Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2017

God's Kingdom Endures Forever.

Daniel 2:44-47
God’s Kingdom “will never be destroyed.” It “endures forever.”
“The dream is true, and the interpretation is certain.”
Through the resurrection of Jesus, this is more than a dream. He has triumphed over death.
How are we to respond to Jesus? - “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28); “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16); “revealer of mysteries” (Daniel 2:47).
Worship the Lord. Submit to Him. Learn from Him. Live for Him.

Fire!

Daniel 3:1-30
Fire - danger, heat
There is, in God’s Word, a word of warning and a word of promise.
This is the way we are not to go. This is the way we are to go.
* “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
* “The bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2).
* “Our God is an awesome God” (Rich Mullins) - we must never forget this.
Fire is to be respected. Our God is a holy fire. He burns away our dross.
* “Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for You, Lord; I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master, ready to do Your will” (Brian Doerksen).
* “O God of burning, cleansing flame, send the fire! Your blood-bought gift today we claim: send the fire today!... We need another Pentecost! Send the fire today!” (William Booth).
This is the inspiring and empowering fire: the Holy Spirit. “Give me oil in my lamp. Keep me burning” - burning for God.
* Isaiah 43:2 - “You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”
Ther…

Daniel's Deliverance And Christ's Resurrection

Daniel 6:1-28
The deliverance of Daniel from the mouths of the lions - What a great miracle this is! It points forward to an even greater miracle - the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why is the resurrection a greater miracle? - It seemed almost inevitable that Daniel would be killed, but he didn’t actually die. Jesus did die. The shadow of death hung over Daniel, but death did not take him. Jesus was raised from death. He was “crucified, dead and buried” - and, after all that, He was raised to life.
The message of Daniel’s deliverance from the mouths of the lions - “For He is the living God, and He endures forever; His Kingdom will never be destroyed, and His dominion has no end” (Daniel 6:26). This is the message of Jesus’ resurrection.
Daniel’s deliverance gives us a glimpse of God’s glory. Jesus’ resurrection is a marvellous and mighty revelation of the eternal God and eternal life (see 1 John 5:20 - “Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”) Danie…

What a future God has planned for His people.

Daniel 7:13-14
What a future God has planned for His people. What a great future He is planning for His people. Coronation - What a day of celebration.This is better than any human coronation. It’s better than any human celebration.
When Christ comes, this will go beyond our ability to describe or even imagine: the great Kingdom - full of the glory of God; the great Saviour - full of the grace of God. Christ takes us from grace to glory.
In Matthew 26:75, we see what Peter was. In Acts 2, we see what He became. This is grace, calling us on to glory.

Each of us must make choices ...

Isaiah 1:16-20
Each of us must make choices - not just, What suit, shirt and tie will I put on?
Will I worship the Lord? Or Will I stay at home?
What attitude will I bring with me to church? - "This is just a religious habit” or “This a meeting with God. It will change my way of thinking and living.”
In Isaiah 1:18-20, we read about two very different responses to God - returning to Him or rebelling against Him. When we return to the Lord, this will change the way we relate to other people (Isaiah 1:16-17).
We’re not to be like Judas Iscariot - making money for himself, but paying the ultimate price: “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? (Matthew 16:26).

Let us return to the Lord ...

Hosea 6:1-3
* “Let us return to the Lord” (Hosea 6:1). There are many blessings, waiting for us. We must come to the Lord and receive these blessings from Him.
* “He will revive us” (Hosea 6:2). This is new life in Christ. It’s new life in the Spirit. We were dead. Now, we are alive, Glory to God!
* “He will raise us up” (Hosea 6:2) - resurrection, not just a pick-me-up. God must do it. He alone can do it - and He does!
* “He will come to us like the rain” (Hosea 6:3) - “the spring showers that water the land”: This will put a spring in our step. It will send us out, with joy and strength, to serve the Lord and bring others to Him (Psalm 126:5-6).

There is hope.

