Living Words – J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)

‘We look not for a continuation of spiritual conditions that now exist, but for an outburst of new power; we are seeking in particular to arouse youth from its present uncritical repetition of current phrases into some genuine examination of the basis of Machenlife; and we believe that Christianity flourishes not in the darkness, but in the light. A revival of the Christian religion, we believe, will deliver mankind from its present bondage, and like the great revival of the sixteenth century will bring liberty to mankind. Such a revival will be not the work of man but the work of the Spirit of God.’

Living Words – Abraham Kuyper (1837 – 1920)

kuyperIf the battle is to be fought with honour and with a hope of victory, then principle must be arrayed against principle; then it must be felt that in Modernism the vast energy of an all-embracing life system assails us, then also it must be understood that we have to take our stand in a life system of equally comprehensive and far-reaching power. And this powerful life system is not to be invented nor formulated by ourselves, but is to be taken and applied as it presents itself in history. When thus taken, I found and confessed, and I still hold, that this manifestation of the Christian principle is given us in Calvinism. In Calvinism my heart has found rest. From Calvinism have I drawn the inspiration firmly and resolutely to take my stand in the thick of this great conflict of principles.

The Power of God

Infinite. Limitless. Boundless. These words describe the extent of God’s power as revealed in the Bible.

 Power is the ability or authority to do something. It is also used to mean the control and influence exercised over others. We display power in our daily lives. When we take a stroll outside, when we wash our clothes or cook, these all are instances of power in operation. Supervising a team of executives in the office is also demonstrates power, as well as running an entire organization. In all these, and other instances, we reflect God’s own infinite and unbounded ability.

Power is inherent in God as the ability to do all his holy will. It is designated by the term omnipotence, which is His limitless capacity to effect or bring about all that He desires. It is clear from scripture that God is holy, hence he will never desire or do anything which is opposed to his own holy character. God’s omnipotence therefore means that He can carry out any activity or perform any task He desires, in keeping with his holy character.

 The Bible speaks of this attribute in several places:

 ‘If He takes away, who can hinder Him?

Who can say to Him, “What are You doing?” ’(Job 9:12)

By me kings reign,

And rulers decree justice.’ (Prov 8:15)

‘And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.’ (Deut 8:18) 

‘Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” ‘(Jer 32:26-27)

‘But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ‘ (Matt 19:26)

‘For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,'(Rom 1:20)

‘… and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power’ (Eph 1:19).

God demonstrates his sovereign power in his 3 great works of Creation, Providence and Redemption.

Creation

According to the Bible, God established the universe out of nothing. This was a demonstration of immense creative power. This is referred to in Rom 1:20; 4:17; Isa 44:24.

Providence

This is God’s work of preserving and governing all that he has made. It is an ongoing activity. From day to day God sustains the universe, ensuring that nothing falls out of place. So when we wake up in the morning, when we close a business deal, when a farmer tills the soil, all these are possible because God is working to uphold the universe. And in doing this he demonstrates his limitless power. Heb 1:3; Isa 45:7; Jer 5:22; Amos 4:13

Redemption

The work of redemption was a display of sovereign power. In it, God exercised authority over Satan and defeated sin. When Jesus lay in the tomb, it was by the power of God that he was raised to life. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit continues to work in the life of believers, sanctifying and conforming them to the image of Christ.  1 Cor. 1:24; Rom 1:4,16; Eph 1:19,20; 3:20; 2 Pet 1:3; 2 Cor 9:8.

A Hymn on Work

Behold us, Lord, a little space
From daily tasks set free,
And met within Thy holy place
To rest awhile with Thee.

Around us rolls the ceaseless tide
Of business, toil, and care;
And scarcely can we turn aside
For one brief hour of prayer.

Yet these are not the only walls
Wherein Thou may’st be sought:
On homeliest work Thy blessing falls
In truth and patience wrought.

Thine is the loom, the forge, the mart,
The wealth of land and sea,
The worlds of science and of art,
Revealed and ruled by Thee.

Then let us prove our heavenly birth
In all we do and know;
And claim the kingdom of the earth,
For Thee, and not Thy foe.

Work shall be prayer, if all be wrought
As Thou would have it done;
And prayer, by Thee inspired and taught,
Itself with work be one

John Ellerton (1826 – 1893)

The Purpose of Business

What is the purpose of Business?

