A sermon from January 18, 2015
I lament that many Christians today think of the afterlife more in line with Plato than with Jesus or Paul. Some devout Christians are captured with a vision that when they die, they will float about heaven like Caspar the friendly ghost, play volleyball with the angels on the clouds, and glide between stars like a mannequin in outer space. Michael F. Bird, Evangelical Theology
That sounds dreadful, an eternity as an idea! I love the sound of wind, the feel of rain, the smell of salt as the ocean meets the shore. Thank God that he has not left us without a hope that we will never know the touch of an other. Thomas touched Jesus. Jesus ate bread and fish. A life without death is a great blessing; a life without a body, hideous.
This is perhaps the most joyous section of all Scripture:
1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. [Without a body] 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened-not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed [by an uncorruptible body], so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
The invisibility of God: Here is an iron-clad complaint of empiricism: only that which can be seen or determined therefrom is real. However Christians celebrate the invisibility of God:
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.
This of course is based in part on 1 Timothy 1:17 (ESV) “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Where then is God hiding? It is an interesting thing to see that the God of Scripture claims to hide in plain sight. For example, at the end of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts all that has taken place for Israel. He tells the people that despite all that they have experienced, they still do not understand:
2 And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 3 the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. 4 But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. 5 I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. ….”
Deuteronomy 29:2–5 (ESV)
One wonders what story they told themselves which made sense of what they experienced. This run runs throughout Scripture. For example, the disciples had seen Jesus feed thousands with next to nothing, yet they did not see the miracle. For shortly thereafter, they see Jesus walk on the water and yet they cannot understand what is happening:
51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Mark 6:51–52 (ESV)
When look to other passages, we can see that God himself takes credit for his invisibility; even in the most obvious places. Thus, after Jesus rises from the dead, he walks along with some disciples who cannot recognize him:
15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
Luke 24:15–16 (ESV)
Jesus even goes so far as to state a purpose of his work is to purposefully blind some to the truth while proclaiming it:
10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
Mark 4:10–12 (ESV). That does not mean that we are not culpable; it is equally our own desire for blindness which keeps are our eyes closed:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Romans 1:18 (ESV).
This blindness is taken away by the Gospel, alone. The light is bright enough to be seen; it is the willful and supernatural blindness which causes the sorrow:
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:3–4 (ESV)
It is only the gracious act of God which reveals his truth:
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
Matthew 11:25-26 (ESV)
The invisibility of God does not lie in his absence but in the hardness of our heart, the malice of the Devil and the will of God.
[Notes and summary of a sermon by Thomas Boston]
Tweedsmuir communion Sabbath evening, June 17, 1716.
2 Corinthians 4:18
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.
An introduction must move the hearer from their present position into a view of the text at hand. Boston does this by recognizing their present position, they have just completed communion, into “the wilderness of this world” (as Bunyan puts it):
You have now been eating your gospel passover, and should therefore be preparing for your journey through the wilderness.
The act of sitting at the Lord’s Table is an act of commitment. To eat with the Lord is to leave Egypt and go out into the wilderness. Yet, such a move will present difficulties. Boston notes the obvious difficulties involved and at the same time notes the remedy proposed by the text:
You have enlisted under the standard of Jesus Christ, and should march on to follow your leader. You will meet with difficulties in the way, that will make you in danger of fainting, standing still, and giving it over, as a journey which you are able to accomplish. To prevent this, you must take your aim right, and still keep your eye upon it; looking not to the things which are seen, but to the things which are not seen.
Thus having introduced the situation and the remedy proposed by the text, he introduces the structure
In the text there are three things to be considered.
First there is the matter of attention, which he presents both positively (what is to be seen) and negatively, what is to be avoided:
The mark which the Christian is to keep in view in his journey through the wilderness. The traveller will always be looking to something, and it is of great importance for the journey that he takes his view right.