Hosea 14:1-9
There is hope. There is a future. Hosea 14:9 - Conclusion: This is for us. The only way to live is the Lord’s way.
Repentance (Hosea 14:2) - It’s returning to the Lord (Hosea 14:1). It’s more than “words” (Hosea 14:2). It’s a way of life. As we walk with the Lord, we learn about repentance.
God speaks to us about forgiveness (Hosea 14:2). In love, He’s speaking to us. He speaks to us from the cross of Christ. The Spirit makes God’s love real to us. He brings Jesus to us. God’s love inspires our thinking and our living.
Our whole life is to be an expression of our love for the Lord, a heartfelt response to His love for us - a way of saying, “Thank You, Lord”, a way of offering to the Lord the praise and worship that arises from our hearts.
As we worship God, we must remember that He is not only love. He is also holiness.
This is to be seen in our “return to the Lord” (Hosea 14:1), our conversion. It’s not to be a partial conversion - paying lip-service to the Lo…

Give thanks to the Lord.

Joel 2:21-32
Give thanks to the Lord (Joel 2:21).
Joel 2:22-24 - Harvest is a special time for giving thanks to the Lord.
* We look back from the harvest, and we see the character of God (Joel 2:13).
* We look forward from the harvest - to greater blessing: spiritual as well as material (Joel 2:28-29).
Note the way of salvation - “Call on the Name of the Lord, and be saved” (Joel 2:32).

Salvation is from the Lord.

Jonah 2:1-10 
"Salvation is from the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). Salvation comes first, then there is service. Before his prayer "from inside the fish" (Jonah 2:1), Jonah was running away from God. He wasn't serving God. Before we can do something for God - serving Him, He must do something for us: He must save us. Jonah's prayer comes from "out of the depths" (Psalm 130:1). In the depths, he finds that "there is forgiveness with God" (Psalm 130:4). With God's forgiveness comes hope for the future (Psalm 130:5,7). This hope comes from God's "faithful love" and His "abundant redemption" (Psalm 130:7).
Jonah's experience was a physical deliverance. He should have been dead. He remained alive. There was more than that. The man who came out of the fish was different from the man who was swallowed by the fish. He had been disobedient. Now, he was obedient - and blessed.

What does the Lord require of us?

Micah 6:8
In Micah 6:8, the question is asked, “What does the Lord require of us?”
Micah 6:8 gives us an Old Testament answer to the question, “What is holiness?”
As well as Micah’s answer, there is a New Testament answer to this question.
* “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22).
God calls us to come to the Cross. That’s where the life of faith and obedience begins.
* “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
God calls us to put our faith in Christ. It’s personal faith. Each one of us must come to Jesus - “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.” Faith is God’s gift. Each one of us must receive His gift.
* “Without holiness, no-one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
God is calling us to become more like Jesus. Our life is to be less of self and more of Christ - and we’re to give all the glory to God.

Jesus is the King - not just a king.

Zechariah 9:9-10
This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus entered Jerusalem.
Jesus is the King - not just a king.
* What kind of King is He? - “righteous and victorious”, “humble” (Zechariah 9:9)., “to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).
* How are we to respond to Him? - “Rejoice greatly... Shout in triumph” (Zechariah 9:9).

Listening To The Word Of The Lord - And Being Changed By The Word Of The Lord

Jeremiah’s ministry was a call from God to the people – a call to “listen to the Word of the Lord” (Jeremiah 44:24). Listening to what the Lord has to say to us will mean being ready to revise our own ideas. Our thoughts, without the guiding Word from the Lord, will be very different from thoughts which have been shaped by the Word of the Lord.

Salvation and the assurance of salvation

Genesis 15:1-21
In Genesis 15:2,8, Abraham asks two questions: " ...what will you give me?" " ... how can I be certain ... ?" For us, these are the questions of salvation and the assurance of salvation - God has given us His salvation, and we have the assurance that this salvation has been given and received. Where are we to look for answers to these questions? We are to look to the "Almighty Lord" (Genesis 15:2,8). How are we to receive God's answers? - By faith: "Abraham believed the Lord" (Genesis 15:6). Through Christ: When we read Genesis 15:10, our concern is not with these animals. It is with the fact that they were sacrificed, and that this sacrifice points forward to "Christ, our Passover Lamb (who) has been sacrificed" for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). In Him, we have both salvation and the assurance of salvation (John 20:31; 1 John 5:13).

