident reality requiring no more than immediate self-reflection in order to establish its operations. Quite the opposite: it is ‘this very astonishing knowledge’, something known not as a depth dimension of our moral lives but as ‘our human knowing of what … God alone can know as he who is good, as the giver of the command and the judge of its fulfilment’. For most of the moral traditions of modernity, philosophical and theological, conscience has been an authoritarian and autonomous faculty of self-governance, increasingly detached from rational consideration of moral order. Conscience functions as a kind of nucleus of personal agency around which orbit external realities, such as public conventions or social norms and roles. Those external realities constrain conscience only in so far as they provide material for the deliberations of conscience: like the moral freedom of which it is a core aspect, conscience is authentic in the measure in which it is undetermined by nation or society. For Barth, on the other hand, conscience is quite other than introspective personal moral existence. It takes its place alongside a cluster of other eschatological notions – child of God; fellowship with God the Redeemer; the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit – all of which locate the centre of moral agency outside of the self. To have a conscience is ‘to look and reach beyond the limits of our creatureliness’, ‘to have the Holy Spirit’, to participate ‘in the truth itself’. This means that, over against ‘the ethics of naturalistic or idealistic subjectivism’, Barth does not consider conscience ‘a subjective principle by means of which we can measure the possibilities of life in general and once and for all’. Nor is conscience to be thought of as a faculty, in the sense of a capacity for making judgements, which is ready for our consultation – ‘a principle that we can control, a general principle that we can seize and use at any time’. All such views are anthropologically deficient, in that they envisage the agent’s interior moral life as existing in at least relative isolation from the determining presence of God. For Barth, however, to hear conscience is not to listen to some deeper, non-reflective voice of our own, less caught up in the immediacy of desire and action. It is to listen to ‘our own voice’ as ‘God’s voice’.

Some care needs exercising in grasping Barth’s point here. In speaking of conscience as ‘our own voice’, he is not falling back into the position from which he wishes to escape…. For Barth … the call of conscience summons us to participate in God’s knowledge, literally con-scientia, co-knowledge with God, ‘strictly moment-by-moment co-knowledge. It is not ‘human self-consciousness’, but a co-knowledge in God which is always to be characterized by ‘non-giveness’ or ‘pure futurity’. In the event in which our knowledge becomes this co-knowledge, the distance between God and our awareness is not abolished but bridged. Conscience then, cannot be understood apart from the act of prayer, appeal to the coming of God the Redeemer. Shorn of this eschatological dimension, the notion of conscience could promote ideas of the availability of God’s will as an object for moral reflection…. Without this caveat, conscience threatens to become simply ‘mad autonomism’ or ‘deeschatologised consciousnesses. [John Webster, Barth’s Moral Theology: Human Action in Barth’s Thought, 59-60]

Pastoral Implication

This promotes all kinds of avenues of response. Of primary import, though, as we close, is to highlight the impact that this kind of ‘Christ-conditioned’ understanding of the conscience should have on the Christian’s spirituality. Barth wrote against and from a context that was shaped by the great modern theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher, and others. It was this milieu which gave us theological liberalism, one of its primary hallmarks was that theology became an introspective exercise of the self turning in and finding the reality of God in a ‘feeling’. The effect was to produce a theology that was really anthropology, or a study of the self; a projection outward, only to immediately boomerang inward. Or, Barth’s thought could also be place in contrast to the kind of pietism constructed by Puritan theology (or even Augustine’s theology). Puritan theology, in almost all of its sectors, gave us a spirituality that required the self to look inward to see if they were one of the elect for whom Christ had died; they had to look at ‘their’ good works. All of this heritage has been bequeathed to us, the American Evangelical, and Christian, in general; we end up with a performative Christianity, and a self-centered ethics. And like Schleiermacher, we baptize our moral self determination in the name of Christ; but really this is only a projection of ourselves out onto a concept we know as God (Israel did this with the golden calf … remember?). So I think this hits home, doesn’t it?!

