“God photographs Himself” by Herman Bavinck

What is prescribed in this commandment? (Exodus 20:4-6)

God alone has the right to determine how He wants to be served. God must be worshiped and served in the way He Himself has commanded– that is, only according to His Word.

Nonetheless, there lingers deep in our soul the yearning to see God (Ex. 33:18).

Therefore, God says:

You will find no image of Me in any creature; that would dishonor Me. But if you want an image, take a look at Adam, at human beings, who are created in My likeness. Above all, look at the Son, the Image of the Invisible God, God’s One and Only Firstborn, God’s other I, the expression of His self-sufficiency.

Whoever sees Him sees the Father. As Christ is, so is God. He is the perfect likeness, the adequate Image.

Let us be satisfied with that. God may be venerated with no other image than the Son. Beholding Him and venerating Him, we are changed into His likeness (2 Cor. 3:18).

God wants, as it were, to multiply images of Himself, to see nothing but images, likenesses, portraits of Himself.

Human beings themselves must be God’s image, and not make pieces of wood or stone into God’s image. The new humanity in Christ, from all sides and everyone in their own way, reflects and mirrors God.

God is mirrored in us; we are mirrored in God. ‘When [Christ] appears, we shall be like Him [and like the Father] because we shall see Him as He is’ (1 John 3:2).

God makes images of Himself in us. But not we of God. God photographs Himself.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, Volume 2The Duties of the Christian Life, Ed. John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2021), 2: 174-175.

“All of Scripture is full of promises” by Herman Bavinck

“All of Scripture is full of promises, stays and supports for our trust, to instill trust in us, for God knows how mistrusting we are.

Abraham is an example of this strong faith in God (Gen. 15), as is Jesus when He sleeps in the midst of the storm (Matt. 8:24).

This trust is a moral relationship as well, an act of the greatest devotion; all mistrust, all reliance on creatures, even on princes (Ps. 146:3), on the strength of flesh (Jer. 17:5), on temporal things and goods, and all worrying (Matt. 6:25-34; Luke 12:26-34) are therefore condemned.

Similarly, all indifference, every instance of ‘little faith’ (Matt. 8:26; 14:31; Mark 16:14; Luke 8:13; 24:25; James 1:6), is also condemned because God cares for us (Phil. 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7).

In this regard, Holy Scripture is terribly radical: it removes everything that is unsteady and unstable in earth and heaven, every foundation and all possible support for trust that might be placed in creatures; instead it replaces all that with an eternal foundation, unshakable and solid– namely, God Himself, Christ, His Word.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, Volume 2The Duties of the Christian Life, Ed. John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2021), 2: 148-149.

“God is known in proportion to the extent that He is loved” by Herman Bavinck

“To know God does not consist of knowing a great deal about Him, but of this, rather, that we have seen Him in the person Christ, that we have encountered Him on our life’s way, and that in the experience of our soul we have come to know His virtues, His righteousness and holiness, His compassion and His grace.

That is why this knowledge, in distinction from all other knowledge, bears the name of the knowledge of faith. It is the product not of scientific study and reflection but of a childlike and simple faith.

This faith is not only a sure knowledge but also a firm confidence that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

Only those who become as little children shall enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3).

Only the pure of heart shall see the face of God (Matt. 5:8).

Only those born of water and of the Spirit can enter the kingdom (John 3:5).

Those who know His name will put their trust in Him (Ps. 9:10).

God is known in proportion to the extent that He is loved.”

–Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Glenside, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 1909/2019), 13.

“Our sea may sometimes be stormy, but we have an infallible Pilot, and shall infallibly gain our port” by John Newton

“I heartily sympathize with you in your complaints, but I see you in safe hands. The Lord loves you, and will take care of you.

He who raises the dead can revive your spirits when you are cast down. He who sets bounds to the sea, and says ‘Hither to shalt thou come, and no further,’ can limit and moderate that gloom which sometimes distresses you.

He knows why He permits you to be thus exercised. I cannot assign the reasons, but I am sure they are worthy of His wisdom and love, and that you will hereafter see and say, ‘He has done all things well.’

If I was as wise as your physician, I might say a great deal about your melancholy complexion; but I love not to puzzle myself with second causes, while the First Cause is at hand, which sufficiently accounts for every phenomenon in a believer’s experience. Your constitution, your situation, your temper, your distemper, all that is either comfortable or painful in your lot, is of His appointment.

The hairs of your head are all numbered; the same power which produced the planet Jupiter, is necessary to the production of a single hair; nor can one of them fall to the ground without His notice, any more than the stars can fall from their orbits. In providence, no less than in creation, He is maximus in minimis (‘the greatest in the smallest’).

Therefore, fear not, only believe. Our sea may sometimes be stormy; but we have an infallible Pilot, and shall infallibly gain our port.

I must now end my speech, and begin my supper. We wish you and Mrs. Bull a good night. The Lord be with you, and with your poor friend,

JOHN NEWTON
Olney,
November 2, 1778″

–John Newton, “Letter XIX,” Letters of the Reverend John Newton (London: Hamilton and Adams Co, 1847), 36-37.

“You will never exhaust the supply of God’s grace” by Jerry Bridges

“God’s grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

It is sufficient for all your needs; it is sufficient regardless of the severity of any one need.

