Tag Archives: Providence

“What God tells us about Himself 6,800 times” by John Piper

“God’s name is a message. And the message is about how He intends to be known.

Every time His name appears—all 6,800 times—He means to remind us of His utterly unique being. As I have pondered the meaning of the name Yahweh, built on the phrase “I AM WHO I AM” and pointing to God’s absolute being, I see at least ten dimensions to its meaning:

  1. God’s absolute being means He never had a beginning. This staggers the mind. Every child asks, “Who made God?” And every wise parent says, “Nobody made God. God simply is and always was. No beginning.”
  2. God’s absolute being means God will never end. If He did not come into being, He cannot go out of being, because He is absolute being. He is what is. There is no place to go outside of being. There is only God. Before He creates, that’s all that is: God.
  3. God’s absolute being means God is absolute reality. There is no reality before Him. There is no reality outside of Him unless He wills it and makes it. He is not one of many realities before He creates. He is simply there, as absolute reality. He is all that was, eternally. No space, no universe, no emptiness. Only God, absolutely there, absolutely all.
  4. God’s absolute being means that God is utterly independent. He depends on nothing to bring Him into being or support Him or counsel Him or make Him what He is. That is what absolute being means.
  5. God’s absolute being means that everything that is not God depends totally on God. All that is not God is secondary and dependent. The entire universe is utterly secondary—not primary. It came into being by God and stays in being moment by moment on God’s decision to keep it in being.
  6. God’s absolute being means all the universe is by comparison to God as nothing. Contingent, dependent reality is to absolute, independent reality as a shadow to its substance, as an echo to a thunderclap, as a bubble to the ocean. All that we see, all that we are amazed by in the world and in the galaxies, is, compared to God, as nothing. “All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are accounted by Him as less than nothing and emptiness” (Isa. 40:17).
  7. God’s absolute being means that God is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cannot be improved. He is not becoming anything. He is who He is. There is no development in God. No progress. Absolute perfection cannot be improved.
  8. God’s absolute being means that He is the absolute standard of truth, goodness, and beauty. There is no law book to which He looks to know what is right. No almanac to establish facts. No guild to determine what is excellent or beautiful. He Himself is the standard of what is right, what is true, what is beautiful.
  9. God’s absolute being means God does whatever He pleases, and it is always right, always beautiful, and always in accord with truth. There are no constraints on Him from outside Him that could hinder Him from doing anything He pleases. All reality that is outside of Him He created and designed and governs. So He is utterly free from any constraints that don’t originate from the counsel of His own will.
  10. God’s absolute being means that He is the most important and most valuable reality and the most important and most valuable person in the universe. He is more worthy of interest and attention and admiration and enjoyment than all other realities, including the entire universe.

This is the message of His name. And in the exodus, He establishes a link forever between His name and His mighty rescue of Israel from bondage.

The timing of the revelation of His name is not coincidental. God is coming to save. Israel will want to know who this saving God is.

God says in effect, ‘Tell them that My name is Yahweh, and make clear what this means. I am absolutely free and independent. And I choose freely to save My people. The freedom of My being and the freedom of My love are one.'”

–John Piper, Providence (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 90-92.

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“The centerpiece of worship in heaven for all eternity” by John Piper

“The hosts of heaven focus their worship not simply on the Lamb, but on the Lamb who was slain (Rev. 5:9). And they are still singing this song in Revelation 15:3 (“They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb”).

Therefore, we can infer that the centerpiece of worship in heaven for all eternity will be the display of the glory of the grace of God in the slaughtered Lamb.

Angels and all the redeemed will sing of the suffering of the Lamb forever and ever. The suffering of the Son of God will never be forgotten. The greatest suffering that ever was will be at the center of our worship and our wonder forever and ever. This is not an afterthought of God. This is the plan from before the foundation of the world.

Everything else is subordinate to this plan. Everything else is put in place by God’s providence for the sake of this plan.

The display of the glory of God’s grace, especially in the suffering of the Beloved, echoing forever in the all-satisfying praises of the redeemed, is the goal of creation and the ultimate aim of all God’s works of providence.”

–John Piper, Providence (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 173–174.

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“The apex of God’s grace” by John Piper

“The implication of Ephesians 1:4–6 is that the grace of God is the apex of His glory. His goal is not just ‘the praise of His glory.’ It is ‘the praise of the glory of His grace.’

That is, the constellation of excellencies that make up the glory of God reach their most beautiful overflow in the expression of grace for undeserving sinners like us. And what has now become clear in the enactment of the new covenant ‘in His blood’ is that the humble, willing, obedient suffering of Christ for sinners is the apex of God’s grace—the place where that grace is most beautifully on display.

So grace is the consummate expression of God’s glory, and Christ in His suffering is the consummate expression of grace. Three times in Ephesians 1:4–6 Paul clarifies that the aim of praising ‘the glory of God’s grace’ is achieved ‘through Jesus Christ’:

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.

‘In Him.’ ‘Through Jesus Christ.’ ‘In the Beloved.’ We know that these phrases are references to Christ’s work on the cross because in the next verse Paul says, ‘In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace’ (Ephesians 1:7).

Therefore, the ultimate goal of God in His saving providence— namely, the praise of the glory of His grace— was achieved through the suffering of the Son of God, who died to deliver us from eternal suffering (2 Thess. 1:9) and bring us into everlasting enjoyment of His glory (John 17:24).”

–John Piper, Providence (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 170–171.

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“His beams bring healing, strength, peace, and joy to the soul” by John Newton

“The Lord Jesus, like the sun, is in all places at once. Go where we will, we are not far from Him, if we have but eyes to see Him, and hearts to perceive Him.

