I'm on page 59 of The Death of Death. I have to read it first thing in the morning, when my brain is fully rested and nicely caffeinated. I'm following the advice of the wise and brilliant J.I. Packer, and reading along with pen in hand and paper pad beside me. There is no way one can read this book without underlining. The Puritans had creative outlining procedures; they would begin with the number "1" and then under the number "1" they would break down the point, by using "(1)" and under that, . So far, I have not seen Owen use the more convenient alternating between letter and number. But I press on. It's rich stuff, to be sure.
In the section I just finished reading, he discusses two "peculiar acts" in the work of redemption. The first being the Father's sending of His son into the world, and the second, a laying of punishment due to our sin upon him. In this context of the first act, Owen discusses Christ as being sent as the Mediator, and then he outlines how the Father furnished Christ with all that was necessary to complete the work for which he was sent; he gave Christ a "fulness" of gifts and graces in order to accomplish God's purposes. One of those, Owen calls "a communicated fulness:"
The second fulness that was in Christ was a communicated fulness, which was in him by dispensation from his Father, bestowed upon him to fit him for his work and office as he was and is the "Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," I Tim ii. 5; not as he is the "Lord of hosts," but as he is "Emmanuel, God with us," Matt. 1. 23; as he was a "son given to us, called Wonderful, Counsellr, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Pece, upon whose shoulder the government was to be, " Isa. ix. 6. It is a fulness of grace; not that essential which is the nature of the Deity, but that which is habitual and infused into the humanity as personally united to the other; which, though it be not absolutely infinite, as the other is, yet it extends itself to all perfections of grace, both in respect of parts and degrees. There is no grace that is not in Christ, and every grace is in him in the highest degree: so that whatsoever the perfection of grace, either for the several kinds or respective advancements thereof, requireth, is in him habitually, by the collation of his Father for this very purpose, and for the accomplishment of the work designed; which, though (as before) it cannot properly be said to be infinite, yet it is boundless and endless. It is in him as the light in the beams of the sun, and as water in a living fountain which can never fail. He is the "candlestick" from whence the "golden pipes do empty the golden oil out of themselves," Zech. iv. 12, into all that are his, for he is "the beginning, the first-born from the dead, in all things having the pre-eminence; for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell," Col. 1. 18, 19.
It's interesting to see Christ in this way during the Christmas season. We look at the baby Jesus and we see a baby, of course, but this fulness was within this baby. Mind-boggling, isn't it?
I'm thankful this morning for my kids. I'm always thankful for them, but I was particularly thankful on Sunday. You see, my basement flooded for the second time in three months. Two weeks before Christmas is not a good time for such things. My basement is a mess. Room for extra Christmas food was eliminated, and industrial fans took up my dryer outlet (they had to use their own power source because there were seven fans running) and I had to hang my sons jeans to dry, something which made them stiff and unappealing.
Chaos is not good for me, though I'm getting better. There was a time when I couldn't even sit down with the newspaper unless the kitchen was spotless. I used to marvel at my mother-in-law who would sit and crochet for an hour or two in her housecoat on a Saturday morning while the kitchen was in disarray. I don't think well in chaos, so having this happen was a bit of a test, I suppose. We also had our Christmas tree out on the deck waiting to be brought in. We finally got it in once the restoration crew was here and cleaning up. My boys "helped" me with the tree. It is a running joke around here that I would like, someday, to have a tree that seems planned and co-ordinated. My kids don't want a tree like that, and I don't have one this year, once more. The boys decorated it, and it looks like two boys decorated it. My older son has a "special friend," who helped as well, and she tried to tame these two, but to no avail.
I am thankful for the fun we had that afternoon, despite the dismal, cold rain that fell, and the mess in the basement. My younger son is a piano player and seems to have some secret desire to be Victor Borge, and he and my other son did some strange Christmas carol duets, one which was a version of "O Holy Night," played to a circus rhythm. One son played the circus tune in the bass clef, and the other the melody in the treble. It was very funny, actually. And I was thankful for their humour, and their presence here, and the fact that it means so much to them that they decorate the tree. We missed my daughter, but we were all sending text messages to her while worked on the tree. She was at school in the library studying for exams. It was a blessing to have my kids here. I figure my days of having the perfect, "Martha Stewart" tree will never materialize; by the time I have my own tree, it will seem like it isn't really Christmas without the chaotic kind of tree.
