Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Quiet Heart of Prayer

For most of us, perhaps, it is still harder to secure the quiet heart. The contemplationists of the Middle Ages desired to present themselves before God in silence, that He might teach them what their lips should utter, and their hearts expect. Stephen Gurnall acknowledges that it is far more difficult to hang up the big bell than it is to ring it when it has been hung. Mc’Cheyne used to say that very much of his prayer time was spent in preparing to pray.  A new England Puritan writes: “While I was at the Word, I saw I had a wild heart, which was as hard to stand and abide before the presence of God in an ordinance, as a bird before any man. And Bunyan remarks from his own deep experience: “O ! the starting-holes that the heart hath in the time of prayer; none knows how many bye-ways the heart hath and back-lanes, to slip away from the presence of God.”

There are, in particular, three great, but simple acts of faith, which will serve to stay the mind on God.

1) Let us, in the first place, recognize our acceptance before God through the dying of the Lord Jesus. When a pilgrim, either of the Greek or of the Latin Church, arrives in Jerusalem, his first act, before ever he seeks refreshment or rest, is to visit the traditional scene of the Redeemer’s passion. Our first act in prayer ought to be the yielding of our souls to the power of the blood of Christ. It was in the power of the ritual sacrifice that the high priest in Israel passed through the veil on the day of atonement. It is in the power of the accepted offering of the Lamb of Divine appointment that we are privileged to come into the presence of God. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which He dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having a Great High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart, in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body washed with pure water: let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for He is faithful that promised” (Heb. 10:19-23, R.V.).

“Were I with the trespass laden

Of a thousand worlds beside,

Yet by that path I enter –

The blood of the Lamb who died.”

2) It is important also that we confess and receive the enabling grace of the Divine Spirit, without whom nothing is holy, nothing good. For it is He who teaches us to cry, “Abba, Father,” who searches for us the deep things of God, who discloses to us the mind and will of Christ, who helps our infirmities, and intercedes on our behalf “according to God.”21 And we all, “with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). When we enter the inner chamber we should present ourselves before God in meekness and trust, and open our hearts to the incoming and infilling of the Holy Ghost. So we shall receive from the praying Spirit, and commit to the praying Christ, those petitions which are of Divine birth, and express themselves, through our finite hearts and sin-stained lips, in “groanings which cannot be uttered.” Without the support of the Holy Spirit, prayer becomes a matter of incredible difficulty. “As for my heart,” said one who was deeply exercised in this engagement, “when I go to pray, I find it so loath to go to God, and when it is with Him, so loath to stay with Him, that many times I am forced in my prayers, first to beg of God that He would take mine heart, and set it on Himself in Christ, and when it is there, that He would keep it there. Nay, many times I know not what to pray for, I am so blind, nor how to pray, I am so ignorant; only, blessed be grace, the Spirit helps our infirmities.”

3) Once more, as “the Spirit rides most triumphantly in His own chariot,” His chosen means of enlightenment, comfort, quickening, and rebuke being the Word of God, it is well for us in the beginning of our supplications to direct our hearts towards the Holy Scriptures. It will greatly help to calm the “contrary” mind if we open the sacred volume and read it as in the presence of God, until there shall come to us out from the printed page a word from the Eternal. George Mueller confessed that often he could not pray until he had steadied his mind upon a text.  Is it not the prerogative of God to break the silence? “When Thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Psa. 27:8). Is it not fitting that His will should order all the acts of our prayer with Himself? Let us be silent to God, that He may fashion us.

“So shall I keep

For ever in my heart one silent space;

A little sacred spot of loneliness,

Where to set up the memory of Thy Cross,

A little quiet garden, where no man

May pass or rest for ever, sacred still

To visions of Thy sorrow and Thy love.”

David MacIntyre (1859 – 1938), The Hidden Life of Prayer, Chapter 2.


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Why Did Christ Come?

You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. – 1 John 3:5

When we think about the Lord Jesus Christ and especially  about His death on that cross on Calvary’s hill, what is its purpose?  Is it just something about which we sentimentalise?  What does it represent to us?  We have to ask, Why was the Son of God born into this world as a baby in Bethlehem?  What is the meaning of the Incarnation?  Why did He ever leaves the courts of heaven and come in that way into this world?  Then, why did He spend His life as He did those first thirty years?  What is the meaning of His preaching and His teaching and His miracles?  What is the purpose of His life here on earth, and above all, why that cross?  Why this manifestation and demonstration; why the burial and the rising again and the appearance and the Ascension?  What is the explanation of it all?