I think Barth is developing a Pauline understanding of conscience, one that is grounded in Christ, and one that we can participate in as we are united to Christ’s humanity (i.e. salvation) by the Holy Spirit. Conscience, a genuinely Christian conception of it, must be one that looks away from ourselves and to Christ.

Just a quick update. My daughter Madeline is doing well, recovering now at home (since Friday), and getting stronger and better everyday. We so appreciate all of your prayer support, and are grateful for all of you! Thank you everyone, and to our God be the praise!!

For any of you I am not friends with on Facebook, I just wanted to provide an update on what has been happening ever since yesterday. My 11 year daughter, Madeline, was playing at recess yesterday, and a boy fell off the jungle gym and landed full force with his elbow on her head. She had tremors after that, and was essentially knocked out. She was taken to Southwest Washington Medical Center’s Emergency Room by ambulance, and it was determined by way of CT scan that she had suffered a very serious skull fracture. She was then immediately transferred (by ambulance) to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon; in route it was determined by the team of surgeons at Doernbecher (it turns out the lead surgeon just happened to be the chief of pediatric neurosurgery and a highly sought after surgeon in his field) that Madeline would need immediate brain/head surgery. The surgery took approximately 3 hours wherein the surgeons removed the broken skull fragments that were impinging on Madeline’s brain, repaired a blood vessel that was about to burst (and if it did this matter could have been terribly more serious the surgeon said), and rec0nstructed her skull (which involved about ten small pieces) using titanium strips and tiny titanium screws (that Madeline will live with the rest of her life—as she heals the bone will just incorporate the titanium into itself). She has been in ICU recovering ever since (since about 9:00 pm pst yesterday), and could have been moved by now (to a regular room—I am gathering some stuff from home and will be spending the night with her as her mom did last night). She is doing exceedingly well, and is going to escape this incident with ultimately, just an amazing story to tell (and some titanium to boot). Please pray for a speedy recovery, and as painless a recovery as possible. Also pray that there will be no complications, and that Angela and I will have wisdom. Also pray for Madeline’s younger brother (8yrs), Jake. He has been through a lot these last couple years (with me and my cancer, and now his sissy and this); he is a very sensitive kid, and so just pray that the Lord would minister to him.

Thank you all!

Please keep me and my wife in prayer tomorrow; I go in for my bi-annual CT scan to make sure that I am still cancer free. For those of you who don’t know you can watch this:

or read here.

My scan is at 2:15pm, and we get the results at 3:00pm. Please pray I’m still all good, and that we will have peace tonight and tomorrow. Thank you all!

I am having a summit of sorts ( 😉 ) tomorrow morning with my friend from work at a local Starbucks in Vancouver, WA. Our topic of discussion will be why he needs Jesus, and how that can happen. There are some things that need to be worked through before my friend can become a full participant in the life of God through Christ. 1) He is that same friend who likes to listen to this guy and this guy; unfortunately! See, my friend from work is a very genuine and sincere guy who is on a self-proposed journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. For some reason he has chosen against Christ (like Jesus said ‘You are either for me or against me’), and for himself (as god … if that sounds like something you have read before [hint, hint Genesis 3], it’s because you have!). 2) I will attempt to demonstrate for my friend that his position is untenable in light of various things—like ethics, morality, explanatory power, etc. (so an abductive exercise)—but in the end I am fully aware that as the Apostle has so pointedly noted:

4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. II Corinthians 4.4 (NIV)

So all I am left to believe is:

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1.16 (NIV)

I am not under the delusion that I can whip my friend into Christianity through winning the ‘intellectual’ arguments (even though I will 😉 ); it is the Spirit of God alone who brings a person to the point wherein they can finally say that Jesus is Lord (I Cor. 12.3). But maybe, just maybe the Lord will use my small offering tomorrow to plant seeds (I Cor. 3) that someone else might come along and water (or maybe I’m doing the watering by the Spirit tomorrow); that someone else, finally, will be able to harvest. Anyway, if you remember me and my friend tomorrow between the times of 10am-11:30am (pst); then please pray that the Lord would be present in our time of discussion, and that my friend would finally quit ‘kicking against the goads’, and become a full participant in the life of salvation and grace that Christ has won for all of us in his own life for us! Thanks.

