Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tackling A Theological Chunkster: Day 4 and 5, Charnock

Stephen Charnock,
The Existence and Attributes of God,
A few weeks ago, I began reading Stephen Charnock's The Existence and Attributes of God. I shared my thoughts on the first discourse, On the Existence of God, in three posts. One to reflect each day I spent reading. Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.

This week I've been able to read the second discourse, On Practical Atheism. This second discourse was 86 pages long--a full twenty pages longer than the first discourse. BUT. I found "On Practical Atheism" to be a much easier read. I found it VERY relevant!

So what is the second discourse about? To put it simply--concisely--you could sum it up and say "T is for Total Depravity." Only, you'd probably have to be a TULIP, to get that.

So instead the discourse could be summed up by conjugating one little verb: I sin, you sin, he sins, she sins, we sin, they sin. (Psalms 14:1-3, KJV), (Psalms 58:3-4, KJV), (Ecclesiastes 8:11, KJV), (Romans 3:9-23, KJV), (Romans 6:23, KJV), (Isaiah 53:6, KJV), (Ephesians 2:1-3, KJV).

Or in other words, sin matters. Sin is a BIG DEAL to God, and it should be a BIG DEAL to us because it separates us from God. In our natural state, with our sin nature, we are SEPARATED from God. Some have a tendency to think that sin doesn't all. Would it surprise you to learn that some people claiming to be Christian don't believe in all?! At least they live like it.  No, we have a sin problem in the world. And instead of thinking that "God cares about sin and I should too"...we reverse it and say... "I don't care about sin so why should God?" 

I think Shaun Grove's "What's Wrong With The World" should be required listening. Seriously! Can you listen to it too much??? I don't think so! You can listen to it on his site, and be sure to read the lyrics! (The link to listen will not open in a new window unless you tell it to--so keep that in mind.)

This discourse isn't ONLY about sin. It's also about regeneration or rebirth or being born again. How even this is a gift from God. For it is impossible with man. (Matthew 19:25-27, KJV), (John 6:37-40, KJV), (John 6:44-47), (John 10:14-18, KJV), (Matthew 11:27-30, KJV), (Ephesians 2:7-9, KJV).

Also touched upon in this discourse is God's sovereignty and Lordship.

It also touches upon the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Not that it says that plainly and clearly. But anyone who is familiar with that catechism could not fail to miss the connection.
What is the chief end of man?
Man's chief end is to glorify God, [a] and to enjoy him for ever. [b]
[a] Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11
[b] Ps. 16:5-11; 144:15; Isa. 12:2; Luke 2:10; Phil. 4:4; Rev. 21:3-4 
Much of the discourse deals with how we have a tendency to create God in our own image, how we craft and shape and imagine a god of our own making and then call him God. As if by our wills we can change God.

First sentence of "On Practical Atheism": Practical atheism is natural to man in his depraved state, and very frequent in the hearts and lives of men.

Words of Wisdom from Stephen Charnock:

