Monday, February 28, 2011

Outloved by no heretic's god

In vain the firstborn seraph tries
to sound the depths of love divine.
-C. Wesley

The statement could perhaps be made that it is impossible to overestimate the degree of any attribute possessed by God. When we say God is faithful we could never overestimate His faithfulness. Or when we say He is just we could never overestimate His justice. No entity exists which possesses a higher degree of faithfulness or justice than God. I think this same rule can be applied to His other attributes. There are two attributes of God where I think this truth is especially important. This is because one of these attributes tends to be distorted and then underestimated in reaction to that distortion. The other of these attributes is either completely ignored or greatly underestimated even by the majority of those claiming the name "Christian." The first attribute is the love of God and the second is the holiness of God. And these two attributes and seeing them in their fullness are linked to one-another.

Most simply, in regards to God's love, it is twisted into a false licentiousness-encouraging attribute where God becomes not only a lover of sinners but also a lover of sin if not at least an affirmer of sinfulness. It is this false conception of the love of God which will speak of Christ spending time with and befriending notorious sinners while it refuses to speak of Him calling them to repentance. It is this false-love which will tell the story of the woman caught in adultery and Christ saying, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her (John 8:7)," but will leave off the end of the story where Christ says to this woman, "go, and from now on sin no more (John 8:11)." Christ's love was a love which defended the sinner but it was also a love which condemned sin and commanded repentance.

In reaction to this twisted version of God's love some who are orthodox in theology begin to speak as if this heretical conception of God, often held by theological liberals, is of a God too loving. This implies that the orthodox understanding of God, that is the true understanding, is of a God less loving. But the moment a "God less loving" is conceived of, this attribute of God, His love, is thought of in such a way that there could be an entity possessing a greater degree or quality of love than God. The God of whom it was written, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "God is love (1 John 4:8b)," is not a God who should be thought of as possessing the attribute of love to a lesser degree than He possesses all of His other attributes such as omnipotence or omniscience. The love of God is not an attribute which can be overestimated.

God's love is underestimated in response to a heretical error. His holiness is underestimated out of our own sinful blindness to spiritual reality. It is uncomfortable and inconvenient to think of God's holiness. Our sinful flesh wants to bring God down to our level. Our sinful flesh wants to believe that God exists for man's convenience instead of the truth that man exists for God's glory. In our sinful blindness we can assume with the wicked in Psalm 50:19-21:

You give your mouth free reign for evil,

and your tongue frames deceit.

You sit and speak against your brother;

you slander your own mother's son.

These things you have done, and I have been silent;

you thought that I was one like yourself.

But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

In forgetfulness of His transcendent and absolute moral holiness it is assumed that God is one like ourselves. Instead of a God who is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), instead of a God from whom the glorious and sinless seraphim must shield themselves (Isaiah 6:2), instead of a God who in His just wrath would be right to consume all sinners from the earth we make for ourselves a blasphemous and non-threatening self-help guru in the clouds. As with the powerful statement from the Apostle John concerning God's love, we find an equally powerful statement, repeated twice in Scripture, once in Isaiah and once by the same Apostle John. In this statement, God is revealed as thrice holy: "holy, holy, holy," say the seraphim of Isaiah and the four living creatures of Revelation (Isaiah 6:3, Rev. 4:8). No other attribute is ascribed to God in this same manner. The holiness of God can never be overestimated nor, I think, can we begin to grasp the infinity of His holiness in this life.

A third underestimation, also touching on God’s love, must be taken into account. In underestimating God's holiness the attempt is made to pull God down to our level, but sinful man, in pride, also seeks to exalt himself to the level of God. He does this by underestimating his own desperate condition, by underestimating his own depravity. But Scripture teaches differently, revealing that, "every intention of the thoughts of his [man's] heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5)," that, "the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth (Gen 8:21)," that, "together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one (Psalm 53:3)," and as Paul teaches in Ephesians, outside of Christ we were dead in our sins and by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1 & 3).

