How to Measure the Immeasurable

The human mind has devised ways to measure many immeasurables. We now know the height of Everest and the depth of the deepest ocean. We know the distance between the earth and the moon, the sun, and distant stars, planets, and galaxies.

But no finite mind can adequately take the measure of sin or its vast and far-reaching consequences. George Smeaton, however, proposed two ways in which we can begin (and it’s only a beginning) to measure both the guilt and the consequences of sin.

Measuring the Guilt of Sin
The most important dimension here is not what we do (or don’t do) but against whom we do it (or don’t do it).

“The guilt of the offense is proportioned to the greatness, the moral excellence, and glory of Him against whom the offense is committed…Nothing else therefore comes into consideration in estimating the enormity of sin but the infinite majesty, glory, and claims of Him against whom we sin.”

For example, we feel a pang of guilt if we lose our temper with a Macdonald’s employee, but it soon passes. The guilt goes deeper and lasts longer if we do the same to a friend or colleague. But if we go home and treat our wife or husband that way, guilt cuts to the heart and may leave a wound that takes weeks to heal. It’s not so much what we say, but who we say it to.

When it comes to sin against God, for every thought we give to what we have done, give ten thoughts to who we did it to and against. Such a ratio will begin to get us a more accurate measure of sin, and consequently of the atonement that put it away.

Measuring the Consequences of Sin
Smeaton’s second measuring tip is to calculate the antithesis of sin’s consequences. What he means by that is that if we measure all the benefits secured by Christ’s atonement, then we will get an idea of the opposite measure of sin’s consequences. Having done that, he produces a list of sins’s consequences:

  • The forfeiture of our right relation or standing before God.
  • The deterioration of our nature.
  • The entrance of death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.
  • The departure of the Holy Spirit from the human heart, formed to be His temple.
  • The tyranny of Satan.
  • The gulf formed between men and all holy intelligences.

There is such a similarity in an opposite direction between the effects of sin and the effects of the atonement that the comparison of the two serves to throw light on both.

Smeaton’s point is that by measuring sin and its consequences, we will better estimate the value of the atonement and its blessings.

Previous Posts in this Series on the Atonement

Was Jesus ever ill?
The Most Sympathetic Man in the World
What did Christ believe about the atonement?
The Four Essentials of a Successful Atonement
Three Old and New Errors about the Atonement
Christ’s Weaknesses


Check out

Blogs

How was Christ Administered in the Old Testament?
Looks like the beginning of a helpful series.

“We believe that the saving work of Christ was truly administered or dispensed to the faithful in the Old Testament through the Promise of the Seed, the Promise of the Land, through Circumcision, the Sacrifices, the Law itself, and through Prophecy; and these were all “sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation”.”

12 Steps to Ministry Burnout
“In my 20+ years of studying churches in North America, I’ve watched far too many pastors and church leaders burn out, sometimes leading to moral failure. Based on my interviews with others who’ve walked this path, here are some steps to move in that direction if you want to become that next burned out leader.”

Embracing the Quiet Life
“Make it your aspiration to showcase the gospel in your quiet restfulness.”

Thoughts for Pastors Who Are Considering Quitting
“If you are a pastor who has not considered quitting, you are likely in the minority. And certainly there are times when we should leave. But, if your desire to quit is the result of the typical challenges of pastoring, allow me to share nine thoughts that may lead you to reconsider.”

The Digital Sermon
“People have often asked how many hours of sermon prep I do every week. I don’t particularly like answering that question on account of the fact that the past 16 years have served as a sort of unceasing sermon preparation time for me. Everything that I’ve read, every experience that I’ve had and every sermon or lecture to which I’ve listened have become part of weekly sermon prep.”

Are Unhappy Christians a Poor Witness?
Mike takes on the suggestions that sad Christians are bad Christians

“I’m arguing that there is a type of robust faith that sits upon the ash heap of one like Job. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, was not a poor witness. Nor was King David and the other Psalmists of whom God used to give us a song book filled with lament. These are not miserable witnesses or poor recommendations of the gospel but beacons—though shrouded in darkness—of the redeeming Christ.”

How Katy Perry’s Mother Praises God Through the Pain
This is a painful article to read and a bit mixed up at points but I thought this was a beautiful response from Katy Perry’s mother.

I asked Mary what counsel she has for parents who have children who have left their Christian faith behind. She believes unconditional love and support is essential—not judgment, anger or estrangement. “It’s only the love of God that will bring them back,” she says. “Don’t cut them off. You have to rise above your feelings. You must stay in communication.”"

No Cause for Shame: Understanding Anxiety Disorders
This is a super-helpful article for distinguishing between anxiety that is rooted in a physical cause and anxiety that is a spiritual cause.

New Book

Learning About the Old Testament by Allan Harman.

Kindle Books

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

Fighting Satan: Knowing His Weaknesses, Strategies, and Defeat by Joel Beeke $2.99.

The Gospel Commission: Recovering God’s Strategy for Making Disciples by Michael Horton $2.39.

Couples of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study to Draw You Closer to God and Each Other by Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth $1.99.

God’s Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation by David Saxton $4.99.


Highlighting the Grand Rapids Pregnancy Resource Center

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The Pregnancy Resource Center here in Grand Rapids is doing wonderful work to support, biblically counsel, and educate those who find themselves in crisis through unplanned pregnancy.