That is the question that John answers here, and let me first put the answer in its negative form.  Our Lord did not only come to give us a revelation of God, though that is a part of the purpose.  He said, ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father’ (John 14:9), and we also read, ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him’ (John 1:18).  But that is not all, though He has indeed revealed the Father and has come to do that.  In the same way, He has not only come to teach us about God.  There is incomparable teaching here, such as the world has never known before and has not known since, but He did not come only to do that.  There is also, of course, the example of His life, a matchless one, but He has not come only to give us an example of how we should live in this world.  He is not just a teacher or a moral exemplar; He has not come to give us some kind of picture as to the nature and being of God.  All that is there, but that is not the real reason, says John.

He has really come, he says, because of our sins, because of the predicament and the position of men and women, because of this whole question of the law.  He has not come only to instruct us and to give us encouragement in our endeavor and a great example.  No, there is a fundamental problem at the back of it all, and that is our relationship to God in the light of God’s holy law.  We are under the law, and He has really come because of that.  ‘Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.’  So it is only as we understand this whole question of sin in terms of law that we can possibly understand why He came and especially why He ever went to that cruel death upon the cross.  He came, as the New Testament tells us everywhere, because in a sense He had to come if we were to be delivered.  He came because there was no other way whereby we could be redeemed and rescued. He came ‘to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19:10).  He came because of this whole question of what sin has done to us and the position in which it has landed us with respect to God and His holy law.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), Life in Christ, 309-10.

Page CXVI – How Deep the Father’s Love

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Grace Trumps Performance

On a good day we may get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off and have a refreshing quiet time. Events of the day generally fall out the right way and we encounter no significant sin issues. A bad day is just the opposite. We oversleep, skip our quiet time, muddle through a difficult day, and struggle all day long with sinful thoughts (resentment, envy, frustration, lust, etc.). On which of those days would you be more expectant of God’s blessing or answers to prayer? Your answer to that question reveals whether you are living by your works, or by the gospel.

Our default setting is to live by our works. But let me repeat a statement that I made to a group of college students some twenty years ago that is still valid and speaks to the good day and bad day scenarios: Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.

Every day of our lives should be a day of relating to God on the basis of his grace alone, for every day of our lives we are not yet perfect. Someday we will be. Someday each of us will go to be with the Lord (if he does not return first), and at that time we will join the spirits of “the righteous made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23). We look forward to that day with anticipation and hope. In the meantime, despite having died to the dominion of sin through our union with Christ, we still struggle with the presence and activity of sin that remains in us.

So if we are going to grow in the realization of who we are in Christ, we must come to terms with the reality that we are not yet perfect; the presence and activity of sin is still alive and well within us. The reason we must accept this fact is that we cannot look to Christ for our identity if we are still trying to find something about ourselves to prop up our self-esteem. To really grow in the wonderful reality of who we are in Christ, we must abandon any desire to find something within ourselves that makes us acceptable to God.

This does not mean that we should not aspire to grow in holiness, nor does it mean we will never see progress in our lives. It certainly does not mean that we should shrug off the expressions of remaining sin with the thought, “Oh well, that’s just the way I am.” No, all the moral imperatives in the New Testament imply that we are to seriously pursue growth in Christian character. Consider just a few:

  • We are to put off the old self and put on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24).
  • We are to put to death the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13).
  • We are to put on such character traits as compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and      love (Colossians 3:12-14).
  • We are to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11).
  • We are to make every effort to grow in all the traits of Christian character (2 Peter 1:5-7).

These are just representative of many moral imperatives scattered throughout the New Testament. There is no question that it is God’s will that we pursue a holy and Christlike life.

But though we are to vigorously pursue spiritual maturity, both in putting to death sinful traits and putting on Christlike traits, we must never think that God’s approval and acceptance of us is earned by our progress. God is obviously pleased when we seek to please him (Colossians 1:10), but his acceptance of us is based entirely on the work of Christ alone in his sinless life and sin-bearing death.

Let’s return to that thought that God is pleased when we seek to please him. How do our efforts please God? It is by our motive more than it is our actions. If our motive, even unconsciously, is to earn God’s approval and blessing by our obedience, then he is not pleased, because that motive actually demeans the perfect obedience of Christ in our place. It suggests that the work of Christ on our behalf was insufficient, so we need to step in and help out. The motive that God finds acceptable is joyful gratitude for the fact that Christ has already perfectly obeyed for us.

[T]he concept of Christ’s ownership of our lives is radical and comprehensive. At the risk of overusing the word radical, I want to say that the motive of obeying God out of gratitude, instead of out of the assumption that obedience earns God’s blessing, is a radical concept. It is radical in the sense that the vast majority of believers do not understand what it means to be “in Christ” and to find their basic identity in him. They do not understand the truth of our representative union with him so that his obedience becomes our obedience, and his death for sin becomes our death for sin.