When God's holiness is underestimated or in reality denied no clear picture of God's love can be seen. When God's holiness is underestimated any kind of love ascribed to God will be of a lesser degree or quality than the love which is ascribed to a God who is infinitely holy, that is, the true God. Therefore the heretical god of liberal theology is in reality a god less loving than the true God of any orthodox believer. God’s holiness is connected with His love because only when He is known as infinitely holy can there be any conception of the guiltiness of sinners before Him and therefore of the depth to which He condescended, in love, in saving those same sinners.

Along these same lines, when human depravity is underestimated the nature of Christ’s mission in His incarnation, death and resurrection is obscured. It is obscured because we begin to see ourselves as somehow worthy of redemption. The condescension of Christ becoming man is lessened when we imagine ourselves to be better than we are. As with the necessity of a correct understanding of God’s holiness to see His love, our depravity must also be considered if we are to see the infinite degree of love displayed on the cross. Paul touches on this when he writes, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7-8).” While we were nothing but God-hating rebels, God the Son descended among us to suffer our hate and God’s wrath to save sinners.

Christ defines love for us and His definition is put on display in His suffering and death on the cross. Christ said, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)." The Apostle John also reflects on Christ's definition writing, "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us . . . (1 John 3:16a)." As sinful men whose hearts are "deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9)," we will inevitably define love in a deficient manner. We must therefore look to Scripture to be corrected in our understanding of love. If Christ's death for sinners is the chief display of true love in the universe then we must also have a clear understanding of the meaning of His death. It is only when God's infinite holiness and our total depravity and unworthiness are taken into account that a clear picture of the cross and Christ's death emerges.

This true picture of the cross is the clearest revelation of our total depravity, God's absolute holiness and His infinite love. To see this holiness and love the truth about the cross as it is revealed in Scripture must be affirmed. The cross must be seen as that place where Christ, the perfect, sinless Lamb of God, was "crushed for our iniquities," and upon whom, "was the chastisement that brought us peace (Isaiah 53:5b)." It must also be affirmed that "it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief (Isaiah 53:10)." Paul wrote, "Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9)." When the prophecy of Isaiah and Paul's teaching are taken into account it becomes clear that on the cross Christ bore God’s wrath deserved by sinners. Why else would He cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?(Matt. 27:46)" Christ's death was not like any other death. There is a reason why the One who calmed the sea, raised the dead and calmly faced all His opposition, including the devil, was said to be in an agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, with sweat like great drops of blood falling to the ground and praying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me (Luke 22:42a)." The reason being that the cup which Christ would drink on the cross was the cup of God's wrath, the wrath which rightfully belongs to every sinner whose sinfulness is an affront the absolute holiness of God. The cross as it is revealed in Scripture only makes sense if God is absolutely and infinitely holy and man is totally depraved, deserving of eternal wrath.

When one begins to consider Christ's suffering in His sacrifice for us it should also become obvious that no greater love could ever be expressed than the love expressed toward sinners in the Son suffering on our behalf and the Father giving His beloved Son. The love of God revealed in the cross is a love which is greater than any love that could ever be imagined by someone with a deficient view of God's holiness, the atonement or the depravity of man. No conception of God except for the true and orthodox one can come close to approaching the degree of love displayed by the one, true and holy God of the Bible.

Was it for crimes that I have done,
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
-Isaac Watts

Friday, February 25, 2011

Luther on evil

Who is this that darkeneth counsel
by words without knowledge?
- Job 38:2

It now remains for someone to ask: Why does God not cease from that movement of omnipotence by which the will of the ungodly is moved to go on being evil, and to grow worse? The answer is: this is to desire that for the sake of the ungodly God should cease to be God; for you are desiring that His power and activity should cease - that is, that He should cease to be good, lest the ungodly should grow worse!

Why then does He not alter those evil wills which He moves? This question touches on the secrets of His Majesty, where 'His judgments are past finding out' (cf. Rom. 11.33). It is not for us to inquire into these mysteries, but to adore them. If flesh and blood take offense here, and grumble, well, let them grumble; they will achieve nothing; grumbling will not change God! And however many ungodly stumble and depart, the elect will remain (cf. John 6.6off.).

