Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.

                         

Sunday
Jun162019

Sunday's Hymn: Sometimes a Light Surprises

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises
With healing in his wings:
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation,
And find it ever new;
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow
Bring with it what it may.

It can bring with it nothing
But he will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing
Will clothe his people too:
Beneath the spreading heavens
No creature but is fed;
And he who feeds the ravens
Will give his children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit shall bear,
Though all the field should wither,
Nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice,
For, while in him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

—William Cowper

 

 Other hymns, worship songs, or quotes for this Sunday:

Saturday
Jun152019

Selected Reading

I read (or watched or heard) these recently and recommend them to you.

Theology

The Reformed View of Predestination and Is God Equally Active In Causing the Salvation of the Elect and the Damnation of the Reprobate?
I would have linked these two in last week’s theological term post on reprobation if they had existed then. I’ll probably add them to that post soon.

The Aseity of God
This month’s issue of Credo Magazine is all about the aseity of God: “Does God depend on you? Is he a needy God, one that relies on his creation not only for his existence but for his happiness and fulfillment? The instinct of many Christians is to answer yes to questions like these. In an effort to make God more relational, the Creator is turned into the creature. God becomes just as dependent on us as we are on him. But the scriptures paint a different picture of God. Self-existence and self-sufficient, he is a God of aseity. He looks to no one for life, for he is life in and of himself. As it turns out, God does not depend on us, but we depend on him, from the air we breathe to the everlasting life we need.” 

Education

The Case for Cursive
Six reasons everyone should write in cursive.

Christian Living

7 Ways to Shepherd the Terminally Ill
This is written specifically for pastor’s and elders, but most of the point are useful for any Christian who wants to be a good friend to someone who is dying.

Friday
Jun142019

As the Holy Spirit Says

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

         “Today, if you hear his voice … .” ( Hebrews 3:7 ESV)

In Hebrews 3, the author quotes four and a half verses from Psalm 95, and he introduces them with five word: As the Holy Spirit says. It’s a phrase the reader may be tempted to pass over without much thought, because it’s not directly connected to the main point of the passage. But this is scripture, so there are no throwaway lines. 

What can we learn from this seemingly insignificant phrase?

First, it teaches us something about the psalm that is quoted. We do not know the human author of Psalm 95, but according to Hebrews, the psalmist’s own words are also the Holy Spirit speaking. 

By extension, this applies to all the psalms. David, Solomon, Asaph, and the others psalmists spoke “from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).” They crafted their psalms using their own words and their own poetic skills, yet each psalm is also the voice of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is speaking his thoughts through them.

Not too long ago, I heard someone attribute a mildly imprecatory portion of one of the psalms to the psalmist’s immaturity. I’m pretty sure the author of Hebrews would not endorse this idea. If what he says here is true—if the words of a psalmist are also the words of the Holy Spirit—when we interpret the Psalms, shouldn’t we start by assuming that they are expressions of mature wisdom and principled ethics, even the imprecatory bits? When we read the Psalms, we hear human voices, but they are sanctified human voices, inspired by the Holy Spirit. No matter how “immature” the psalmist was, because he was carried along by the Holy Spirit, his conclusions are righteous and his petitions are holy.

Second, this little phrase teaches something about the Holy Spirit. Several of the Old Testament quotes used in Hebrews are attributed to God (1:5-8, 13; 5:5-6; 8:5-8), including, in the next chapter, the first line of this same citation from Psalm 95 (4:8). The same words are said to be spoken by the Holy Spirit in chapter 3 and by God in chapter 4. According to the author of Hebrews, then, when the Holy Spirit speaks, God speaks. Or to put it another way, when “God spoke to [the] fathers by the prophets (Hebrews 1:1)” it was also the Holy Spirit speaking. This puts the Holy Spirit in the same league as God, and is a strong statement of the deity of the Spirit.

What’s more, a Holy Spirit who says something isn’t just an impersonal force. If he speaks, he has personality; he is a person.

These five easy-to-overlook words from Hebrews 3, then, are more important than they might seem. They contain a piece of the doctrine of scripture and two building blocks for the doctrine of the Trinity.