The Great Discovery of the Gospel

The Father peculiarly fixes [love] upon the saints; this they are immediately to [look at] in him, to receive of him, and to make such returns thereof as he is delighted withal. This is the great discovery of the gospel: for whereas the Father, as the fountain of the Deity, is not known any other way but as full of wrath, anger, and indignation against sin, nor can the sons of men have any other thoughts of him (Rom. 1:18: Isa. 33:13-14; Hab. 1:13; Ps. 5:4-6; Eph. 2:3)—here he is now revealed peculiarly as love, as full of it unto us; the manifestation whereof is the peculiar work of the gospel.

– John Owen, Communion with the Triune God, ed. by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), 107.

Life Theology

Confessions of a 9 Year-Old Theologian

Theological perplexities are not supposed to happen to a 9 year-old.  At that age, you are meant to play with Legos, watch Saturday morning cartoons, and get excited about shoes that light up on the heels.  I had the latter in abundance.  But at times, the former showed up during long sleepless nights.

In 1993, I didn’t have a blog to confess to the world my problematic theology.  But I’m telling you now.  Let’s call it social networking transparency.

Deep breath, James.  Okay.  Here goes nothing.

There were times when I stayed awake for hours, desperately praying to God that I wouldn’t be that guy to get to heaven and then, like Lucifer, say, “I want to be God.”  I was afraid of going from heaven to hell in a heartbeat because of five words.  This prayer happened often over the course of a few months.  At some point, I stopped praying and believing that.  Looking back, I realize that God was gracious to cause me to face issues of election, perseverance of the saints, God’s unchanging nature, and his eternal love without knowing it.  In other words, he was creating a theologian.

My theology isn’t perfect today.  No one’s is.  But by God’s grace, I know a bit more than I did when I was nine.  Whoever is foreknown by God is also predestined, called, justified, and glorified (see Rom. 8:29-30).  He guarantees I’m eternally secure.

What thoughts did you have about God growing up that were a little “off”?


Carson on Why Jesus Came to Die

D.A. Carson, contributing in The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, gives this stirring reminder of the ultimate reason behind Jesus going to the cross to die for our sins:

Jesus came to complete the work that his Father gave him to do (John 17:4).  We so often think that the ultimate motivation behind the cross is God’s love for us.  I do not want to downplay the importance of that love…But we must see that in John’s Gospel the motivating power behind the entire plan of redemption was the Father’s love for his Son and the Son’s love for his Father.  When Jesus found himself in an agony in Gethsemane, he did not finally resolve to go through with the plan of redemption by saying, “This is awful, but I love these sinners so much I’ll go to the cross for them” (though in a sense he might have said that), but “Not my will but yours be done.”  In other words, the dominating motive that drove him onward to perfect obedience was his resolution, out of love for his Father, to be at one with the Father’s will.  Though we poor sinners are the unfathomably rich beneficiaries of God’s plan of redemption, we are not at the center of everything.  At the center was the love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father.