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Genesis 18:1-33 "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14). God was intent on doing something great - "through him (Abraham) all the nations of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 18:18) - and nothing was going to stop Him. Even if a great many people - Sodom and Gomorrah - refused to honour God, His purpose would not be hindered. He would find a remnant for Himself. the remnant may have seemed impossibly small, but it was to be the beginning of blessing for all the nations. the smallness of the beginnings serves to emphasize the greatness of the blessings. This is not man's doing. It is the work of God, and all the glory belongs to Him, the god of salvation, the God of grace, the God of glory.

God remembered Abraham.

Genesis 19:1-38
In a rather forgettable chapter, we find these gracious words - "God ... remembered Abraham"; "Lot was allowed to escape from the destruction that came to the cities where he was living" (Genesis 19:29). What a great thing it is to be "remembered" by God. What a great thing it is to have God's salvation - "everything we need for life and for godliness" - by which we are able to "escape the corruption that sinful desires cause in the world" (2 Peter 1:3-4). While we have this provision of God for godliness, we need to be constantly on our guard. The sad episode, recorded in Genesis 19:30-38, makes it so clear that we must be careful. Even those, whom we hoped would be a help to us, can turn out to be a hindrance. Devotion to the Lord needs to be renewed day-by-day. If we fail to maintain our devotion to the Lord, we leave ourselves vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy and we will be overcome by him.

The laughter of unbelief ... and the laughter of faith

Genesis 21:1-34
There are two very different kinds of laughter in the story of Sarah. there is the laughing in Genesis 18:13-15. This is the laughter of unbelief, laughing at the Lord, with the proud attitude that God's Word cannot be taken seriously. There is the laughter of faith, the laughter which rejoices in the Lord - "God has brought me laughter and everyone who hears about me will laugh with me" (Genesis 21:6). This is the rejoicing of Sarah at the birth of Isaac. Hagar and Ishmael are not forgotten - God's sun shines on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). The final section - Genesis 21:22-34 - sees Abraham acting more nobly than he did in Genesis 21. It ends with Abraham worshipping the Lord, the everlasting God (Genesis 21:33).

First Things First

“Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
First things first! We worry about many things. We get anxious about this, that and the other thing. Jesus is saying to us, “Seek first God’s Kingdom.” Whenever our many anxieties threaten to overwhelm us, let us remember this: The Lord is King!

Bible Notes by G. Philip

The inadequacy of human language ...

In his discussion of the 'pre' element in predestination, Berkouwer insists that "he who speaks of God's counsel in terms of human categories will have to be aware of the inadequacy of his words" (Divine Election, p. 152). In this respect, Berkouwer closely follows Bavinck who, in his discussion of predestination, insists that "one cannot speak of before or after with respect to God" (Divine Election, p. 152). Recognizing the inadequacy of human language, Berkouwer seeks to understand the language of predestination in connection in terms of the "depth-aspect" of salvation (Divine Election, pp.113, 150, 168). He emphasizes that "the depth-aspect of salvation ... is not a matter of hiddenness which goes beyond the knowledge of faith ... not something far distant, not a vague threatening reality, but the foundation of salvation ... " (Divine Election, pp. 113-114).

A critique of A. L. Baker’s book, “G. C. Berkouwer’s Doctrine of Election: Balance or Imbalance?”

The book, “G. C. Berkouwer’s Doctrine of Election: Balance or Imbalance?”, made its first appearance as a Th.D. dissertation (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1976), entitled “A Critical Evaluation of G. C. Berkouwer’s Doctrine of Election.” It is my view that, apart from providing a catchy title, the revision of the original title adds nothing but ambiguity. Showing distinct displeasure with Berkouwer’s treatment of ‘reprobation’ and with his interpretation of the Canons of Dort (pp. 39, 41-42, 115-126), Baker clearly holds that Berkouwer’s doctrine of election does not give a balanced account of the Biblical teaching on election. Berkouwer, on the other hand, would argue that the strength of his doctrine of election is closely related to his rejection of the ‘balance’ of the equal ultimacy concept (cf. Divine Election, “Election and Rejection”, Chapter Six, pp. 172-217). In view of this ambiguity, the original title might have been preferred unless, of course, this element ha…

