The Plan

It’s not, I think, unwarranted to ponder the fellowship of the Trinity, and the Father and the Son conceiving (no coercion whatsoever) a plan whereby the Father consults with the Son of His willingness, and the Son consults with the Father of His intention, and a most magnificent agreement is reached: that the Son will, after the universe is created and has fallen, and after God has shown everything He wants to show about His holy self through 2000 years of Jewish history, then the Son would enter and die. That was the plan.

Again, Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:9: “God called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” So, before the ages of time began, the plan was for the revelation of the glory of the grace of God specifically through Christ Jesus.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

—John Piper, “Why Did God Create the World? John Piper” (sermon: September 22, 2012)

The Center of History

This is a great word (ephapax): “once for all.”  [Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27; 9:12,26; 10:10] The effect it has is to make Jesus the center of history. Every work of God’s grace in history before the sacrifice of Christ looked forward to the death of Christ for its foundation. And every work of God’s grace since the sacrifice of Christ looks back to the death of Christ for its foundation. Christ is the center of the history of grace.

—John Piper, “Our High Priest is The Son of God Perfect Forever” (sermon: December 8, 1996, Bethlehem Baptist Church)

Graced Encounter (2)

Graced liturgy need not imply that any particular technique is necessary to engineer God’s presence. This theme is prominently underscored by James Torrance. Torrance argues that a trinitarian understanding of worship changes the spirit in which worship is offered: whereas a unitarian theology of worship, one that relies on human effort, “can engender weariness,” a trinitarian theology “releases joy and ecstasy.” Losing the sense of worship as an event of divine grace, for Torrance, is “to lose the comfort and peace of the gospel.” Any worship leader, Torrance suggests, that feels the need to “whip up” the congregation to an experience of God misses the point that worship is more like a gift than an accomplishment.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 237

Graced Encounter

Christian liturgy is a graced series of personal, relational acts of encounter between God and the gathered community, acts that are made possible through the mediation of Jesus Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 298

Captivated by Grace

One Lutheran theologian has defined sanctification as “the art of getting used to justification.” It is our being grasped by the fact that God alone justifies us by this unconditional promise. In other words, sanctification is the justified life, not something added to justification. The term refers to our being captivated more and more by the fullness and unconditionality of God’s grace.

—Dennis Okholm, Learning Theology through the Church’s Worship: An Introduction to Christian Belief, 172

A Divine Irony

Who cannot but marvel at the redemptive genius at work here? Our contribution to our justification, and reconciliation, and to our inclusion in the life of the blessed Trinity was to reject and kill the Father’s eternal Son incarnate. And the Father transformed our treachery into our own death, resurrection and ascension in Christ, using our sin as the way of His forgiving embrace.

—C. Baxter Kruger, “God in the Hands of Angry Sinners,” in Trinity and Transformation, 104


Sometimes even the very churches which have taken their avowed stand on “the doctrines of grace” are the very ones which then make their acceptance of others conditional upon their subscribing to their particular formulations of the meaning of grace.

—James B. Torrance, “The Unconditional Freeness of Grace,” in Trinity and Transformation, 277