The Fifth Commandment: Frame on Family

On Sunday evening we will be thinking about the fifth commandment as we continue our way through the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  John Frame in his excellent The Doctrine of the Christian Life, shows how the narrow application of the command within the context of family relationships, is rightly to be broadened to the other areas of authority in life – church and state.  He also gives a timely warning against one sphere of authority encroaching upon another.

So the family is the basic unit of human society. … all the institutions of society—prophetic, priestly, and kingly—begin in the family. To children, parents are rulers, educators, providers, and evangelists. All other forms of authority are extended forms of fatherhood and motherhood. Historically developmentally, and logically, the family is, I said in the previous chapter, “the fundamental sphere from which all others are derived.”  Honor in all spheres is derived from parental honor.

The family is also crucial to economic well-being. Honor to parents brings inheritance. It brings long life and prosperity. Rousas Rushdoony points out that “throughout history the basic welfare agency has been the family.”  Government policies that weaken the family lead to poverty and cultural decline. (Frame, Doctrine of the Christian Life, 595)


Fatherhood: the core of the universe

It’s Father’s Day in the UK tomorrow and we’ll be thinking about holy fatherhood tomorrow morning from Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21.  In his post here, Glenn Stanton picks up on Lewis’ words that because our God is a Father, fatherhood is at the core of the universe.  What are the implications of our God, the Eternal Father?  Stanton says this means

that the universe is not a dark, empty, impersonal place. Just the opposite. At its core, it is an overwhelmingly warm, relational, personal place. This explains why broken and unhealthy relationships, loneliness, and abandonment are among the most painful of human experiences.

God’s essential Fatherhood also means the devil

loathes our fathers and those of us who are fathers. He recognizes fatherhood’s power. He recognizes each earthly father’s iconic nature. He realizes the pain it causes God and his image-bearing creatures when fatherhood is corrupted. And this delights our mortal enemy.

It’s worth reading the whole article, whether you are a father or not.

The idol you love doesn’t love you back

We were thinking about idols of the heart last Sunday morning.  Over here there’s a great summary post from Justin Buzzard on idolatry, highlighting the emptiness of setting our hearts on idols that cannot satisfy.

Here’s what you need to know about your idol: That idol that you love? It doesn’t love you back. False gods don’t love you. Idols don’t keep their promises. Anything you worship and build your life on other than God will suck the life out of you and destroy you.

Jesus is the one master who will love you even when you fail him. Your idols don’t do that. Jesus is the one master who loved you when you were at your worst and who reigns over your life with perfect wisdom, power, and goodness. He’s the one master you can trust. Only he can give you freedom.

Whose kingdom are you building?

Following on from previous posts, here and here, Paul Tripp gives a series of principles to help examine the motivations of our hearts here.  How can we determine whether we’re laying up treasures for God’s kingdom or for self?

Tripp gives the questions below as a helpful diagnostic.

  • The absence of what causes us to want to give up and quit?
  • The pursuit of what leads us to feeling over-burdened and overwhelmed?
  • The fear of what makes us tentative and timid rather than courageous and hopeful?
  • The craving for what makes us burn the candle at both ends until we have little left?
  • The “need” for what robs ministry of its beauty and joy?
  • The desire for what sets up tensions between ministry and family?

Discerning the idols of my heart

A third way to discern idols works best for those
who have professed a faith in God. You may regularly go to a place of worship. You may have a full, devout
 set of doctrinal beliefs. You may be trying very hard 
to believe and obey God. However, what is your real,
daily functional salvation? What are you really living
 for, what is your real – not your professed – god? A 
good way to discern this is how you respond to un-answered prayers and frustrated hopes. If you ask for
 something that you don’t get, you may become sad
 and disappointed. Then you go on. Hey, life’s not over.
  Those are not your functional masters. But when you
 pray and work for something and you don’t get it and
 you respond with explosive anger or deep despair, then 
you may have found your real god.  (Keller, Counterfeit Gods, p. 169)

What are the decrees of God?

Tomorrow night we’re continuing with our study of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. We’ve reached question 7.

What are the decrees of God?

The decrees of God are His eternal plan based on the purpose of His will, by which, for His own glory, He has foreordained everything that happens.

History has purpose, meaning, direction and hope because God has planned and deteremined everything before he ever created anything in order that all things might work to bring glory and praise to His name.

How great is God!

Compare that with the meandering futility and uncertainty of the theory of evolution as C. S. Lewis sarcastically highlights in his Evolutionary Hymn.

Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future’s endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
In the present what are they
While there’s always jam-tomorrow,
While we tread the onward way?
Never knowing where we’re going,
We can never go astray.

To whatever variation
Our posterity may turn
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
Tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless,
Towards that unknown god we yearn.

Ask not if it’s god or devil,
Brethren, lest your words imply
Static norms of good and evil
(As in Plato) throned on high;
Such scholastic, inelastic,
Abstract yardsticks we deny.

Far too long have sages vainly
Glossed great Nature’s simple text;
He who runs can read it plainly,
‘Goodness = what comes next.’
By evolving, Life is solving
All the questions we perplexed.

Oh then! Value means survival-
Value. If our progeny
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present,
Standards, though it may well be).


The kingdoms of this world

We’ve just had local elections across the UK with many council seats changing hands and many local councillors being elected for the first time.  Will much change – I honestly doubt it!

However we can be certain that those newly elected councillors are now holding an office they did not hold before, with the responsibility and authority that brings.  Having now been installed into that office, over the next weeks and months they will be seeking to carry our their plans and purposes, outlined in their manifesto to bring our country more in line with how they think the world should be.

The risen, ascended Lord Jesus Christ has taken up his office – he is “the ruler of the kings of the earth.”Revelation 1:5

We are not waiting for Jesus to rule this world; he is from the time of his ascension and enthronement in heaven, already reigning.

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”Revelation 11:15

So why don’t we see a world perfectly conformed to Jesus’ will?

Because just as with our local councillors, Jesus hasn’t taken up his office as king over the world after everything has been conformed to his will.

Rather having gained his victory -not at the ballot box but by defeating all of his enemies in his death on the cross – he has been enthroned into office, in order to carry out his gospel manifesto through his rule.  With his kingdom now established in his ascension, he is throughout history bringing all things into conformity to his will, putting the world right, or as Paul puts it

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.1 Corinthians 15:25-26

Unlike our councillors and leaders, Jesus has been given all authority and power and as the reigning authoritative Lord of the world, he will fulfil every last part of his gospel manifesto.

He has won the victory.

He has been installed into office

And as the Lord of this world, he is now reigning to carry out the implications of victory, by putting all his enemies under his feet.  So when we pray “Your Kingdom come” we’re not asking God for Jesus to take up office, we’re asking that we’d see  Jesus’ reign being worked out here and now, in our world, in our lives and in our hearts.

God’s triumphs disguised as disasters

Commenting on the pattern of witness found in Revelation 11 – faithful testimony > death and seeming defeat > Spirit empowered resurrection, David Chilton helpfully quotes Herbert Schlossberg,

We are not the lords of history and do not control its outcome, but we have assurance that there is a lord of history’ and he controls its outcome. We need a theological interpretation of disaster, one that recognizes that God acts in such events as captivities, defeats, and crucifixions. The Bible can be interpreted as a string of God’s triumphs disguised as disasters.”