He that denies any essential attribute, may be said to deny the being of God. (89)
The natural bent of every man's heart is distant from God. (90)
The leprosy of atheism had infected the whole mass of human nature. (91)
Men's practices are the best indexes of their principles: the current of a man's life is the counterpart of the frame of his heart. (92)
Though lusts and pleasures be diverse, yet they are all united in disobedience to Him. (93)
The language of every one of these is, I would be a Lord to myself, and would not have a God superior to me. (93)
1. Man naturally disowns the rule God sets him.
2. He owns any other rule rather than that of God's prescribing.
3. These he doth in order to the setting himself up as his own rule.
4. He makes himself not only his own rule, but he would make himself the rule of God, and give laws to his Creator. (99)
How unable are our memories to retain the substance of spiritual truth; but like sand in a glass, put in at one part and runs out at the other! Have not many a secret wish, that the Scripture had never mentioned some truths, or that they were blotted out of the Bible, because they face their consciences, and discourage those boiling lusts they would with eagerness and delight pursue? (101)
The meeting of a divine truth and the heart of man, is like the meeting of two tides, the weaker swells and foams. (102)
How many forced interpretations of Scripture have been coined to give content to the lusts of men, and the divine rule forced to bend, and be squared to men's loose and carnal apprehensions! (105)
Christ conversed with sinners, as a physician with diseased persons, to cure them, not approve them. (105)
The reason we have such hard thoughts of God's will is, because we have such high thoughts of ourselves. (107)
If self-denial be the greatest part of godliness, the great letter in the alphabet of religion; self-love is the great letter in the alphabet of practical atheism. (121)
Many, if not most actions, materially good in the world, are done more because they are agreeable to self, than as they are honorable to God. (124)
We are willing God should be our benefactor, but not our ruler; we are content to admire his excellency and pay him a worship, provided he will walk by our rule. "This commits a riot upon his nature, To think him to be what we ourselves ‘would have him, and wish him to be’ (Psalm 1. 21), we would amplify his mercy and contract his justice; we would have his power enlarged to supply our wants, and straitened’ when it goes about to revenge our crimes ; we would have him wise to defeat our enemies, but not to disappoint our unworthy projects ; we would have him all eye to regard our indigence, and blind not to discern our guilt ; we would have him true to his promises, regardless of his precepts, and false to his threatenings ; we would new mint the nature of God according to our models, and shape a God according to our own fancies, as he made us at first according to his own image;" instead of obeying him, we would have him obey us; instead of owning and admiring his perfections, we would have him strip himself of his infinite excellency, and clothe himself with a nature agreeable to our own. This is not only to set up self as the law of God, but to make our own imaginations the model of the nature of God. (127-128)
Men set a high price upon themselves, and are angry God values them not at the same rate, as if their judgment concerning themselves were more piercing than His. (131)
When we come into the presence of God with lusts reeking in our hearts, and leap from sin to duty, we would impose the law of our corruption on the holiness of God. (133)
Sin, indeed, may well be termed a man's self, because it is, since the loss of original righteousness, the form that overspreads every part of our souls. (137)
Sin and self are all one: what is called a living to sin in one place, is called a living to self in another. (137)
Our thoughts run more delightfully upon the track of our own perfections, than the excellency of God; and when we find anything of a seeming worth, that may make us glitter in the eyes of the world, how cheerfully do we grasp and embrace ourselves! (138)
When we love only ourselves, and act for no other end but ourselves, we invest ourselves with the dominion which is the right of God, and take the crown from His head. (141)
He that loves pleasure more than God, says in his heart there is no God but his pleasure. (143)
God is not in our thoughts; seldom the sole object of them. We have durable thoughts of transitory things, and flitting thing of a durable and eternal good. (143)
There is no fool that saith in his heart, There is no God, but he sets up something in his heart as a god. (144)
Selfish hearts will charge God with neglect of them, if He be not as quick in their supplies as they are in their desires. (153)
We join a new notion of God in our vain fancies, and represent him not as He is, but as we would have him to be, fit for our own use, and suited to our own pleasure. We set that active power of imagination on work, and there comes out a god (a calf) whom we own for a notion of God. (155)
..."while they fancy a God indulgent to their crimes without their repentance!" (157)
..."they fashion a god that they believe will smile upon their crimes. They imagine a god that plays with them; and though he threatens doth it only to scare, but means not as he speaks. A god they fancy like themselves, that would do as they would do, not be angry for what they count a light offence." (157)
Our wilful misapprehensions of God are the cause of our misbehavior in all his worship. Our slovenly and lazy services tell him to His face what slight thoughts and apprehensions we have of Him. (157)
Men do not conceive of God as He would have them; but he must be what they would have him, one of their own shaping. This is worse than idolatry...It is more commendable to think him not to be, than to think him such a one as is inconsistent with his nature. Better to deny his existence, than deny his perfection. (158)
Sin set us first at a distance from God; and every new act of gross sin estrangeth us more from him, and indisposeth us more for him: it makes us both afraid and ashamed to be near him. (158-59)
God and we are naturally at as great a distance, as light and darkness, life and death, heaven and hell. (159)
We turn our backs when he stretches out his hand, stop our ears when he lifts up his voice. We fly from him when he courts us, and shelter ourselves in any bush from his merciful hand that would lay hold upon us. (161)
God stands ready, but the heart stands off; grace is full of entreaties, and the soul full of excuses; Divine love offers, and carnal self-love rejects. (161)
Our nature and will must be changed, that our actions may regard God as our end, that we may delightfully meditate on him, and draw the motives of our obedience from him. Since this atheism is seated in nature, the change must be in our nature. (163)
There must be a supernatural principle before we can live a supernatural life. (163)
No practical atheist ever yet turned to God, but was turned by God. (165)
Nothing can turn the tide of nature, but a power above nature. (165)
Man cannot rise to an acknowledgment of God without God. (166)
An atheist by nature can no more alter his own temper and engrave in himself the divine nature, than a rock can carve itself into the statue of a man, or a serpent that is an enemy to man could or would raise itself to the nobility of the human nature. That soul that by nature would strip God of his rights, cannot, without a divine power, be made conformable to him, and acknowledge sincerely and cordially the rights and glory of God. (166)
Man by nature would annihilate God and deify himself; the gospel glorifies God and annihilates man. (167)
Be often in the views of the excellencies of God. When we have no intercourse with God by delightful meditations, we begin to be estranged from him, and prepare ourselves to live without God in the world. Strangeness is the mother and nurse of disaffection: we slight men sometimes because we know them not...A daily converse with God would discover so much loveliness in his nature, so much of sweetness in his ways, that our injurious thoughts of God would wear off, and we should count it our honor to contemn ourselves and magnify him...Exercised thoughts on him would issue out in affections to him. (172)
Let us therefore consider him as the only happiness; set up the true God in our understandings; possess our hearts with a deep sense of his desirable excellency above all other things. (173)
Prize and study the Scripture. We can have no delight in meditation on him, unless we know him; and we cannot know him but by the means of his own revelation; when the revelation is despised, the revealer will be of little esteem. Men do not throw off God from being their rule, till they throw off Scripture from being their guide. (173)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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