Iain Murray concludes Revival and Revivalism with some concluding thoughts about the need for a revival today. This he does after first explaining that there is a difference between a revival and revivalism. One is a spontaneous manifestation of God's Spirit being poured out on His people, and the other is dependent upon certain measures undertaken by men. Unfortunately, the latter approach has come to be what people think of when they hear the word revival. While it is true that souls are converted by both measures, the latter has had a not altogether good influence on evangelicalism.
Murray talks about what the future generation of godly preachers must look like:
It may be that a generation of freshly-anointed preachers is already being prepared. Whether that is so or not, when such men are sent forth by Christ we can be sure of certain things. They will not be identical in all points with the men of the past, but there will be a fundamental resemblance. They will be hard students of Scripture. They will prize a great spiritual heritage. They will see the danger of 'unsanctified learning.' While they will not be afraid of controversy, nor of being called hyper-orthodox, they will fear to spend their days in controvesy. They will believe with John Rice that 'the church is not purified by controversy, but by holy love.' They will not forget that the wise, who will shine 'as the stars for ever and ever' are those who 'turn to righteousness' (Dan. 12:3). They will covet wisdom which Scripture attributes to the one 'that winneth souls' (Prov. 11:30). But their cheerfulness will have a higher source than their work. To know God himself will be their supreme concern and joy. They will therefore not be strangers to humility. And their experience will not be without trials and discouragements, not least because they fall so far short of their aspirations. If they are spared to live as long as John Leland they will be ready to say with at last: 'I have been unwearedly trying to preach Jesus, but have not yet risen to that state of holy zeal and evangelical knowledge, that I have been longing after.' Whether their days be bright or dark they will learn to say with Nettleton that 'the milk and honey lie beyond this wilderness world.'
I have been thinking a lot about friendships lately. I am blessed to have two women in my life whom I would consider really good frirends. They both love the Word of God; they desire to live their lives for Christ, and they desire to see the same for me. They are both busy women who still manage to make time for me, and I try to make a priority to spend time with them. We study the Word together; that makes for strong friendships. There are two other women whom I've been getting to know over the past number of months, and I foresee a long and blessed friendship with them, too.
But not all friendships run smoothly; sad to say, it happens even within the Body of Christ. There are those which have struggle and difficulty; sometimes, they are rather one-sided; there may be disagreement. I have had my share of those, and continue to have them.
I try to be a good friend, but I'm sure I fall short in many ways. I sometimes scratch my head, trying to figure out what I can do better at to make my friendships better. Sometimes, answers come, and sometimes, I never know, and sadly, those friendships cool and friends become acquaintences. I wish it was otherwise.
I guess the bottom line is that we must remember that our friendships within the Body of Christ are different than the run of the mill friendships. My friends are part of the body; they are a part of me. Nurturing them means nurturing myself, and the entire body as well. I'm trying to remember that as I go along. It took me a long time to even consider being friends with women, because as a teenage girl, I didn't have positive experiences, and it was not until I was about 25 that I put much effort into it. The two women I'm closest to have taught me a lot about being a good friend because they are good friends to me. It seems to me that we should nurture these relationships within the body of Christ because it is good for the body. I have learned a lot about nurturing friendships from my two friends.
As I grow older and my kids become more and more independent, I think it's a good idea for me to foster female frindships. Not that I want to "replace" my children or husband, but I have to remember that parenting will change, and I don't want to find myself unable to cope with changes down the road. Of course, I have the comfort of the Lord, but I also recognize that I don't live in a vacuum, and part of my life of faith is an outward one, whether it is teaching or just ministering to a friend in some way.
A few weeks ago, my son wanted to me to do something for him, but I was unable to because I was away for the weekend with my friend at a bible conference. He seemed rather put out. My daughter said to him sarcastically, "Oh shame on her for having her own life!" I had to laugh at that.
Sometimes, I am busy, and nurturing my friendships is work. But it's work worth making the time for. Anytime I work at thinking outside of myself is time well spent.