Negatively, He is not to look at the things which are seen. He must not look to, but overlook and disregard, those things that fall under his senses. The things of this world, by which natural men are led. It is Christ’s call to his people, to leave the world with him, and for him, to lift their eyes and hearts from these things, and live like those of another world.
Thus, we must look to the goal and avoid those things which detract from the goal. The objects of this sight are not open to human vision, but only the eye of faith:
God, and grace, and glory, which cannot be seen with our eyes, yet to them we must look.
But that is not precisely the point which I wish at this time to make out of His words. I want you to mark that this willinghood to sacrifice self in the service of others is the distinctive feature of ministerial greatness. The people are not for the minister, but the minister is for the people; and he is to lose himself in their service and for their benefit. See how Paul had learned this lesson,when he says,” We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus, the Lord,” i.e., supplying the ellipsis “we preach not ourselves lords, but Christ Jesus, Lord, and ourselves your servants, for Jesus’ sake.” f Nor was this a mere momentary outfiashing of sentiment with the apostle, for we find him describing it as the principle of his life that he made himself servant unto all that he might gain the more ; and even when he was explaining what seemed to his readers to be a dereliction of duty towards them, he said, “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy.” f So also Peter in exhorting the elders is careful to warn them to exercise their oversight “not as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”
Now I put this in the forefront, because, as it seems to me, misunderstanding here, goes very far to account for the ministerial failures over which the churches mourn, and for the partial character of the successes which have been made by many who were otherwise admirably adapted for the work. I can never forget the impression made on me in the early portion of my Liverpool ministry, when a brother who had just come with me from the study of a neighbor, where we had heard him railing for a long time against his people, said to me, “The truth is, he seems to think that the congregation exists for him, but the right-hearted minister recognizes that he exists for the congregation. Depend upon it, his work will be a failure.” And a failure it was. But all unconsciously to himself, the brother who predicted that, preached a most powerful sermon to me, for if I have been blessed with utmost harmony between my people and myself, and if, in any measure, I have been useful to them, it has been because I have tried to remember and lay to heart these simple words.
The office of the preacher is that of a helper of his fellows. His special duty is to lead them to Him who is their Helper and Redeemer, and to assist them in the understanding of His word, and in the application of its principles to their daily lives. He is not in the ministry, in order that he may be feted and flattered, and made the altar on which the adulation and incense of his people are to be laid. He is not set to receive the sacrifices offered by his hearers, but rather ought he to make himself a sacrifice on their behalf, aye, even though sometimes his devotion to them may be met with ingratitude; yet, none the less is it to be continued by him. Hardly can we find a more sublime spectacle in itself, or a more appropriate model for the Christian minister, than that presented by Paul, when he says, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”
William M. Taylor, The Ministry of the Word
1876, Yale, Lyman Beecher Lectures
2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 5, Brooks, Death, Ecclesiastes, enjoyment, Ephesians 6:12, faith, Heaven, Hope, joy, Philippians, Philippians 1:21, Preaching, Puritan, The Believers Last Day His Best Day, Thomas Brooks
The first post on this sermon can be found here:
That a believer’s last day is his best day; his dying-day is better than his birthday.This will be a very sweet and useful point to all believers. I shall first demonstrate the truth that it is so, and then make some use of this point to ourselves.
1. That death is a change of place. A believer when he dieth, he doth but change his place; he changeth earth for heaven, a wilderness for a Canaan, an Egypt for a land of Goshen, a dunghill for a palace. 2 Cor. 5:2-6; Phil. 1:21-23.. We be not in our place, and therefore we groan to be at home—that is, to be in heaven, to be in the bosom of Christ, which is our proper place, our most desirable home.
2. That death is a change of company. The best that breatheth in this world must live with the wicked, and converse with the wicked, &c.; and this is a part of their misery; it is their hell on this side heaven. Ps.12:1; Jer. 9:2; 2 Pet.2:7-8; Heb. 12-22-23….Oh, but death is a change of company. A man doth change the company of profane persons, of vile persons, &c, for the company of angels, and the company of weak Christians for the company of just men made perfect.