The relationship between grace and faith

When we are worshipping the Lord, we praise Him, rejoicing in this: He has saved us by His grace. When we say that He has saved us by His grace, we do not deny that that we have been saved through faith. We say both these things: "by grace" and "through faith". "Through faith" reminds us that we must make our personal response to Christ. "By grace" is God's answer to the question, "Where does this response come from?" It comes from the Lord. "Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Romans 10:17). When faith arises in our hearts, in response to the Gospel of divine grace, we say, from the heart, "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). The relationship between grace and faith is neither (a) co-operative nor (b) coercive. (a) We do not contribute to our own salvation. It is always, "nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling." We do n…

Berkouwer's reinterpretation of election - not a devaluation of divine sovereignty

Berkouwer emphasizes that his reinterpretation of election "has nothing to do with a devaluation of divine sovereignty. It is not motivated by respect for the autonomy of the free man" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 95). He sought to affirm divine election while avoiding the dangers of determinism. Describing the process by which he reached this position, he wrote, "in the Bible's radical and open character, I found a way of speaking that is not defined by some darksome eternal background, but by the way of history" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 100; Divine Election, p. 71) - "I did not have to posit indeterminism over against determinism" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 101).

God's revelation of mercy ...

Berkouwer maintained that, when Romans 9-11 is understood as referring to "God's revelation of mercy ... and not to a 'naked sovereignty'", the illegitimacy of man's protest against God and the "mystical delight" of Paul's doxology are seen quite differenty from their deterministic interpretation (A Half Century of Theology, pp. 90, 93; Divine Election, pp. 65, 147-149). Man's protest is recognized as entirely inappropriate because "the doctrine of election is an 'inexpressible comfort' for both the believer and the nonbeliever since it proclaims that there is hope for the 'most miserable of men'" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 103). Paul's doxology is recognized as entirely appropriate because it is faith's response to the divine mercy in which "there is nothing of 'the inexplicable arbitrariness of power that moves one to put his fingers to his lips" (A Half Century of Theology, …

Divine sovereignty and divine freedom in Romans 9-11

Relating his understanding of divine sovereignty and divine freedom to the interpretation of Romans 9-11, Berkouwer wrote, "Words like 'sovereignty' ought not to be approached abstractly via a formal concept: this can only create the impression that we are capturing our own understanding or words in transparent definitions and then applying them directly to God without deeper consideration, as though he naturally fits the definition garnerd from human experience. Not surprisingly, this abstract notion of sovereignty has a profound effect when theologians apply it to ... Romans 9" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 91). He asked this question: "If divine freedom explains everything ... how is it posssible that Paul ... in ... Romans 9-11 ... does not end with a reasoned conclusion that the destiny of eveything and everyone is sealed from eternity. Why does he, rather, end with a breathtaking doxology" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 92 - followed…

Divine Freedom

Concerning the interpretation of divine freedom, Berkouwer gave this warning: "waving the banner of absolute divine autonomy does not dam up anguishing questions, and is certainly not likely to lead to praise" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 92). He did not wish to question the divine freedom. He sought to clarify its meaning in a way that "phrases like 'incontestible freedom' and ... 'absolute possibility'" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 91) fail to do. He insisted that the New Testament "avoids a dialectic between divine freedom and human freedom" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 101). He emphasized that divine freedom should be understood in connection with divine goodness (A Half Century of Theology, p. 91 - referring to Matthew 20:15). He maintained that divine freedom reminds man that he must not presume on divine goodness. He emphasized that divine freedom serves as " summons to conversion" (A Half Century of …

An interpretation of election which points to the trustworthiness of God

Berkouwer gave much serious thought to difficult theological concepts and Biblical passages. Concerning the interpretation pf divine sovereignty, he wrote, "one has to be on guard against isolating and abstracting words, including the word 'sovereignty.' If we are not, we use words that violate the heart of the church" (A Half Century of Theology, p.90). He did not seek "to replace determinism with an indeterminism" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 91). He sought to develop an interpretation of election which points to the trustworthiness of God: "the knowledge of divine sovereignty is possible only within knowledge of the God in whom there is no arbitrariness" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 91).