The Israelites never exhausted God’s supply of manna. It was always there to be gathered every day for forty years.

And you will never exhaust the supply of God’s grace.

It will always be there every day for you to appropriate as much as you need for whatever your need is.”

—Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 152.

“If we loved Him with all our hearts, we should find it easy to trust Him with all our concerns” by John Newton

“If we loved Him with all our hearts, we should find it easy to trust Him with all our concerns.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Volume 5 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 5: 578.

“It’s His song, not mine, that I’m here to sing” by Elisabeth Elliot

“There are sometimes spaces in our lives that seem empty and silent. Things grind to a halt for one reason or another. Not long ago, the ‘music’ in my life seemed to stop because of a rejection, a loss, and what seemed to me at the time a monumental failure.

I was feeling rather desolate when I came across a paragraph written more than a hundred years ago by the artist John Ruskin:

There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody, the music is broken off here and there by ‘rests,’ and we foolishly think we have come to the end of time. God sends a time of forced leisure– sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts– and makes us a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator. How does the musician read the rest? See him beat time with unvarying count and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between. Not without design does God write the music of our lives. But be it ours to learn the time and not be dismayed at the ‘rests.’ They are not to be slurred over, nor to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote. In the end we will see that in order to have a complete song, we must have the ‘rests’ in between the notes. If we look up, God Himself will beat time for us. With the eye on Him we shall strike the next note full and clear.

So the Lord brought to me precisely the word I needed at the moment: There was ‘the making of music’ in what seemed a hollow emptiness.

It’s His song, not mine, that I’m here to sing. It’s His will, not mine, that I’m here to do. Let me focus my vision unwaveringly on Him who alone knows the complete score, ‘and in the night His song shall be with me,’ (Psalm 42:8).”

–Elisabeth Elliot, Secure in the Everlasting Arms (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2002), 161-162.

“Strengthen Your servants to boldly declare Your name” by Columba (A.D. 521-597)

“O Lord,

Holy and true,
Who opens and none can shut,
As You have set before Your church an open door,
Strengthen Your servants to boldly enter in
And to declare Your name,
That they who oppose may yet come to worship
And may know that You love Your church.

Grant to Your people patience to keep Your Word,
And keep them from the hour of trial which is coming
Upon the whole world to try them who dwell on the earth,
And encourage all Christians in every land
To hold fast that which You have given,
That the crown of glory be not taken away,
But that having overcome, they may stand before You
As pillars in the temple of God
And bear the name of the heavenly city
And Your own new name, O Christ our God.

Father, we commend to You all who are joined to us
By natural bonds of love;
The little children dear to our hearts,
And all who for our sakes daily deny themselves.
May all our kindred,
Having Your Holy Spirit as their helper,
Be at peace and have unfeigned love among themselves.
And grant them, O Lord, not only what is sufficient to supply
The needs of this present life but also the good
And eternal gifts that are laid up for them who do Your commandments
Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen.”

–Columba, as quoted in Sinclair Ferguson, Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings For Advent(Epsom, U.K.: Good Book Company, 2018), 155-156.

“The hardest promise the Father ever made” by Sinclair Ferguson

“The cross and the empty tomb tell us something. They prove that all of God’s promises can be trusted.

For the promise that His Son would suffer in our place (Isaiah 53:4-6) was surely the hardest promise the Father ever made. And He kept it. In fact, says Paul, ‘all the promises of God find their Yes in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20)’.

What does God promise to you this Christmas and beyond?

He promises to forgive all your sins when you turn from them.

He promises always to hear you when you call to Him.

He promises only to work for your good.

He promises to walk alongside you through all the hard times, and bring you safely into His presence in heaven.

If you love Him, you will trust Him.

How? By remembering that God has already kept His hardest-to-keep promise in Christ— from His makeshift cradle to His empty grave.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, Love Came Down at Christmas: Daily Readings For Advent (Epsom, U.K.: Good Book Company, 2018), 101.

“Take a lodging as near as you can to Gethsemane and walk daily to mount Golgotha” by John Newton

“Did I not tell you formerly, that if you would take care of His business He will take care of yours? I am of the same mind still. He will not suffer them who fear Him and depend upon Him to want anything that is truly good for them.

In the meanwhile, I advise you to take a lodging as near as you can to Gethsemane, and to walk daily to mount Golgotha, and borrow (which may be had for asking) that telescope which gives a prospect into the unseen world.

A view of what is passing within the vail has a marvelous effect to compose our spirits, with regard to the little things that are daily passing here.

Praise the Lord, who has enabled you to fix your supreme affection upon Him who is alone the proper and suitable object of it, and from whom you cannot meet a denial or fear a change. He loved you first, and He will love you forever.

And if He be pleased to arise and smile upon you, you are in no more necessity of begging for happiness to the prettiest creature upon earth, than of the light of a candle on mid-summer noon.

Upon the whole, I pray and hope the Lord will sweeten your cross, and either in kind or in kindness make you good amends.

Wait, pray, and believe, and all shall be well. A cross we must have somewhere; and they who are favoured with health, plenty, peace, and a conscience sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, must have more causes for thankfulness than grief.

Look round you, and take notice of the very severe afflictions which many of the Lord’s own people are groaning under, and your trials will appear comparatively light.

Our love to all friends,

John Newton”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 2, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 127–129.