Saturday, July 29, 2006

Contrition Before the Sovereign

I have been trying to understand the Fear of God more lately. I have been trying to understand how so many of these men in times past have had such an incredible grasp on the holiness, majesty, and Fear of God and in contrast how we seem to be A MILLION MILES AWAY from such doctrines and truths. I don't always know what is going on in this crazy spiritual warfare but I do see a huge difference between what we today call our "christian faith" compared to how many in former times viewed their faith. The two do not look the same and it has me very concerned and worried.

I often wonder how so many people sign up for this christian thing and never go through a process of contrition before the Lord, never have a sense of the majesty and Fear of God, claim to be close to him and a follower of his but have no conviction of His holiness and never pursue it in their own lives. I often wonder how this is.

Below are some insights into the doctrine of the Fear of God. I thought this was very helpful.


"Do we wonder, then, that our text requires contrition of heart as the only attribute in which man can venture to approach the moral majesty of God? First his eye is dazzled by the view of an infinite perfection. Next he realizes the contrast that exists between this divine purity and the uncleanness of a sinful creature. Fear falls upon him, the fear of absolute moral dissolution, expressing itself in the words: "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips" (Is. 6:5). As this fear results from the consciousness of disharmony with an infinite holiness, there is no dread excited by any finite power in the universe worthy to be compared with it. When the sinful people tremble on account of human enemies, strangely forgetful of their exposure to Jehovah's judgment, the prophet is instructed by a special revelation not to fear their fear, nor to be in dread thereof: "Jehovah of Hosts, him shall ye sanctify, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread" (8:13), words vividly reminding us of our Savior's admonition to fear him alone who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt. 10:28).

Spiritual penitence is God-centered and by this feature may be distinguished from the purely moral self-criticism and self-condemnation which does not presuppose a change of heart. The difference between these two is clearly described by Isaiah. It is mere terror of conscience that makes the sinner in Zion speak: "Who among us can dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings" (33:14)? "Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from among us" (30:11)! But genuine contrition acknowledges the propriety that sin and the sinner and everything defiled by sin should be swept away and Jehovah of Hosts be exalted in judgment and God the Holy One be sanctified in righteousness. So powerful is this constraint of the moral majesty of God's law in the prophet's soul that he cannot conceive of any hope or future for Israel except there arise one who by vicarious suffering shall satisfy the supreme interests of the divine holiness. And in harmony with this conviction the idea of the Messianic king was deepened and enlarged in Isaiah's mind to that of the Suffering Servant, in whom perfect contrition is joined to perfect innocence, who humbles himself and opens not his mouth and makes his soul an offering for the sin of his people."

--Geerhardus Vos, excerpt from "A Sermon on Isaiah 57:15" preached on December 12, 1896, Princeton Theological Seminary


Blogger Lindon said...

Wow, I was just thinking the same thing recently.

I was recently talking with someone in Andy STanleys church about 1 Corin 4-5. He said that was only for small groups and not the big church.

He does not consider the 'big gathering' on Sunday morning the church.

Can someone explain that thinking to me? We really are a million miles away, aren't we.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read this and I don't understand. What's this about small groups vs. "big church"? Are these people now carving a niche in the Bible to justify their methods?

This is really insane, all this argument about ends vs. means, method vs. substance. God not only tells you WHAT He wants you to do, but He also tells you HOW to do it; and if it's not specific, He gives you something called A BIBLICAL PRINCIPLE to help you figure it out.

There was a "home church" movement very popular in the post-hippie days. People didn't dare meet in a "building" but in homes. It had a lot of good aspects to it, but it eventually went the way of all flesh, and ended in catastrophe (as a lot of these things do) because the whole thing was a method in search of a Biblical justification. People in the NT met in homes ..... and in market places .... and by the river .... and (gasp!) in synagogues.

So, if you want to go back to NT methods, do your research. Which place are we going to meet at?

It's SO very ridiculous. It sucks up energy and time and becomes divisive. In the meantime, the unsaved out in the street ... in the market place .... in the work place .... they're still without the good news. And the Christians are huddled arguing about big church vs. home groups.


8:33 PM  

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