3. Death is a change of employment. …The work of a believer in this world lies in praying, groaning, sighing, mourning, wrestling, and fighting, &c. And we see throughout the Scripture that the choicest saints, that have had the highest visions of God, have driven this trade; they have spent their time in praying, groaning, mourning, wrestling, and fighting: Eph. 6:12, … The truth is, the very life of a believer is a continual warfare, and his business is to be in the field always. They have to deal with subtle enemies, malicious enemies, wakeful enemies, and watchful enemies; with such enemies that threw down Adam in paradise, the most innocent man in the world, and that threw down Moses, the meekest man in the world, and Job, the patientest man in the world, and Joshua, the most courageous man in the world, and Paul, the best apostle in the world, &c. A Christian’s life is a warfare. …Job 14:14; 2 Tim. 4:8 ….Death is a change of employment. It changeth this hard service, this work that lies in mourning, wrestling, and fighting, for joying and singing hallelujahs to the Almighty. Now no prayers, but praises; no fighting and wrestling, but dancing and triumphing. Can a believing soul look upon this glorious change, and not say, Surely ‘better is the day of a believer’s death than the day of his birth’? Death is the winding-sheet that wipes away all tears from the believer’s eyes, Rev. 7:9.
4. Death is a change of enjoyments,
(4A) It is a change of our more dark and obscure enjoyment of God, for a more clear and sweet enjoyment of God. I say, the best believer that breathes in this world, that doth see and enjoy most of God, and the visions of his glory, yet he enjoys not God so clearly, but that he is much in the dark. … The truth is, we are able to bear but little of the discoveries of God, there being such a mighty majesty and glory in all the spiritual discoveries of God. We are weak, and able to take in little of God. Job 23:8-9
… This is our greatest burden, that our apprehensions of God are no more clear, that we cannot that our apprehensions of God are no more clear, that we cannot see him face to face whom our souls do dearly love. Oh, but now in heaven saints shall have a clear vision of God: there be no clouds nor mists in heaven.
(4B.) It is a change of our imperfect and incomplete enjoyments of God, for a more complete and perfect enjoyment of him. Job 26:14; 1 Cor.13:12 … There is no complaints in heaven, because there is no wants. Oh, when death shall give the fatal stroke, there shall be an exchange of earth for heaven, of imperfect enjoyments for perfect enjoyments of God; then the soul shall be swallowed up with a full enjoyment of God; no corner of the soul shall be left empty, but all shall be filled up with the fulness of God. … The best Christian is able to take in but little of God; their hearts are like the widow’s vessel, that could receive but a little oil. Sin, the world, and creatures do take up so much room in the best hearts, that God is put upon giving out himself by a little and little, as parents do to their children; but in heaven God will communicate himself fully at once to the soul; grace shall then be swallowed up of glory.
(4C) It is a change of a more inconstant and transient enjoyment of God, for a more constant and permanent enjoyment of God. Here the saints’ enjoyment of God is inconstant. One day they enjoy God, and another day the soul sits and complains in anguish of spirit. Psalm 61:3, 42:5, 30:6-7; 1 Thess. 4:17-18 ….. It is heaven and happiness enough to see Christ, and to be for ever with Christ. Now, oh what a glorious change is this! Methinks these things should make us long for our dying-day, and account this life but a lingering death.