Here is a great guest post by my friend (and hopefully soon to be doctoral supervisor), Dr. Myk Habets. It is a reflection on teaching his children how to pray and think about God Trinitarianly. Enjoy.

Prayer Liam-Like

Dr Myk Habets

The Baptist 127 no. 8 (September 2011), 10.

Kids are one of the most wonderful things in life! I have two of them, a 4 year girl named Sydney and a 2 year old boy named Liam (although he insists on being called “big boy” and nothing else). One of the fun things to do with kids is experiment (within the parameters of what is psychologically safe, of course). In an earlier article entitled ‘Prayer Sydney-Style’ (The Baptist, March 2010) I reflected on my experiment in prayer with Sydney and how I sought to eradicate the word ‘God’ from our prayers and instead pray in a more Trinitarian—hence relational and personal—way.

Well I am experimenting again. While continuing with prayer ‘Sydney-Style’ I decided with Liam to be as equally Trinitarian, but in another way, and conduct prayer ‘Liam-Like.’ So as with Sydney so too with Liam, I don’t pray to ‘God’ with Liam but to the Trinity, and so we use the name: Father, Son/Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit for God. But I do so in a different way than I do with Sydney. Let me explain.

There are two basic forms of trinitarian prayer—the doxological and the mediatorial. In the first prayer is addressed directly to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. In formal liturgical settings this is known as a co-ordinated doxology: ‘Glory to the Father with the Son, together with the Holy Spirit.’ ‘Glory’ in Greek is doxa—hence doxological prayer. This is prayer ‘Sydney-Style.’ The strengths of this form of prayer are that it is dynamic and personal, it directly addresses the triune God, and it (hopefully) will mean that static and remote notions or concepts of God will not be implicit in Sydney’s psyche. This form of prayer is also a trenchant affirmation of the deity of Christ as the eternal Son of God, and the deity of the Spirit as the Holy one.

Mediatorial prayer is slightly different. In mediatorial doxologies one prays: ‘Glory to the Father through and with the Son and in the Spirit.’ In this doxology prayer is directed to the Father but indirectly; through and with the Son and in or by the Holy Spirit. It thus highlights the mediation and humanity of Christ as our Great High Priest. This is prayer ‘Liam-Like.’ Under this construct we only approach the Father in and with Jesus Christ, enabled by the Spirit who unites us to him. And so with Liam I might pray something like: ‘Dear Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, thank you loving us by the Holy Spirit.’ Or we may pray: ‘Dear Jesus, thank you for making your Father our Father, and for sending us your Holy Spirit to help us and love us.’ Here Jesus is thrust in-between ‘God’ and ‘man’ as he assumes his rightful place as our Lord and Saviour, our Priest and Mediator.

Doxological prayer, while not wrong, can have the unintended effect of diminishing the humanity of Christ and thus giving a distorted view of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Mediatorial prayer has the advantage of keeping Jesus before us as the one in whom and with whom we relate to the Father by the Spirit. As someone once expressed so beautifully: ‘Christ is the choir master who tunes our hearts for worship.’ Mediatorial prayer seeks to emphasise this fact.

Now here is what is interesting, both Sydney and Liam are now able to say grace at the dinner table and how do they typically address the Godhead? Like this: ‘Dear God…’ Is this a good thing or a theological failure on my part? Well I think it is a good thing. I hope and trust that when my children think of God and speak to God, they are explicitly and intuitively addressing the triune God of grace: the Father who loves us and has through Christ and by the Spirit given us every good gift. May a similar reformation occur in all our prayer; private and corporate, at home and at church. May we begin to experience the personal, relational, triune God of grace; not the remote god of the philosophers.

 And now: ‘May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God [the Father], and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all’ (2 Cor 13.14).