Divine Election - Not An Arbitrary Decree ...

Berkouwer maintained that a thoroughgoing reinterpretation of election was essential if it was to be made clear that "divine election was not an arbitrary decree that opened the door to a fatalism and determinism in which the events of our time and history were robbed of all genuine meaning" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 89).

In Concern For The Heart Of The Church ...

Berkouwer recognized that the deterministic interpretation of election has, for many, proved to be an obstacle to faith - "the confession of divine election did come to the fore in a very direct pastoral way; people in the congregations have been plagued by questions concerning election and human responsibility, questions about the certainty of one's own salvation" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 78). Berkouwer's approach need not be dismissed as a denial of election. He does, however, offer us a reinterpretation - "We knew we had to go further - in concern for the heart of the church - than the construction of defensive syntheses" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 89).

The importance of the doctrine of election

Berkouwer emphasized the importance of the doctrine of election - "if we take seriously the conviction that election lies ... at the heart of the church, we find ourselves at the centre of the church's faith when qwe focus on the question of election" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 79). He also discerned the harmful effects of a deterministic doctrine of election - "this doctrine has been all but comforting ... an offence, with no real liberating and tension-relieving power ... a decision that was extremely difficult to rhyme with a gospel of love comforting to the heart" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 79).

Understanding theological language within the context of the obedience of faith ...

Berkouwer insists that a proper understanding of theological language is only attainable within the context of the obedience of faith. The language of predestination may be understood as a form of expression which the believer, who has willingly submitted to the authority of grace, uses to confess his Christian faith. Set in this context, the language of predestination need not be viewed as a form of determinism which threatens to strip human experience of decisive significance. Emphasizing that "he who has seen Christ has seen the Father" (John 14:9), Berkouwer maintains that the believer, in his encounter with Christ, comes to know the revelation of God as something which is not threatened by the idea of a hidden God whose secret cannot be known (Divine Election, p. 124).

Human language and divine revelation

Berkouwer's concept of the depth-aspect of salvation may be viewed as a serious attempt to understand the complex problem of the relation of human language to divine revelation. It need not be dismissed as a denial of what Scripture says. It may be regarded as an interpretation of what Scripture says, an attempt to understand what a particular passage teaches in relation to the "entire Biblical message" (Divine Election, p. 18). The recogniton of a depth-aspect of salvation need not involve a denial of Biblical authority. We may regard it as a way of asking the question, "Is this what the Bible is really saying?", a way of developing a penetrating analysis which recognizes that we must make a clear distinction between Scripture itself and theological interpretations of Scripture. This distinction emerges directly from the nature of human language, the precise meaning of which is not immediately evident in its reference to God.

Berkouwer's use of the idea of the depth-aspect of salvation

Here's an attempt to bring things together. (1) man knows of grace through revelation. (2) divine revelation comes to man in the form of human language. (3) The inadequacy of human language as a vehicle of divine revelation demands that due care be taken in the interpretation of Scripture. (4) The inadequacy of human language as a vehicle of divine revelation demands an avoidance of undue dogmatism regarding the precise meaning of Scripture. (5) The idea of a depth dimension points beyond the limitations of human language to the profound spiritual realities of the eternal God and His eternal salvation.

The 'pre' element in predestination ...

In his discussion of the 'pre' element in predestination, Berkouwer insists that "he who speaks of God's counsel in terms of human categories will have to be aware ofthe inadequacy of his words" (Divine Election, p. 152). UIn this respect, Berkouwer closely follows Bavinck who, in his discussion of predestination, insists that "one cannot speak of before or after with respect to God" (Divine Election, p. 152). Recognizing the inadequacy of human language, Berkouwer seeks to understand the language of predestination in connection in terms of the "depth-aspect" of salvation (Divine Election, pp.113, 150, 168). He emphasizes that "the depth-aspect of salvation ... is not a matter of hiddenness which goes beyond the knowledge of faith ... not something far distant, not a vague threatening reality, but the foundation of salvation ... " (Divine Election, pp. 113-114).

The grace of God ...