5. Death is a change that puts an end to all external and internal changes. What is the whole life of a man, but a life of changes? Death is a change that puts an end to all external changes. ….All temporals are as transitory as a hasty, headlong torrent, a ship, a bird, an arrow, a post, that passeth by. Man himself—the king of these outward comforts—what is he, but a mere nothing?—the dream of a dream, a shadow, a bubble, a flash, a blast. …And then it puts an end to all internal changes. Now the Lord smiles upon the soul, and anon he frowns upon the soul. Now God gives assistance to conquer sin, anon the man is carried captive by his sin; now he is strengthened against the temptation, anon he falls before the temptation,
Death is another Moses: it delivers believers out of bondage, and from making brick in Egypt. …
6. Death is a change that brings the soul to an unchangeable rest. It is the bringing of the soul to bed—to a state of eternal rest. That is the last demonstration of the point, that a believer’s dying-day is his best day. Now while we are here the soul is in a-toss. The best his best day. Now while we are here the soul is in a-toss. The best man in the world—that is highest and clearest in his enjoyments of God—is too often like to Noah’s dove that found no rest: Rev. 14:13; Isaiah 57:1-2
…Death is a believer’s coronation-day, it is his marriage-day. ….It is a rest from sin, a rest from sorrow, a rest from afflictions and temptations, &c. Death to a believer is an entrance into Abraham’s bosom, into paradise, into the ‘New Jerusalem,’ into the joy of his Lord.
2 Corinthians, A Preparation for Suffering in an Evil Day, Affliction, Biblical Counseling, Discipleship, Edward Polhill, Evil, Hope, Job, Lamentations, Philippians, Problem of Evil, Problem of Harm, Puritan, Stoic, The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod, Thomas Brooks
The trouble of suffering, of evil constitutes a philosophical problem with which academics (typically) wrestle. There is a second category of problem, the actual subjective experience of evil, which drives one to ask, “How long O Lord!” (Psalm 13:1).
The philosophical discussions matter little to the sufferer. While I have cherry-picked a bit, I do not believer a suffering philosopher (or a philosopher on her death bed, awaiting the prospect of eternal judgment) will be comforted by
In slightly more detail, and using ‘Pr(P/Q)’ to stand either for the logical probability, or for the epistemic probability, of P given Q, the logic of the argument is as follows:
(1) Pr(O/HI) > Pr(O/T) (Substantive premise)
(2) Pr(O/HI) = Pr(O & HI)/Pr(HI) et cetera …..
The proof of God, despite suffering, or the “hope” that no God exists who will call to account matters less than (1) what I believe to be true of reality; (2) reality, itself. In the end, most of the philosophical arguments must be wrong in whole or part, because reality does not bend to my logical construct — however, well crafted and accepted by contemporary peers.
Arguments tell us nothing that we need. The man holding a bleeding child, the woman with cancer, cannot drink analytic philosophy — it will not digest. We would sooner feed scrap metal to a baby. The metal may good its place, but it will not ward off hunger.
The responses to suffering set forth below will answer to various philosophies, but they are in a very different form.
Suffering admits of only three responses. First, one can deny the reality of evil. This will also entail the denial of good, of love and joy and peace. The Stoic denial of all response is inhuman. And while a bit of peace may be had, the resignation of a stone to the rain does not end the rain. Rain will wear away the hardest stone. The stone may not rage, but the stone does not hope.
The drunkennes of cultures, flooding the senses with nonsense to obviate the real, a pornographic violence to the sense which wears away the soul merely mimics the Stoic without a hint of character or trial:
11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! 12 They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the LORD, or see the work of his hands. Isaiah 5:11-12
Thomas Brooks notes and rejects such a stoic resignation in his book The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod:
And so Harpalus was not at all appalled when he saw two of his sons laid ready dressed in a charger, when Astyages had bid him to supper. This was a sottish insensibleness. Certainly if the loss of a child in the house be no more to thee than the loss of a chick in the yard, thy heart is base and sordid, and thou mayest well expect some sore awakening judgment.1 This age is full of such monsters, who think it below the greatness and magnanimity of their spirits to be moved, affected, or afflicted with any afflictions that befall them. I know none so ripe and ready for hell as these.
Aristotle speaks of fishes, that though they have spears thrust into their sides, yet they awake not. God thrusts many a sharp spear through many a sinner’s heart, and yet he feels nothing, he complains of nothing. These men’s souls will bleed to death. Seneca, Epist. x., reports of Senecio Cornelius, who minded his body more than his soul, and his money more than heaven; when he had all the day long waited on his dying friend, and his friend was dead, he returns to his house, sups merrily, comforts himself quickly, goes to bed cheerfully. His sorrows were ended, and the time of his mourning expired before his deceased friend was interred. Such stupidity is a curse that many a man lies under. But this stoical silence, which is but a sinful sullenness, is not the silence here meant.
