Thoughts on the words of J. Gresham Machen – Miracles

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Oak Mountain State Park – February, 2017

J. Gresham Machen lived from 1881-1937. He was a Presbyterian churchman, a New Testament scholar, a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, founder of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. The quotes in this series come from his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”.

 

“God is always the first cause, but there are truly second causes; they are the means which God uses, in the ordinary course of the world, for the accomplishment of His ends. It is the exclusion of such second causes which makes an event a miracle.
There is nothing arbitrary about a miracle…. It is not an uncaused event, but an event that is caused by the very source of all the order that is in the world.”

 
Think of an everyday occurrence – birth. Some say it is a miracle, but it is truly something that happens in the ordinary course of the world. It is amazing, fantastic, unbelievably so perfect – the more you think about the cells that become a person the more awe inspiring it becomes. But, God uses second causes – a man and a woman- to achieve this wonder. But, in the birth of Christ there was a miracle.

 
We eat, and somehow that food turns into energy and turns into a part of us (for some of us, too much a part, but I digress). But, the multiplying of the loaves and the fish – that was a miracle.

 
Miracles are truly from the Source of all of life.

 

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You – Psalm 5:11
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Thoughts on the words of J. Gresham Machen – Think for yourself

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art-Stuart Miles

J. Gresham Machen lived from 1881-1937. He was a Presbyterian churchman, a New Testament scholar, a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, founder of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. The quotes in this series come from his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”.

“It is usually considered good practice to examine a thing for oneself before echoing the vulgar ridicule of it.”

I’ve learned, and am still learning, the wisdom of this statement. I think this thought can apply to many different situations, not just religion.
Some other example where it might apply:

  • Homeschooling – often people want to put down homeschooling based on traditions. They are so used to the public school system, the way they were raised, that they jump to conclusions. I did this years ago when our friends were the first people I knew who had decided to homeschool. I thought they were nuts. Little did I know.
  • Outward appearance – the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applies here.
  • Vegetarianism – I am not a vegetarian, but I certainly see the wisdom in it.
  • Alternative medicine – Many of our nation of pill takers don’t question all the prescriptions they are handed. Many people think those who prefer natural methods are wackos. Not so.
  •  Everything you read on social media. Nuff said.

Thoughts on the words of J. Gresham Machen – Jesus

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Oak Mountain State Park – February, 2017

 

J. Gresham Machen lived from 1881-1937. He was a Presbyterian churchman, a New Testament scholar, a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, founder of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. The quotes in this series come from his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”.
Today I am using more than one quote because they go together.

 

“The truth is that if Jesus be merely an example, He is not a worthy example, for He claimed to be more.”

For people who say they believe Jesus was just a good man, this is food for thought. If He was a good man who claimed to be God, and you don’t believe He was God incarnate, then you must think He is a liar. Thus, not a good man.

Jesus is more than an example for us, but still His life is an example. If He prayed, who are we not to? If He went to “church”, who are we to say we don’t need to go to church? Sure, the lilies, and all of nature, show God’s glory in His handiwork. But, that is not enough. We are to worship Him with other believers. If He submitted to the Father’s will, how much more should we?

 
In speaking of the early Christians, Machen said,

 

“It was what Jesus did for them and not primarily the example of His life, which made them Christians.”

Again, for people who want to believe Jesus was just a good man and a good example, think on this. He is indeed good, as God is good. But, He is much more than that. He is a Redeemer. He is indeed a historical figure. He is also the One who determined history.

Thoughts on the words of J. Gresham Machen – Sin and the Christian

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Oak Mountain State Park – February, 2017

J. Gresham Machen lived from 1881-1937. He was a Presbyterian churchman, a New Testament scholar, a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, founder of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. The quotes in this series come from his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”.

“… since we know that God does all things for His own glory and the good of His people, His decision to leave Christians with many struggles with sin must also somehow serve to glorify Him and benefit His people.
Sinless perfection and complete peace and joy must wait for heaven, but abundant joy here and now in Christ is your birthright and your inheritance, even when you sin and fail miserably to be a good Christian.”

These are two thoughts that I think tie together. As a Christian, I still struggle with sin. The only One who can help me overcome and the only One who can forgive that sin is God. Knowing I am weak makes me turn to Him, and His working through me glorifies Him.
Though I fail and sin, yet I can have peace and joy knowing I am His. I do not sin just because I have forgiveness – that would not work. But, when I do fall short, I know I can go to Him. This is the same way a child should be able to go to their parents. There may be natural consequences, but there is also sweet forgiveness.

Thoughts on the words of J. Gresham Machen – The Secret Signature of the Soul

J. Gresham Machen lived from 1881-1937. He was a Presbyterian churchman, a New Testament scholar, a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, founder of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. The quotes in this series come from his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”.

 

“…the secret signature of each soul…. This signature on each soul may be a product of heredity and environment, but that only means that heredity and environment are among the instruments whereby God creates a soul.”

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April – 2017

What a profound and wonderful statement. We are all wonderfully made and we are all different. We are not sprung up randomly , we don’t come into our families by chance. God knows us, he knows what is written on our souls.

Thoughts on the words of J. Gresham Machen – Salvation

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Photo – digidreamgrafix

J. Gresham Machen lived from 1881-1937. He was a Presbyterian churchman, a New Testament scholar, a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, founder of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. The quotes in this series come from his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”.

“Some Christians, indeed, are able to give the day and hour of their conversion…but the great majority do not know exactly at what moment they were saved. It is not necessary that all should pass through agonies of soul before being saved; there are those to whom faith comes peacefully and easily…”

I felt comforted by these words, because I fall sort of in between. I can remember when, not the day and hour, but I was ten years old when the LORD used preaching to reach into my heart and show me that I needed to be forgiven. I remember where, it was in the kitchen at my mother’s side.  I did not go through ‘agonies of soul’, but, even at that young age, I knew I needed a Savior. Yes, it was childlike faith. Yes, I coasted through childhood not really growing much in my faith, yet the LORD held onto me. As an adult, God has drawn me closer and opened my heart to more truth. I prayed that He will continue to open my eyes and heart to serve Him more.