As Berkouwer's thought moved from abstract concept towards the person and work of Christ in whom the grace of God is clearly revealed, he found that he was not denying the free sovereignty of God but rather recognizing its character as the free sovereignty of grace (A Half Century of Theology, p. 102). He described the direction of his thought thus: "the reconsideration of election has tended ... not in the direction of a double decree that merely waits to be executed, but in the direction of grace as the nature, the character of election" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 102). He gave this summary of his understanding of election: "anyone who expects salvation from grace rather than works is set immediately within the sphere of election; but he need not encounter alongside or over election in grace a decision that was made in a hidden decree" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 102).

Berkouwer's reinterpretation of election ...

Berkouwer emphasizes that his reinterpretation of election "has nothing to do with a devaluation of divine sovereignty. It is not motivated by respect for the autonomy of the free man" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 95). He sought to affirm divine election while avoiding the dangers of determinism. Describing the process by which he reached this position, he wrote, "in the Bible's radical and open character, I found a way of speaking that is not defined by some darksome eternal background, but by the way of history" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 100; Divine Election, p. 71) - "I did not have to posit indeterminism over against determinism" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 101).

The 'depth-aspect' of salvation ...

Maintaining that Berkouwer has continually failed to expound the full teaching of Scripture concerning the ‘before’ element of divine election, Baker insists that “Berkouwer cannot communicate what the Bible means by ‘election’ if he neglects such a determinative concept” (pp. 102-103). Referring to the phrase “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4; John 17:24; 1 Peter 1:20), Baker states that “Berkouwer has never commented at any length in any of his Dogmatics on the significance of these words” (p. 102). It may also be argued that Baker’s failure to discuss at any length Berkouwer’s concept of the “depth-aspect” of salvation weakens his criticism of Berkouwer’s interpretation of the ‘before’ element of election. Here, we may note what Berkouwer says about the depth-aspect of salvation. Recognizing the inadequacy of human language, Berkouwer seeks to understand the language of predestination in connection with the “depth-aspect” of salvation (Divine Electi…

The 'before' element in God's election ...

Berkouwer does not wish to dispense with the ‘before’ element in God’s election. Rather, he seeks to understand it in a way that does not diminish the significance of the historical revelation of God’s love in Jesus Christ. Baker contends that, in his interpretation of Ephesians 1:4 - “chosen before the foundation of the world” - , Berkouwer has undermined the ontological foundation of divine election. There is, in Baker’s view, a suggestion that he has not distanced himself sufficiently from his own outlook in order to understand more sympathetically and accurately Berkouwwer’s understanding of the language of predestination. In his critique of Berkouwer’s doctrine of election, A. L. Baker writes, “Berkouwer desires to maintain a dynamic concept of election, but instead lays most of his emphasis on the human response to the gospel. He continually warns against ‘an objectivized election that goes its own way without consideration for faith and unbelief” (G. C. Berkouwer’s…

Berkouwer and Arminius

Berkouwer’s understanding of divine election is best understood in terms of the Dutch Reformation. There, one finds a similar struggle to avoid determinism and thus emphasize the sincerity of the Gospel offer. These motifs are found in the writings of the Dutch Reformer, James Arminius. The strong similarities between Berkouwer and Arminius should not to be taken to mean that Berkouwer regards himself as standing – unequivocally – in the line of Arminius. While rejecting the equal ultimacy of election and rejection, Berkouwer insists that his own position need not involve the acceptance of an Arminian position (Divine Election, p. 189, n. 31). In his book, Faith and Justification, he explains how his his own position differs from ‘Arminianism’. He opposes, in Arminianism, a most dangerous ‘overestimation of faith as a spiritual achievement’ (p.87). Alongside this criticism of Arminianism, we must set Berkouwer’s favourable attitude towards recent criticism of the very document which…

Pride and Faith in Berkouwer's "Studies in Dogmatics" (The believer's experience of salvation)