This may seem odd, because the Christian response does entail an element of resignation, yet it is a resignation coupled to hope — I will bear this to gain that:
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Paul bears with his circumstances, not by denying but by transcending:
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7–10 (ESV)
A second response is to curse. Job’s wife provides a memorable example of such:
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Job’s response provides the appropriate example: the Christian may not respond with cursing or anger to God’s providence. Job seeing through the secondary causes, through Satan and the bridgands, through the storm and the disease in his body, looks to the ultimate cause: God. God has given this, therefore we must willing accept this providence.
A third response is resignation without cursing coupled to hope. The poet of Lamentations does not deny the trouble brougth by God:
7 He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy;
8 though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;
9 he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked.
10 He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding;
11 he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate;
12 he bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow.
13 He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver;
14 I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long. Lam. 3
Yet he sees through the trouble to kindness of God to come:
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. Lam. 3
Polhill lays this truth at the heart of his response. To perserve in the midst of trial, we have a hope which transcends our circumstance:
THE sixth direction is this: if we would be in a fit posture for suffering, we must get a lively hope of eternal life. As our life is a sea, hope is compared to an anchor, which makes us stand steady in a storm; as our life is a warfare, hope is compared to a helmet, which covers the soul in times of danger; as the body liveth spirando, by breathing, so the soul lives sperando, by hoping. A man cannot drown so long as his head is above water; hope lifts up the head, and looks up to the redemption and salvation that is to come in another world in its fulness and perfection. Hope doth three things; it assures good things to come; it disposes us for them; it waits for them unto the end: each of which will, be of singular use to fit us for pious sufferings.
Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 346.
2 Corinthians, Edward Taylor, Genesis, Genesis 1:16, glory, God's glory, High Priestly Prayer, incarnation, Jesus, John 17, Meditation, poem, Poetry, Praise, Psalm 19:1, Psalms, Puritan, Puritan Poetry, Spiritual Disciplines
Stupendous Love! All saints’ astonishment.!
Bright angels are black motes in this sun’s light.
Heav’n’s canopy the paintice to God’s tent
Can’t cover’t neither with its breadth, nor height.
Its glory doth all glory else out run,
Beams of bright glory to’t are motes i’th’sun.
The poem itself will speak of the blessing to be had by the life that receives the glory of God shone in the incarnate Son of God. In this introductory paragraph, Taylor plays off two understandings of the word “glory”. He contrasts the greater glory of God in Jesus Christ with the lesser glory of things created.
Jesus is more glorious than either the sunlight or even angels. To make the contrast, we must understand that there is a glory in the creation:”The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”Psalms 19:1
The sun and the stars stand at the beginning of God’s great glory in creation: “And God made the two great lights-the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night-and the stars.”Genesis 1:16
(A wonderful sermon on this verse can be found here: http://media.calvarybiblechurch.org.s3.amazonaws.com/audio/sermon/2011/20111211.mp3)
Angels, likewise, are glorious in their beauty. For example, Matthew describes the angel who rolled away the stone from Jesus’ tomb, “His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow” (Matthew 28:3).
Jesus, with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration also have radiant glory:
2 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them,3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Mark 9:2-4.
God himself dwells in light:
13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time-he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. 1 Timothy 6:13-16
Yet, there is a greater glory of the Son which transcends even light. The references in the Psalms to the King and the King in glory are references to the Son who is the true king. That image is picked up in John to refer to Jesus’ coming as glorious.
1 O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults! 2 You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah 3 For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold upon his head. 4 He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever. 5 His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.6 For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence. 7 For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved. Psalm 21:1-7
7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah Psalm 24:7-10
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”)16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:14
And yet there was a veiling of the glory of the Son which the Son prays to be revealed. Jesus, in what is known as the High Priestly Prayer of John 17 prays:
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:20-25.