The same reply should be given to those who ask: Why did God let Adam fall, and why did He create us all tainted with the same sin, when He might have kept Adam safe, and might have created us of other material, or of seed that had first been cleansed? God is He for Whose will no cause or ground may be laid down as its rule and standard; for nothing is on a level with it or above it, but it is itself the rule of all things. If any rule or standard, or cause or ground, existed for it, it could no longer be the will of God. What God wills is not right because He ought, or was bound, so to will; on the contrary, what takes place must be right, because He so wills it. Causes and grounds are laid down for the will of the creature, but not for the will of the Creator - unless you set another Creator over him!

- Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why has He saved us?

. . . so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
- Ephesians 2:7
Why has God done all this? Why from eternity has he chosen us to be holy before him in love? Why has he made us accepted in the beloved? Why, when dead in trespasses and sins, has he made us alive, raised us up, and made us sit together in heavenly realms with Christ? The answer to these questions is given in this verse. It was in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. The revelation of the grace of God - i.e., of his unmerited love - is declared to be the specific object of redemption. From this it follows that whatever clouds the grace of God or clashes with the free nature of the blessings promised in the Gospel must be inconsistent with its nature and purpose. If the salvation of sinners is intended as an exhibition of the grace of God, it has to be free.

- Charles Hodge from his commentary on Ephesians

Monday, February 21, 2011

Catalina Island

The second place I checked out during my recent time off from clerkship rotations was Santa Catalina Island. Catalina is one of the Channel Islands, about 22 miles long and about 20 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. As with the Salton Sea, the Channel Islands off of Southern California have intrigued me since grade school. I first heard of these islands in 3rd or 4th grade when I read the children's book Island of the Blue Dolphins. For the last couple of years in medical school every time I've gone to the beach to surf or relax I've seen Catalina Island in the distance. So the last time I was at the beach I decided I would take the ferry out to the Island and then hike to the highest point - Mt. Orizaba.

I got on the ferry at Long Beach at nine in the morning and over an hour later made landfall at the harbor of Avalon, one of two small towns on the island. Avalon is a very compact and interesting town where the majority of inhabitants drive golf carts as their primary vehicle. After getting my hiking permit at the Catalina Conservancy Office I went to track down a bus that would take me about 5 miles into the interior to get to the start of the trail to climb Orizaba. But upon visiting the offices of both bus companies on the island I came to the seemingly devastating conclusion that I would not be climbing Orizaba that day as there were no buses running into the interior. I thought briefly about trying to make it to the summit hiking from Avalon but I knew if I tried such a thing - over 20 miles round trip - it would be dark by the time I hiked back into town and I might miss the last ferry back to Long beach.

The islanders were of a friendly sort though and one older man who saw me looking at my map simply suggested I hike up into the hills around Avalon. As I climbed into the hills above the town I realized that this day would not be a disappointment. I was amazed by the beauty of my surroundings as I hiked along the crest of the island. The Pacific Ocean stretched into the distance with San Clemente Island in the foreground to the southwest and to the northeast was the blue of the San Pedro Channel and the snow-capped mountains of Southern California in the distance. While it was obvious that this island was a much more arid environment than my home in Western Washington I was surprised by the lush growth of a wide variety of shrubs, trees and plants as I hiked around.

Dodecatheon sp. - lots of these at the lower elevations.

Looking to the north - some interesting trees and the southern Californian mainland in the distance.

My initial goal had been Mt. Orizaba, the highest point on the left. Maybe next time.

A green hillside on the southwest side of the island. If you look closely you can see a lot of Prickly Pear cacti (Opuntia) on the hillside.

Looking to the northwest. The town of Avalon in the foreground. In the distance is snow-capped Mt. Baldy, highest point in Los Angeles county.

After hiking for about five hours I found a great place to watch the sun set over the Pacific. I had brought City of God with me so I read an interesting chapter where Augustine recounted various healing miracles he had witnessed during his ministry. The sunset was quite impressive and it was dark by the time I made it back to town - just in time for the 6:15 ferry.