In their own words, “the Pregnancy Resource Center is a life-affirming, nonprofit ministry serving the local Grand Rapids community. We seek to have life-giving, life-changing conversations with individuals who are vulnerable to making a future or current abortion decision. Our approach includes Biblical counsel as well as pregnancy, medical, and family support services. In addition, we provide sexual risk avoidance instruction in schools and churches through our Willing to Wait and The Whole Sex Talk programs.”

Here are some of the things the Pregnancy Resource Center can do for those in need:

  • Pregnancy and STI/STD medical services
  • Family support services which include anything from consultations on marriage and family issues to distributing maternity clothes, diapers, and baby food
  • Sex education programs for home and school use that are medically accurate, research-based, and emphasize God’s plan for sexuality in marriage.

Through all of these services, the Pregnancy Resource Center is also able to share the hope and love of God to all who seek their help. Take a look at some of their results and data below. You can also see PRC’s 2016 Fact Sheet for more information.

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For more information on how to support the Pregnancy Resource Center or on how the center can support you or your loved ones, visit www.prcforlife.org or call 616-259-1500.


Christ’s Weaknesses

Did Jesus ever get sick or suffer with disease? A few weeks ago I answered this in the negative and supported it with biblical evidence and historical quotations from Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Goodwin, and George Smeaton. Last weekend, when studying John Owen’s teaching about Jesus’s relation to the Holy Spirit, I discovered that he had also expressed himself similarly:

Although he took on him those infirmities which belong unto our human nature as such, and are inseparable from it until it be glorified, yet he took none of our particular infirmities which cleave unto our persons, occasioned either by the vice of our constitutions or irregularity in the use of our bodies. Those natural passions of our minds which are capable of being the moans of affliction and trouble, as grief, sorrow, and the like, he took upon him; as also those infirmities of nature which are troublesome to the body, as hunger, thirst, weariness, and pain,—yea, the purity of his holy constitution made him more highly sensible of these things than any of the children of men;—but as to our bodily diseases and distempers, which personally adhere unto us, upon the disorder and vice of our constitutions, he was absolutely free from them.

Previous Posts in this Series on the Atonement

Was Jesus ever ill?

The Most Sympathetic Man in the World

What did Christ believe about the atonement?

The Four Essentials of a Successful Atonement

Three Old and New Errors about the Atonement


New Books from the Banner of Truth

The Banner of Truth is one of the most reliable publishers of quality Christian books. Here are some of their latest publications.


The Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston

This little book is a pastoral masterpiece, in which Boston reflects on the words of Ecclesiastes 7:13, ‘Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which he hath made crooked?’ By ‘lot’, Boston means our ‘lot in life’, the shape of our lives as they are styled by God’s many providences. By ‘crook’, he means those unforeseen troubles that afflict, unsettle, or disturb us in any way. 


The Way to True Peace and Rest by Robert Bruce

The Way to True Peace and Rest compiles Bruce’s six sermons on Isaiah 38. With a wonderful blend of faithful exposition, keen insight, and practical application, Bruce urges his hearers to ‘take heed to the various aspects of this account, that we may learn how to conduct ourselves in the event of our suffering some serious disease; thus, learning from King Hezekiah’s behaviour, we may come to obtain the same comfort he experienced.’


Learning About the Old Testament by Allan Harman

In Learning About the Old Testament Allan Harman explains many different aspects of the Old Testament, particularly the importance of covenant in God’s relations with humanity. This is seen in what he promised at creation, and to Noah and Abraham. Harman also covers the history of Israel, looking at the exodus from Egypt and the covenant instituted at Sinai. In particular, he shows how the Messiah is anticipated.


Seven Leaders: Pastors and Teachers by Iain H. Murray

Spiritual leaders lead people to heaven. Here in Seven Leaders are accounts of seven such men, together with the distinctive features of their lives in John Elias, the necessity of the power of the Holy Spirit; in Andrew Bonar, the reality of communion with Christ; in Archie Brown, the irresistibility of love; in Kenneth MacRae, the need for faithfulness to death; in Martyn Lloyd-Jones, theology and doctrine; in W. J. Grier, passing on the ‘sacred deposit’; and in John MacArthur, the governing authority of the word of God.


Steps Towards Heaven by J. C. Ryle

Can we be saved without any personal knowledge of the Bible’s teaching? Is it necessary to think clearly and precisely about such teaching? Is God’s love such that no one will ultimately suffer the everlasting loss of body and soul? These are very important questions; the answers we give to them will have temporal and eternal consequences for us. The first thing we need to know is, where we stand before God. J. C. Ryle is absolutely right when he says, ‘To understand our position in the sight of God is one step towards heaven.’


Introducing Tyndale by William Tyndale, John Piper, Robert J. Sheehan

In Introducing Tyndale John Piper introduces the reader to the deeply moving story of Tyndale’s life and death. This serves to whet the appetite for what comes next: an extract from one of Tyndale’s significant works in which the reformer clearly explains and robustly defends the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in response to one of his fiercest critics. A brief epilogue by the late Robert J. Sheehan outlines Tyndale’s many-sided legacy, bringing the book to a fitting conclusion.