The sight of this glory is the gift of God:
7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end,8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it.11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold,13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end.14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:7-4:6.
Thus, the joy of Taylor is both in the beauty of what he sees, but also in the gift: both of the glory of the Son and the sight of that glory.
It is the sight of and the desire for such sight which transforms the Christian:
1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3
The reference to God’s tent is most particularly a reference to the sky. However, there seems to a recollection of the glory of God overwhelming the temple — which took over for the tent of meeting, the traveling tabernacle:
1 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house.3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 7:1-3
2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 5:11, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Biblical Counseling, Emotion, emotions, How to Argue Like Jesus, Imagery, Jesus, logic, Ministry, Pathos, Paul, Persuasion, Persuasive Speech, repetition, Shared Artifacts, The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod, Thomas Brooks
(As part of the course on Business Law at The Masters College, I include a discussion on how to make an effective and persuasive argument. The following are some notes on the emotional content of a persuasive speech. Learning how be a more effective communicator is useful for all sort of activities — including Christian ministry. By including appropriate emotional content, you are seeking to make your proposition clearer and more accurate. For example, a sermon on the majesty of God which induces an emotion of levity as opposed to reverence would misrepresent the text. Or, a sermon on joy which does not make an emotional space for joy would misrepresent the topic.
One cannot read the Bible without noting that the book of Lamentations seeks to produce sorrow and then hope through sorrow — it is not a disinterested theological tract on suffering. The story of Ehud and Eglon (Judges 3:15-30) is written to produce a sarcastic smirk about idolatry followed by welling triumph.
In counseling, the counselee will typically come overwhelmed by emotions. While the goal is not merely the transfer of emotions to some new state, biblical counseling must take into consider the emotional content of the counsel. To ignore the emotional state of the counselee would be deny the explicit command of Scripture , “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Such emotionally appropriate information must entail more than tears and smiles, it most also infuse one’s speech.
As part of their training, I have the students read the book How to Argue Like Jesus, by Joe Carter and John Coleman. I happily recommend the book to anyone seeking a good introductory text on persuasive speech. The notes below are meant as a supplement to the material contained in the book.)
Pathos: Emotional content and emotional connection are necessary elements to be persuasive in communication. Before going further, note that persuasion does not mean to deceive. In 2 Corinthians 5:11, Paul writes, “we persuade men”. In in 5:20 he implores others to be reconciled to God.
A logical talk devoid of passion will not persuade. An emotional speech devoid of truth and logic will swindle: you will persuade for the short term, but when the trick is found out, you will be hated.
Elements of pathos:
Imagery: We are largely moved by sight: if we see a starving baby we weep. If we merely hear about a starving baby, we may feel a twinge, but little more. A fine writer will cause you to see the circumstance by means of words.
Jesus uses extremely graphic language to make his point. Here is an exercise: take the text of the Sermon on the Mount and mark every single instance in which Jesus paints a word picture. Note how Jesus does not just say, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, God is sovereign.” Rather, he points you to animals and plants – which likely would have been present when he was speaking – and uses that picture to demonstrate his point.
Shared emotional ties: If you share some content, some value, some story, some “artifact” with the audience, use that shared element to connect to the audience. Now, it is perfectly possibly to manipulate someone by means of such a trick. Perhaps the most famous or infamous instance of this is waiving the bloody shirt:
bloody shirt, in U.S. history, the post-Civil War political strategy of appealing to voters by recalling the passions and hardships of the recent war. This technique of “waving the bloody shirt” was most often employed by Radical Republicans in their efforts to focus public attention on Reconstruction issues still facing the country. Used in the presidential elections of 1868, 1872, and 1876, the strategy was particularly effective in the North in attracting veterans’ votes.
