Your COMPASS for the Journey on the PATH of Discipleship: July 31-August 6, 2011
Your COMPASS for the Journey on the PATH of Discipleship is a daily resource designed to help you find direction in your walk with Christ. This week we conclude our study of John Flavel’s teaching on our union with Christ. The book, The Inner Sanctum of Puritan Piety, by J. Stephen Yuille is our primary resource. The theme this week is the hope of glory that results from our union with Christ.
Sunday, July 31, 2011 AWAITING US IN HEAVEN
Colossians 3:1-4 ‘…You…will appear with him in glory.’
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
John Flavel writes: The believer knows, how sweet soever his communion with Christ in this world, yet that communion he shall have with Christ in heaven will far excel it: there it will be…
- more intimate and immediate (1 Cor. 12:12: ‘Though all [the body’s] parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ’)
- more full and perfect, even to satisfaction (Ps. 17:15: ‘…In righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness’)
- more constant and continued, not suffering such interruption as it doth here (Rev. 21:25: ‘On no day will [the] gates [of the new Jerusalem] ever be shut….’)
- more pure and unmixed; here our corruptions work with our graces (Rom. 7:21: ‘…When I want to do good, evil is right there with me’), but there grace shall work alone
- more durable and pepetual; we shall be ever with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17: ‘…And so we will be with the Lord forever’)
Here in this life, sin disrupts our communion with God, but in heaven, as Stephen Yuille puts it, we will be free from this burden. This week, we will be focusing on the hope of all those who are in Christ. We should understand hope, at least as it is used in the Bible, not as some form of wishful optimism, but as ‘a strong and confident expectation.’ Determine today that you will spend this week, allowing John Flavel and his interpreter, Stephen Yuille, to guide you in developing ‘the hope of glory’ (Col. 1:27).
Monday, August 1, 2011 THE VISION OF GOD: PART 1
1 John 3:1-3 ‘…We shall see him as he is.’
1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
Stephen Yuille demonstrates that John Flavel’s concept of ‘the life of glory’ rests on three three related truths: the vision of God, the image of God, and the enjoyment of God. We will look at each of these in turn.
Today and tomorrow, we will attend to an understanding of the vision of God. According to Flavel, we now behold God through the eyes of faith, but that is nothing compared with what we will see in heaven. He writes: ‘To see God in his word and works is the happiness of the saints on earth; but to see him face to face will be the fullness of their blessedness in heaven.’ Again, he writes, ’Those weak and dim representations made by faith, at a distance, are the very joy and rejoicing of a believer’s soul now…, but how sweet and transporting soever these visions of faith be, they are not worthy to be named in comparison with the immediate and beatifical vision.’
The more clearly you train yourself to see with the ‘eyes of faith’ in this life, the greater assurance you will have of one day seeing him ‘face to face.’ The ‘eyes of faith’ are strengthened as you meditate on God’s words (in Scripture) and his works (in creation and redemption). Using a resource like ‘Your COMPASS’ or some other devotional plan will help you to reflect regularly on God’s words and works, and you will put yourself in a position to experience the Holy Spirit’s work in improving your faith.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011 THE VISION OF GOD: PART 2
Matthew 5:8 ‘…They will see God.’
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
According to Stephen Yuille, John Flavel’s understanding of the hope of glory rests on three related truths: the vision of God, the image of God, and the enjoyment of God. Today, we continue our reflection the first of these, the vision of God.
As a way of further explaining the idea of the vision of God, Yuille introduces a statement by William Perkins (1558-1602), a professor at Christ’s College, Cambridge, in the sixteenth century. Perkins observes that ‘there is a two-fold sight in man:’ the first is the sight of the eye, by which ‘no man can see God in his essence and substance, which is…invisible.’ The second is the sight of the mind, by which we know God. This sight, of course, is imperfect in this life, since the mind ‘knows not God’s essence or substance, but only by the effects, as by his word and Sacraments, and by his creatures.’ In the life to come, however, this sight of the mind will be perfect. We will be filled with the knowledge of God. According to Flavel, our understanding will ‘proceed no farther in point of knowledge.’
Origen (185-254), the great theologian of the third century, wrote: ‘That which sees God is not the eye of the body; it is the mind which is made in the image of the Creator, and which God has in His providence rendered capable of that knowledge. To see God belongs to the pure heart, out of which no longer proceed…any…evil thing. Wherefore it is said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” But as the strength of our will is not sufficient to procure the perfectly pure heart, and as we need that God should create it, he therefore who prays as he ought, offers this petition to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”’ (Contra Celsus, Book VII, chapter XXXIII).