Sunset from Catalina

My ride back to the mainland.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

J.I. Packer's (and Luther's) Indictment of modern Protestantism

In order to make the following quote more understandable:

Erasmus (1466-1536) was a great Renaissance scholar and one of Luther's chief opponents. Packer writes of Erasmus, "Christianity, to Erasmus, was essentially morality, with a minimum of doctrinal statement loosely appended. . . Erasmus cannot be acquitted of the charge of doctrinal indifferentism. . . however sure one might be that the Church was at some point wrong, one was never justified in disrupting Christendom about it (as Luther was doing); peace in the Church was of more value than any other doctrine." And on to the quote:
Has not Protestantism to-day become more Erasmian than Lutheran? Do we not too often try to minimize and gloss over doctrinal differences for the sake of inter-party peace? Are we innocent of the doctrinal indifferentism with which Luther charged Erasmus? Do we still believe that doctrine matters? Or do we now, with Erasmus, rate a deceptive appearance of unity as of more importance than truth? Have we not grown used to an Erasmian brand of teaching from our pulpits - a message that rests on the same shallow synergistic conceptions which Luther refuted, picturing God and man approaching each other almost on equal terms, each having his own contribution to make to man's salvation and each depending on the dutiful co-operation of the other for the attainment of that end? - as if God exists for man's convenience, rather than man for God's glory? Is it not true, conversely, that it is rare to-day to hear proclaimed the diagnosis of our predicament which Luther - and Scripture - put forward: that man is hopeless and helpless in sin, fast bound in Satan's slavery, at enmity with God, blind and dead to the things of the Spirit? And hence, how rarely do we hear faith spoken of as Scripture depicts it - as it is expressed in the cry of self-committal with which the contrite heart, humbled to see its need and made conscious of its own utter helplessness even to trust, casts itself in the God-given confidence of self-despair upon the mercy of Christ Jesus - 'Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief!'
- J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston from their introduction to Luther's The Bondage of the Will

Monday, February 14, 2011

"I will pour out my Spirit"

Recently I read a passage from Numbers that I had read before but which really struck me this time around. In Numbers ch. 11 we find the Israelites, after the Exodus, setting out from Sinai and moving toward the Promised Land. We also find them hardening their hearts during their time of testing in the wilderness (Heb. 3:8). The Israelites complained of their misfortunes, expressed a craving for meat instead of only manna and wept before Moses. The Lord's righteous anger was kindled against His people and Moses lamented his situation as mediator between the people and God saying, "I am not able to carry all this people alone, the burden is too heavy for me (11:14). God is merciful to Moses and the people, commanding Moses to gather seventy elders from Israel so that, "they shall bear the burden of the people with you (11:17)." To equip the seventy elders to bear the burden along with Moses, God promises to, "take some of the Spirit that is on you [Moses] and put it on them (11:17)." It was Moses' responsibility to gather the seventy elders and apparently each of the seventy who were to receive the Spirit were "registered (11:26)" in some way. The Lord had commanded Moses to gather with the seventy elders at the Tent of Meeting, where God would meet them and pour out His Spirit upon them.
This is where the story, from my perspective, gets very interesting. It turns out that two of the elders who had been registered, Eldad and Medad, did not show up at the Tent of Meeting with the other sixty-eight but were still somewhere out in the camp. When the Lord came down and met Moses and the elders and put His Spirit on them it says that they prophesied. Not only did the sixty-eight who were with Moses prophesy but so did Eldad and Medad who were out in the camp. As I read I couldn't help but try to imagine what this all looked like and I can't help but think it probably looked somewhat extraordinary. Having no memory of this passage, when I saw that Eldad and Medad had not gone to the meeting as they should have, transgressing Moses' instructions if not also the Lord's, I thought that there might be some display of God's wrath or at least displeasure from Moses. But this is where I was really shocked. Apparently Joshua the son of Nun had the same reaction I had when he heard the news that the two truant elders were out in the camp prophesying. Joshua said, "My lord Moses, stop them."