Central to Berkouwer’s exposition of Christian experience are three books which might be called a kind of trilogy - Faith and Justification, Faith and Sanctification, and Faith and Perseverance.
These titles emphasize the importance of faith in the theology of Berkouwer. From beginning to end, the Christian life is a life of faith. In each of these books, Berkouwer stresses that true faith in Jesus Christ is in direct contrast to the sinful pride of man by which he glories in himself rather than in the Lord.
Commenting on the meaning of justification by faith, Berkouwer writes, ‘Everything is really said in an unobtrusive phrase, in Christ.’ On the subject of Faith and Justification, he continues, 'faith... is not added as a second, independent ingredient which makes its own contribution to justification in Christ... faith does nothing but accept, or come to rest in the sovereignty of His benefit ... we are not acceptable to God because of the worthiness of our faith. Grace is exclu…

Commenting on Bultmann's Concept of Myth

Berkouwer's basic criticism of Bultmann's concept of myth is that it is different from the New Testament conception of myth. He insists that, in the New Testament, "myth stands over against the truth (aletheia) of the history of Jesus Christ ... the decisive die has ... been already cast in the New Testament opposition to myth" (Holy Scripture, p. 254). He rejects an existentialist conception of truth which is dissociated from the 'once for all' character of the gospel events (Holy Scripture, p.262) and which makes the modern world-view the norm by which the nature of the gospel is determined (Holy Scripture, p. 261). Berkouwer holds that, in the New Testament, the concept of myth is not simply a harmless feature of a primitive world-view, requiring only to be reinterpreted for modern man. He emphasizes that myth is that which "diminishes the truth of salvation" (Holy Scripture, p. 253). Concerned with 'how (emphasis original) the Spirit wishes…

Berkouwer on Marxism

Marcuse speaks of the irrationality of capitalism which is characterized by internal contradiction.
The Christian faith speaks of the irrationality of sin: “There can be no reason for sin in God’s creation and the gifts of God, or in anything that God has wished for man and has given to man” (Berkouwer, Sin, p. 136, emphasis mine).
Sin, in Christian theology, speaks of the internal contradiction which is central to man’s being – man, created in the image of God, has rebelled against his Creator.
Marcuse maintains that organized capitalism has a deceptive character which is designed to cover up the social and economic alienation which it has created – “deceptive liberties (are) … made into a powerful instrument of domination” which “sustain(s) alienation” (One-Dimensional Man (ODM), pp. 7-8).
This, according to Marcuse, is “one of the most vexing aspects of advanced industrial civilization: the rational character of its irrationality” (ODM, p. 9).
According to the Bible, sinful man ha…

Marx’s Call for a World-Changing Philosophy: Herbert Marcuse’s Interpretation of Marxism

Interpreting Marx’s intention, Marcuse maintains that “far more was involved than the liberation and rational utilisation of the productive forces, namely, the liberation of man himself” (Reason and Revolution (RR), p. 435, emphasis mine).
Marcuse notes that “Marx’s conception of the ‘free’ proletariat as the absolute negation of the established social order belonged to the model of ‘free’ capitalism” (RR, pp. 435-436). He argues that history has taken a different course from that envisaged by Marx because of “the transformation of free into organized capitalism” (RR, p. 435). This movement away from unrestrained capitalism has, according to Marcuse, “transformed Marxism into Leninism and determined the fate of Soviet society .. its progress under a new system of repressive productivity” (RR, p. 435). He maintains that “The consolidation of the capitalist system was greatly enhanced by the development of Soviet society … (in which) the repressive and exploitative features of capitali…

Berkouwer and Barth on Universalism

Barth has tried to affirm universal election without moving from there to universal salvation. There have been different reactions to his theology.
(a) Some have written positively about this approach - affirming universal election without embracing universal salvation.
(b) Others have moved on from universal election to universal salvation.
(c) Berkouwer has protested against both universal election and universal salvation.
Here are a couple of comments from Berkouwer, which relate to Barth's doctrine of election.
Barth’s view is described thus by Berkouwer: “”Man’s being, man’s nature, is to stand in grace, God’s grace; this is the truth we discern in the election of the man Jesus Immanuel (God with us) … his essence is to be an object of God’s grace. This essence is indeed covered and hidden by sin, but how can something which has its basis in God’s grace be wholly destroyed? There is and remains a ‘continuum, an essence unchanged and unchangeable by sin’” (Man, p. 91, citing K…