Let us take this great church father’s counsel and pray to God for a pure heart.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 THE IMAGE OF GOD
2 Corinthians 3:18 ‘…We…are being transformed into his likeness….’
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Not only does John Flavel’s understanding of the hope of glory rest on the vision of God; according to Stephen Yuille, it also rests on the image of God. When we see God ‘face to face,’ we will be changed. The vision of God means that the image of God will be restored in us. The reason, according to Flavel, is that the beatifical vision will be…
- a satisfying sight (Psalm 17:15: ‘…When I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness’)
- an appropriating sight (Job 19:27: ‘I myself will see him with my own eyes’)
- a deeply affecting sight (Philippians 3:20, 21: ‘The Lord Jesus Christ…will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body’)
- an everlasting sight (1 Thess. 4:17: ‘…We will be with the Lord forever’)
When we are fully restored to the image of Christ, the faculties of the soul will again be marked by knowledge, righteousness, and holiness:
- Our minds will perceive God as the greatest good
- Our affections will love God as the greatest good
- Our volition will be completely subject to God as the greatest good
As Stephen Yuille writes, ‘God will impress his glory upon the soul to its fullest capacity, and it will make suitable returns to him.’
We cannot bring all this about by our own intention, but we can await it with hope and expectation.
Thursday, August 4, 2011 THE ENJOYMENT OF GOD
Psalm 16:11 ‘…You will fill me with joy in your presence….’
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
As we have seen, John Flavel’s concept of the hope of glory rests on the truths of (1) the vision of God and (2) the image of God. It also rests upon (3) the enjoyment of God.
According to Flavel, there is a threefold happiness to be enjoyed in heaven:
(1) First, there is the objective happiness, which is God himself. Flavel writes: ‘If it could be supposed…that God should withdraw from the saints in heaven, and say, Take heaven, and divide it among you; but as for me, I will withdraw from you. The saints would fall a weeping in heaven and say, Lord, take heaven and give it to whom thou wilt; it is no heaven to us, except thou be there.’
(2) Second, there is the subjective happiness, which is ‘the attemperation and suiting of the soul and body to God.’ This ‘consists in ‘removing from both [body and soul] all that is indecent and inconsistent with a state of such complete glory and happiness, and in…clothing [them] with all heavenly qualities.
(3) Third, there is the formal happiness, which is ‘the fullness of satisfaction resulting from the blessed sight and enjoyment of God….’
Upon seeing God, says Stephen Yuille, the soul will be renewed in the image of God. This renewal will enable the soul to find its complete rest in God. And this will be the believer’s heaven.
John Flavel writes: ‘Four things disturb the souls of believers in this world.’ And they are:
- absence from God
‘If the three former causes of disquietness were totally removed, so that a believer were placed in such a condition on earth, where no afflictions could disturb him, no temptation trouble him, no corruption defile or grieve him, yet his very absence from God must still keep him restless and unsatisfied.’
How might you today experience the presence of God — if not perfectly, as you will in glory — yet nonetheless truly?
Friday, August 5, 2011 THE CHIEF END OF MAN
1 Corinthians 10:31 ‘…Do…all for the glory of God.’
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, ‘What is the chief end of man?’ (This is a seventeenth century way of asking, ‘What is the purpose of human life?) The answer is: ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.’ John Flavel puts it this way: ‘God is that supreme good, in the enjoyment of whom all true happiness lies.’ Stephen Yuille says, ‘God created us to glorify him; we glorify him by delighting in him, and we delight in him by communing with him.
Let us then commune with God today and every day. What if we had everything else in life that we think would make us happy, yet we did not have God? Would we be happy? What if we had nothing in life that we have always presumed would make us happy, but we did have God? Would we be happy?
Saturday, August 6, 2011 HEARTFELT APPLICATION
We have come to the end of our summary of Stephen Yuille’s book, The Inner Sanctum of Puritan Piety. In his conclusion, Dr. Yuille quotes a ‘heartfelt application’ from John Flavel, truly a ‘man of God,’ as found in his book, The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption:
- First, How contented and well pleased should we be with our outward lot, however providence has cast it for us in this world? O do not repine, God has dealt bountifully with you; upon others he has bestowed the good things of this world; upon you, himself in
- Secondly, How humble and lowly in spirit should you be under your great advancement! It is true, God has magnified you greatly by this union, but yet do not swell. “You bear not the root, but the root you,” Rom. 11:18. You shine, but it is as the stars, with a
- Thirdly, How zealous should you be to honour Christ, who has put so much honour up you! Be willing to give glory to Christ, though his glory should rise out of your shame. Never reckon that glory that goes to Christ, to be lost to you: when you lie at his feet, in the most particular heart breaking confessions of sin, yet let this please you, that therein you have given him glory.
- Fourthly, How exact and circumspect should you be in all your ways, remembering whose you are, and whom you represent! Shall it be said, that a member of Christ was convicted of unrighteousness and unholy actions! God forbid. “If we say, we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie”, 1 John 1:6. “And he that saith he abideth in him, ought also himself to walk even as he also walked,” 1 John 2:6.
- Fifthly, How studious should you be of peace among yourselves, who are so nearly united to such a Head, and thereby are made fellow-members of the same body! The Heathen world was never acquainted with such an argument as the apostle urges for unity, in Eph. 4:3, 4.
- Sixthly, and lastly, How joyful and comfortable should you be, to whom Christ, with all his treasures and benefits, is effectually applied in this blessed union of your souls with him! This brings him into your possession: O how great! how glorious a person do these little weak arms of your faith embrace!
Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ
Photo Credit: Solitary Tree by Giorgio Raffaelli