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On the origin of marriage

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Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” ... So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,  “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;  she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18, 21-24 ESV) The following was written by Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck regarding the institution of marriage.  "A third particular of this second chapter of Genesis is the gift of the woman to the man and the institution of marriage. Adam had received much. Though formed out of the dust of the earth, he was nevertheless a bearer of the image of God. He was placed in a garde

Do not be anxious

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"...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:6-9 ESV) Many years ago, during my seminary training, I took a practicum in pastoral counseling, taught by our Chaplain, Bill Bryan. We spent time going over Scripture passages, relevant truths, and various skills he found useful in giving pastoral care to church members. One passage that he found so helpful in ministry, especially with those struggling with fear

Thou Our Guide

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I've finished going over chapter 20 of J. I. Packer's Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1973, 1993). This chapter, entitled "Thou Our Guide" is an excellent treatment of what it means to have God guide us.  Below are some of my highlights...  Christians are God's sons; and if human parents have a responsibility to give their children guidance in matters where ignorance and incapacity would spell danger, we should not doubt that in the family of God the same applies. "If you, then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Mt 7:11). [p 232]  Again, Scripture is God's Word, "profitable" (we read) "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17 RSV). "Teaching" means comprehensive instruction in doctrine and e

the driving force in Jesus' life

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In chapter 18 of Knowing God , J. I. Packer writes the following... Think first, then, of the driving force in the life of Jesus. If you sit down for an hour and read straight through the Gospel according to Mark (a very fruitful exercise: may I urge you here and now to do it), you will receive an impression of Jesus which includes at least four features. Your basic impression will be of a man of action: a man always on the move, always altering situations and precipitating things-working mir- acles; calling and training disciples; upsetting error that passed as truth and irreligion that passed as godliness; and finally walking straight and open-eyed into betrayal, condemnation and crucifixion (a freakish sequence of anomalies which in the oddest way one is made to feel that he himself controlled all along the line). Your further impression will be of a man who knew himself to be a divine person (Son of God) fulfilling a messianic role (Son of Man). Mark makes it clear that the more Je

God the Judge

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"But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed." (Romans 2:5 ESV) In the fourteenth chapter of Knowing God, J. I. Packer writes,  The problem of the psalmist who saw inoffensive people being victimized, and the ungodly "not in trouble as other men" but prospering and at peace (Ps 73), is echoed again and again in human experience. But the character of God is the guarantee that all wrongs will be righted someday; when "the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed" (Rom 2:5) arrives, retribution will be exact, and no problems of cosmic unfairness will remain to haunt us. God is the Judge, so justice will be done. Why, then, do we fight shy of the thought of God as a Judge? Why do we feel the thought to be unworthy of him? The truth is that part of God's moral perfection is his perfection in judgment. Would a God who di

on spiritual life and growth

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"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God." (Luke 8:11 ESV) "Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” (Luke 8:18 ESV) On growth in the Christian's spiritual life, Herman Bavinck writes...  The spiritual life implanted in regeneration is similar to the natural life in that it must be nourished and strengthened for it to expand and grow. In other ways there is a great difference between them, of course, inasmuch as the spiritual life originates in God as Savior, is acquired by the resurrection of Christ, and is eternal life that can neither sin nor die. Nevertheless, regenerate persons continually need to be "strengthened in their inner being with power through God's Spirit" (cf. Eph. 3:16). This strengthening of the spiritual life, like its beginning, originates with God and the riches of his grace. The life of spiritual persons,

Bavinck on perseverance

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At the last session of our Spiritual Life Conference, Tom Schreiner quoted the following from Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck. I'm posting the full quote here: "Among the Reformed the doctrine of perseverance was very different. It is a gift of God. He watches over it and sees to it that the work of grace is continued and completed. He does not, however, do this apart from believers but through them. In regeneration and faith, he grants a grace that as such bears an inamissible [ incapable of being lost ] character; he grants a life that is by nature eternal; he bestows the benefits of calling, justification, and glorification that are mutually and unbreakably interconnected. All of the above-mentioned admonitions and threats that Scripture addresses to believers, therefore, do not prove a thing against the doctrine of perseverance. They are rather the way in which God himself confirms his promise and gift through believers. They are the means by which perseverance in life is