Thus, stories about George Washington – or stories about “your neighbors” being foreclosed upon; stories about growing up in a poor neighborhood (before I became a millionaire politician) and thus can “feel your pain” or understand your circumstance – all can be very effective to tie you to the audience. They feel they can trust you, because you are similar to them.
Expressing emotion: When persuading, it can be very useful to express appropriate emotion. By expressing emotion you show yourself to be human, to be like the audience. You also cue them up on how to understand the statement. Movies do this when there is a sad scene and the camera cuts to someone crying: since we tend to imitate the emotions we see (we catch the emotion), showing emotion makes it easier for audience to share and then to express the same emotion.
Conversely, not showing emotion, or showing the wrong emotion, can be devastating for one’s standing with an audience. George H.W. Bush famously looked down at his watch during a debate and gave the impression that he didn’t care (emotionally) about what was happening (he may have just wanted to know the time, but it was the impression that he created which mattered) http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2008/01/17/a-damaging-impatience
Four years earlier, Michael Dukakis was asked a question about the death penalty and his own wife being the victim. His response made him sound like some sort of automaton (I certainly do not attribute that lack of love to the governor): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxKFJ3UAbco
Creating emotional content by rhetorical structure: Something as simple as repetition, when rightly done, can create emotional content. Here is an example, taken almost at random, from Thomas Brooks:
Look upon death as a rest, a full rest.
A believer’s dying day is his resting day . . .
This world was never made to be the saints’ rest.
Arise and depart, for this is not your resting place,
because it is polluted! (Micah 2:10)
Death brings the saints . . .
to a full rest,
to a pleasant rest,
to a matchless rest,
to an eternal rest!
To see many more such examples (this was a matter of which Brooks has particular skill) look for the “choice excerpts” from each of the books:
Here is a strategy for making an argument: I heard a variation on this technique explained by a senior lawyer when I was just a clerk, “Tell them what you’re going to tell them; tell them; tell them what you told them.”
State your proposition: Do not worry, because God is sovereign.
Elaborate, demonstrate, prove.
Restate your proposition: If you can do this in a pithy and clear way, even better.
In the first few sentence, Brooks raises the proposition:
First, There is a stoical silence. The stoics of old thought it altogether below a man that hath reason or understanding either to rejoice in any good, or to mourn for any evil; but this stoical silence is such a sinful insensibleness as is very provoking to a holy God, Isa. 26:10, 11. God will make the most insensible sinner sensible either of his hand here, or of his wrath in hell.
Having raised the proposition, Brooks next tells a story which demonstrates his point that a Stoical silence is actually wicked:
It is a heathenish and a horrid sin to be without natural affections, Rom. 1:31. And of this sin Quintus Fabius Maximus seems to be foully guilty, who, when he heard that his mother and wife, whom he dearly loved, were slain by the fall of an house, and that his younger son, a brave, hopeful young man, died at the same time in Umbria, he never changed his countenance, but went on with the affairs of the commonwealth as if no such calamity had befallen him. This carriage of his spoke out more stupidity than patience, Job 36:13.
And so Harpalus was not at all appalled when he saw two of his sons laid ready dressed in a charger, when Astyages had bid him to supper. This was a sottish insensibleness. Certainly if the loss of a child in the house be no more to thee than the loss of a chick in the yard, thy heart is base and sordid, and thou mayest well expect some sore awakening judgment.
Brooks interrupts the examples to stop make a comment upon the situation. By doing so, Brooks is showing you how to respond. Note the graphic language used express his outrage.
This age is full of such monsters, who think it below the greatness and magnanimity of their spirits to be moved, affected, or afflicted with any afflictions that befall them. I know none so ripe and ready for hell as these.