Jerry Bridges, Who Am I?, 92-95.

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To Which City Does Your Heart Belong: Of God or Of Man?

Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, “Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head” (Psalm 3:3).  In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, “I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength” (Psalm 18:1). And therefore the wise men of the one city, living according to man, have sought for profit to their own bodies or souls, or both, and those who have known God “glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise,”—that is, glorying in their own wisdom, and being possessed by pride,—“they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” For they were either leaders or followers of the people in adoring images, “and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever” (Romans 1:21-25). But in the other city there is no human wisdom, but only godliness, which offers due worship to the true God, and looks for its reward in the society of the saints, of holy angels as well as holy men, “that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Augustine (354-430), The City of God, Book XIV, 28.

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Making the Connection with Your Kids (or Even Yourself), Part 2

In the previous post we introduced the practice of making the connection between Christ and the OldTestament, following the way of interpretation of Jesus and the apostles.  Seeking to understanding how to do this as well as how to help others see the glory of God’s revelation to us, we looked at the first principle for making the connection: we must love Christ.  Now we will consider the last two principles.

2. Love the Gospel

This leads us to our second principle: we must love the gospel.  You see, the greatest revelation of God in Christ is in the gospel.  Before we can talk about loving the gospel we must know what it is.  In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul writes:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

Jared Wilson writes concerning the gospel:

This is the basic, nonnegotiable truth of the news that God declares good. Notice that it is not advice, not suggestion, not instruction. Nor is it vague spirituality, steps to enlightenment, skills to implement, or precepts to practice. It is information; it is an announcement. It is news. News to be believed, yes, but it is not news of something that has yet to happen or something we can make happen, but rather something that has already happened and was made to happen by God himself. (Gospel Wakefulness)

Narrowly, the gospel is the event of the coming, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus for the purpose of redeeming His people and His glory.  Just as loving Christ begins and consists of trusting Him for who He is and what He has done, loving the gospel begins and consists of trusting it as the power of God to save, keep, and bring you to completion.  You do not merely come to the gospel to be saved, but it is the very life source of the Christian.  We never move beyond the need of God’s grace and therefore we never move beyond our need of the gospel.  The more we dig into the truths of and around the gospel (God’s plan of redemption, His faithfulness, His sovereignty, man’s depravity, the incarnation, substitution, propitiation, reconciliation, sanctification, and so much more) the more we will come to love the gospel and the more we will love Christ, resulting in seeing more of Him in the Old Testament.

While to love Christ is to love the gospel, loving the biblical gospel secures a right understanding of the very purpose of the Scriptures – God’s revelation of Himself and His work on behalf of His people.  Jesus illustrates this as He speaks to two men on the road to Emmaus:

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)

If we are to make the connection with our kids we must show them our love for the gospel through our own need of and dependence upon God’s work in Christ in our daily lives.

3. Love the Old Testament

The last principle (though not exhaustive) to make the connection between Christ and the Old Testament is that we must love the Scriptures, especially the Old Testament.  The reason I highlight the Old is due to the assumption that most Christians have rightly strong affections toward the New Testament but feel strangely, at least, reading or understanding the Old.  You see, the Old Testament is not merely writings that point to Christ, they are about Him.  Roger Nicole estimates that more that 10 percent of the New Testament is made up of either direct quotations of or allusions to Old Testament texts, validating the need to know and love the Old as much as the New.

So how do we come to love the Old Testament?  Goldsworthy is helpful here:

As Christians, we must return to he principles of Old Testament interpretation dictated by the New Testament.   When Jesus says that he gives the Old Testament meaning, he is also saying that we need the Old Testament to understand what he says about himself.  Jesus drives us back to the Old Testament to examine it through Christian eyes, teaching that it leads us back to him.

In doing biblical theology as Christians, we do not start at Genesis 1 and work our way forward until we discover where it is all leading.  Rather we first come to Christ, and he directs us to study the Old Testament in the light of the gospel.  The gospel will interpret the Old Testament by showing us its goal and meaning.  The Old Testament will increase our understanding of the gospel by showing us what Christ fulfills (According to Plan, 54-5).

Once again we have a self-sustaining method here.  Just as love for the gospel increases our love for Christ, love for the Old Testament fuels our love for the gospel and Christ.  If you only read the New Testament the gospel of the glory of Christ will not be seen in all its glory, for it was not a mere plan B for God but was His choice before the foundation of the world and has been progressively revealed since He, through Christ the Word, spoke everything into being.