In a conference presentation Jeff Van Duzer, former Dean of the Seattle Pacific University (SPU) School of Business and Economics,  identified a twofold purpose for business. He described it as God’s Mission Statement for Business in general.

  1. Business exists to create opportunities for individuals to express aspect of their God-given identity in meaningful and creative work.
  2. Business exists in order to produce goods and services that would enable the community to flourish.

The Christian Worldview of Business

Originally posted on The Christian Mind:

Christ is king of all creation.  He rules over the universe as Mediator. As the great  Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper declared in his inaugural lecture, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’ “. As his followers we have been called to mind renewal (Rbusiness 2omans 12:1,2). The task of mind renewal requires that we rethink every field and profession from a Christian perspective. We need to develop a Christian philosophy – reality, knowledge, ethics – and lay this at the foundation of every sector of life and society. Our task is to give light to all spheres of life (Matthew 5:14-16), including Business. The paragraphs below represent an attempt in this regard. They give a basic summary of the Christian approach to business. It is an extract from a larger manual…

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The Wisdom of God

What is wisdom?

In a quotation attributed to him, C.H. Spurgeon described wisdom as the right (or judicious) application of knowledge.

Wisdom is that ability to apply knowledge in a purposeful manner. We are wise or act wisely when we make judgments or decisions that are based on knowledge and that reflect prudence and good sense. Applied to God, wisdom is that attribute possessed by God whereby He always chooses the best goals and the best means for achieving those goals.

Says Berkhof, “God’s wisdom is His intelligence as manifested in the adaptation of means to ends. It points to the fact that He always strives for the best possible ends, and chooses the best means for the realization of his purposes.” God is most wise because He is all-knowing.

God is the fount of wisdom. Several passages of the Bible refer to this quality in God, including: Job 9:4, Prov. 21:12; Rom. 16:27; 1 Tim. 1:17; Jude 25. All his works are specimens of wise planning and execution. Creation, Providence, Redemption – they all bear the marks of infinite wisdom, thus showing that the One who carried them out is absolutely wise.

God is wise in Creation (Psalm 19:1-7; 104:24; Jer. 10:12)
Modern science reveals the delicate balance in the constitution of our physical universe. A little more heat and all life will be burnt, a little less heat and we would all freeze to death (cf. D. James Kennedy, Why I Believe, p.47). He established the universe with wisdom. Everything declares his praise and glory. The sun governs the day; the moon rules over the night. Vegetation is provided for both man and animals.

As Thomas Watson wrote, ‘We may see the glorious wisdom of God blazing in the sun, twinkling in the stars.’

He is wise in Providence (Psalm 33:10,11; Romans 8:28)
God displays wisdom in preserving and governing all he has made. He directs all the events of our world to their appointed end.

Sometimes, God carries out his purpose through strange and unusual means. For instance, He elevates Joseph to the position of ruler above all his brethren, but he does this by first taking him through slavery and prison. He delivers the people of Israel from the Midianites through Gideon and his band of merely 300 soldiers. In all these He works in ways that often surprise and amaze us. Who could have thought that a crowd of more than 5000 could be fed with just 5 loaves of bread? That’s like a thousand people to one loaf! Yet God did it, and he is wise enough to handle the present challenges of his people.

Thus when we are in covenant with God, we need not be afraid nor anxious, for we have the promise of our wise God that, ‘all things work together for good to those who love God’.

His wisdom shines forth in Redemption (Romans 11:33; 1 Cor 2:7; Eph 3:10)

Here is a world, rebellious, guilty and miserable. How can you turn things around? Get an army from heaven and descend in great glory and power to renew the world. But no, God didn’t do this. What do we have instead ? A helpless baby. A poor and unscholarly preacher. Finally, a death on a wooden cross and an entombment. The wisdom is brought to light on the third day when the buried corpse becomes the Risen King who now has dominion over the nations and renews them by His Spirit. Through His death he had conquered Satan, paid for the sins of his people and ransomed humanity back to God. Unexpected strategy, yet full of wisdom.

He displays his glorious wisdom in Creation, Redemption and Providence so we may rightly worship and exult in Him alone.