All posts by Christopher C. Schrock

About Christopher C. Schrock

I was born and educated in Indiana. I married my best-friend, Julie Lynn, in 2006. I worked for 10 years in IT & Network Operations before transitioning to Christian Ministry. Now I am a pastor in Billings, Montana.

Indeed!

Some of this is complex stuff [regarding discourse on justification by faith]. Tweeting about these issues is really dumb. Questioning someone’s orthodoxy in 140 characters should generally be avoided, I would think. Hinting that someone is unorthodox or subtweeting really has to be on one of the lowest bars of theological discourse. (Mark Jones @ CI)

Important

Yet sanctification, in its place and proportion, is quite as important as justification. Sound Protestant and Evangelical doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless: it does positive harm. It is despised by keen-sighted and shrewd men of the world, as an unreal and hollow thing, and brings religion into contempt” (J.C. Ryle, Holiness, vii)

“. . . have eaten out the heart of lively piety in too many of us.”

I have had a deep conviction for many years that practical holiness and entire self-consecration to God are not sufficiently attended to by modern Christians in this country. Politics, or controversy, or party-spirits, or worldliness, have eaten out the heart of lively piety in too many of us. The subject of personal godliness has fallen sadly into the background” (J.C. Ryle, Holiness, vii).

Redeemed to Worship the Lord

“While an examination of the entirety of the work [“The Necessity of Reforming the Church”] would be beneficial, for our purposes we only need to focus on Calvin’s discussion regarding the reforming of worship. While justification by faith alone has a primary role in the Reformation, Calvin actually gives worship the place of preeminence.

If it be inquired, then, by what things chiefly the Christian religion has a standing existence amongst us and maintains its truth, it will be found that the following two not only occupy the principal place, but comprehend under them all the other parts, and consequently the whole substance of Christianity, viz., a knowledge first, of the mode in which God is duly worshiped, and, secondly, of the source from which salvation is to be obtained (Calvin, Necessity, 126).

“It’s not hard to understand Calvin’s thinking here. The worship of God is that which has been commanded, by God. It’s that which his people are to engage in, faithfully, day in and day out. To get worship wrong is to get the Christian faith wrong. We are redeemed to worship the Lord” (“Less Outward Glory: An Examination of Calvin’s Reformation of Worship” by Everett A. Henes in The Confessional Presbyterian, Vol. 13, 122-123).

Our Heavenly Father

“The Father has a unique relation to the incarnate Son within the being of God. God’s revelation as the Father does not refer to his general fatherhood with respect to all his creatures. Moreover, as Toon comments, the name Father is not merely a simile (as if God is simply like a father) or even a metaphor (an unusual use of language drawing attention to aspects of God’s nature in surprising terms), but rather a definite personal name. In contrast, the term mother, when used in reference to God in the OT, is a simile, but never a metaphor, and it is completely absent in the NT. Father is the proper name of God and does not merely describe what he is like” (Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, 36).

“‘Abba’ [Father] was used by the early Christians in prayer. . . . This custom stems from Jesus’ usual way of addressing God. His followers adopt it because they believe that they share his own natural relation to the Father” (36).

OT Background to the Doctrine of Trinity

“While the OT does not make explicit what is revealed by the coming of Christ and the writing of the NT, it does provide the essential foundation without which the full Christian doctrine of God could not exist. As [Gerald] O’Collins puts it, ‘The OT contains, in anticipation, categories used to express and elaborate the Trinity. To put this point negatively, a theology of the Trinity that ignores or plays down the OT can only be radically deficient,’ while from the positive angle, ‘the NT and post-NT Christian language for the tripersonal God flowed from the Jewish Scriptures,’ for though deeply modified in the light of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, naming God as Father, Son, and Spirit ‘found its roots in the OT.’ This is not to say that by the first century there had emerged in Israel a clear and coherent picture of plurality within the one being of God. This was clearly not the case. These ideas in the OT were scattered and had not formed into anything like a coherent picture. Notwithstanding, the OT provided the means both to distinguish and to hold together the roles of Son/Wisdom/Word and Spirit, since these were vivid personifications, not abstract principles. The ultimate acknowledgement by the church of the triunity of God was ‘providentially prepared’ by these foreshadowings. The OT personifications helped lay the groundwork for the eventual leap to persons, for ‘the post-exilic Jews had an idea of plurality within the Godhead’ and so ‘the idea of plurality within unity was already implicit in Jewish theology'” (Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, 32).

Considerations for the Omnipresence of God

Believer, since the Lord is always present with you, compassing our pathway and your lying down besetting you behind and before (Psa. 139:3-5), be careful to refrain yourself from doing anything that would be unbecoming of His presence. Set the Lord always before you. Acknowledge Him in all your ways. Fear Him. Humble yourself before Him. Walk in all reverence and humility before His countenance, for to sin in the presence of God greatly aggravates the sin committed. The presence of people serves as a restraint against the commission of many sins, and if the presence of God does not accomplish the same, on reveals himself as having more respect for people than for the majestic and holy God. What a despising and provoking of God this is! Therefore, let your reverence for the presence of God prevent your sinning against Him and let it motivate you to live a life pleasing to the Lord.

On the other side, believer, let the reality of God’s presence be your continual support and comfort in all the vicissitudes of life. The Lord is at hand; He is a fiery wall roundabout you, and no one will be able to touch you contrary to His will. If something befalls you, seek refuge in Him and encourage yourself with His presence. How this revived David’s soul! ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me’ (Psa. 23:4). The Lord is pleased to comfort His children in this manner. ‘When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee’ (Isa. 43:2) (Wilhelmus Á Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 1, 95-96).

 

The Task of Appropriate Considerations of God

“All I can say is that the essence of God is His eternal self-existence. . . . Whoever wishes to know more concerning God’s essence should join me in worship as we close our eyes before this unapproachable light. It is in some measure revealed to the soul; however, we can only perceive the uttermost fringes of His Being by reflecting upon the divine attributes” (Wilhelmus Á Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 1, 88).

 

Struggling Theologically

“I believe one of the reasons the Reformed church has struggled with matters related to the doctrine of justification is because we have become unfamiliar with key elements in classic covenant theology” (J.V. Fesko, The Trinity and the Covenant of Redemption, xix).