 

For my opening post here at my new blog, Mirifica Commutatio, I thought it would only be fitting to christen it with a thought from one of my favorite theologians; Thomas F. Torrance. And to open this blog up with a word on prayer, and its centrality to what it means to be participants in God’s life through Christ as a result of the mirifica commutatio ‘wonderful exchange’. Because we are participants in God’s life through Christ’s vicarious life pro nobis (for us); we are able to find our voices thoroughly grounded in the intercessory voice of our Faithful High Priest (cf. Heb. 7.25), Jesus Christ. Our voice is a real voice and Spirit spirated echo of Jesus’ voice at the right hand of the throne of the Father, and it is through this voice that the gap between heaven and earth is filled with the glory of God’s pleroma (fullness, plenitude); and Jesus’ taught prayer of ‘thy will be done on earth as it is heaven’ is brought to fruition through the incense of the saints prayer mingled with His by the Spirit that the telos (purpose) of all of creation (including our lives as we participate in the Kingly rule over it with the Son of God) is being brought to consummate reality as it reaches its ultimate climax and regeneration (cf. Rom. 8.16ff) in the revealing of the sons of God at the time of the yet proleptic (future) coming of Christ; our hope! It is in this vein that T. F. Torrance’s word on prayer provides even more clarity, let’s read:

Prayer is the link between world history and the intercession of Christ in heaven

So far as the church in history and on earth is concerned, therefore, the great connecting link between world history and the heavenly session of Christ is to be found in prayer and intercession. That is why when the New Testament speaks about the relations of church and state it regularly directs the church to prayer as its most important service, for it is in prayer that through the Spirit the heavenly intercessions of humanity and the people of God are locked with Christ in the great apocalyptic struggle with the forces of darkness. Because he who rules from the throne of God is the lamb who has been slain, but is alive for evermore and holds the keys of death and hell, the church’s engagement in prayer is already a participation in the final victory of the kingdom of Christ. Thus the life, mission, and worship of the church on earth and in history are, as it were, in counterpoint to the victorious paeans of the hosts above who surround the throne of the lamb and worship and glorify God. (Thomas F. Torrance, Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ, 297)

What a wonderful thought. Unfortunately, prayer is often bantered around in almost cliché like terms amongst Christians; especially us Western Christians who have it so good, all of our creature comforts being met (relatively speaking). With the perspective provided above, shouldn’t prayer be seen in ways that really are at the height and nexus of what it means to rule and reign with Christ? Instead of viewing politicians, medical doctors, scientists, Wall Street, CEOs, et alia as the gatekeepers of society and cultures; shouldn’t we, as Christians (cf. I Cor. 6.1ff) understand our place as participants in God’s life in Christ as both Priests of God (cf. Rom. 15.16; I Pet. 2.9), and Kings of God in Christ (cf. I Cor. 3.21-23)? That we rule over this creation, in Christ, through joining our voices with His by the Spirit (cf. Rom. 8.26); and so participate in effecting the reign of Christ over both death and life and all of creation (cf. Col. 1.13ff) by simply Praying!

What a wonderful thought! All of the above is the result of one thing, Mirifica Commutatio!

Welcome

Hello my name is Bobby Grow, and I author this blog, The Evangelical Calvinist. Feel free to peruse the posts, and comment at your leisure. I look forward to the exchange we might have here, and hope you are provoked to love Jesus even more as a result. Pax Christi!

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A Little Thomas Torrance

“God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualised his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.” -T. F. Torrance, The Mediation of Christ, 94.

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Philosophy of Blogging

“I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.” - St. Augustine cited by John Calvin

“We must always keep in mind that the reason the Son of God came down from the hidden throne of the eternal Father and revealed heavenly doctrine was not to furnish material for seminary debates, in which the display of ingenuity might be the game, but rather so that human beings should be instructed concerning true knowledge of God and of all those things which are necessary to the pursuit of eternal salvation.” Martin Chemnitz, Loci theol. ed., 1590, Hypomnemata 9 cited by Barth, CD I/1, 82.

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