The Valley of the Shadow of Death

“There is no doubt that a shadow is a dark place to be. But when the Lord is our shepherd, we no longer have to fear the dark places that death takes us. In the shadows we reach out to find him beside us, and the fear of the unknown fades. When he gently uses his rod of correction to prod us in the right direction and his staff of compassion to draw us close, we find comfort.” -Nancy Guthrie

Theories of Suffering

  1. Suffering is real and will not go away. But death comes as the end, and death brings an end to suffering and [gives] eventual peace. [MATERIALISM]
  2. Suffering is an illusion. It simply is not there, but is imagined. [EASTERN RELIGIONS]
  3. Suffering is real, but we ought to be able to rise above it and recognize that it is of little importance. [EXISTENTIALISM]
  4. God suffered in Christ. God knows what it is like to suffer, and therefore can offer help to sufferers. [CHRISTIANITY]

 

From Alister McGrath, I Believe

Why “Glorify God, By Enjoying Him Forever” May Be Wrong, But Not For The Reason Some Have Said

The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism says: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

When John Piper wrote his classic Desiring God, he argued that one word in that answer should be swapped out for another word. He said it should read: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.”

This viewpoint rankled some confessional Reformed folks, who were quick to point out that some will glorify God, not by enjoying him but by being damned by him eternally [i.e. reprobation]. Thus, Piper’s revision is not correct; the chief end of man is not to glorify God by enjoying him. The argument goes, God will be glorified by men despite their not enjoying him. They will glorify God, not actively but passively.

This is an ingenious kind of response, as it rightly recognizes that God is glorified even among rebels who refuse to believe in him. But as an exegesis of WSC 1, it is dreadfully wrong.

This becomes clear when one consults question two of the catechism which says, “What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him? The word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.”

Properly speaking, if the shorter catechism had been talking about how God is glorified even in damning sinners, the answer to ‘What rule has God given to direct us how…’ is: “his mysterious, sovereign decree,” as that is the basis behind God’s being glorified in all things, even damnation.

But because the catechism points to Scripture as a guide to glorifying and enjoying God, the intent is more narrow, focusing on the design of humanity in general. WSC 2 shows that Piper (even if his swapped verbiage is unnecessary) was closer to the intent of the Q&A1 than some of his detractors have been. WSC 1 is talking about God’s revealed design that humanity should enjoy fellowship with a glorious God forever, and WSC 2 explains how humanity in general gains the knowledge needed for that fellowship: Scripture.

That some do not enter into this fellowship for which humanity was created is dealt with elsewhere in the confessional standards. But it is reading into the text to see those concerns in WSC 1, for it truly and simply is about a blessed invitation offered to all people without exception.

Revelation is…

Wilson

“The biblical word for this is “revelation.” The Greek word has the sense of unveiling, disclosure, even dénouement— that moment in the story when you finally realize who someone is, and what it means. No earthly stories can prepare us for what this will be like, because King Richard and King Kong are laughable in comparison to King Jesus. But there are a number of times in Scripture when Yahweh is suddenly seen to be the God of gods, and the Bible suggests that the return of Jesus will be something like these.” -Andrew Wilson, Incomparable