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The sense of gasp

In the introductory lecture in the series "Introduction to Pastoral and Theological Studies," Derek Thomas first provided a list of distinctives of good theology. He narrows this discussion further by talking about what is Reformed theology.

Thomas recognizes that there are misunderstandings about what Reformed really means. There are people in my life who think Reformed means nothing other than infant baptism and particular redemption. Thomas lists the distinctives of Reformed theology:

  1. Authority of Scripture
  2. Sovereignty of God
  3. The Majesty of God
  4. Invincibility of Grace
  5. The Christian Life
  6. Third use of the Law
  7. Relationship Between Kingdom of God and Kingdom of the World
  8. The Church/Preaching

I won't take the time to provide details, but I do want to mention what he said in the context of The Majesty of God. When he defined it, he used words like awe, incomprehensible, answerable to no one. He also used a phrase: "a sense of gasp."

Imagine Isaiah in Isaiah 6, before the throne of God, watching the seraphim, hearing their cry: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is filled with his glory!"

Imagine him as the foundations of the thresholds shook and the voice called out amid the smoke. What is Isaiah's response? "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!"

Do you think he might have gasped a little? 

This is why I love to hear theology expounded, and to read it myself: the sense of gasp.  The more I study theology, the more I study Scripture and see God revealed in its pages, and the more I amazed I am. I may not be given a view of God like Isaiah, but I have something he didn't have: the entire revelation of God. Do you ever put down your bible, or a book, or finish a sermon, and feel like Isaiah? Woe is me?

Thomas also quoted Herman Bavinck: "Mystery is the vital element of dogmatics."

This is not mystery that we must unravel, but mystery that is revealed to us. We won't understand everything, but he will reveal what we need to know of his majesty. God is not a pet to be domesticated. He's not a genie meant to serve our every whim. This majesty doesn't make him untouchable, for we have free access to him in Christ. But the majesty of God reminds us who he is and who we are not.

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