It was Moses' response to Joshua which made this passage so amazing to me. Moses' answer to Joshua's concern was, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them! (11:29)." I think Moses' attitude here marvelously points forward to prophecy of Joel and also to the apostolic teaching concerning spiritual gifts. Moses longed for a day when all of God's people were prophets and the Lord would put His Spirit on all His people. In Joel we read the prophecy which was fulfilled at Pentecost and continues to be fulfilled to this day:

"And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit (Joel 2:28-29)."

Moses' desire also fits with the admonitions of the Apostle Paul found in 1 Corinthians ch. 14. In the first verse of that chapter Paul exhorts, "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy." Moses desired it, the prophets promised it and the Apostle exhorts us concerning the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, and who dwells in all Christians (John 14:17).

Ten chapters later, in Numbers 21, the One who makes all of these benefits and the gift of the Holy Spirit available to sinful man is prefigured. Not only was Christ prefigured but He was prefigured as crucified. When the people again hardened their hearts and grumbled against the Lord, He sent "fiery serpents" among them and many of the Israelites were killed. But Moses interceded and was instructed by the Lord to make a bronze serpent and lift it up on a pole so that anyone who was bitten could look at this brazen serpent and live. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life (John 3:14-15)." Therefore, whether it be the gift received by Eldad and Medad or God's gifts for His people today, all of them are only through Christ and His death and resurrection. In his discourse on the blessings we have in Christ in Ephesians, Paul writes to the Christians at Ephesus, "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit . . .(Eph. 1:13)" Paul makes clear how this blessing was acquired for us, "In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood . . . (1:7a)," and "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (2:13)," and he writes that we have been reconciled to God, "in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Salton Sea

During my two weeks of working on research and having a fairly open schedule I decided to check out a couple of nearby places that have always intrigued me. The first of these was the Salton Sea, about an hour east of Loma Linda, out in the desert past Palm Springs. I had first heard of the Salton Sea from a teacher in high school and it had interested me ever since because of how it came into existence. This salt lake, the largest body of water in California, was created by accident when floodwaters overran irrigation ditches in 1905. Before that this vast lake had been a depression, the lowest point of which was 5 ft higher than the lowest point in North America which is in Death Valley at 282 ft. below sea level.
Map of Southern Califonia with Salton Sea pop-out.
Red dot is approximate location of Loma Linda.

I had never met anyone who had been out to the Salton Sea and everything I read on the internet about it made me think it probably wouldn't be the nicest place to visit but I had some time on my hands so I decided to check it out. My first stop was Salton Sea Beach on the western side of the lake. This town came close to fitting my expectations of finding a post-apocalyptic-wasteland-esque environment around the lake. Salton Sea Beach, like some other places I stopped, revealed that this place was way past its heyday when it was marketed as a resort location. This town also revealed why the Salton Sea probably failed as a vacation destination. When I got out of my car at the "marina" I was first struck by the overwhelming stench of dead fish. I walked down to the water to find thousands upon thousands of dead fish, tilapia I think, floating along the shore. I think this must be a common thing here because many websites I read before my trip named fish die-offs as a problem.

West side of the sea at Salton Sea Beach, dead fish floating in water.

Abandoned building at Salton Sea Beach.

I drove all the way around the Lake which took a couple of hours. I figured maybe I could at least enjoy a good sunset at Salton Sea State Park on the east side of the lake. I got to the park about an hour before sunset and went for a brief hike along the beach. There was a lot of water fowl and once again a lot of dead fish.

Flock of birds at Salton Sea State Park on the east side.

Just before sunset I prayed a psalm at one of the conveniently placed picnic tables near the shore. As the sun sank below the San Jacinto Mountains, a chill, dank breeze blew in off the surface of the sea and I was almost overwhelmed by the heavy stench it carried. It had been an interesting day. I will probably never go back to the Salton Sea unless forced to but I'm glad I got to see it.