Yes, of course, read the New Testament for it is the promise fulfilled and applied but to see the depths of God’s wisdom, power, and grace we must read and glory in the history of redemption as revealed in the Old Testament.  Do this and you will find your love for the New Testament, your love of the gospel, and your love for Christ stronger and spilling over into the lives of your kids and those with whom you come into contact.

Helpful Resources:

For Adults:

Grame Goldsworthy, According to PlanChrist-Centered Biblical Theology

Edmund Clowney, Unfolding the Mystery, Preaching Christ in All of Scripture

Mark Dever, The Message of the Old Testament, The Message of the New Testament

Nancy Guthrie, The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament, The Promised One

For Kids:

Marty Machowski, Long Story Short, The Gospel Story Bible

Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible

Crossway Bibles, ESV Seek and Find Bible

Susan and Richie Hunt, Discovering Jesus in Genesis, Discovering Jesus in Exodus

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Making the Connection with Your Kids (or Even Yourself), Part 1

As I was driving around with my oldest daughter (7 1/2) a few days ago, out of nowhere she strikes up a discussion about David and Goliath.  She asks, “That rock could’t really have killed Goliath, could it?”  Assuring her of the deadly capabilities of the rock, I explained that it was not merely the stone flung by David’s sling that brought the fatal blow, but God had helped David defeat Goliath to save His people.  Then, as though a streak of lightning flashed across her mind, she said enthusiastically, “Jesus is like the rock.”

While desiring to correct her theology a little (being the doctrinal nitpicker that I am), I sought to affirm her line of thinking first.  She was making the connection between an Old Testament story and Christ.  This was surely laudable and I told her that it was a reason to thank God, for it is only by His help that she could begin to discern such things.  After that I began to help her make a better connection, telling her that rather than the stone being like Jesus, it was David, the soon to be king of God’s people.  You see, David was a type (a physical representation of some type of spiritual/physical reality for future application) of Christ.  He was God’s chosen king to rule over His people in His place (the promised land).  In the event of David and Goliath, we see God’s chosen man defeating the enemy of God’s people so that they may be saved.  This typologically represents Christ, as He was and is God’s chosen One (1 Peter 2:4) sent to defeat the enemies of God’s people (sin, death, and the devil – Hebrews 2:14-18) that they may be saved through His life, death, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  In Christ we have a much better David, a much better king, a much better victory, and all of this is foreshadowed by the Old Testament narrative.

Now you may be thinking what I just said is crazy or at least a far reach in understanding Scripture.  Or maybe you are wondering how someone comes to view the Bible as a whole as well as its particulars in such a way as mentioned.  Look, with me, to John 5:39 where Jesus declares:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…

Referring to the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus rebukes the Jewish religious leaders of His day for not reading the Word of God rightly.  They saw it as a book of law through which they could find eternal life rather than a drama unfolding before their eyes of the promise and fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption.  You see, the Old Testament is not merely writings about laws, covenants, historical events and peoples, but it is primarily a book about the promises of, the need for, and the coming of Christ, seen in a multitude of types and symbols.  To miss this inherent connection evokes a similar rebuke from Jesus as that to the Jews.

So, how do we make the connection with our kids and even ourselves?  How do we keep from using the Old Testament as a book of moral/character lessons? How do we come to see, understand, and stand in awe of the revelation of God to us through Jesus Christ from the beginning of Scripture to the end?

Principles for Making the Connection between Christ and the Old Testament:

1. Love Christ 

If we are to make the connection between Christ and the Old Testament we must love Christ.  What I mean is this: you are not going to see, understand, or glory in God’s unfolding plan of redemption if you have not become a partaker of the very redemption He has brought in the person and work of Jesus.  2 Corinthians 4:3-6 proclaims:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 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. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 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.

Jesus said, in John 14:21:

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

When I say you must love Christ I am referring to whether you know and have come to trust Him for who He is: the divine Word become flesh, fulfiller of all righteousness, bearer of the wrath of God for sin, the innocent Lamb voluntarily led to the slaughter, risen Lord and reigning King of all, and your only hope of life everlasting.  If you do not love Him in this way, you will not see Him revealed in the Scriptures, for you cannot, being blinded by your hardened heart, the deception of sin, and the work of the devil.  It is only through the gospel of the glory of Christ that eyes are opened, hearts made to love, minds renewed, and the Word truly appreciated and understood as God intends.  All this comes as a gracious gift from God by the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2).

If you are going to make the connection between Christ and the Old Testament with your kids you must love Christ.  They need to see and hear of your love for Him and His Word.  Most people’s trouble in seeing the connections is not that they are hidden gnostic treasures but that we have had very little good examples to follow in their homes and churches.