Having made his comment, provides yet another example (this time citing to Aristotle and Seneca, who would be understood as great human authorities – though certainly not as great as Scripture):
Aristotle speaks of fishes, that though they have spears thrust into their sides, yet they awake not. God thrusts many a sharp spear through many a sinner’s heart, and yet he feels nothing, he complains of nothing. These men’s souls will bleed to death. Seneca, Epist. x., reports of Senecio Cornelius, who minded his body more than his soul, and his money more than heaven; when he had all the day long waited on his dying friend, and his friend was dead, he returns to his house, sups merrily, comforts himself quickly, goes to bed cheerfully. His sorrows were ended, and the time of his mourning expired before his deceased friend was interred.
He makes another valuation, thus showing one should respond and then restates the original proposition: the silence commended in Scripture is not the silence of the Stoics:
Such stupidity is a curse that many a man lies under. But this stoical silence, which is but a sinful sullenness, is not the silence here meant.
Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 295.
 Thomas Brooks was a literary genius. If he had not been a Puritan, he almost certainly would be required reading in any literature department. He was Spurgeon’s favorite writer. As you read Brooks, you will see where Spurgeon learned his style of speaking and writing. In addition to be an extraordinary writer, Brooks was a profound and practical pastor. The quote is from a book of his called The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod. The book concerns how a Christian may properly respond to trials brought by God. In the first stage of his argument, he begins by explaining the possible meanings of the concept of silence in the face of trials. The section quoted is the first kind of “silence” which could be meant.
 Note the word play: Brooks works off of both the sound and the meaning of the words:
God will make
The most insensible sinner sensible [note the “s” sounds]
either of his hand here,
or of his wrath in hell.
1 Peter, 1 Peter 1:3-9, 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 1:4, A Preparation for Suffering in an Evil Day, Affliction, Biblical Counseling, Discipleship, Edward Polhill, John 11:35, love, Love, Obedience, Psalms 56:8, Puritan, Resignation, Romans 12:14, Self-denial, Suffering
A fourth aspect of love toward Christ lies in giving up one’s self wholly to the will of Christ, who disposes our ends and determines our place. A great deal of suffering lies not in the things itself but in our relationship to the thing. While all suffering necessarily entails pain and loss — and this is a point which we must not forget when living in love with a sister or brother who suffers: suffering is real, and we are called to enter into the suffering of others (“weep with those who weep”, Romans 12:14), and to comfort those who are afflicted (2 Cor. 1:4) — we often make our suffering worse by refusing to resign ourselves in love to our Savior.
The Christian who suffers is called to both know sorrow and joy at once. The suffering of this life causes real pain and brings real tears (John 11:35; Psalms 56:8). Yet, at the same time, there is a real joy which runs independently of the sorrow, for it is anchored, not in the circumstances, but in the eternal good of God:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Thus, we needlessly increase our suffering when we suffer without a sure love anchored in the surety that Christ has done us good. Yet, when we in holy resignation submit our will to the determination of Christ, knowing that that his toward us is sure, we prepare for and perserve in suffering.
In fact, we must realize that such love and resignation is our reasonable service to Christ — and it is a service for which we will rejoice. As Polhill explains:
Love to Christ stands in a holy benevolence towards him; it surrenders up the whole man to him; it endeavours to serve and honour him to the utmost. Thus those many thousands cry out, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing, (Rev. 5:11, 12); they give all to Christ. This is an excellent preparative for suffering. If we would serve him in other things, we must serve him in suffering for him; if we would honour him in obedience to other commands, we must honour him in taking up the cross too. St. Paul desired that Christ might be magnified in his body, whether it were by life or by death, (Phil 1:20). If he lived he would magnify Christ by active obedience; and if he died, he would do it by passive: either way he would have Christ glorified in him. The martyr, Romanus, having a multitude of wounds in his body, thanked the persecutor for opening so many mouths to glorify Christ. In nothing is Christ so much glorified as in his suffering saints; therein they demonstrate the highest love, seal up the evangelical truths with their own blood; practically prefer Christ before all the world, and offer up themselves for him who gave himself a sacrifice for them. O let us labour to make a total resignation of ourselves to him, that if sufferings come, we may be able to bear them for his sake.
Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 345-346 (Preparation for Suffering in an Evil Day).