My dear child, when you look at the sun, I wish it may lead your thoughts to Him who made it, and who placed it in the firmament, not only to give us light, but to be the brightest, noblest emblem of Himself.

There is but one sun, and there needs not another: so there is but one Saviour; but He is complete and all-sufficient, the Sun of Righteousness, the Fountain of life and comfort; His beams, wherever they reach, bring healing, strength, peace, and joy to the soul.

Pray to Him, my dear, to shine forth, and reveal Himself to you. Oh, how different is He from all that you have ever seen with your bodily eyes! He is the Sun of the soul, and He can make you as sensible of His presence as you are of the sunshine at noonday.

And, when once you obtain a clear sight of Him, a thousand little things, which have hitherto engaged your attention, will in a manner disappear.

I entreat, I charge you, to ask Him every day to show Himself to you. Think of Him as being always with you; about your path by day, about your bed by night, nearer to you than any object you can see, though you see Him not; whether you are sitting or walking, in company or alone.

People often consider God as if He saw them from a great distance: but this is wrong; for, though He be in heaven, the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him; He is as much with us as with the angels.

In Him we live, and move, and have our being; as we live in the air which surrounds us, and is within us, so that it cannot be separated from us a moment.

And whatever thoughts you can obtain of God from the Scripture, as great, holy, wise, and good, endeavour to apply them all to Jesus Christ, who once died upon the cross, for He is the true God, and eternal life, with whom you have to do.

And, though He be the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and rules over all, He is so condescending and compassionate, that He will hear and answer the prayer of a child.

Seek Him, and you shall find Him. Whatever else you seek, you may be disappointed, but He is never sought in vain.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1820/1988), 6: 289-290.

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“You shall not seek Him in vain” by John Newton

March 3, 1772

And now, what shall I say? May the Lord direct me to send you a profitable word. It rejoices my heart to think, that at a time of life when you might have been plunging into the vanities of the world, you are seeking Jesus.

The Lord, who appointed the hour of your birth, and the bounds of your habitation, was pleased in His good providence to withdraw you early from the giddy circle of dissipation in which you might have lived, and to favour you with the advantages of example, instruction, and ordinances.

You live at a distance from those ensnaring temptations by which the minds of young persons are blinded and stupefied. Yet this alone would not have secured you. His providence has been subservient to His grace.

Otherwise, by this time, you would have been weary and impatient of restraint; you would have accounted the means of grace burdensome, and your home a prison.

The evil of the heart is too deeply rooted to be overcome by any thing less than the power of God. Whatever your Papa and Mamma, or the ministers of the Gospel, could have told you concerning your state as a sinner, and your need of a Saviour, you would not have believed them, if the Lord Himself had not borne witness in your heart to His own truths.

You are now seeking Him that you may find Him, yet, if He had not found you at first, you would never have sought Him at all. This I mention for your encouragement, as a good reason why you may be assured that you shall not seek Him in vain.

Go on, my dear Miss; and may the Lord be with you. Give yourself to Him every day, and many times a day; remember how many claims He has to you; especially remember this one, that He bought you with His own blood. He died that you might live.

May the name of Jesus be written upon the tablet of your heart, and be as a seal upon your arm; that all your desires and all your actions may be regulated by His word, directed to His glory, and animated by a living principle of grace, derived from Him who is the fountain of grace.

Two things alone are worth a serious thought,—His presence and His image: the one to make you comfortable in yourself, the other that you may shine to His praise as a light in the world.

These blessings, and the increase of them, are gifts which He bestows without money and without price. Yet it is our part to wait upon Him for them, by prayer, by reading His good word, and frequenting His ordinances.

Thus you shall know if you follow on to know the Lord.

I am your affectionate friend.

John Newton”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1820/1988), 6: 250–251, 253.

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“Do it again” by G.K. Chesterton

“All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork.

People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact.

For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire.

A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still.

But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness.

The very speed and ecstasy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction.

Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life.

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.

But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.

It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.

It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.”

–G.K. Chesterton, “The Ethics of Elfland,” Orthodoxy (The Christian Heritage Series; Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1908/2020), 61.

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“My πολιτευμα, my charter, my rights, my treasures, are, I hope, in heaven, and there my heart ought to be” by John Newton

“I think, that, as Christians, we have nothing to expect from this world but tribulation, no peace but in Christ. If our lot be so cast that we can exercise our ministry free from stripes, fines, imprisonment, and death, it is more than the gospel has promised us.

If I had wisdom or influence to soothe the angry passions of mankind, whether Whigs or Tories, I would gladly employ them; but, as to myself, I am neither Whig nor Tory, but a friend to both. I am a stranger, and a pilgrim.

My πολιτευμα, my charter, my rights, my treasures, are, I hope, in heaven, and there my heart ought to be. In less than a few weeks I may be removed (and perhaps suddenly) into the unseen world, where all that causes so much bustle upon earth at present, will be no more to me than the events which took place among the antediluvians.

How much then does it import me, to be found watching, with my loins girded up, and my lamp burning, diligently engaged in my proper calling! For the Lord has not called me to set nations to right, but to preach the gospel, to proclaim the glory of His name, and to endeavour to win souls.

Happy is that servant, whom His Lord, when He cometh, shall find so doing!

In the hour, when death shall open the door into eternity, many things which now assume an air of importance, will be found light and unsubstantial as the baseless fabric of a vision.”

–John Newton, “A Letter on Political Debate,” The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 6: 594-595.

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