In the next post we will look at the last two principles in making the connection between Christ and the Old Testament and some resources to aid you in this endeavor.

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The Cry of a Restless Heart

i (i) `You are great, Lord, and highly to be praised (Ps. 47: 2): great is your power and your wisdom is immeasurable’ (Ps. 146:5). Man, a little piece of your creation, desires to praise you, a human being `hearing his mortality with him’ (2 Cor. 4: t o), carrying with him the witness of his sin and the witness that you `resist the proud’ (1 Pet. 5:5). Nevertheless, to praise you is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.’

‘Grant me Lord to know and understand’ (Ps. i 18: 34, 73, 144) which comes first-to call upon you or to praise you, and whether knowing you precedes calling upon you. But who calls upon you when he does not know you? For an ignorant person might call upon someone else instead of the right one. But surely you may he called upon in prayer that you may he known. Yet ‘how shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe without a preacher?’ (Rom. to: 14). ‘”They will praise the Lord who seek for him’ (Ps. 21: 27).

In seeking him they find him, and in finding they will praise him. Lord, I would seek you, calling upon you-and calling upon you is an act of believing in you. You have been preached to us. My faith, Lord, calls upon you. It is your gift to me. You breathed it into me by the humanity of your Son, by the ministry of your preacher.’

ii (2) How shall I call upon my God, my God and Lord? Surely when I call on him, I am calling on him to come into me. But what place is there in me where my God can enter into me? ‘God made heaven and earth’ (Gen. t: i). Where may he come to me? Lord my God, is there any room in me which can contain you? Can heaven and earth, which you have made and in which you have made me, contain you? Without you, whatever exists would not exist. Then can what exists contain you? I also have being. So why do I request you to come to me when, unless you were within me, I would have no being at all? I am not now possessed by Hades; yet even there are you (Ps. 138: 8): for `even if I were to go down to Hades, you would he present’. Accordingly, my God, I would have no being, I would not have any existence, unless you were in me. Or rather, I would have no being if I were not in you `of whom are all things, through whom are all things, in whom are all things’ (Rom. 11: 36). Even so, Lord, even so. How can I call on you to come if I am already in you? Or where can you come from so as to be in me? Can I move outside heaven and earth so that my God may come to me from there? For God has said `I fill heaven and earth’ (Jer. 23: 24)….

iv (4) Who then are you, my God? What, I ask, but God who is Lord? For `who is the Lord but the Lord’, or `who is God but our God?’ (Ps. 17: 32). Most high, utterly good, utterly powerful, most omnipotent, most merciful and most just, deeply hidden yet most intimately present, perfection of both beauty and strength, stable and incomprehensible, immutable and yet changing all things, never new, never old, making everything new and `leading’ the proud’to be old without their knowledge’ (Job 9:5, Old Latin version); always active, always in repose, gathering to yourself but not in need, supporting and filling and protecting, creating and nurturing and bringing to maturity, searching even though to you nothing is lacking: you love without burning, you are jealous in a way that is free of anxiety, you ‘repent’ (Gen. 6: 6) without the pain of regret, you are wrathful and remain tranquil. You will a change without any change in your design. You recover what you find, yet have never lost. Never in any need, you rejoice in your gains (Luke 15: 7); you are never avaricious, yet you require interest (Matt. 25: 27). We pay you more than you require so as to make you our debtor, yet who has anything which does not belong to you? (1 Cor. 4: 7). You pay off debts, though owing nothing to anyone; you cancel debts and incur no loss. But in these words what have I said, my God, my life, my holy sweetness? What has anyone achieved in words when he speaks about you? Yet woe to those who are silent about you because, though loquacious with verbosity,’ they have nothing to say.

v (5) Who will enable me to find rest in you? Who will grant me that you come to my heart and intoxicate it, so that I forget my evils and embrace my one and only good, yourself? What are you to me? Have mercy so that I may find words. What am I to you that you command me to love you, and that, if I fail to love you, you are angry with me and threaten me with vast miseries? If I do not love you, is that but a little misery? What a wretch I am! In your mercies, Lord God, tell me what you arc to me. `Say to my soul, I am your salvation’ (Ps. 34: 3). Speak to me so that I may hear. See the cars of my heart are before you, Lord. Open them and `say to my soul, I am your salvation.’ After that utterance I will run and lay hold on you. Do not hide your face from me (cf. Ps. 26: 9). Lest I die, let me die so that I may see it.`

Saint Augustine (354-430), Confessions, 3-5.

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