“And you say, ‘Well the religions of the world say God is a God of love.’ Don’t you believe that. Buddhism doesn’t believe that God is personal. Neither does Hinduism really. And actually one time I remember having a dialogue, a public dialogue, with the Muslims–Muslims and Christians together–and we talked about God’s love. And the Muslims are willing to say ‘We believe in God being merciful,’ but when I brought up the Christian idea from the Bible, ‘God is our spouse, God is our lover, God is our father, God is our friend, God sheds his love abroad in my heart.’ And our Muslim friends said, ‘That is disrespectful. We would never talk about God that way.'” -Tim Keller, sermon “The God Who Is”
“As the power of God is infinite, so they [God’s people] conclude that it shall be invincible against all the assaults, outrages, preparations, and forces of the whole world. And, indeed, unless we ascribe this honor to God, our courage shall be always failing us.” -John Calvin, on Psalm 3
“Grace is the gift of God’s beneficent presence and activity–that is, the communication of God’s own light, life, and love to those who have neither the right to them nor a claim on God.” -Kevin Vanhoozer, Biblical Authority after Babel
“Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.” -John Stott, Christ the Controversialist
“This Divine economy [God’s design for the State], since Christ’s ascension to the right hand of God, is subject to the power of Jesus Christ, the glorified Lord. Through Him, the Father rules all things. His ascension, then, is of decisive historical significance. Though the establishment of the state is not christological but Trinitarian, the victory of Christ becomes a crisis for the state–and an intensification of the call to service. The kingdom of God has come with decision, and in this decision and the authority of Christ implied in it, all attempts by the ‘powers’ to gain autonomy are revealed as senseless. Nothing can triumph over this kingdom; neither the presumptive powers of the earth, who refuse to acknowledge their limitations, nor the powers ‘of the air’–powers concentrated in one power, in the power that fell as lightning from heaven when the kingdom of heaven triumphantly approached (Luk. 10:18). The decision still falls in government decisions for or against service to God.
This is not to say that only a Christian government is a valid government. When the cause of the Christian state is pleaded, it is not meant that only Christian government constitutes true government, nor that the Church should involve herself in government, but simply that, in the light of the Gospel, the state should be understood as servant, and that it should recognize and operate within its Divinely imposed limits. In the service of justice, which is continually menaced by human sin and by demons, the state makes a path through an ordered world. The state is not to be despised as being of trifling and external significance in the rule of God. To despise the state is to despise the state is to despises the Noahic covenant, is to underestimate the cross which restores and reestablishes God’s justice and law in the redemption of the world.” G.C. Berkouwer, The Providence of God, 118-119.
“This suggests, in turn, that obedience to government also has its limits. These limits become evident whenever the Divine authority that rests on human shoulders is misused. (This danger exists not only for government, but also for other bearers of authority, such as parents. Parental authority can also be demonized. Parents can misunderstand their calling and forget that theirs is a given and responsible authority.) The government can throw off its responsibility and became a power without service, a tyranny denying its own boundaries, boundaries to which Paul so clearly points in Romans 13 (cf. vs. 4). This defiance is certainly inspired by demonic influence, but on the human level, it in itself progresses to an exaggerated tension with and opposition to the economy of God.” -G.C. Berkouwer, The Providence of God, pg. 118.
BW COMMENT: Berkouwer’s parenthetical comment about the authority of parents is interesting. How many of us understand that our authority over our kids is God-given and not absolute? At some level, we all do, I suppose. And yet, put it differently, and maybe we realize we can forget that there are boundaries: our authority over our kids is given for a specific purpose. That purpose is to produce responsible (and hopefully, Christian) adult people. Phrased that way, one can see how easily our views of parental authority slip into other modes of power–something more despotic, just like what Berkouwer describes as happening in the State sometimes.
Came across this interesting quote from G.C. Berkouwer regarding the story of Joseph, and his word to his brothers near the end, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). Berkouwer says:
“God’s ‘thinking it for good’ makes His enemies accessories to the salvation of His people.” -G.C. Berkouwer, The Providence of God, pg. 93
“We do not deal with wrath and grace as two balanced determinants in history, but as a message that come to the world so that mercy may turn away anger, and that wrath be not accumulated unto the day of judgment.” -G.C. Berkouwer, The Providence of God, pg. 82
BW COMMENT: In other words, the reason Christians speak of a day of wrath isn’t because we want to consign anyone to that day, but so that all might avoid it.
“Even the dignity of the divine image remained with humankind [after the fall of man into sin], as later scriptures imply. Common grace, as Cornelius Van Til so brilliantly brought to light, embodies God’s faithfulness to this primary relationship.” Henri Blocher, Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle, pg. 89
BW COMMENT: It’s an interesting observation that common grace is evidence of God’s commitment to see creation and man still as his possession, as they were at the beginning. Common grace is God’s insistence on still maintaining what is good about his creation, even after it has come into sinful bondage. It is common grace that insures the integrity of creation as God’s handiwork today.