Friday, April 11, 2008

Nothing New Under The Sun

Of making many books there is no end...
Ecclesiastes 12:12
And, yet, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9) to be written about.

I was reminded of this while reading 17th century Puritan Thomas Shepherd's exposition of the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25). Just over two years ago, the Holy Spirit used John Piper's book Future Grace to awaken me (in such a way that I've never been the same since) to the sin-destroying, joy-enflaming, hope-sustaining reality of the power of God's grace as that which the Christian is alone to feed on. Why? Because this brings God the greatest glory. And nothing delights God more than to exalt His infinitely valuable name by showing Himself to be the great grace Giver that beggars such as us are always going deeper into debt to and will continue to for all of eternity. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. This wasn't John Piper's idea. Read (slowly and meditatively, as many times as you need to) Shephard say here what Piper takes four hundred pages to unfold over three hundred years later:

See how the Lord loves that that thou shouldst honor [grace], for the greatest honor grace has is by faith; hence they are put for one, (Rom. 4. 16) and the great cause why faith stirs not, is because he sees not how the Lord shall have by it the praise of his rich grace, nor how the Lord loves it should do so. For if a man did see how by faith he shall honor grace, and how the Lord is pleased with it, it would draw the heart to be assured, and to bless grace; for when the soul feels itself at worst, why doth it not believe? I shall presume. True, if you have this only in your eye, to save yourself; but if the Spirit presents the glory of grace, and this draws your will that you will glorify grace, then you will say it is no presumption so to do, and so to believe; for the Lord loves his grace, and all means for the glory of grace. Hence he will use faith for that end, to honor grace. O, therefore, see how the Lord loves to have thee honor it! This gives God's heart full rest; this is that which he desires most, because it is his end. This is that which all the business of the world is for. O, see how he loves it! and then you will love to act thus. Now, set upon this last work; look over all your life, and like bees gather honey from every flower, and then come loaden home; so do you, and look over all the Lord's love, turn over all the leaves of it. The Lord has called me. Why? It is because Christ has redeemed. And why that? Because the Father has chosen. And why me? To glorify his grace. And why me rather than another? No reason, but he would. This I doubt not will be the work of Heaven, I am glorified because called, because redeemed, because elected, for none other reason why, here astonished. You have not Christian hearts in you, that will now have no care to do this work there before you are turned off the stage. You, poor doubting spirits, that see so much vileness, and can not be persuaded, be not discouraged. Wait for the Lord, and say, If he shall save, I shall forever love him the more. Now, hold here, and be ready to do so, and it is certain thou art a vessel of glory, ready to sing the song of the Lamb, and shalt follow him wherever he goes (Parable of the Ten Virgins, p. 110).
And it wasn't Thomas Shephard's idea, either.

Help us, Father, to live each moment by the purifying power of faith in Your future grace. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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