Sunset over the Salton Sea

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The character most offensive to God and man

A character I have been at times. . .

Error, therefore can never be harmless, nor false teachers innocent. Two considerations, however, should secure moderation and meekness in applying these principles. One is that though error implies sin, orthodoxy does not always imply holiness. It is possible to hold the truth in unrighteousness, to have speculative faith without love. The character most offensive to God and man is that of a malignant zealot for the truth. The other consideration is that people are often much better than their creed; that is, the doctrines by which they live are much nearer the truth than those which they profess. They deceive themselves by attaching wrong meaning to words and seem to reject truth, when in fact they only reject their own misconceptions. It is a common saying that people's prayers are more orthodox than their creeds.

- Charles Hodge from his commentary on Ephesians

Monday, February 7, 2011

Random Update #6

1. I spent two weeks learning to read and also reading a multitude of EKGs, which are graphical representations of electric currents in the heart. If you've ever gone to the ER with chest pain, fainting or lightheadedness they should have performed an EKG on you by hooking a few wires up to your chest. It is amazing how much information we can get from this simple, non-invasive technology that's been around since the late 19th Century.
A classic right bundle branch block on EKG.

2. I finished Luther's The Bondage of the Will. It was an excellent book written by a passionate man and it has cemented for me a belief which I already held, that our salvation is all of grace, that is, monergistically given to us by God in Christ.

3. After finishing my EKG course I had two weeks without any class or rotation planned so I worked on a nephrology case report that I'm going to try to publish in a journal along with one of the nephrology fellows at Loma Linda.

4. At the beginning of those two weeks I decided I wanted to try to get through some great work of literature or theology. Three works which initially came to mind were Sailhamer's The Meaning of the Pentateuch, David Bentley Hart's The Beauty of the Infinite and St. Augustine's The City of God.

5. Augustine won out. It turns out that I won out too. The City of God is an amazing and excellent work, surpassing whatever expectations I had for it. I thought this book would be a difficult thing to trudge through, instead I have often been captivated by it, not wanting to put it down. Augustine deals masterfully with many questions of theology that I've had for many years, especially dealing with the rebellion of Satan and then our first parents in the Garden. I can see why the Reformers liked Augustine. Every argument he puts forward is very well argued from Scripture and he writes very logically. In his writing you can sense his great intelligence and also his great devotion to God which he would have ascribed only to God's grace in Christ and not to any good work on his part. I had considered reading The Meaning of the Pentateuch to be enlightened on those first five books of the Bible, but it turns out that in The City of God, Augustine provides a profound overview and commentary of the Old Testament. While I know that The Meaning of the Pentateuch is an excellent and probably enlightening book, I can't imagine it gives much more enlightenment on the Old Testament than does The City of God.

6. During my two weeks of freedom I went and saw some local sights I've wanted to check out for a while. I circumnavigated (in my car) the Salton Sea and I spent a day hiking on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles. I was very unimpressed by one of these outings while I was amazed by the beauty of the other. I'll make one or two blog posts out of these trips sometime soon.

7. For the past week I've been on an elective called Whole Person Care where we hang out with chaplains, shadow them in their visits with patients and then do our own visits where we attempt to talk about emotional and spiritual issues connected with patient's illnesses and hospitalizations. There is a required paper for the elective so I'm going to research PTSD and interview a VA chaplain about how to help patients with PTSD.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mercy, Power, Glory

So it behoves us, if we would have Christ for a frequent guest, to fill our hearts with faithful meditations on the mercy He showed in dying for us, and on His mighty power in rising again from the dead. To this David testified when he sang, ‘God spake once, and twice I have also heard the same; that power belongeth unto God; and that Thou, Lord, art merciful (Ps. 62.11f). And surely there is proof enough and to spare in that Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification, and ascended into heaven that He might protect us from on high, and sent the Holy Spirit for our comfort. Hereafter He will come again for the consummation of our bliss. In His Death He displayed His mercy, in His Resurrection His power; both combine to manifest His glory.
- St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), On Loving God, Chapter III (H/T: T19)